Online learning was at times a hastily devised solution for educating during the pandemic but done in the right way the technology can enhance an education, allowing lessons to be delivered flexibly and tailored to each student.
Crimson Education and now its high school incarnation Crimson Global Academy have clarified and refined the online format and come up with a flexible, individualised model that’s helping students achieve their ambitions whether it’s pursuing a course at a local university or aiming high and vying for a place in the Ivy league or Oxbridge.
For many, studying at the world’s top universities is a dream and remains so, Oxbridge might seem very far away and pathways to admission vague and improbable.
But for students with real ambition to attend these schools Crimson Education provides the global perspective and focus that is essential in achieving acceptance to famous top tier universities.
Crimson Education was co-founded by some of New Zealand’s best and brightest, Jamie Beaton, Sharndre Kushor and Fangzhou Jiang in 2013 – Beaton and Kushor were 18 at the time – with the specific aim of supercharging students’ chances of succeeding in the ultra-competitive process of admission to global top ten unis.
All three have outstanding academic credentials. Beaton graduated Harvard Magna Cum Laude two years ahead of schedule, Jiang has a masters from Stanford and won a place in the Schwarzman Scholar’s Programme and Kushor is a former youth ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund.
“There wasn’t a lot of information and support in the market for students who wanted to look overseas for their tertiary education, so Crimson Education filled a huge gap in the landscape at the time. We wanted to help aspiring university students around the world on the journey to reaching their greatest potential, from high school to university and beyond,” says Jiang.
Crimson Education now operates in more than 20 countries and employs over 2400 tutors and mentors and continues to expand upon its successful university admissions support initiatives. Following its latest capital raising, Crimson was valued at more than US$622.5 million.
The Crimson Global Academy (CGA) launched in 2020 – a global online high school that has over 800 students in more than 35 countries.
Its approach is kicking goals, in the most recent international A-level exams: 84 per cent of CGA students scored 3+ vs 60 per cent global average, they achieved a 3.9 CGA average score vs 3.03 global average score and 44 percent of students scored 5 vs 12 percent global average. Over the past six years, students have received 370 offers to Ivy League universities and 126 offers to Oxford or Cambridge.
Jiang says CGA is an evolution of the traditional schooling model, “After almost a decade of working with the smartest students from all around the world, we saw there were gaps where education wasn’t helping students reach their full potential. Some students want the opportunity to study ahead of their year group, others want to take additional subjects not traditionally offered at school.
“For some, it’s the first time they’ve had access to truly high quality high school education – using our virtual classrooms to study an international curriculum, and learn from top teachers. This has really helped ambitious students in Australia and across the world accelerate their learning through world-class education. It is a registered, recognised private school as set out in the Education Act 1989.
“Fit-for-purpose online learning can greatly outstrip the emergency-style home learning that’s unfortunately become the face of digital learning throughout the pandemic. With Crimson Global Academy (CGA), students have access to more personalised, world-class education in a smaller class setting.”
One of the big plusses for students at CGA is the flexibility to scale both classes and schedules according to their ambition and ability.
“With both full-time and part-time options, i.e. supplementing traditional school with one or a few specific subjects curriculums they want to go more in-depth and accelerate their learning, CGA students have the flexibility to choose what works with their schedules,” Jiang says.
Athlete students can work their school schedule around their training requirements, so they don’t compromise their academic progress.
Similarly, CGA has seen an increase in rural-based students, particularly in Australia, who would have had to spend several hours commuting or go to boarding school, but now can stay at home without missing out on a top education.
By default or convenience the traditional schooling teaches students in groups with some but not a lot of flexibility in what children learn and at what pace.
“The current education system solves for the ‘bell curve’ by necessity. At five years old, we start going to school and progress as one cohort, progressing at the same pace across each subject. In this approach, it is the outliers that are most affected.
“While your child might want to go faster, or slower, in a particular subject, the system as it stands hasn’t changed what and how we’re teaching to allow for this.
“Instead of categorising students into a class based on their age, CGA operates based on aptitude and interest. This means, if your child is particularly interested in English, there’s no reason they can’t progress and accelerate more in that subject and maybe take it slower with mathematics,” he says.
The smaller, live class set-up means each student gets more direct interaction and support from their teacher.
And CGA has attracted some top notch educators from various countries. Among them are Principal John Morris (ONZM) who is the former headmaster at Auckland Grammar School, CEO Keisuke Shibata is the former managing director of the Auckland International College and Principal Mark Phillips worked at Macleans College for 35 years, winning the Outstanding Teacher Award there.
Students also have access to subjects and extracurriculars they usually wouldn't have in the traditional school system, such as cryptocurrency, investing, robotics, law and psychology.
CGA offers small, live classes of up to 15 students, and teachers dial in from around the world for classes. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqN1NfApqsk&t=119s
Students also have additional learning opportunities and access to global leaders and innovators through regular webinars, podcasts and mentor sessions. Some of the leaders involved (and who are also on the Advisory Board) include Olympic medallist, Barbara Kendall, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and former New Zealand Prime Minister Sir John Key.
“The CGA classroom is designed to be a social, interactive environment. We expect our students to work through material prior to the class so they’re prepared for discussion in the class. In fact, on average, CGA students talk three times as much as in their traditional school classroom as discussion and debate are welcomed.”
“Just as we can tell when a colleague if multi-tasking on a Zoom call, teachers can see whether students are distracted or engaging with the lesson.”
As CGA is online, one of the first questions parents ask is how social and soft skills are developed without the students being able to interact face-to-face.
“We know excellent achievements – particularly in the long run – require sound mental health and support systems. And, social interaction, mental health and physical exercise are all core to helping our youngsters become well-rounded adults.
“What this looks like in practice is bringing in fun physical competitions, whether it’s workout-based, kilometres walked or something else, with prizes to be won, using technology to support the ‘full student’ and checking in on their ongoing mindset at school, and encouraging regular, real-life meet-ups with fellow students in their area,” he says.
Crimson students come from a diverse set of counties and backgrounds and it is currently active in over 35 countries, operating in every continent except for Antarctica. Its largest markets are Australia, Japan, South Korea, China, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
CGA offers a pretty unique opportunity for students to gain perspective from talking with students across the world who might share their passions and ambitions.
“Students attending CGA have the unique opportunity to learn from and with students from all over the globe; exposing them to different languages and cultures that help form connections and a broader understanding of various world views at an earlier stage in life than most.”
CGA’s students are usually highly passionate and ambitious about one particular subject or their education as a whole and the school makes a point of helping them realise those ambitions and in their acceptance to the kind of tertiary institution that will help them achieve their aspirations.
“My co-founder Jamie Beaton has recently published his book ACCEPTED!, in which he shares some of the tips and insights about how the US admission system works and what students and parents can do to set themselves up for success,” Jiang says.