July 28, 2023

How I got into 9 top universities on full-ride scholarships including Ivy League, and chose Brown University


Amira from Kazakhstan πŸ‡°πŸ‡Ώ

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How I got into 9 top universities on full-ride scholarships including Ivy League, and chose Brown University

My name is Amira. I graduated from the Nazarbayev Intellectual School in Pavlodar city, and this year I was accepted into 9 universities worldwide, all with full funding. I am planning to start my studies at Brown University this fall

My background

I always had a question in my mind about where I would study after school. My focus was always on seeking opportunities to study on a full scholarship anywhere possible. To achieve this, I strived to excel in my studies and engage in extracurricular activities. However, I didn't have a clear idea of studying in the US until the moment of application. It wasn't until the 11th grade when I participated in the FLEX program in the US that I realized what a great country it is for education, with some of the best universities in the world. This realization motivated me to consider applying to US universities. From that point onward, I approached the application process more consciously, even though my knowledge about it was previously limited to indirect information.

Colleges I applied to

I applied to Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar and the University of British Columbia in Canada, along with around 20 universities in the United States. I was accepted into 9 universities, all of which offered full-ride scholarships. These include Carnegie Mellon University, Colby College, Northwestern University, Amherst College, Wellesley College, University of British Columbia, Williams College, Dartmouth College, and Brown University.

Why I chose Brown University

On March 30th, I received all the results from the universities. The following morning, March 31st, I faced a dilemma as I had a month to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life. It was an incredibly challenging process. Initially, I received an offer from Colby and thought I might just go there. However, on the same day, invitations came from Wellesley, Amherst, and Williams. Later, I was also accepted to Northwestern, making me consider going there. Then came the responses from Dartmouth College and Brown University. I had also received responses from universities in Qatar and Canada, but by that time, I didn't consider them as seriously since I had offers from Ivy League institutions. To be honest, I would have been happy attending any university as long as I received full funding. So, I didn't have a "dream university" per se. My main decision came down to three universities: Northwestern University, which ranks in the top 10 in the US and top 25 in the world, and Dartmouth College and Brown University, both part of the Ivy League.

Every day, I attended different sessions offered by the universities. After getting accepted, they had a website with various sessions where I could experience their classes, get to know the professors, and learn more about each university. I interacted with current students during these sessions. My decision seemed to change every day, but deep down, I was more inclined towards Brown University, and I eventually decided to go there. What attracted me to Brown University was its open curriculum and location. The open curriculum allows me to take any courses I'm interested in, without any required courses, unlike Northwestern University. This appealed to me, especially after experiencing the Kazakhstani system, where we were told what to study. Moreover, Brown University follows a pass/fail system instead of grades. This means that if I want to challenge myself with a course in an area where I lack knowledge, I can take it as pass/fail without worrying about getting a low grade. For instance, if I want to explore a computer science course without much prior knowledge, I can take it pass/fail, preserving my GPA while gaining new knowledge. The flexibility of Brown University's system is what truly attracted me

Financial aid

All 9 universities offered me full financial aid, covering all my expenses, such as accommodation, meals, tuition, flights, and visa.

My Stats

  • GPA 5/5

  • IELTS 8.0

  • SAT 1500+

Extracurricular Activities

My application showcased several spheres of activities that I have developed, with a primary focus on neuroscience and biochemistry. Additionally, I highlighted my community service and international experience through the FLEX program. These diverse aspects have played a significant role in shaping my personality, and I was eager to share them in my application.

Concerning neuroscience, I had a personal story and actively volunteered in the field. As for my international experience, I participated in the FLEX program during my 11th grade, during which I established a cultural club at school to promote cross-cultural exchange. I also volunteered at the Foodbank, assisting people from diverse backgrounds, including immigrants facing challenging situations, in collecting groceries and overcoming language barriers with my proficiency in Russian, Kazakh, Turkish, English, and some German.

Furthermore, my time in the United States allowed me to indulge in skiing, and I engaged in various school projects, one of which focused on the migration of geese. Additionally, I actively participated in various conferences. Hence, my application was not solely centered around neuroscience

Advice for applicants

I would like to say that regardless of the city, country, or village you come from, it is possible to get admitted. I am from Pavlodar, not from big cities like Astana or Almaty, and I am the first in my school in 10 years to get into a top university. I don't come from a wealthy family, so I relied solely on full financial aid. However, nowadays, there are so many resources and online courses available on the internet that it is possible to apply from anywhere in the world. If someone had told me a year ago that I would get into all these universities, I wouldn't have believed them because I thought that no one from Pavlodar gets accepted, and I doubted my chances. But it turned out that everything depends only on yourself and the opportunities you create for yourself.

I also want to say that this is a long and challenging process, but it is definitely worth it. I was always told that I wouldn't get anywhere, that dreaming big is pointless, that I was aiming too high. But deep down, I knew that this was my future, where I wanted to see myself and the kind of people I wanted to surround myself with. Top universities are considered top because the best of the best study there. So, if you manage to break into that circle, you will surround yourself with the most outstanding individuals in your field. When people said such things to me, of course, it hurt, but I understood that they were speaking from their own experiences. Therefore, if you encounter such people along your journey, please don't be disheartened and just keep moving forward.

The most important thing is to believe in yourself and start early. If you apply to a large number of universities, you will have to write a significant number of essays. I wish good luck to all the applicants, and if you have any questions, you can reach out to me @amiimit.

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from Kazakhstan πŸ‡°πŸ‡Ώ

Duration of Study

Sep 2023 β€” May 2027



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Brown University

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Aru from Kazakhstan πŸ‡°πŸ‡Ώ

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  1. User Image


    11 months ago

    This interview was conducted by our amazing ambassador @arulilac🫢

    1. πŸ˜ƒ

      Carmen Rosa

      11 months ago

      Hii , I was reading the list of universities that you apply to, does carnegie mellon university give full aid to international students? because I searched on their website and it said that they don't offer full scholarships for IE.

      1. 🦿


        11 months ago

        I think she got into Carnegie Mellon in Qatar, that would make sense though

      2. 🦿


        11 months ago

        Damn girl.. That’s so awesome πŸ‘