Jade's Story: Small-Town New Zealand to Top US Universities

02/04/202414 minute read
Jade's Story: Small-Town New Zealand to Top US Universities

Jade's story is nothing short of incredible. Recently accepted into not one, but SEVEN top US universities, she has proven not only to herself but to students worldwide, that with hard work and determination, everything is possible. We were honoured to sit down with Jade and celebrate this milestone with her.

Jade dedicated herself to a rigorous curriculum, encompassing a broad spectrum of A Level subjects including Math, Economics, English Literature, Physics, Psychology, and Chemistry.
Her experiences demonstrate how an online high school can provide extraordinary opportunities for students who aspire to attend world-renowned universities.

A Week of Celebration

At CGA, we take great satisfaction in celebrating our students' achievements, and we couldn't wait to hear of Jade's excitement as her university results started to roll in.

Jade was accepted into:

- Princeton University
- Columbia University
- Michigan University
- UIUC (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- Northwestern
- Carnegie Mellon

“I opened up my email, and I wasn't expecting anything, because I haven't had high hopes for the US, but I opened that email and… the confetti started coming down the page. I was just shocked. Straightaway, I called my friends and we were celebrating, that was really fun. And then later in the day… UIUC came out… and to see another acceptance, I was completely losing my mind. And then by the time we got to Georgia Tech…I could not believe it, I was jumping around my room.”

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Ivy Day: Acceptance into Princeton

Jade entered Ivy Day with an open mind, considering her options between Georgia Tech and Columbia. She secretly hoped if she was to get into another Ivy school that it would be Princeton due to its renowned engineering programme, but was grateful for already having been accepted to other top universities. Reflecting on her multitude of options, she remarked, "I didn't expect to be in the position where I had so many amazing schools to choose from.”

The moment Jade discovered her acceptance to Princeton was nothing short of sheer astonishment. "I was completely shocked," Jade said. Celebrating with friends and family, Jade cherished the unexpected joy of having multiple acceptances to consider, acknowledging the supportive role her friends played throughout the stressful admissions process and on Ivy Results Day as they started opening the letters from universities.

Tracing her journey from a small town in New Zealand to securing places at some of the top universities in the United States, Jade is quick to acknowledge how her experience at CGA played a pivotal role in this transition. “I appreciate the support from the whole CGA community. Bob [CGA University Admissions Advisor] was there for me when I was opening the [admissions letters] and…it's been really cool being able to celebrate with everyone because it has been such a journey,” said Jade.

A Congratulations from CGA'S Co-Founder

"As a foundational student at our school, seeing her multi-year journey to get into an Ivy League is mesmerizing, exhilarating and one of the most critical moments in our CGA journey to date.

*As a CGA student for 3 years, Jade's ambitions have grown with her beautiful *academic performance. I had the opportunity to meet with her in New York as she ventured to the US for the first time to check out various Ivy League schools. She visited Columbia and was absolutely in awe of the magnificent campus, student body and opportunity.

Fast forward to March 2024 and Jade has been accepted to Columbia University and Princeton, along with 5 other top universities." - Dr. Jamie Beaton, CGA Co-Founder.

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The Application Maze

Jade was ambitious in her approach to ensure she applied for all the universities she had in my mind - applying to 33 universities across four countries, including 22 in the US. There was no doubt this process was complex as it was challenging. “Navigating the extensive application process for over 33 universities across four countries (22 in the US - so there was a lot to deal with, especially because the US asked the most of all the applications by far. Each school has its own essays and also requirements like the SAT and such.”

In preparing her applications, Jade diligently crafted essays tailored to each university's unique prompts. Notably, she recalled the distinct essays for Princeton and Columbia, showcasing her deep research and personal connections to each institution. Through her essays, Jade intertwined her experiences growing up in Keri Keri. This included experiences being from a small town, securing internships, community impact and extracurriculars like her passion for dancing.

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Preparing Her Application Essays

Her strategic approach to her application essays, particularly for Columbia University, was one that Jade felt extremely proud of. "I remember I was really proud of my Columbia ones because I think I got quite specific with them and the prompts they had."

“I found a hyper-specific research programme in Columbia… and was able to link that with my interest in dance. I talked about dance, and my dance community and I was able to talk about the CGA community and how being exposed to such a diverse community of people all around the world with so many different interests and comparing that to a career.”

“And then for Princeton, I talked about a specific certificate programme which aligned with the EPQ [Extended Project Qualification] I had done. They also have a cool Intel internship set up and I think I was able to express my interest in that.”

Jade's success in this challenging process can be attributed significantly to the support from CGA, especially CGA's Director of Admissions, Bob Fan, who provided invaluable mentorship. Jade credits Bob for assisting with managing deadlines, sorting out recommendations, mentoring her through the common app and supplement essays, and keeping her on track throughout the application process.

Achievements Beyond Academics

Jade had an impressive array of extracurricular activities which she took during her time at CGA. These assisted her throughout her university application and showcased her ability to balance both her academics with her interests and hobbies.


  • Ballet - completed RAD Grade 8 and Advanced 1, volunteer teaching assistant
  • Computer shop internship
  • Head Prefect of Academics
  • Organised CGA's first careers fair
  • Peer tutor
  • Achieved A* for an EPQ on social bias in machine learning


  • NZ Chemistry Olympiad Silver Award, Camp team (top 30 in NZ)
  • International Psychology Olympiad Silver Award
  • $1000 Rotary scholarship for LIYSF
  • Graduated as All-Rounder, Dux

Making a Decision: Which University?

Leveraging connections from her mentor, Dr Jamie and CGA University Counsellor Bob Fan alongside alumni networks, she will look to find firsthand insights into potential campuses. Jade is also eagerly embracing the opportunity to do some virtual tours and have conversations with current students. “I'm so excited about that [doing all the research], but I'm also trying to think about where I'll have the best experience.

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University Excitement

Coming from Kerikeri, a small town with limited opportunities, Jade has developed a unique resilience and resourcefulness. “Finding opportunities here has been different for me…I've kind of learned to find pathways myself, because they don't always exist. [I came to CGA] because local education opportunities are a lot more limited here. So I wanted to push myself a bit more,” This self-driven approach has not only built her confidence but also prepared her to embrace university life with a distinctive strength and perspective.

As Jade looks forward to her university life, her voice is full of enthusiasm as she shares, “I'm so excited to become an engineer and start working on projects. But also…the extracurriculars available like solar car racing programs, dance teams. I'm really excited to get involved with all that,” she says, anticipating the new experiences and challenges that await her.

The Role of Dance

Despite prioritising academics over pursuing dance professionally, Jade's dedication to dance remained unwavering. Recognising its role in fostering discipline and perseverance, she affirmed, "Dance has definitely been a part of the whole application and school process." Jade looks forward to reigniting her passion in college, viewing it as a bridge to her roots and a source of balance amidst academic rigour.

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An Inspiring Advocate for Online Schooling

Beyond her academic achievements, Jade has also been a vocal advocate of the transformative power of online schooling.

Early last year, Jade was featured in The NZ heralds, "The rise of online schooling” where she shared her experience on the transition from a traditional schooling environment to online. Jade was asked if she had any regrets about moving to online schooling, and responded, "I was wanting to push myself a bit more academically. At my local school, I felt quite unchallenged because it's so big, and the teachers couldn't really go out of the way for us like that." Covid-19 provided her with an opportunity to trial online learning part-time, and she found it so enjoyable that she decided to make the move to CGA full-time - a clear win for Jade with the results of her university acceptances. 

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Her recent success was also highlighted in the News Hub NZ, which showcases Jade among other New Zealand CGA students who turned to online learning due to various challenges, including the cost of living, access to quality education and bullying in traditional classroom settings​​​​​​.

Jade features as being among the first in New Zealand to gain acceptance into top U.S. universities through online learning. "We have really small classes, so it's really easy to connect with your classmates and teachers, so I think you get a level of discussion and engagement...compared to a normal classroom,” says Jade.

Her advocacy for online schooling, exemplified by her own successes, continues to inspire students around the globe to explore and embrace this innovative approach to education.

Jade's CGA Reflection

Jade's time at CGA has been marked by her initiative in seizing every chance for growth. Her active participation in events like the Chemistry Olympiad and the Psychology Olympiad, where she notably won a silver medal, speaks to her dedication and talent. She points out that these experiences greatly improved her academic path, and her advice to prospective students is the same: “Take any opportunities you can, anything, which feels like something you'd be interested in, just go for it. I think [that’s] one really key piece of advice…I think that's what has helped me.”

Reflecting on her time there, Jade shares how she’ll miss the connections she’s built at CGA. “I really like all my classmates, they're so smart. CGA being such a diverse, global community…you really see that diversity of ideas in class. And it's so cool, having been able to meet so many different people, and see their learning. I'm definitely going to miss having such vibrant classmates."

Congratulations Jade

Jade's acceptances to seven top US universities, underscore the incredible opportunities that CGA's innovative online platform offers to students with big dreams. Her eagerness to dive into university life, reflects the confidence and readiness that CGA instils in its students. "I don’t think I'd imagined I'd be at this point, so soon, but I think CGA and the community around me have really prepared me for the next steps in my life. And I'm very excited for everything.”

Congratulations, Jade! We are eagerly looking forward to witnessing the great things you will achieve.