The Uncommon Common App

When most people are first introduced to the Common App, they are told quite forcefully that this means the same application is going to be submitted to all universities, hence the name ‘common’ app. That, it turns out is not quite the case.

There are a number of possible reasons people use this. The most vehemently opposed reason is simply because people want to submit different things to different colleges for whatever reason. If anything, I find that it is quite reasonable to want to submit different essays. And even to have different activities. The simple fact is that you might want to emphasize and highlight different things in your application to different universities. Certainly, it doesn’t really help your workload given the mountain of things the Common App already requires, but it is a legitimate choice.

On the less objectionable end of the scale is perhaps the situation faced by people who submit applications early. Since your early application is then locked, it is equally logical that you may have new thoughts and ideas come the deadline for your other colleges.

Regardless of the reason, the possibility to do so is readily available. If anything, it is provided by Common App themselves. You simply create ‘alternate versions’ of your application, select different colleges for the respective versions and submit as you usually would. Of course, one must be careful that the right version is submitted to the right college and to keep track of all the various versions. But that’s no reason not to do it if you have the need and have the ability to manage yourself.

6 ways to proofread an essay

University applications, an IB Extended Essay, coursework and even blogposts; sometimes I feel like I am really just an essay-generating machine. But thankfully, this has helped me improve my writing skills quite a bit. Even better, almost all of these were done digitally, which gave me more ways to double-check my essays before publication/submission. For those who’ve yet to discover some of these gems, here are 6 ways to proofread an essay:

1. Spell-check
This might sound obvious, but it really is a marvel of modern technology that you can do this. A simple way of making sure that everything is spelt correctly. It looks bad to anyone reading an essay, especially when it is submitted digitally, if there are spelling mistakes. What does it say about you when you can’t spell properly even when given spell check?

But beware, just because a word is spelt correctly doesn’t mean it’s the correct word. “I feel a lump in my throat” and “I felt a lump in my throat” aren’t quite the same sentence, even if they are spelt correctly.

Futuristic Creations

I’m not a very powerful man, but if this screenshot of my Mac is to be believed, I have the capacity to travel in time and make things in the future, right now. It says under document info that the image was created “Tomorrow”. In fairness, it is probably because of unsynced times between my camera and my computer. Still a cool situation though.

[VIDEO] UWC Atlantic College Arts Festival 2012 Animation

So yesterday was the first day of the UWC Atlantic College Arts Festival 2012. One more day to go today. Both my workshops for the first day happened to be related to digital art, manga and animation in the morning followed by stop-motion animation in the afternoon. A harp back to the Media Study days at SIS. Obviously time was short, but in both sessions, we were able to produce some work with relatively quick turn-around, although rather bad in quality. Here’s some of the products:



I have to say, I don’t like the new movies on offer this time round as much as I did other flights. It might have to do with me being sleep deprived and tired and everything, but the only one I really liked was Real Steel, which incidentally I watched first.

Obviously Hugh Jackman was good, and in some respects he was the reason I watched it in the first place. The plot was a bit too predictable and it got quite boring in the middle of the film, loosing a bit of steam. That said, the ending was superb and the battle against Zeus really captures your emotion. I know I felt as emotional about the match as the characters seemed to which is always a good sign for a movie.

I then moved on to Moneyball, equally because it featured Brad Pitt, but also because I was interested in the mathematics side of things (yes, I’m still nerdy). It wasn’t bad, although it wasn’t a big blockbuster and the ending was a bit odd. My night didn’t get much better as Moneyball was followed by Puss in Boots. A typical, predictable movie will all the usual elements. Nothing spectacular, although it wasn’t a terrible movie.

I was getting sleeping so I slept for a while and then woke up to watch Contagion. I just don’t get the point of this movie. I can follow the story line easily enough, but the concept of time gets so distorted by the director that it’s so easy to get lost. The host of big name actors just don’t quite fit together into a single storyline.

A little bored and hoping for some ‘drive’, I watched Drive. The narrative was a little better although landing meant I couldn’t finish the whole movie. I don’t think I missed much though. As I said, I really wasn’t a big fan of the movies available this time round. maybe I should have gone for the other ones on my list: The Debt, Tailor, Sailor, Soldier, Spy and Warrior.

Who knows, hopefully there’ll be some better movies on the flight back in May.

Top Posts of the Year 2011

2011 is coming to a close, and has grown another year older, 27 months and counting. There have been over 88,700 views since this blog began in October 2009, and over 550 posts (recall just 12 months ago, that number stood at a little over 180) which means that the “Posting at least once every week in 2011” commitment became more of a ‘Posting once a day’. It’s been an amazing year in terms of the blog, nearly 66,000 views just this year. So here’s a look back at the top posts of 2011.

1. WSDC 2011 – Team Lists [1st all time]
Part of the WSDC 2011 series, the posts resided in sidebar of for over 8 months in the run-up to WSDC 2011 in Dundee, listing the team members attending WSDC 2011, at least those I could find.

2. Fire at UWC Atlantic College [2nd all time]
Other than debating, this was undoubtedly the second biggest story of the blog this year. I started this post 2 hours after the incident itself and continued updating it as a running summary of the situation.

3. TOK Essay – May 2012 [3rd all time]
Let’s just say this has not been the highlight of my Christmas holiday.

4. Fire at UWC Atlantic College – Photo Set 1 [4th all time]
The first images of the aftermath of the fire. Incidentally, April 14th was the busiest day on the blog with just under 1,300 views in just 24 hours.

5. [RESULTS] LSE Open 2011 [Tab]
A tournament I attended with David as my debating partner, joined by other Team Wales member Cat and Sarah. An amazing experience and my first peek into university level debating. You can read about what happened in my de-facto diary entry 1, 2 and see how Team Wales fared.

6. WSDC 2011 – Official World Rankings
Also part of the WSDC 2011 series, the official world rankings followed my earlier, and rather more controversial, post with my own calculations (which were quite accurate, even if I say so myself)

7. AC IB Results 2011
A good year for AC and some good results all together for my dear second years. Sadly, that puts the bar quite high for the UWC AC class of 2012.

8. [RESULTS] WSDC 2011 – Round-up
The ultimate summary of my final high-school tournament – WSDC 2011 – before I left the high-school debating scene. An amazing tournament and some unforgettable memories. Thank you to everyone.

9. Fire @UWC Atlantic College – Photo Set 2
The second set of photos regarding the Sunley fire, this time with my own photos.

10. SCMP – Profile: Chris Lee (IS) IGCSE Top of the World
A not so original post, but an article that did catch my eye, and clearly attracted quite a bit of attention too.

Honorary Mentions

I think it is worth noting at this point that although only 3 WSDC 2011 related posts were found in the top 10, and only 4 debating related posts, the next 10 posts are exclusively debating related, 8 of which are WSDC 2011 related as well. August 2011 was also the most popular month for with nearly 14,000 views. A final thought: isn’t it interesting that Team Singapore, Team Canada and Team England come in as top posts on their own?

11. WSDC 2011 – Team Singapore
12. WSDC 2011 – Media Guide [UPDATED]
13. WSDC 2012 – Prepared Motions [UPDATED]
14. [RESULTS] WSDC 2011 – Round 1 & 2
15. WSDC 2011 – Team Canada
16. [RESULTS] WSDC 2011 – Break, Round 7 & 8
17. WSDC 2011 – Team England
18. [RESULTS] WSDC 2011 – Round 5 & 6
19. ASDC 2011 – Participating Institutions
20. WIDPSC 2011 – Grand Final [RESULTS] + Analysis