Beckett is mid-way through his university studies at the University of St Andrews, Scotland.
The location of the school is fantastic. It’s so nice to have the city at your fingertips and be able to do and see so much throughout the city. Halcyon provided a number of hands-on experiences that I loved, whether it was science experiments in Hyde Park or paddleboarding through the canals in Paddington.Beckett McDowell, Halcyon alumnus
I’m now studying International Relations and Economics at the University of St Andrews, which is slightly different from my original intention to study Geography and International Relations. I’m really enjoying my time here, the town is fantastic and the teaching is top tier. The University was even ranked number one in the United Kingdom according to The Guardian last year, so it’s nice that the university is getting the recognition it deserves and competing with Oxbridge. I’ve also had the opportunity to intern in the United States House of Representatives last summer. I spent the summer working with my local Congressman from Arkansas and his legislative team and got hands-on experience in the political world working every day on Capitol Hill.
I would say Halcyon and the IB, in general, do a good job of preparing you for University based on rigour alone. In order to achieve decent marks in the IB, you need a consistent and efficient study schedule over the course of your diploma and those skills apply directly to University life where you are much more responsible for creating your own schedule. I also think that Halcyon does a good job of teaching critical thinking skills and making sure you understand topics rather than memorise them, which is crucial once you enter a degree and begin to specialise.
I would actually say that Model United Nations was a major contributing factor in my decision to study International Relations. I loved going to the MUN conferences in the Hague each year, it was always a highlight of the year and I made memories I’ll carry all my life. I also had the chance to take economics at Halcyon (albeit when the course was still online) which has helped me a lot in my university-level studies of economics.
The Scottish University system is fantastic. In the first year of University, you choose three subjects to study; I chose Geography, Economics, and International Relations. After the first year, you are allowed to narrow down your choices and I begin studying only IR and Economics with some mathematical modules. Now in the final two years, I am specialising in particular aspects of my two subjects and taking classes that are much less narrow in scope. Of course, the pandemic has changed the delivery of the course at times and I had to take parts of my degree remotely from the United States, which wasn’t ideal. However, the time that I have spent in St Andrews has been superb and I have loved every minute and would highly recommend the University to anyone who’s considering it.
The location of the school is fantastic. It’s so nice to have the city at your fingertips and be able to do and see so much throughout the city. Halcyon provided a number of hands-on experiences that I loved, whether it was science experiments in Hyde Park or paddleboarding through the canals in Paddington. I also miss many members of the staff who were extremely supportive and helpful throughout my time at Halcyon. Mr. Afonso was the best maths teacher I ever had, the Teaching Lab Technician Tewolde was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, Mrs. Fritz was an extremely engaging teacher who sparked my love for Physics.
I’m not sure exactly what’s next for me, but for now, I am enjoying my studies and trying to gain all the experience I can in fields relevant to my courses. I plan to do a master’s degree after I finish my four years here and will likely specialise in Political Economy or Asian Politics. I really enjoyed my internship on Capitol Hill, and may consider that as a long-term destination for my career.
Halcyon is a fantastically diverse school and I got to meet people from so many walks of life. I learned a lot about different cultures and countries.
Even though there are some growing pains associated with integrating technology into education, Halcyon is always on the cutting edge of EdTech. Halcyon really helps its students become tech-savvy, which is key in the modern world.
I think that the school taught me how to be a self-starter and helps breed students with an entrepreneurial spirit. It was always fun to see students start up new clubs or projects. The personal learning projects were so much fun and I think that the students who take advantage of them can gain so much from the experience.
I would encourage any students who are at Halcyon today to really take full advantage of the opportunity and resources that are available to you at the school. Halcyon provides students with a tremendous amount of individual attention and tries its best to make sure that every student is looked after and cared for.
Without the support I received at Halcyon I would have never run for Student Council President, started a student-run newspaper, had the chance to speak on behalf of Google, or travel to the Netherlands to discuss global politics. It’s genuinely amazing the amount of things that you are able to do while at Halcyon, so my advice to any current or prospective student is to seize the day and make the most of your time there!
Thanks so much for the chance to talk about my post-Halcyon life! I just also wanted to recommend St Andrews to anyone who’s considering it. It’s not a university that was talked about a huge amount when I was applying but I think that it really lives up to the hype!