Homeschooled teen admitted to Stanford talks financial aid and Ivy League acceptance

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Rachelle Weiss will be studying performing arts at Stanford university in September. Photo: Supplied/Family.
Rachelle Weiss will be studying performing arts at Stanford university in September. Photo: Supplied/Family.

Rachelle Weiss is set to study performing arts at Stanford University in September.

This 18-year-old started homeschooling towards the end of her Grade 8 due to her passion for the performing arts: drama, music, and musical theatre.

She felt that to remain a straight-A student; she'd have to give up things she loved because theatre and arts have loads of after school activities, while high school also has a very demanding workload.

Being in a traditional school made her so unhappy that she and her parent made a unanimous decision to homeschool using the Cambridge International Exams.

Her studies combined Cambridge International IGCSE and A-level exams. They included a range of Trinity College London exams in drama, singing and musical theatre, and vocational-level Imperial dance exams (ISTD).

Weiss was recognised with two Cambridge Outstanding Learner Awards as top achiever in South Africa for IGCSE Music in 2019 and AS-Level Music in 2020, and in her matric results she came home with an A and A* grades in 6 IGCSE and 3 A-Level subjects which was very impressive.

Despite having a demanding schedule packed with things she needed to support her application, she also managed to do coaching, masterclasses with industry professionals, workshops, festivals, performances, and productions.

By the time she applied at Stanford, Weiss had international Grade 8/Advanced 1 qualification in all her performance disciplines and worked on associate qualifications in drama and musical theatre while studying.

This may have been unnecessary for someone at a regular high school, but she felt it was necessary because she is a homeschooler and had to send through her examinations herself.

Having done all that ended up raising her chances of admission and also scored her a needs-based financial aid enough to cover her expenses in the US.

Read: 'A weight off my shoulders': Local teen accepted to three Ivy League universities

Speaking to News24, Weiss shared that there are some funding opportunities available in US Ivy league universities like Stanford for international students who are in need.

"I think what many SA kids don't know is that several American universities offer extensive and, in some cases, full need-based financial aid to international students among the Ivy League universities," said Weiss.

"From what I've seen, it's mostly the more selective institutions that have the funding to offer generous financial aid. However, I found many universities don't offer aid to international students at all," she added.

This teen also urged her peers to do research when applying to American universities as South Africans.

"But don't avoid applying to the elite colleges because you think you can't afford to, especially if you truly think one is a good match. Most of them will be more than willing to assist you extensively if you're admitted," she added.

Must read: Homeschooled teen wins Science Expo with potential nanotech solution to Covid-19

Weiss told us that she is ecstatic to be part of the Stanford family because "the environment at Stanford is one of discussion, interaction and growth, so I can't wait to discover more of me and hopefully make friends for life."

She told us that when she finishes at Stanford, she hopes to come back as a professional actress, singer, dancer and composer, but she is also allowing herself the room to change her mind if she feels like it.

She likes Stanford because it allows students to have numerous practical theatre courses or have a double major in theatre and music.

She added that Stanford isn't forcing her to choose a path at 18, and that's marvellous because it leaves room to grow her current interests, explore new ones, and change her mind if she wants.

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