Academy offers taste of university life
Natalie Ornell and Kelly Lam
Top Form Five students were initiated yesterday into the Academy for the Talented, a programme designed by the University of Hong Kong to give an early, non-traditional experience of academic life.
It offers courses including medicine, service learning, leadership building and arts seminars. Select courses, including accounting, business and mathematics, will allow students to skip courses if they are eventually admitted to the university.
Schools were invited to nominate students based on factors, the most important of which was their track record for admission to HKU and other universities. They include St Paul's Co-Educational College, King's College, SKH Lam Kau Mow Secondary School and HKTA Tang Hin Memorial Secondary School.
'I'm very happy,' St Paul's student Sarah Wong Hoi-yee said yesterday after staying overnight in a dormitory as part of an orientation at HKU over the weekend. 'This will really give me the chance to get a feel for university life. It's not like day camp.'
Trinni Choy Pui-ying, assistant director of the university's media and public affairs office, said the academy hoped to reach out to other schools and students in different forms.
Each student was nominated by their school's principal, mostly based on their grades, before undergoing a review by a committee headed by HKU professor John Spinks.
Competition was fierce, with 121 being chosen from more than 200 nominees, registrar Henry Wai Wing-kun said.
'We simply can't accommodate everyone because of limited resources.'
Students can indicate their interest in a subject, and the aptitude in their chosen area makes the difference between being chosen or rejected. Qualities such as an outgoing personality can also be considered.
Dr Michael To Kai-tsun, clinical assistant professor at HKU's orthopaedics and traumatology department, said only five students were in a mentorship programme designed to produce 'teenage orthopaediatricians'. It brings the students into contact with medical staff, including senior doctors and medical students.
Of the five, two attend Diocesan Girls' School, one goes to La Salle College and two are at Maryknoll Covent School.
Asked whether HKU was her top choice, Wong said: 'Yes ... if I get in.'
Her mother was slightly more confident. 'Definitely,' she said.