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BIS student Clara de la Fuente: Personal tips on how to receive a university acceptance to the University of Cambridge

"With a little ambition and hard work you can achieve anything."

Clara de la Fuente Carmona from Spain has achieved what many students around the globe dream of: an offer to study at the University of Cambridge. In this interview, the 17-year-old student at Bavarian International School (BIS) tells us how she managed to get a place at one of the world's most prestigious universities, how she continues to develop outside the classroom and what role BIS plays in her life.
“Eye on the prize" summarizes her efforts to get accepted at Cambridge - and the fact that her favorite scientist of all time, Stephen Hawking, did his PhD there was an additional motivation. She feels honored, Clara says. And it made her realize that "with a little ambition and hard work you can achieve anything."
But how exactly did she manage to get through a five-figure number of bright applicants all with excellent grades; what was Clara's secret for the ticket to Cambridge?
“Well, Cambridge certainly is very academic, so they will take a careful look at your grades. But that is not nearly all there is to the application process. The personal statement plays a crucial role, for which you need to be actively working for in 11th grade. I myself started reading a lot of books on engineering, watching lectures, programming websites, and I made sure that my Extended Essay was on a meaningful subject. The admissions test is also quite tough, given the increased difficulty from normal IB Physics (IB = International Baccalaureate) exams and the additional time pressure. I think that was the worst area for me, given that I only got a couple of points above average. And finally, the interview. That was probably the part I enjoyed the most, because it gave me a chance to prove myself in front of professors and answer technical questions with their guidance. I also showed a lot of excitement during the interview, and made sure to ask a couple of questions myself. Something tells me that this last part is what made all the difference and helped me stand out amongst other candidates.”
Clara de la Fuente Carmona is a prime example that a holistic education with diverse interests is important to develop a broad personality. She has led the STEM reading group, plays volleyball on the school team, has developed interest in programming and AI. In her remaining free time, she reads widely, researches science and economics topics, and plays guitar.

Passion, motivation and perseverance

What does Bavarian International School mean to you?
“BIS has provided me with the motivation and perseverance necessary to apply and be successful, so it holds a special place in my heart. It is the place where I've developed my passion for maths and physics, and I don't know where I'd be without this school. What made the difference were definitely my teachers. Mr. Hawker (physics teacher), Ms. Paquola (chemistry teacher), and Ms. Ibrahim (math teacher), are the best teachers I’ve had in the sciences and mathematics. They have not only motivated me, but also answered all my inquiries (which is a major achievement they should be proud of), pushed me further, and piqued my interest in areas I hadn’t even considered before.”
“What has BIS given you for your life, your studies, your future career?
“It has given me the best education I could possibly imagine. I am extremely grateful for my teachers, because they actually make the IB a joyful experience, and I can tell how passionate they are about their subjects.”
The 17-year-old Spaniard will study engineering and would later like to work in research and development regarding sustainability, energy efficiency, and reducing CO2 emissions. “I do know that engineering is a discipline that is constantly changing, so I will likely change my mind by the time I decide to save the world.”
Photos: Sebastian Stiphout