July 8, 2024

How I got into Hong Kong Baptist University with a full merit-based scholarship

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Alua from Kazakhstan 🇰🇿

Campus Image of Hong Kong Baptist University
How I got into Hong Kong Baptist University with a full merit-based scholarship

My background 

Hello! I am Alua and I am from Kazakhstan. I graduated from Nazarbayev Intellectual School in Kyzylorda. Here, I studied Physics and Computer Science at an advanced level.

Why study abroad

I decided to study abroad because I've always sought opportunities to broaden my understanding of the world around me. Whether through travel, cultural exchange programs, or learning new languages, I've consistently been drawn to experiences that push me outside my comfort zone and encourage personal growth. Studying abroad felt like the perfect opportunity to immerse myself in a new academic environment, challenge myself with unfamiliar perspectives, and expand my horizons both personally and professionally. It's a chance to embrace diversity, gain a global perspective and cultivate independence - all of which are invaluable for my future aspirations and personal development.

Why Hong Kong and what other countries I have considered

I chose Hong Kong because of its diverse experiences and abundant work opportunities, particularly in its role as a global financial center. Additionally, I'm attracted to Hong Kong's natural beauty and favorable climate. Before deciding on Hong Kong, I considered options in the United States, where I drafted numerous Common App personal statements. However, after hundreds of written Common App personal statement drafts, I stopped and realized that I don’t actually want to study here. Ultimately, Hong Kong stood out to me as the ideal destination where I could pursue my academic and career aspirations while enjoying a vibrant cultural environment and breathtaking landscapes.

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Why Hong Kong Baptist University

I chose Hong Kong Baptist University because it offers the opportunity to explore my interests in business administration and choose one or two concentrations from 8 options. The HKBU School of Business is highly regarded for its top-quality education, being triple-accredited by AACSB, EQUIS, and AMBA - the leading accreditation bodies in business education. Moreover, HKBU is known for its generous scholarship opportunities, which further supports my academic and career goals.


My GPA wasn't perfect initially because I didn't focus enough on it during my early high school years, being heavily involved in work and extracurricular activities. However, starting in grade 11, I dedicated myself to improving my grades, aiming to consistently achieve above average results. By the end of high school, I earned a GPA of 4.7 out of 5.0.

For standardized tests, I scored 132 out of 140 on the UNT (Unified National Testing) and achieved an overall score of 7.0 on the IELTS without extensive preparation. Fun fact: I spent all my time on Writing Task 2. When it came to the Writing Task 1, I wrote only one sentence, not the whole essay. I regretted this so much at that time. 

In preparation for the Digital SAT, I committed myself daily and nightly, resulting in an overall score of 1460, with 690 in Reading and Writing and 770 in Math. I believe in the importance of practice, but also in thorough analysis of mistakes to continually improve.

Top three extracurricular activities 

Since childhood, I've had a passion for creating handmade jewelry. Although I temporarily set it aside during high school, I rediscovered my love for it when a friend asked me to craft a custom necklace for an event. Since then, I've been designing and selling personalized jewelry based on my customers' preferences.

I served as a social media marketing manager, overseeing campaigns across various industries including F&B, beauty, and manufacturing. I managed accounts for local businesses such as a furniture store and Dodo Pizza, gaining valuable experience in digital marketing and business management.

At school, I established and led a pyrography club, where I taught students the art of crafting handmade figurines from wood.


For my college essays, I focused on my passion for jewelry-making and entrepreneurship. I discussed how creating handmade jewelry taught me about branding, customer preferences, and business fundamentals like sales and profitability. This experience inspired me to work in  a local digital marketing agency, where I gained insights into diverse industries and honed skills in marketing and business analysis. My essays highlighted how these experiences shaped my career aspirations and commitment to combining creativity with business acumen.

Structuring the application process 

To be honest, I did not plan my application process in advance, so I ended up preparing everything right before the deadlines. I took my last standardized exams in November and submitted my college applications shortly after. I applied to a total of 6 universities in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, most early action deadlines fall in November. I received offers from December to March as a result. Initially, I anticipated receiving rejections or minimal financial aid, but I was pleasantly surprised to receive offers from all the universities I applied to with generous offers such as a full scholarship from PolyU, as well as full tuition offers from HKU and HKUST. Beyond these, I also received an offer from Nazarbayev University. 

Each university required an interview, and each one was unique. For example, HKU's interview focused on critical thinking and communication skills in a group setting. HKUST's interview was different because it used AI technology on the KiraTalent platform.

Some tips for interviews: Prepare your story. Be ready to discuss your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and personal experiences in detail. Highlight your strengths and how they align with the university's values and programs. 

Show your story. Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the university by researching its programs, faculty, and campus culture. Ask thoughtful questions that show you've done your homework and are genuinely interested in becoming part of their community.

Helpful resources 

University websites provided me with information on academic curricula, student clubs, and various opportunities available. Student and alumni blogs offered insights into what it's like to study at these institutions from a firsthand perspective. Additionally, I reached out to current students to gather information that wasn't readily available online.

Borderless was particularly valuable, offering diverse college application experiences through its stories. Reading these narratives was inspiring and reassuring during the stressful college application process. Achieving my goal of interviewing about my college application experience was made possible with the support of the Borderless team, for which I'm grateful. I also used the essay review services and got detailed feedback on my personal statement. It helped me a lot. 

Financial aid

I was awarded a merit-based full scholarship that amounts to 210,000 HKD annually: 160,000 HKD for tuition fees and 50,000 HKD for basic living expenses such as accommodation, travel allowances, food, and transportation.

I anticipate needing additional funds for miscellaneous daily expenses such as clothing and social activities, depending on my chosen lifestyle. 

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How much money I spent to apply 

Unfortunately, there were no fee waivers for international students applying to universities in Hong Kong. Each college application fee amounted to 450 HKD, approximately equivalent to $60 USD. With applications to six colleges, I unexpectedly spent $350 on application fees alone. Additionally, I incurred costs for exams such as the SAT ($103 USD) and IELTS (approximately $170 USD).

If you have any questions about applying to Hong Kong universities, feel free to message me on Instagram @aluaabdraim anytime. 

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from Kazakhstan 🇰🇿

Duration of Study

Sep 2024 — May 2028


Business Administration

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Hong Kong Baptist University

Hong Kong Baptist University

Hong Kong, Hong Kong🇭🇰


✍️ Interview by


Aruzhan from Kazakhstan 🇰🇿

High School student and social activist

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