Form Six students, you might be busy preparing for your mock exams right now, but don’t forget to add your Other Experiences and Achievements in Competitions/Activities (OEA) to your Joint University Programmes Admissions System (JUPAS) account before 11.59pm on January 23.
Still worried about how to fill it out? Young Post asked Hok Yau Club Student Guidance Centre director Ng Po-shing, and DSE top scorers Melody Tam Lok-man, 19, and Moses Lam Ka-nam, 18, for a few tips and tricks on making your OEA really shine and stand out among the rest.
What is the OEA?
The OEA is an overview of your academic credentials, a table of your other learning experiences, and a personal essay of 500 words. The OEA is like a resume, Ng says, which gives your interviewers and university admissions officers an idea of what your interests and competencies are.
The OEA is not the Student Learning Profile (SLP) – where the former highlights the individual activities and competitions that you have participated in, the latter is just an essay, and it’s optional.
Ng says that the OEA play a vital role in the university selection process when two students happen to have the same DSE scores. The officers might use your OEA to see if your achievements and learning experiences are in line with the school is looking for.
“Yes, the DSE scores take priority [over the OEA],” says Ng, “but universities are also interested in how you balance your studies, activities and voluntary work. They’re look for students who can thrive in and out of the classroom.”
What should I write about?
When prioritising your other learning experiences, both Melody and Moses say that the greatest emphasis should be on activities or achievements that are relevant to the programmes you’ve chosen for your JUPAS Band A choices.
Moses, a first-year medical student at the University of Hong Kong, wrote about a six-week volunteering programme at United Christian Hospital and Haven of Hope Hospital that he completed, as it was relevant to the medicine programme that he wanted to get into.
Moses put this as the first thing on his OEA, as he believed whatever he wrote about first would be the thing that he would get quizzed on by the interviewers – and he was right. During the interview, he was asked to share more about his voluntary work experiences. He adds that he talked about how being the president of the student council at Christian and Missionary Alliance Sun Kei Secondary School would contribute towards his profession in the future.
“If you don’t know what you’ve achieved and have nothing to say in the interviews, you’ll end up looking awkward,” Moses says.
Melody wrote in her OEA about doing community service and how she developed her life skills. These experiences, she says, show your readiness to adapt to university life and take on new challenges.
“Universities are looking for people who are well-rounded, not just ‘study machines’,” she says. “The extracurricular activities that you highlight are an indication of how adaptable and resilient you can be, or how well you manage your time.”
Melody, a former student at HKUGA College, says it’s a good idea to let university admissions officers know what motivates you to study the programmes you’ve chosen.
And the essay?
For the 500-word personal essay, Ng says it’s best that you don’t include too many activities, as the interviewers and university admissions officers won’t have enough time to go through all of them.
“Give an in-depth account of two or three experiences that have helped shape you into the person that you are now. Talk about how meaningful they were, don’t just describe them. Keep it succinct.”
Melody stresses that one of the most important things to remember when completing the OEA is accuracy when completing the OEA.
“The OEA is the first thing that the university admissions officers read [when they’re looking for entrants]. They won’t accept a portfolio full of grammatical errors and typos,” she says. “Ask your teachers for feedback, and proofread your OEA before you send it off.”