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University Offers

Pupils who have received their university offers. Good luck on your journeys!

Ciara Richards

My journey to America

I had always wanted to study in the US- ever since a recruitment officer mentioned it to me at the British Junior Open squash championships. I was only young, about 12, but the idea was in my head. Knowing that my squash could enable me to study in America was a huge motivation to me.

Fast-forward a few years to when some of my older friends are setting off to continue their studies and squash in the US. I was given the emails for squash recruiters of all different universities and I began emailing them. I spoke to many different universities (or colleges as they are known in the states) for a few months before selecting around 3 or 4 that I liked the most. I chose these based on the squash team, courses, location, etc.

The next big step for me was sitting my ACT test, which I was studying for alongside my upcoming A-Levels. To be admitted into most US Colleges you must sit either the ACT or SAT test. Both are multiple-choice format based upon English, reading, writing, maths and science. I sat the 4-hour long test in April- 2 months before my A-Levels. When my core came back a month later as good enough for all the colleges I was looking at I was very happy (and relieved) as it meant I did not have to pay to do the test again. I then sat my A-Levels in June, which were also fundamental to my application.

During my A-Levels, a recruitment officer from Drexel University came to Cardiff where I and my parents were able to get a much more detailed insight to what studying and playing in the US would mean for me.  After the meeting and talks of potential scholarships, I was certain that I wanted to apply for Drexel.

Over the summer after finishing school I had to ensure my squash results were good enough to still be considered for Drexel. In August I achieved A*,A,B,C in my A-Levels of English Literature, Physical Education, Welsh Baccalaureate and Biology. This secured my deferred offers to study English Literature and Politics in Birmingham and Cardiff University. This also meant that combined with my ACT score and GCSE results my academics were good enough to be admitted into Drexel.

I decided to take a ‘gap year’ after finishing school as I did not feel ready to go to university and I wanted to focus on squash for a year. This also gave me the opportunity to go on a week-long visit to Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I went by myself, but I already knew some of the people studying there so I was not daunted. I stayed on campus with some of the squash players, got to train with the team and also watch the US Open squash with all the top professional players. The US Open is held in Drexel University annually! I fell in love with the city- a big change from Pontypridd. I was blown away by the standard of accommodation, university and sporting facilities in the US, specifically in Drexel University. I realised that I 100% wanted to study in Drexel and be part of the squash team.

When I came home I applied for early-decision application as I knew that I wanted to commit to Drexel. On December 15th I received my admissions letter to confirm that my application was successful. Along with this, I was awarded an academic scholarship, a squash scholarship and a need-based grant to cover most of the $70,000 annual cost to study.

This January I signed the contracts and I am currently applying for my VISA. I am going to be studying for 4 years in Philadelphia, starting in September. For now, my major is English, but I am keen to take classes in Political Science, Politics, Law, Business and French. I am so excited to start studying and playing for the team in September yet I am obviously very sad to be leaving my friends and family behind. I will be back every Christmas and summer- if not more often! None of this would have been achievable without the help of all my teachers in Pontypridd High School so thank you to everyone who helped me get here!

Ciara Richards