My name is Raghav, and I’m coming to the end of a two-year scholarship with Pamoja. I study the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP) at GEMS Wellington Academy, Silicon Oasis; a few of my classes are face-to-face, and the rest are online using the Pamoja platform.
Before I was offered the chance to apply, I hadn’t ever heard of anyone getting an IB scholarship. It’s very unique – Pamoja offered an incredible opportunity for me and my classmates and the benefits have been numerous. Most recently, I completed my university applications and the experience of learning online gave me a huge advantage; both in terms of skill set and the format itself. It was the one thing that I wrote about for every application because it made me stand out. It definitely helped me to get in to most of the universities I applied for and it’s also been a fantastic experience all round.
Before Pamoja, I was always taught traditionally. When I started my scholarship, I was suddenly learning everything I needed to know in a really flexible online environment. However, when I first began, the transition to learning online was pretty hard. I had no physical textbooks as all resources are online, which was very different to what I had previously known. Luckily the Pamoja platform is really simple, well-structured and easy to navigate. I think anyone can use it and so it didn’t take too long to adjust. On top of that it’s given me many skills that will benefit me at university.
The first and foremost skill I have acquired during my two-year scholarship is the ability to learn independently. I think that’s really important; I used to need to be pushed by a teacher before learning to do it all on my own. Thanks to a supportive environment and regular weekly assignment deadlines, I’ve learnt to work hard. I wasn’t used to it, but that is part of studying the IB as much as anything else and to succeed at university students need to be able to put in the work. I’ve also learnt to manage my time which is an invaluable life skill. When you study online you’ve got to get the work done – there’s a deadline – but you can do it however/whenever you want. This flexibility is unique to Pamoja and it makes you great at independent learning; a skill that universities look for.
You also get exposed to many different cultures when studying with Pamoja. By studying with and learning from people all around the world, you become internationally minded and that’s something you don’t get in a regular classroom. In more traditional classrooms you only interact with students who live where you live, but with Pamoja you interact with people globally. Online lessons always stand out for me because everyone joins in and engages with each other. I remember one conference I had for Spanish class with students from England, Italy – so many other places! It was really fun meeting new people and I’ve made friends with a couple of students in different countries after getting to know them really well during the scholarship.
I would definitely recommend Pamoja to students thinking about doing the IB DP, but only if they’re willing to put in their own work, because it’s expected of you. You get a lot of support, but still need to be self-driven.
Universities really search for students who can take them forward and are different. If there’s one thing that separates me from other students, it’s online learning and my scholarship. Most people associate online learning with higher education more than school, so it’s a big plus if a university gets a student who is already adapted to that way of studying. It’s a plus that no face-to-face teaching can really give. At university, you have lectures and then you go home and learn it; we already did that with Pamoja.
Raghav – student at GEMS Wellington Academy, Silicon Oasis
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