Patrice Dougan is the Herald's education reporter.

Is Soumil Singh New Zealand's smartest teen?

Kiwi student can take his pick of the United States' greatest universities.
Soumil Singh is turning down 10 of the top universities in the world, including at least four Ivy League schools.
Soumil Singh is turning down 10 of the top universities in the world, including at least four Ivy League schools.

Meet the young New Zealander who is turning down 10 of the top universities in the world, including at least four Ivy League schools.

Soumil Singh, 18, from Hamilton East, has narrowed down his top choices to Harvard, Stanford or the University of Pennsylvania - rejecting, "I think, four other Ivy League schools" he was accepted into and a prestigious scholarship to Duke University in North Carolina.

The former Hamilton Boys' High School pupil is among an increasing number of New Zealand students being accepted into some of the most elite universities in the world.

This year, a record 50 Kiwis have won admission to top-ranked United States universities, including all eight Ivy League schools.

A staggering $12.8 million in scholarships and financial aid has been won by some of the country's top students, helping them to attend their dream university.

Soumil, currently in the US checking out the campuses of his top three choices, was accepted into five of the eight Ivy League universities - Harvard, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania. He was also offered places at top-tier Stanford, Williams College, Amherst College and the University of California campuses at Berkeley and Los Angeles (UCLA).

When he makes his decision, he will reject at least four Ivy League schools and another six of the most prestigious tertiary institutions in the US. It's a position he didn't expect to be in.

"I didn't really expect to be having this choice, to be honest. It's pretty nice to have those options, and I'm really happy it's worked out like this," he said.

"It is a very hard choice to make, because they're all very good in their own way, and I'm struggling to come up with a way to go about this. Really, I'm pretty stuck. But I'm really grateful that I can pick."

He hopes to get a feel for the culture of the universities on his visits this week, and says his decision will also be influenced by what he wants to study - Stanford if he chooses computer science, but Harvard for finance and Penn for international affairs.

Soumil, whose parents are doctors and who has an older brother also studying medicine, says he is "pretty keen to get into it", but is planning to spend the next five months before the semester starts with his family, including a trip to India, because "they won't see me very much for four years".

And possibly an outdoor adventure camp to get into "a good mindset" before college.

Zhong Huang. Photo / Supplied
Zhong Huang. Photo / Supplied

Former Macleans College dux Zhong Huang, 18, has just accepted a place at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) to study engineering. He was also offered a Karsh Scholarship at Duke, worth $360,000.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet, to be honest," he said.

"It's something you never really thought would happen. If you went back a year or two years, I never would have thought I'd end up studying somewhere in the US, never mind somewhere like Caltech or Duke."

Zhong said the hard work he put in over the past year was "worth it" and would "prepare me for the academic rigours ahead".

Georgia Lala. Photo / Supplied
Georgia Lala. Photo / Supplied

Georgia Lala, 18, from Stonefields in Auckland, secured a Robertson Scholarship to Duke, also worth $360,000.

"It was very overwhelming," she said about the moment she found out, "but super exciting and super different from what I was expecting."

The former Diocesan School for Girls student and last year's Prime Minister's Future Scientist prize winner hopes to study biology or global health, with the aim of working in the area of population health policy in places like the United Nations.

"I'm looking forward to it, but I'm also quite scared, but scared in a good way, because it's completely new to me. I never really expected to study outside of New Zealand, and it's just going to be a whole different culture and environment," Georgia said.

Of the students who gained admission to the Ivy League schools this year, 90 per cent were supported by Crimson Education, the company that helps New Zealand students through the application process.

"Our students gained admission into every single Ivy League school several times over," a spokesman said, including five places at Harvard, two at Yale, five to Brown, four at Columbia, 17 to the University of Pennsylvania, four at Princeton, four at Dartmouth and two to Cornell.

Soumil's academic achievements

• One of the nine premier scholars for the Year 13 class of 2015.

• Received the most outstanding scholarships and highest number of overall scholarships of anyone in New Zealand.

• Received outstanding scholarships in classical studies, English, geography, history, media studies and physics and scholarships in agriculture and horticulture, economics and statistics for Hamilton Boys' High School.

• Obtained six A* at A Level doing the Cambridge International Exams, including topping the world in both English language and AS business studies.

Young Kiwi flies way ahead of the flock

Jamie Beaton. Photo / File
Jamie Beaton. Photo / File

A young New Zealander worth an estimated $40 million is on track to graduate from Harvard with a double degree two years ahead of schedule.

Jamie Beaton, 21, has also this year become one of the youngest students ever to gain admission to the prestigious Stanford Graduate School of Business.

The young entrepreneur, who is the co-founder and chief executive of Crimson Consulting - a company which aims to help students gain admission to elite universities - is set to graduate next month, with a degree in applied mathematics-economics and a masters in applied maths.

Typically, an undergraduate qualification alone takes four years, but Jamie will have completed two degrees in three years.

Studying at such institutions offered "career-building opportunities", he said.

"Not only are you attending lectures led by the brightest minds, but you are sitting beside future world leaders. These networks are invaluable and will continue to benefit students years after graduating."

Jamie encouraged New Zealand students to "take a global perspective to your education", and not to shy away from applying to overseas universities.

On top of his studies and running a business, Jamie also works for Wall St's Tiger Management as an analyst.

Crimson, which currently holds a significant place in the Australasian market, is now making a tentative expansion into Europe and has an eye on China in the medium term.

Jamie pitched the business in 2014, and it was this year valued at US$60 million ($87.9 million), with his share reckoned at US$26 million.

As a Year 13 student at King's College, Jamie applied for 25 of the world's top universities and was the first Kiwi to be accepted to all of them - Cambridge, Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania's Huntsman programme, Columbia, Melbourne and Monash among others. He achieved five perfect scores on SAT subject tests, SAT Maths and 750+ in both critical reading and writing.

Jamie has also won the New Zealand Student Enterprise Award and will be competing in global finals next month.

- NZ Herald

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