UNIVERSITY COUNSELING GUIDE BOOK AN INTRODUCTION
AN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL FOR STUDENTS AGED 11-18
Table Of Contents University Is Not A Far Away Goal...
Why Advanced Placement?
Why Syracuse University Project Advance (SUPA)?
Testing: What Is It All About?
A Time Line To Begin Your Preparation
Choosing A University
Itâ€™s All A Part Of The Process...
A Review To Remember...
Keep A Log Of Everything You Do!
University Check List
Terms To Be Familiar With
Tips For Students To Be Successful When You Get To University
University Is Not A Far Away Goal . . . Planning Ahead Of Time Is Important! University can seem like a far away goal. Many students may think they have plenty of time to think about planning for university. In reality, however, university planning begins as early as elementary school. By middle school students should really begin to focus on their study skills and their grades. By high school, students should be considering the most rigorous academic schedule because only then will they be able to succeed in achieving their goal of getting into university.
School Achievement And Course Rigor Is Important School achievement and course rigor are the most important criteria for most university admissions. Universities consider everything on the high school transcript for all of the high school years. This is why it is so important for students to concentrate on their grades and course selection throughout high school. The more rigorous the class the better, which is why at ISHCMC - American Academy the Advanced Placement (AP) courses and SUPA (Syracuse University Project Advance) courses play such a key role. Official studies (by the College Board and other entities) have shown that high school students who take AP courses have a much higher tendency to succeed at university and college. SUPA courses are actual university level classes where students at high school can earn actual university school credit completing their degree up to a year in advance. Both AP and SUPA classes, although rigorous for a high school student, are advantageous and beneficial, for future university success.
Students Must Set Goals It is important for students to set goals early in their high school career. Goals should include: â€˘ Proper course selections as the pathway to achieve. Students seeking admission to prestigious universities and highly selective colleges should take AP courses, especially math and science, and SUPA courses. Completing four or more years in math, science and foreign language are desirable. â€˘ A comprehensive understanding of the English language. This is very important because students must communicate in English at a high level to attend an English speaking university.
Watch Your Grades • Academic grades are very important if you plan to go to university. • Universities want students enrolled in rigorous classes. • Universities look at academic performance and preparation. • Applicants are reviewed on the basis of academic criteria such as rigor of schedule, grades, and test scores. • All university freshmen will be enrolled in the same general academic curriculum, so universities review a student’s high school GPA (grade point average) in core academic classes: English, Social Sciences, Science, Mathematics and Foreign Language. • Universities recalculate a GPA based on core academic classes, then add a certain weight or points to the GPA, based on the kinds of courses a student has taken: i.e. AP (Advanced Placement), or IB (International Baccalaureate) classes. • Universities believe that the best or most ready student is that student who has challenged himself or herself throughout high school and especially, during the final year of high school. • AP courses are seen as a challenging curriculum so take a variety of these courses and score well on the AP exams to gain an advantage in the application process.
What Do Universities Want Universities seek the brightest and most intellectual student body. However, they also want to create a vibrant and diverse culture at their schools by balancing academics with non academic qualities, that is, students who are leaders and have followed their passion in the arts, sports, the community, etc.
How Can Parents Help • Help your student set academic goals. • Provide a good place to study and help with time management. • Use rewards and consequences. • Attend parent programs, be aware and stay informed. • Encourage independent problem solving.
High School Graduation Requirements Students must earn a minimum of 24 credits (required) for graduation or more. Most universities require between 2 to 4 credits in each academic area. It would be in the student’s best interest to research universities they are interested in to determine the number of credits needed for admission to that university.
The following subjects must be successfully completed. Each yearâ€™s performance achievement will be reviewed to ensure all students will eventually meet graduation requirements.
ISHCMC - American Academy High School Diploma: 24 Credits English
5 credits Total 24 credits
While most courses are one academic year in duration, courses are divided into two distinct semesters for grading purposes.
Recommended Credit Courses per year for high school Recommended credit courses per year of high school are: 7 credits for Freshman year 7 credits for Sophomore year 7 credits for Junior year 7 credits for Senior year Total possible credits = 28 credits. 6 of 7 possible credits are recommended in the Junior and Senior years to provide study time for AP classes in the daily schedule. Students should consult with their counselor and teachers to match academic and career goals to course selection. Service learning commitments occur after school hours.
Grading Scale ISHCMC - American Academy has four terms â€” two per semester. In the two semester system, each class successfully completed counts as 0.5 credit = 1 full credit at the end of two successfully completed semesters. Letter
Why Advanced Placement (AP)? Since 1955, the AP Program has enabled millions of students to take university level courses and exams, and to earn university credit or placement while still in high school. Nearly 18,000 schools worldwide participate in the AP Program. More than 90 percent of the nation’s four-year colleges and universities have an AP policy that grants incoming students credit, placement or both for qualifying AP Exam scores. Universities in more than 60 countries recognize AP scores in the admission process and/or award credit and placement for qualifying scores. Each AP Exam, with the exception of AP Studio Art, consists of dozens of multiple-choice questions that are scored by machine, as well as free response questions (essays, translations, problems, oral responses) that are scored at the annual AP Reading by more than 10,000 university faculty and AP teachers using scoring standards and rubrics developed by college and university faculty, who teach the corresponding university courses. The composite score for each AP Exam is converted to a score of 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1. An AP Exam score of 5 is equivalent to an A in the corresponding university course; a score of 4 is equivalent to grades of A-, B+ and B; and a score of 3 is equivalent to grades of B-, C+ and C.
For Students: Why Do I Need To Take AP? The following is reprinted from the College Board website: www.collegeboard.org • Through AP’s university-level courses and exams, you can earn university credit and advanced placement, stand out in the admission process, and learn from some of the most skilled, dedicated, and inspiring teachers in the world. • From the moment you enter an AP classroom, you’ll notice the difference in the teacher’s approach to the subject, in the attitude of your classmates, in the way you start to think. In AP classrooms, the focus is not on memorizing facts and figures. Instead you’ll engage in intense discussions, solve problems collaboratively, and learn to write clearly and persuasively. • With 34 AP courses to choose from, you’ll be able to explore your interests and discover new passions. You’ll study fascinating topics and ideas that just might become the foundation of your future university major or career.
• AP courses can help you acquire the skills and habits you’ll need to be successful in university. You’ll improve your writing skills, sharpen your problem solving abilities, and develop time management skills, discipline, and study habits. • Most four-year universities in the US and universities in more than 60 other countries give students credit, advanced placement or both on the basis of AP Exam scores. By entering university with AP credits, you’ll have the time to move into upper level courses, pursue a double-major or study abroad. • Research shows that your AP experience can benefit you in several important ways when you reach university: AP students are more likely to graduate from university in four years. (Students who take longer to graduate can spend up to $19,000 or more for each additional year.)
Advanced Placement (AP) at ISHCMC - American Academy At ISHCMC - American Academy students have the opportunity to graduate with an AP International Diploma in addition to the American accredited High School Diploma. An AP International Diploma requires the successful completion of external AP exams. The following requirements are necessary in order to be awarded an AP Diploma: • Written Exams: These exams are required to take place at the end of each AP course. • Internal Assessment: Teachers provide internal tests, assignments, and projects to assure students have an understanding of the course.
AP Criteria To earn an AP International Diploma at ISHCMC - American Academy, students must earn grades of three or higher on at least five AP Exams which are conducted in May on the following content areas: • 2 AP exams from different languages selected from English and/or world languages. • 1 AP exam designated as offering a global perspective. • 1 exam from sciences or mathematics. • 1 additional AP exam from any content area except English and world languages.
Common Questions about the AP Diploma Q. How does the AP Diploma fit in with the ISHCMC - American Academy High School Diploma? A. It is possible to qualify for an ISHCMC - American Academy High School Diploma at the same time as working for an AP International Diploma as long as American Academy graduation requirements are met.
Q. How difficult is the full AP International Diploma? A. The AP International Diploma program is designed for academically able students and is particularly suited to those who wish to pursue a university education. The program is demanding in its depth and breadth of study, while requiring a high degree of organization. Experience suggests that it is the ability to manage time wisely that leads to success rather than academic brilliance.
Why Syracuse University Project Advance (SUPA)? The ISHCMC - American Academy is proud to be the only international school in Vietnam to offer Syracuse University Project Advance (SUPA) courses. These courses are designed to provide students a unique opportunity— a university level course with university credit while still in high school. Students, who successfully complete a SUPA course, will receive an official Syracuse University transcript. Each SUPA course costs $110 per credit for a 3 credit course, so the course total cost is $330, as compared to the $4740 it would cost to take the same course on campus at Syracuse University in the United States. Taking courses through SUPA is a way for students and parents to save on university tuition since students can apply for transfer credit for SUPA classes at whatever university they plan to attend. SUPA Offers High School Students the Following Advantages: • College Preparation - Studies show that Syracuse University courses provide a unique opportunity for college - bound seniors to see how well they will transition from high school to college and to gauge their ability to do typical first-year college work. • Receiving Recognition - More than 90% (+/- 2% in any given year) of SUPA graduates who send an official SUPA transcript or attend SUPA receive college recognition - credit, placement, and/or exemption - for completed SUPA coursework. • Great Expectations - Data suggests that SUPA graduates are highly motivated achievers. To college admissions officials, such students are desirable, low-risk prospects who are unlikely to drop out, seldom seek time-shortened degrees, and often go on to graduate study.
• Greater Challenges - SUPA offers genuine Syracuse University courses, so the coursework is more demanding than high school coursework. Students are expected to conceptualize and draw conclusions from reading and research. As a result, SUPA graduates tend to be more adaptable, self-actuated, reflective, and innovative. College ready, in other words!
Testing: What Is It All About? Grades are important, involvement in extra-curricular activities and community service is beneficial, and good scores on English proficiency tests and critical reading strategies could make the difference between being accepted or being denied to a university. Essentially, a better understanding of the English language could be the one factor that could determine whether you are offered a place. Testing offers a clearer picture of what academic progress a student has made. More and more students strive for college admissions at western universities. Standardized testing results seem to be a key to unlock the doors for those Vietnamese students who want to enter that realm. As universities become more and more competitive, students have to make themselves more assertive in opening the door of opportunity.
Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Testing While Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing is not an exam required for admission, at ISHCMC - American Academy, MAP testing determines a student’s instructional level and measures academic growth in reading and mathematics throughout the school year. At ISHCMC - American Academy, all 6th—10th graders take the MAP test twice a year — in the fall and in the spring. MAP testing is an additional assessment to our ongoing AP, MAC II tests for EAL, and PSAT/SAT testing. MAP tests are unique in that they are adaptive tests students take online. That means that the test becomes more difficult the more questions are answered correctly. When a student incorrectly answers a question, the test becomes easier. Therefore, each student takes a test specifically created for his or her learning level. MAP results are reported in “RIT scores”. This is a different type of score than a typical test that provides a percentage or a rubric mark. It is also different in that many tests provide results based on the student’s score compared to others in the same grade. Instead, the RIT score is an equal-
interval scale, like centimeters and meters, that is independent of grade level. As a result, we can easily measure growth in learning and ensure students are able to develop academically as much as possible.
SAT The SAT (created by the College Board) is one of the most globally recognized university admissions tests. Test results show universities what a student knows and how well a student can apply that knowledge. It assesses a student’s knowledge of reading, writing, and math – subjects taught every day in a high school classroom. Most students take the SAT during the spring of their junior year and the fall of their senior year. Most universities use the SAT in making admissions decisions. Why? Because universties deem SAT scores as the best predictor of academic success in university. The SAT examines: • Critical reading skills (reading passages and sentence completion) • Math (arithmetic, algebra, geometry, statistics, and probability) • A writing section (a short essay and multiple choice questions to identify errors and improve grammar and usage) • An essay The critical reading score on the SAT is crucial. Although math scores may be very high, universities will scrutinize critical reading and writing scores. Why? Because universities in the US are all English speaking institutions. Classes are taught in English. So, a student needs to score satisfactorily, according to university standards, on the critical reading or essay portion of the SAT, to be considered a successful candidate for an American university. The SAT essay measures a student’s skill in developing a point of view and expressing an idea effectively. A university uses this score as a factor in determining if a student is ready for university level writing. The College Board also uses the PSAT (a practice test for younger students) and SAT Subject Tests (content-based tests that allow a student to showcase achievement in a specific subject area).
THE PSAT The PSAT provides first hand practice for the SAT and is important in determining if a student will be successful with AP classes and with taking the SAT. At ISHCMC - American Academy all 9th—11th graders take the PSAT. The PSAT offers students with the same testing strategies on the SAT. PSAT score results provide students with an in depth look at what they did and what they need to improve on. The score report
includes a section that shows each correct test answer and each answer the student marked so students can review their work. In addition, students are then given an access code to access MyCollegeQuickStart. This is a free online service from the College Board for students to explore testing strategies, college choices, career options, and AP potential.
SAT Subject Tests SAT Subject Tests are sometimes required by some universities to determine if a student is ready for a specific major or program. Again, this is one more component that could aid in a students admission success. Not all universities require a subject test score. Always check your university admission requirements. There are 20 SAT Subject tests in English, history, language, math and science.
How Is The SAT Scored The SAT is scored on a 200â€”800 point scale and covers critical reading, math and writing. On the SAT Subject Tests subscores are used to compute the total score, but their individual contributions differ between the different tests. Students receive points for correct answers. A fraction of a point is subtracted for wrong answers. Questions that are skipped donâ€™t count against your score. Each year, universities publish the middle 50% range of SAT scores for its incoming class. This range provides counselors and students with an insight into where they might fit when considering a university for admission. The higher the score, the better chance of being admitted. The SAT is given seven times a year in the US, beginning in October, but six times a year internationally. Students can register online to take the SAT at ISHCMC - American Academy. Most graduating seniors should take the SAT no later than the December test date. However, keep in mind that some US universities requiring early deadlines may consider the December test too late. We advise to test in October and November so scores will arrive to the university in time for admissions decisions.
Other standardized tests to consider ACT ACT (by ACT Corporation) is another standardized test, offered in the US and used for university admissions. It consists of four multiple-choice tests: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science; plus a writing test. ACT results are widely accepted by US universities. The test is offered six times throughout the year in the US and five times internationally.
English Proﬁciency Tests TOEFL The TOEFL Test (by Educational Testing Service) is an important part of a student’s journey to study abroad in an English-speaking country. The test measures a student’s ability to use and understand English at the university level and evaluates how well students can combine listening, reading, speaking and writing skills to perform academic tasks. There are two formats: The IBT test (online) or the PBT test (paper). More than 25 million people from around the world take the TOEFL each year and more than 8,000 colleges, universities, and other institutions accept TOEFL scores. Students planning to study at a university are urged to take the TOEFL for admission. In fact, some universities may require the TOEFL as part of the admission process for international students. In addition, a US university may still refer to the SAT to determine if a student is English proficient.
IELTS The IELTS (the International English Language Testing System) tests English proficiency. More than 1.4 million people take the test each year. Test results are recognized by more than 6,000 institutions. IELTS tests four language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The speaking portion of the test is a face-to-face interview.
Test Preparation Students can prepare for the SAT (and other standardized tests) through preparation classes, tutoring sessions, study guides and by visiting the College Board website: www.collegeboard.org for helpful hints and SAT practice tests. The best advice for students is to practice vocabulary, hone your math skills, and practice writing techniques. Before the test day, make sure to get a good night’s rest and eat a good breakfast. Always come prepared to take the SAT. Bring a supply of pens, pencils, and an approved calculator. The ISHCMC - American Academy provides students with the College Board’s SAT Online course as a free service to assist students in preparing for the SAT. In addition, we have a series of free study guides and teacher assistance to help students.
2013 Remaining SAT Test Dates • May 4 (March 26 deadline) • June 4 (April 23 deadline)
2013-2014 SAT Test Dates • October 5 • November 2 • December 7 • January 25 • May 3 • June 7
2013 AP Test Dates May 6 — May 17
2014 AP Test Dates May 5 — May 16
ISHCMC - American Academy CEEB Code (to take the SAT): 698102 www.collegeboard.org
A time line to begin your preparation 9th grade • Planning begins as early as 9th grade. • Select the right courses to begin a college ready focus. • Stay organized and study. • Keep a planner. • Practice time management. • Understand that there is a time each day that you should set aside for studying. • Take the PSAT in October. (It is good practice to begin understanding what kind of information is on a standardized test.) • Begin a resume. (Keep track of your classes, your grades, the clubs you belong to, your community service.) • Begin reviewing universities. • Attend college fairs with your parents. • Meet with your college counselor to discuss the best courses to take. • During the summer, read and prepare for your upcoming AP classes. • Above all, watch your grades. (Universities consider the grades you have received in 9th – 11th grade when making an admissions decision.)
10th grade • Be prepared for the AP classes you will take. • Stay organized and study. • Keep a planner. • Practice time management. • Understand that there is a time each day that you should set aside for studying. • Take the PSAT in October. (It is good practice to begin understanding what kind of information is on a standardized test.)
• Continue to build your resume. (Keep track of your classes, your grades, the clubs you belong to, your community service.) • Attend college fairs with your parents. • During the summer, explore universities. • Think about what your college major will be. • Meet with your college counselor to discuss the best courses to take. • Read and prepare for your AP classes. • Begin studying for the SAT. (The College Board website offers many free online resources to help.) • Above all, watch your grades. (Universities consider the grades you have received in 9th – 11th grade when making an admissions decision.)
11th grade • Be prepared for the AP classes you will take. • Stay organized and study. • Keep a planner. • Practice time management. • Understand that there is a time each day that you should set aside for studying. • Take the PSAT in October. (This is the last time you will have a chance to take this free practice SAT.) • Continue to build your resume. (Keep track of your classes, your grades, the clubs you belong to, your community service.) • Attend college fairs and meet with college admissions counselors. • Begin exploring your university options. • Visit universities during the summer if you are able to. (When you return to school as a 12th grader, you will begin applying to college so it is a good plan to have an idea of where you want to go.) • Begin studying for the SAT. (The College Board website offers many free online resources to help.) • Sign up to take the SAT by January. • Meet with your college counselor: discuss the best courses to take, review your ideas for a college major, talk about which universities you are considering. • Above all, watch your grades. (Universities consider the grades you have received in 9th – 11th grade when making an admissions decision.)
12th grade • During the summer before your 12th grade year, begin organizing your university choices. • Prepare for your AP classes that you will take during your 12th grade year. • Practice your SAT skills during the summer. • As soon as the school year begins, meet with your college counselor: review your ideas for a college major, talk about which universities you are considering. • Complete your resume. • Ask your counselor and your teachers for letters of recommendation. (Give your counselor and teachers at least 2 weeks notice. Give them a copy of your resume so they know more about you than your grades.) • Begin applying to the universities of your choice in late September. • Coordinate with your college counselor to make sure you have everything in order (your application, your transcript request, your letters of recommendation, etc.) • Do not apply to a university because your friends are applying there. • Explore all of your options. Your university will be your home for the next four years. • Continue to watch your grades. Even after you are admitted, your university will want to see your final transcript. If your grades drop, the university may rescind your admission. • Apply for scholarships throughout the year. (Scholarships are free money to attend college.) • Once your decision is made, begin working on your VISA, financial aid, and final plans for your university.
Choosing A University Choosing the right university can be a daunting task for families. Obviously, a student’s academics and test scores will be a major consideration for admissions. A student’s choice of major will also play a key role in the decision making process. Meet with your counselor and consider at least five good university options — a dream school, some “safe” schools, and a back up school (guaranteed admission). There is a lot of applicant overlap at various universities, i.e. geographical proximities, academic reputation similarities, and other factors. Students should select a range of schools that includes reach schools, safe schools and backup schools. In some instances, selecting one of the top 50 schools (as presented by US News and World Report) may limit a student’s opportunity to explore other options. There are many good universities with excellent reputations that are worth considering, in addition to the top ivy league institutions. Explore all possibilities. All universities have excellent websites. Books such as the College Board’s “College Handbook” and “Book of Majors” can help a student explore different possibilities. Websites like Naviance and College Week Live offer free online college fairs and face to face chats with admissions counselors and university students.
What To Consider • Why do you want to attend university? • What do you want to major in? • Do you want to attend a large school or do you prefer a small campus setting? • Is the university affordable? • Choosing a university because of its ranking or because friends are planning to attend are not reasons to select a university
What Kind Of Education Are You Looking For The term college and university are widely interchangeable when discussing post secondary education. But the main difference between a college and a university is simple. • A college offers a collection of degrees in one specific area. Colleges are usually smaller. • A university provides a collection of different colleges. When you attend a university you will graduate with a major from one of their colleges, such as the business college. Universities are usually bigger than colleges.
University and College Applications University and College applications are important. They are lengthy and require a lot of concentration with the majority completed online.
The Common Application The Common Application is widely used. The Common Application simplifies the admission process by eliminating time and duplication of effort. Once completed online, copies of the application may be sent to any of the more than 300 participating colleges and universities. A list of those participating colleges are on the Common Application website, www.commonapp.org. The common application can also be processed through Naviance.
The Naviance Link All of our high school students receive Naviance account information. Naviance is an easy-to use web based program that can help students structure a personal success plan geared toward university readiness and success. Students will be able to research colleges and careers, plan for university, prep for tests, organize resumes and university applications, and correspond with their counselor.
Admissions Criteria Admission officers reflect on the following criteria to deem a student acceptable: • Grades • Course selection (AP courses) • Test scores (standardized tests like SAT, ACT, TOEFL, etc.) • Student Accomplishments and Activities • Awards • Recognitions • Clubs • Organizations • Athletics • Arts • Community Service • Jobs • The university essay • Recommendation letters • An interview (sometimes required)
It’s All A Part Of The Process. . . The University Resume A resume is simply a summary of a student’s activities and accomplishments throughout the high school years, grades 9-12. Keep it simple in a straightforward format. Students should list information in a neat format: • Goals • School clubs/organizations (list position held and years involved) • Athletic/Performing Arts participation • Awards/Honors Received • Community/Volunteer Service and Activities • Jobs Held/Work Experience
Transcripts A transcript is an official record of the courses and grades received in grades 9—12. Universities require a transcript as part of the admission process to determine if grades and academic standing make a student eligible for admission. A transcript must accompany an application for it to be considered complete. The final transcript is sent upon completion of high school to the university the student has been accepted to and has agreed to attend. The university must have the final transcript as part of the final admission approval status to that university. University admissions status is deemed “conditional” until the final transcript is received. A university could deny admission if the final transcript does not match the original courses and grades a student provided for admission.
University Essays Most universities require a university essay as part of the application process. Universities may refer to the essay as an application essay or a personal statement. Some universities require the essay as a significant part of the application. They use this writing assignment to determine if indeed the student
is university ready or a good fit for their particular institution. Some universities may use the essay as an additional piece of information that gives them a better insight of who the student is. There are basically two kinds of essays: • An open ended essay invites students to write creatively on a specific topic, assigned by the university. • The other kind of essay simply requests that students describe themselves and their reasons for wanting to attend university. Whichever the topic, students should address their approach specifically and straightforward. Students need to demonstrate their writing ability and show off their good composition skills.
Why Are Essays Important? • Essays provide an opportunity for students to present more about himself or herself to the university admission staff — beyond academic performance and test scores. • Essays offer applicants a chance to tell a university how their experiences have solidified a belief, enabled them to establish a goal or helped them to overcome personal hardships or challenges. • A good essay might tell how participation in activities within the high school curriculum or outside activities relates to the applicant’s goals and aspirations. • Essays show how students can contribute the most to the intellectual and cultural vitality of a university community.
What Constitutes a Good Essay? While essays demonstrate writing ability, which is a key component to success in university, university admissions staff are far more concerned with content rather than format. Universities listen for a “voice.” The essay or personal statement should reflect that. Well-written essays give the reader: • A sense of a student’s values and priorities. • Indicates how orderly and logical a student is. • Shows a more complete picture of a student.
It’s All About You! • The essay is about you and who you are, not your parents, teachers, or friends. • Universities do not need a recap of what they offer at the college or a summary of their website. • The university wants to know more about you and the way you think.
What If The Essay Is “optional”? If a university application says that the essay is an “optional” component to the application, students should still write it. It is always a good idea to write the essay because it gives the university one more piece of evidence of who you are. It could make the difference between “admit” or “deny.”
How Is The SAT Essay Different From The University Essay? • The SAT essay measures a student’s skill in developing a point of view on an issue and expressing those ideas effectively. This essay is similar to the critical thinking and on-demand writing that may be required by college professors. Admissions staff may also use the essay as a factor for admissions. • The university essay provides students the opportunity to talk about themselves. This essay gives the university an insight into who the student is beyond academics and test scores. A great application essay will present a vivid, personal, and compelling view of you to the admissions staff. It will help you stand out from other applicants. The essay is one of the only parts of your application over which you have complete control.
Tips For Successful University Essays • Read the essay question very carefully. • Be honest, imaginative and brief. • Be yourself. • It is okay to be controversial if you are passionate about an issue. • Show how you think and why you’ve done what you’ve done. • Don’t just list the facts. Discuss relevant experiences. • Write the way you would speak. Avoid big words. Show, not tell. Let your actions speak for you. • Use action verbs! They make the essay more interesting. • Minimize using “I” as much as possible. • Avoid clichés. • Don’t be overly wordy. Develop the main idea of your essay with specific facts, events, or ideas. If the essay is too long, it gets bogged down and boring. • Eliminate unnecessary words. • Don’t rewrite your resume for the essay. • Don’t relist everything on the university website as the reason you want to attend the university. The university does not need to know that it has a good alumni base or a good engineering program. The university wants to know about you.
• Check your spelling, grammar and punctuation. • Be aware of the meanings of words and make sure they are relevant to what you are trying to say in a sentence. • Edit and rewrite. • One final tip: If you plan to use the same essay for more than one university, make sure you edit your essay to list the university you are sending it to. More applications have been denied because students send an essay saying they really wanted to attend (for example) Harvard but sent the essay to Yale.
Visa Information To obtain an F-1 visa for study in the United States, a foreign citizen must furnish his or her home country’s U.S. consulate with proof of ability to meet educational expenses, along with a certificate of eligibility for a Visa application (I-20 form). I-20 forms for incoming foreign students are issued only after a student has been admitted and returned a completed Certificate of Financial Responsibility. Visit the US State Department website for details on the Visa if you are not familiar with the specifics www.travel.state.gov/visa/.
Questions Students May Ask About University Applications Do I have a better chance of getting in if I apply early? This can vary from school to school and year to year and may depend on the applicant pool at the school to which you are applying. Are you qualified to apply for Early Decision? If you are and this is the school you really want to attend, then apply for Early Decision.
How much time should I give my teachers/counselor to write letters of recommendation for me? Give teachers/counselors a minimum of two weeks’ notice.
How many times should I take the SAT? Some students are satisfied with their SAT scores the first time, some may take it three times. Most students will take the SAT in the spring of their junior year and the fall of their senior year.
My SAT scores are very low and my grades are very high. Will this affect my chances of admission? While SAT scores are an indicator of success in university, admissions staff look at many different factors when making an admission decision. One factor they consider is if your high school academic
profile indicates that you have the potential for academic success at their university. What kind of courses have you taken? Have you taken rigorous courses such as AP courses? Have you taken AP exams with scores to indicate how you may perform in a university level course?
Will the university consider my family’s financial status? Will universities hold this against me? Some universities have a “need blind” admission policy, which means they do not consider a student’s financial status. Other universities may request financial information, but don’t worry about this. There are merit scholarships (based on academics) and financial aid.
How can I improve my chances of getting in from the wait list? If a university is your first choice, let the university know that, although the university may not ask for this information. Write a letter to the Director of Admission expressing your continuing strong interest and updating the admission office with any new information that reflects well on you. In addition, you may wish to ask your counselor to make a call on your behalf. Many universities keep track of these kinds of contacts, and students who show enthusiasm and persistence will be considered.
Do universities really care about your final year grades? Absolutely. Many universities may not make a final decision until receiving these grades. They want to see a performance that indicates you are ready for university level work. The university at which you make your enrollment deposit will ask for a final transcript at the end of the senior year. Admission letters often say something like “Your admission is contingent upon your continued successful performance in high school.” It is not rare for a university to withdraw an admission offer if grades drop over the course of the senior year.
A Review To Remember. . . All application materials: • Application • Transcript • Test Scores • Essay • Resume • Recommendation Letters When a university admissions office receives a student application, many factors are considered in the decision making process: • Grades • Test Scores • Essay • Resume • Letters of Recommendation In some instances, an interview may be part of the process. • If a student is placed on a wait list, it usually means a university may request more information, such as additional test scores or midterm (semester) grades. • If a student is denied during early decision/early action, you cannot reapply for regular decision the same academic year. • When students receive a university admissions letter, be aware that the admission is “conditional” upon successful completion of high school, i.e. students have completed the classes they say they were enrolled in, standardized test scores, and final grades are satisfactory. Many universities have withdrawn their offers of admission to students who did not meet these requirements.
Keep A Log Of Everything You Do! Your final year of high school is busy. You will have many distractions (prom, graduation planning, etc.) • Manage your time wisely. • Be wary of deadlines. • Stay focused. • Keep a copy of everything you do. • Make a list and check it off. (Use the handy chart on the next page to stay organized.)
Have you done the following: • Have you researched your university choices? • Have you selected your universities? • Have you started the application process? • Did you remember to send your test scores? • Did you order your transcript? • Did you ask for letters of recommendation? • Have you worked on your essay and reviewed it? • Have you considered your family’s financial obligations? • Have you checked into the VISA requirements?
How Can Parents Help • Help your student set academic goals. • Provide a good place to study and help with time management. • Use rewards and consequences. • Attend parent programs, be aware and stay informed. • Encourage independent problem solving. • Be supportive.
University Check List Name Major University name Applied
Sent Test Grades
Sent Midterm report
Completed App Notified
Sent Test Grades
Sent Midterm report
Completed App Notified
Sent Test Grades
Sent Midterm report
Completed App Notified
Sent Test Grades
Sent Midterm report
Completed App Notified
Sent Test Grades
Sent Midterm report
Completed App Notified
Terms To Be Familiar With Early Decision Students who apply for an early decision are committed to enroll at the university if they are admitted. Apply for early decision if you are absolutely sure this is your university choice and you meet all of the university admissions profile for acceptance.
Early Action Students receive an answer before regular admission students but are not bound to attend the university. Early Action can sometimes be a viable choice for students who are not sure which university they want to attend.
Regular Decision Students apply by a specified deadline date. This is non-binding.
Rolling Admissions Some universities offer students no specified deadline. Students can apply through April or May.
Wait List If a student is placed on a wait list, it usually means a university may request more information, such as additional test scores or midterm grades.
Denied Admit If a student is denied during early decision/early action, you cannot reapply for regular decision the same academic year.
Conditional Admit When students receive a university admissions letter, be aware that the admission is “conditional” upon successful completion of high school, i.e. students have completed the classes they say they were enrolled in and standardized test scores and final grades are satisfactory. Many universities have withdrawn their offers of admission to students who did not meet these requirements.
Plagiarism Plagiarism can get you dismissed or expelled from a university. Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation,” of someone else’s work, i.e. copying someone else’s work, be it a friend or a printed or online document. This is a significant offence at university and can’t result in expulsion.
Helpful Websites International Student Assistance international.collegeboard.org
Testing Information (SAT, AP, ACT)
Scholarship Searches/Financial Aid Information www.collegeboard.org
National Association for College Admission Counseling
www.collegeweeklive.com www.usnews.com www.princetonreview.com https://succeed.naviance.com/signin.php
Testing for English as a Foreign Language www.ets.org/toefl/ www.ielts.org
Tips For Students To Be Successful When You Get To University University is different from high school. Many students will experience cultural changes, home sickness, growing pains, and new found freedoms. Here are some tips to help with the transition. • Set goals for yourself Set short term and long term goals. This will help you accomplish tasks in an organized and timely manner. • Know your resources Become familiar with your campus and its facilities. Take a campus tour, get to know your professors, advisors, resident assistants (RA’s), and administrators. • Manage your time wisely Be organized, keep a planner, and attend classes. • Develop good study habits Participate in study groups whenever possible. One hour of studying in the morning is worth two hours in the evening. Plan to study three hours for every one hour that you are in class. Do not cram the night before a test. • Complete work assignments Turn in neat, legible assignments. • Do your own work Plagiarism, using someone else’s work or reprinting a term paper from online and saying it is yours, is grounds for expulsion from university. • Take care of yourself On the average, freshmen gain 15 pounds their first year — be sure to eat right and exercise. Being well-rested helps your concentration and increases memory retention — be sure to get a good night’s sleep every night.
• Take safety precaution Do not walk alone at night. Always walk in well-lit, well-populated areas, and be aware of your surroundings. Do not wear headphones if walking alone. Avoid shortcuts and use security escorts whenever possible. • Get involved on campus People who get involved in campus activities are most likely to be successful and are happier with their university experience. It also helps to establish friendships and contacts for the future. • Learn to say “NO” Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle. Avoid a heavy course load, too many extra-curricular activities, too many social events, and too many hours at work. Balance is the key.
Enjoy this experience
it will be the best time of your life! Author Vivian Fiallo has over 17 years’ experience in College Counseling in the US and internationally. She is currently College Counselor at ISHCMC – American Academy helping students prepare for life after High School.
An International School for students aged 11 -18
16 Vo Truong Toan, An Phu Ward,
26 Vo Truong Toan, An Phu Ward,
District 2, Ho Chi Minh City
District 2, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (84 8) 3898 9098
Tel: (84 8) 3898 9100
Part of Cognita School Network. Over 60 schools in 6 countries