Tiago plays federated volleyball. David never misses a hip hop class, while Gonçalo has a passion for the Piano. Alice likes hiking and can’t resist an action movie. They are all 18 years old and “normal” young people. But with one particularity that distinguishes them from all the others… The four of them have just entered the University of Porto with an application average of 20 points (the maximum in Portugal), thus leading the contingent of more than 4700 students who entered the institution in the first phase of the National Competition for Access to Higher Education 2021/2022.

The question turns obvious. After all, what is the secret to getting into University with que maximum grade? “There is no secret”, assures Alice Lopes. After all, “what I do is nothing more than what most students usually do: concentration in class and studying at home to reinforce what was not so well established”. Add “the luck of finding good teachers throughout my career that helped me see the subjects from a different perspective” and the recipe that brought Alice from Penafiel to the Integrated Masters in Medicine of the Abel Salazar School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (ICBAS) is complete.

“My choice for the University of Porto was somewhat natural, since it is in my area of residence. However, the fact that it has two very prestigious medical schools reinforced my decision!”, confesses the future doctor who, “if I hadn’t chosen medicine, I would probably have chosen a course more related to Mathematics, my favorite subject”.

Alice Lopes is 18 years old and was born in Penafiel. (Photo: João Soares/U.Porto)

Alice’s expectations are “very high” for the coming years at U.Porto. “I hope to get the most out of everything the University has to offer”, she says.

For now, the first impression couldn’t be better. “The feeling of welcome so far is very visible and I hope to have fun and meet people who can be friends for life. After all, that’s what’s most important, apart from getting the course done!”.

“Good time management is essential”

If some can say they got into the course they always dreamed of, David Ramos‘ path was not so linear. “At the beginning of high school I didn’t know what I wanted to pursue, so I always aimed for the maximum,” he explains.

The various experiences lived at the Universidade Júnior, “as well as the prestige of the University and the testimonies of members of my family who also graduated here” would, however, end up helping to chart the course of the student born in Porto and one of the two “20s” who entered this year in the degree in Engineering and Industrial Management at the Faculty of Engineering of the U.Porto (FEUP).

David Ramos is 18 years old and was born in Porto. (Photo: João Soares/U.Porto)

Also for David “there is no secret” to achieve the perfect average. “I would say that the most important thing is to study (as focused as possible) and be attentive in class, but also find the balance between studying and hobbies. In other words, good time management is essential. Furthermore, the support of family and friends also played an important role in all this path that I accomplished”, he notes.

As for the future at U.Porto, David hopes “to make the most of what the University has to offer me academically and personally. And he has already set a goal: “As I want to enter the master’s degree, I have to keep on working as hard as I have up to now”.

“I have been thinking about studying here since I was very young”.

Rigorous study, maximum application, and a balance between school and personal life. If the factors for success tend to repeat themselves among the four new “20s” at U.Porto, in Gonçalo Castro‘s case, the “storm” couldn’t have been more “perfect”.

“I think it was a combination of factors. I have a family and friends who support me and have always supported me, offering me the necessary stability. Also, my teachers have always helped and motivated me. And I can say that the luck factor was always present for having had access to all this”, considers the now “freshman” of the Bioengineering degree, shared between FEUP and ICBAS.

Gonçalo Castro is 18 years old and was born in Gondomar. (Photo: João Soares/U.Porto)

Confessing himself as “a curious person that tends to always try to know a little more”, Gonçalo had no doubts when it was time for the big decision. “First of all, it is one of the best universities in the country, if not the best. As for my course, it is at U.Porto that it is more prestigious. On the other hand, all my family graduated at the University, so since I was young I was already thinking of studying here.

In the future, Gonçalo “would like to do research, preferably in something related to genetics”. But before that, he still has a lot to live through as a student at the U.Porto. “I’m going to learn a lot of new things, academically and otherwise. I’ll be able to meet many new and different people, which, combined with new experiences and a significant change in my life, will help me grow and evolve as a person. And that is the most important thing!”.

“I’ve always been surrounded by the right people”

Tiago Araújo knows what it means to always set the bar high. Literally. “Since I played federated volleyball throughout my career in the 3rd cycle and high school, I always had the need to reconcile my studies with sports.” How? “It was essential to dedicate myself to the maximum and take advantage of the moments I had to study 100%. I used to say to myself: “if I reserved this time to study, I have to use it”, reveals the second of the two “Vintes” that entered this year in the degree in Industrial Engineering and Management in FEUP.

Tiago’s motto was successfully tested between the pavilions and the classrooms of Castêlo da Maia High School. On the other hand, “at home, my parents were always examples of hard work and followed my school path, and my brother, being an excellent student, inspired me to set ambitious goals and fight for my objectives”. The rest was done based on “concentration, organization, and time management”.

Tiago Araújo is 18 years old and was born in Maia. (Photo: João Soares/U.Porto)

About the choice that brought him to U.Porto, the future engineer highlights “the quality and prestige of the University and FEUP” as “determinant” for the decision. “I know that I will do the course in an accredited university, which will give me the opportunity to participate in exciting and challenging projects and, at the same time, to reconcile studies with personal life,” he notes.

As for the new challenge he is now embracing at U.Porto, the young volleyball player only has eyes for victory. “Above all, I hope to make the most of this experience, both personally and in terms of my studies. Meeting new people and making new friends, learning about inspiring and successful paths, among others.” And of course, “I want to continue to achieve great results,” Tiago projects, before closing: “I believe that there is time for everything and it is possible to find a balance between academic life and the course. This way, I want to enjoy everything the University has to offer me”.

(Photo: João Soares/U.Porto)