Student activities can be a key factor in admission to top universities

Amp Burapachaisri, Varisa Limpijankit, Ken Lohatepanont, and Vaibhaw Ladha sharing their thoughts on the admissions process at the US University Student Conference: Recent Admits Forum

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The recent student-led conference on admission to top US universities attracted a full house and for many of the successful students, their special activities during high school were key factors.

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The Underestimated Impact of Student Initiatives

 Kengo Shigeta
On June 7th, we successfully ran the first US University Student Conference: Recent Admits Forum, the first event of its kind to ever be held in Bangkok. Sponsored by Crimson Education, a global admissions consulting company with offices in 11 different countries, the event featured a panel of 9 successful admits to top US universities, and effectively facilitated the conversation between high school students and recent graduates. Corresponding with Crimson’s vision to make Thailand’s applicants more competitive on the global stage, the event’s speakers shared the stories of their journeys to pass on the wisdom that they gained while going through the application process.

Held at the Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong Hotel, the US University Student Conference had almost 250 attendees in total

Through the narrative of their hardships and challenges, several key takeaways emerged: be proactive and start early, seek out opportunities to better yourself, and most importantly, do activities that truly excite you. The genuine passion that goes into your projects seems to be a key aspect in effectively conveying your character and persona to admissions officers.

Hearing the speakers’ stories, we were reminded of the often overlooked and under-recognised impacts that student initiatives have on the communities around us. In looking into the exceptional activities of some of Bangkok’s most proactive youth, we see the power of students that drives true social change exemplified and in action. And through this insight, we see the passion that makes one’s college applications truly compelling.

Conference organiser Kengo Shigeta at the podium, moderating the event’s Q&A session

An example of such a meaningful student initiative comes from Ken Lohatepanont, a recent graduate from KIS International School, who aspired to create lasting and meaningful change for the entire nation. During the 2013-2014 Thai political crisis, Ken began to take an interest in politics and began writing about his perspectives on the issues on a blog (, which received a lot of attention on social media. From this, he was given the opportunity to visit Parliament and attend a meeting of the public relations subcommittee of the Constitution Drafting Committee. Inspired by the passion and commitment to national reform that he saw from that meeting, Ken took part in the subcommittee’s social media team, where he helped write articles to explain the workings of the draft constitution; the goal was to increase political engagement and understanding of the draft constitution.
Although this draft was later rejected by the National Legislative Assembly, Ken was able to promote political conservation on the national level. In the past two years Ken has continued writing his blog, with a mission to continue informing his readers about local and globally significant political developments. For this, he was recognised by the BBC, and was subsequently interviewed by BBC radio regarding the Erawan Shrine bombing of 2015. Ken continues to actively blog with the belief that writing can facilitate positive political and social change on a local and global scale.

Carlos Romero Jantacomma, the Yale University admit from Shrewsbury International School, speaking about his common application essay

Aside from Ken’s exceptional work as a citizen journalist, other great initiatives are taking place at schools right in the heart of Bangkok. Two of our featured speakers from NIST International School, Vaibhaw Ladha and Jessie Kanacharoen, are co-presidents of the NIST Development Bank (NDB), a student-led social entrepreneurship club adapted from the concept of microfinance to create an infrastructure for the school’s service community. Through providing resources and consultation, it enables service groups to skip the fundraising process through a loan and grant system, which allows them to commit their efforts to real action.

NIST Development Bank Co-President, Vaibhaw Ladha, with the village youth of Maeramit Luang, a small hill tribe coffee-growing village in the Omgoi district of northern Thailand.

Over the last few years, NDB has worked closely with FairNIST Coffee, a student-led social enterprise that offers premium fair trade coffee, and 2Develop, a student service group that supports the collaboration between NIST and village communities to promote sustainable development. These initiatives have worked in tandem to actively improve the livelihood of the underdeveloped community of Maeramit Luang, a small hill tribe coffee-growing village in the Omgoi district of northern Thailand.
Past projects involve the funding of water filtration systems in the Mearamit Village to provide the entire community access to safe drinking water, while simultaneously buying the village 2000 new coffee plants of the higher priced Arabica strain, providing farmers with double the revenue per kilo of green coffee beans produced. Looking ahead, future plans for development include building a coffee drying facility in the village to grant farmers and even higher revenue, as drying strongly increases the product’s value. Overall, the students aspire to have a real impact in ensuring income security and greater self-sufficiency for the villagers.
In recognising the student initiatives of today, it is important to acknowledge the social impact that the youth can have. Through innovation and active engagement with the surrounding communities, you not only see the development of your environments, but also of your own profile and persona. So don’t dismiss that nagging feeling of restlessness to do something. Start somewhere.

Crimson Education is a global admissions consulting company with 11 offices in Bangkok, Singapore, Seoul, Nanjing, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, Moscow, London, Sydney, Melbourne, and Auckland. Since it was founded in 2013, Crimson students have gotten into all 8 Ivy League universities, Stanford and Oxbridge every single year.


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