Page 1

Kaohsiung American School College Handbook 20112011-2012



Things to Think about When Selecting a College


General Guidelines for Planning


Junior/Senior Year Checklist


How Your Application will be Evaluated


Testing Information




Web Resources




Universities in the United States


Universities in Canada


Universities in the United Kingdom


Universities in Australia


Information about Financial Aid


Special Interest Sites


Career and Major Information


Identifying your Preferences, Interests, and Potential Careers



Introduction The process of applying to college is a fun and exciting one, but make no mistake: it is a lot of work. This handbook is meant to make the process a little easier- by addressing some of the questions you may have, listing resources where you can find information, and giving you a timeline of what you need to accomplish and when. There are over bachelor’s degree-granting 3,000 colleges and universities in the United States alone, and when you factor in universities in Canada, the UK, Australia, Japan, and Taiwan (all countries where KAS graduates have attended university), each of you have more options than you could possibly consider. In order to start narrowing down the list, you will need to evaluate your strengths, interests, and goals. You will evaluate what you’ve heard about universities and compare it your own research and experiences. This process of self-evaluation will be ongoing throughout the college search process, and will enable you to choose a university that is not just “good” but good for you. I’m excited to be part of this process with you. I am excited, as well, to share this guide with you because it represents the tradition of student-centered college counseling at KAS. My role is to help you establish and implement your post-KAS plans, whether they involve university (anywhere in the world!), military service, a gap year, or something else. While this guide deals mainly with applying to universities in Canada and the US, I can be of assistance wherever it is you’d like to apply. While you read this guide, you will undoubtedly develop questions; this is good. Jot them down in the margins. Throughout this process, I will contact you to set up meetings, but don’t hesitate to drop by my office with a quick question, or schedule an appointment with me for before school, after school, or during your lunch or study block. I look forward to working with each of you on this fun and fulfilling process.

Carla Aiello Counselor 07 583 0112 ex. 26

Note: Two previous KAS counselors have been so helpful in writing and revising this guide. Thanks very much to Carol West and Elizabeth Mohr for their service to Kaohsiung American School.


Things to Think about When Selecting a College When looking at schools, there are many factors that must be considered before making the initial decisions as to determining schools that are of interest to you. Not only is it important to know what you want to study but you also need to know "where" you want to study in terms of location, school size, climate, cost, and many other factors. Self Evaluation You need to take a close look at your academic record as well as your strengths, weaknesses, needs, and goals as you try to select colleges to which to apply. Talk with your parents, friends, teachers, counselor- lots of people. In most cases, your parents are the main source for decision-making. However, what your friends say about the "best school for you" and what your parents' friends say is "good" are not particularly good indicators as to what is really "good" for you. You need to research what schools offer and how that fits with your needs. Keep in mind that what is "good" for one person is not necessarily "good" for you. School Size Colleges’ sizes range from 27 students to 55,000 and the school size is very important as you evaluate what you want. Consider: • Will you feel comfortable in a lecture class of 500 students? Do you prefer taking notes rather than discussing issues? • Is it important for you to have a teacher know your name? Do you enjoy the personal relationship you have with your teachers? If mass education, where you are one of many, feels comfortable, then a large university might be for you. There is a more extensive range of course selections and a greater variety of programs of study at large universities. The majority of engineering programs as well as many business programs are often most found in large universities. If a more personalized education is your preference, then you should be looking at the smaller liberal arts colleges where a student is as name as well as face. Pre-med programs can make a liberal arts college an excellent choice in terms of working with and getting to personally know professors, which can help you to gain research experience and letters of recommendation needed for graduate school. Location Urban? Rural? Long, cold winters? Sunshine year-round? Near a city? Your personal happiness is going to depend greatly upon the environment in which you study so you must consider the actual location of schools. If being near family or friends is important, fine, but then use that importance to pick out possible locations. Keep in mind that being in a small town does not mean "nothing to do." Many schools not in large cities have extensive on- campus activities programs that provide more than what a student in a large city can financially afford. Cold and snow are major factors. Think about your capacity to tolerate many months of cold and severe weather as you look at college locations. 4

Programs of Study If you have a specific major in mind, make sure that the schools to which you apply have that program. If you are undecided about a major, it might be a good idea to apply to schools that have a range of majors so that you can pick a major later and have some choice about what to study. If you decide to apply to a "specialty" school (i.e., a school that specializes in just one area such as business), make sure that your interest to study that subject is strong. If you enroll in a school that specializes in business, for example, and decide that you don't like business, you will probably have to transfer to another college to study something else. Cost Your family must take a close look at the cost of a college education. The annual cost of a college education in the U.S. now exceeds US$20,000 (public, in-state) and US$40,000 (private). Is this cost affordable? Keep in mind that colleges assume that the family is responsible for financing your education. Financial aid for U.S. citizens comes into play when there is a demonstrated financial need vis-à-vis the FAFSA that determines the EFC (Expected Family Contribution). U.S. citizens are eligible for institutional-based financial aid in a combination of grant, work study, and loan moneys. It is a great idea to fill out the FAFSA if you are a US citizen. While most financial aid is need-based, some universities have financial assistance for non-U.S. citizens (international students). It is usually merit-based. Public vs. Private (and “In-State” vs. “Out-of-State” Tuition) Public universities get a portion of their operating expenses from taxes within their states. Therefore, public universities are often, at first glance, less expensive than private universities. For this reason, public universities charge in-state residents very different tuition costs than students from other states or countries. The way to save money, then, seems to be to become a resident of that state where you wish to attend college. Every state has a slightly different definition of a “state resident,” but usually, you will need to prove that you moved to that state for a full year before school started and you lived there and paid income taxes (not in residence hall or dorm but in an apartment or house) all year. If you are under 19 or 20 years of age, where your parents live will also be considered when the state determines whether or not you are a resident and eligible for in-state tuition. Private universities, on the other hand, raise all their money through tuition and fundraising. Their tuition costs the same for all students, though many private universities give, on average, $10,000 in grants or scholarships to each student. Private universities, therefore, can be similar in cost to public universities. On-Campus Housing The personal growth and learning that goes on in the residence hall on a campus can be as important as is the time spent in class. Some universities require that freshmen live on campus, and some universities don’t have any on-campus housing, so be sure you consider this when researching. Academic Atmosphere The degree of stress, competition, and intensity of the environment will impact the overall quality of your personal life at any college. A stress-filled environment does not necessarily indicate a high-quality education, yet some students thrive under 5

that pressure. The analogy of "small fish in a big pond" merits some consideration. How can you determine the academic atmosphere of a university? A book, The Princeton Review’s The Best 371 Colleges, is a good source of anecdotal information about colleges. Many universities today also have student-authored blogs where you can gain a sense of what student life is like there. Additionally, through the admissions offices you may be able to contact student ambassadors that can answer your questions about how intense or competitive of an academic environment the university has. Pre-Professionalism vs. A Liberal Arts Education Pre-professional programs of study are ones that are designed specifically toward certain career goals. Premed, prelaw, engineering, graphic design, culinary arts, and business are good examples of pre-professional majors- majors leading directly to a career. Majors that do not lead directly to a specific career goal fall into the liberal arts category. The goal of a liberal arts education is to teach students how to think creatively and analytically and thus prepare them to pursue any career. There are pros and cons for both, and larger universities often have both types of programs. ***** A Word About “Big Name” Schools Students and parents should be cautious of selecting a college based upon its name and the perceived prestige of that name. It should be kept in mind that at the prestigious research universities, professors concentrate more on graduate students and research than they do on undergraduate students. The quality of your university education will depend very much on the effort you put into it. When it comes time to seek a job or internship, YOU, your skills, and your grades matter just as much, if not more than, the university you attended. The bottom line: you should be able to describe why a particular university appeals to you beyond just “it has a good reputation.”


General Guidelines for Planning 1. Plan ahead and act early. Applications that are received before the deadline can give you an advantage. It is good to apply before the December Winter Vacation and to submit the FAFSA (for U.S. citizens) before February 15. 2. There is no need to apply to more than 6-8 schools. Applying to more than that creates extra stress for you when acceptances arrive in April as well as the time taken to complete massive numbers of applications. Ask you counselor 3. Make sure that you apply to at least one school where you and your counselor are sure you will be accepted. Sometimes, the same effect can be achieved by indicating a second-choice major that is less selective at the same university. YOU MUST HAVE A BACK-UP SCHOOL. 4. Don’t worry about your school record from previous years. There is nothing that you can do now to change your past record. What you CAN do is to work as hard as possible now and to improve (or maintain) your school record. The first semester grades from grade 12 are very important as are the specific courses that you are taking. A soft senior schedule or mediocre performance can be disastrous. A strong first semester can make a difference and be a plus for the student with previous mediocre grades. For those students with a glowing record, the glow needs to be maintained.


Junior/Senior Year Checklist Deadlines: College application deadlines vary, but January 1st and 15th are the most common deadlines in the US. Early Application or Early Decision deadlines are usually November 15th. For this reason, this checklist applies primarily to US and UK universities. Canadian colleges have slightly later deadlines for applications (often February or March, rather than January 1st). Grade 11: ____ October: Take PSAT ____ Consider using, a class, or a book to prep for SAT and SAT II ____ May: SAT Reasoning Test ____ June: SAT Subject Tests, if necessary The summer after Grade 11: ____ Research colleges (see resources in “Web Resources” chapter) ____ Consider using or a class to prep for SAT ____ Visit colleges, if possible (or at least take virtual “tours” on their websites) Grade 12: August/September: _____Meet with counselor to discuss college plans _____Register for October SAT Reasoning Test, if necessary _____Register for the November SAT Subject Tests, if necessary October: _____Take October SAT, if necessary _____Determine your final list for applications (esp. if you are applying ED or EA) •

Use a spreadsheet to track application requirements and deadlines

_____Register and take TOEFL iBT, if necessary Identify teachers for recommendations and ask them if they can write for you _____Work on application essays


November and December _____Take November SAT Subject Tests, if necessary _____Make a final decision as to which specific schools to apply to _____Work on completing and submitting applications _____Send your SAT and SAT II scores to universities via _____Meet with your counselor to have your transcripts and recommendations sent •

Be mindful of KAS winter vacation and how it affects January deadlines

January _____Complete 2011-2012 FAFSA, if a US citizen _____Make sure all your applications have been submitted _____Make sure your counselor knows each college you applied to February, March, and April _____FAFSA priority deadline is February 15 _____Wait to receive letters of acceptance _____Make your final decision and pay your deposit May _____Decision deadline is May 1 _____IB Exams


How Your Application will be Evaluated Your application is much more than just your test scores. Test scores reflect only three hours of work. Your transcript, recommendations, and activities reflect three years of effort.

School Record (Most Important) The first thing looked at is the transcript, evaluating the number of AP and/or IB courses taken each year and the grades in those courses. Then the college determines how many AP and IB courses were available to see how much the student has challenged him/herself. Your school record includes not only the grades you earned but also the courses you took. Taking more than just the required courses is important (i.e., 4 years of math, 4 years of science, 4 years of social studies). Improvement in grades is also important. Lower grades in 9th grade followed by improvement through 11th grade can offset those initial lower grades. The converse is also true. A downward shift from 9th grade onward can be a negative factor in an admissions decision. Recommendations Recommendations provide information about you that is not included elsewhere i n t h e a p p l i c a t i o n s . Make s u r e t h a t t h e t e a c h e r s y o u a s k f o r recommendations know you. Get to know your teachers as well as your counselor so that they can describe your characteristics more vividly. Most universities expect that your counselor will write a balanced and comprehensive letter of recommendation for you, based on feedback from several teachers, your academic record, and a questionnaire and interview you will complete. It seldom helps your application to submit additional letters of recommendation beyond what the university asks for. Two teacher recommendations along with the Counselor Recommendation are sufficient. Massive numbers of recommendations create a red flag. Some universities do not want letters of recommendation at all, so be sure to check this. Activities Avoid just listing activities. Use your activities to provide a picture of who you are. B e pr e pa re d t o d es cr i be wh a t yo u le ar ne d t hro u gh pa r t icip a ti on in eac h ac tiv it y. Sustained involvement over several years in one or a few activities is more important than having just joined lots of groups for shorter periods of time. Test Scores Test scores are indeed used to compare and evaluate students but they are rarely the most important factor in admission. Along with your grades and the rigor of your coursework, test scores are seen as just one important piece of your application.


Essays This is the one part of the application you can control - do a good job. An essay permits you the opportunity to express yourself so take advantage of it. Your essay can be used to convey what makes you different from all of the thousands of students applying to a school. Use what makes you you to your benefit – write about it. Even more important than what you write is how you write it. Have parents, teachers, friends, or your counselor read your essay for grammatical and expression proof reading. However, make sure that you do the writing. There are further Be Neat Most applications can be submitted online. Colleges usually prefer this. Sometimes the application fee is waived if the application is submitted online. If applying online, consider saving copies (such as in .pdf format) of all that you have submitted. However, if you choose to use a paper application, make sure that you submit a neat and tidy application.


Testing Information PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Examination): Taken by sophomores and juniors each October. The PSAT/NMSQT measures critical reading, mathematics, and writing skills. The score report includes critical reading, math, and writing skills scores ranging from 20-80 in each. Scores for junior testing are used to determine National Merit eligibility for U.S. citizens and permanent residents. KAS students are automatically registered for the PSAT at school. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language): University policies vary on who must submit TOEFL scores. As a general rule, TOEFL is required of students who attended a non-English speaking high school or participated in ELL in high school (in any of grades 9-12). Sometimes, TOEFL is required of anyone educated outside of the US. Finally, you may want to take TOEFL is you didn’t perform strongly on the SAT; the TOEFL can help support your credentials in that case. TOEFL is a test measuring one’s ability to academically function in English. The current acceptable form of TOEFL is the iBT. It is given regularly in Kaohsiung and registration is done through SAT- Reasoning Test: A college admissions test consisting of three separate scores: Writing (25-minute essay as well as multiple choice grammar, usage, word choice items); Critical Reading (sentence completion, critical reading of short and long passages); and Math (including Algebra II). The new SAT has changed from a test of general-reasoning skills into an achievement test of what students have learned in school. SAT Subject Tests: One-hour, primarily multiple-choice, tests in specific subjects. These tests measure knowledge of particular subjects and the ability to apply that knowledge. Students take up to three tests, matching the test choices to fit the college requirements. SAT and SAT Subject Tests are generally given the first weekend in October, November, December, May, and June as well as the last weekend in January. The registration deadlines tend to be about six to seven weeks prior to the testing dates. Students register themselves for the SAT and SAT Subject tests online and pay by credit card at Use the school code to have your score reported to KAS. Code 694251 ACT (American College Testing): A college admissions test that measures skills in four major curriculum areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. There is an optional essay portion of the test; more and more colleges require the essay. Use the school code to have your score reported to KAS. Code 694251 ACT is given at Taipei American School, Morrison Academy in Taichung, and a girls’ high school in Tainan. Register at 12

Essays Use your essays as a way to express who you are. Aside from an essay proving that you are capable of writing, it should be used to show how you are "different" from other applicants. You have two things to prove: 1) that you can write and 2) that you are interesting. The essay is a personal and very important aspect of your application - use it to your advantage. It is not the topic you choose that makes an essay work; it is how you treat the topic that counts. The essay can either strengthen or weaken your application but it will not be the sole reason that you are either accepted or rejected. Your topic can reflect your personal interests but that is not what is important. It is how you deal with the topic that creates the impact your statement will make. ***** The first thing you need to do is to read each essay question from all applications and see what common factors might exist. If you can recycle an essay and use it more than once, do it. You cannot write acceptable essays in one sitting. BE SURE TO ALLOW TIME TO THINK AND WRITE. The most important aspect you have to address is that a good essay involves good writing. Do not submit an essay that is technically inferior. Misspellings, incorrect punctuation, tense shifts, and inappropriately used language indicate that you could care less about your application. Have someone read your work and comment on content, format, and structure. However, make sure that you do not edit out the essence of you in the process. There are many reasons that schools require an essay. Some of them are:  To determine if you can write coherently and correctly.  To identify excellent writers.  To learn something interesting or useful about you that is not in the application. Some guidelines you might keep in mind as you plan and write are: • Don’t use vocabulary just to impress the reader. Be yourself. • Don’t ignore length requirements. A longer essay is not better than a short one. • Have other people read your essay, but remember that opinions will vary. • Proofread! Check spelling and punctuation thoroughly. • Be interesting. You want the reader to enjoy the essay and come away feeling like they understand you a little bit. • Similarly: be specific. Don’t refer to ways “you’ve grown.” Are you more self-disciplined? Better at managing your time? More confident? Say that, then. • Don’t be cute. Use appropriate language and punctuation for this formal and important essay. • Don’t submit extra materials (slides, recordings, etc.) unless they ask. 13

Essays continued There are many methods that can assist you in writing an essay that will enhance your application as you put thoughts and words to paper. It is essential that you make sure to allow yourself ample time for essay writing. Don't put this off. Some suggestions for how to begin writing an essay are: • Make a list of 10-20 interests or activities with which you are involved and then check the ones that are of special interest. • Write about 12 sentences (3-4 paragraphs) about one or more that you find most interesting. • Read over these paragraphs to determine which one you most care about or enjoyed writing the most. Expand that paragraph. • Read it again and ask yourself: "Does this sound like me? Does this reflect me as a person or does it sound fake?" Make corrections. One strategy that you might consider is to use the "Multiple-Writing, 30-Minute Shot". The idea is that of setting aside a 30-minute time slot for 5 consecutive evenings. During that time you just quickly jot down a skeletal essay, using a different topic each evening. Your goal is not to have finished essay but rather, a collection of some specific topic ideas. Share these mini-essays with friends, family, teachers, o r y o u r counselor to see if anything looks like a topic to pursue. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that you have the makings of a viable essay. Then, just expand the essay If you have nothing that excites you, try another week and another 4-5 30-minute writing sessions. Whatever your strategy, don't let selecting a topic get you so bogged down that you just put off and put off getting an essay put together. Just keep in mind that your choice of topic is not the crucial issue. What is crucial is how you treat the topic that makes it a successful statement. Topics that are best avoided: • relationships with boy/girlfriends • religious essays (unless asked for) • why college is important • listing trips you have made • shallow impressions of current events And some additional hints when setting out to write your eye-catching essay:  Keep it Short and Sweet: Don’t tackle a subject that is too broad for the short essay.  Be Specific.  Be Personal: This essay is about you and the way you view things.


Web Resources The Internet is your best friend for learning about colleges. It can serve as a resource for:  choosing a college  applying to college  exploring majors and careers  interest or personality inventories  contacting admissions representatives

Testing Comprehensive site including colleges, careers, financial aid, and access to the SAT (on-line registration), the Profile, and other College Board products. Sorts college by type of school, admissions, location, major, sports, financial aid. Question of the Day for SAT I. On-line registration for ACT, testing strategies, sample questions.

Universities in the United States Princeton Review’s website is updated daily. This is a great career search. In includes “Counselor-o-Matic” (click on College and then click on Research) to rate student’s desirability at selective schools and the “Find-o-Rama” college matching. It has a practice SAT and Word of the Day. College search including School of the Day, sample online SAT. Information of 40 lesser-known “Colleges that Change Lives”. Many of these are smaller, liberal arts colleges with great reputations for preparing students for exclusive graduate and medical schools.

Universities in Canada This website contains a directory of university courses in Canada. You can search by province, major, and other factors.

Universities in the United Kingdom Application information for colleges and universities in the U.K. British Council information about U.K. schools 15

Universities in Australia Learn about all the options for postsecondary study in Australia.

Information about Financial Aid FAFSA on the web; application can be done online. The FAFSA is the necessary application to apply for any financial aid (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). If you are a US citizen or Permanent Resident (also known as a “green card� holder), you can submit a FAFSA to be considered for grants, loans, and scholarships. Use to apply for PIN for FAFSA. This allows you and your parents to electronically sign and submit your FAFSA. This PIN number is used for your entire lifetime. Scholarship search, loan and aid information, college searches. Information on federal financial aid programs and how to apply for them.

Special Interest Sites Information on NCAA sports, eligibility, and the different levels of college athletics. Links user to virtual tours of more than 800 colleges/universities

Career and Major Information Career questionnaire to match interests and abilities to careers. You have access to this service free through a code that was on your PSAT score report. If you forgot your code, see your counselor. A free service from the Career Center at Ball State University. Students can use the interest inventory to identify careers and majors and courses that match their interests.


Identifying your Preferences, Interests, and Potential Careers The following websites are a small selection of the free resources that are available to you in the internet to aid in your self-evaluation and career or major selection. Using these assessments can yield new insights whether you feel like you know exactly what you want to study (or if you feel like you have no idea what you want to study!). The first Your Interests- in this section Your Personality- in this section Your Values – for you to ponder – what’s important? Your Skills and Abilities – check out your report card and consider the subjects you really enjoy Note: Do not click on anything that requires payment.

I. The Princeton Review Web Site You will need to create a login. Click on the Princeton Review 5 Minute Career Quiz.

My Interest Color is 3 traits of this are:

My Usual Style is 3 traits of this are:


Click on See Related Careers. Then pick 5 careers (click on each) that are a good match for your interests and style: 1.




5. II. The University of Missouri Career Center Web Site Click on the Career Interests Game (it’s not exactly a game, more like a thinking exercise) and take it. Follow the directions and click on each of your Categories. What is your #1 Holland color/type? What is your #2 Holland color/type? What is your #3 Holland color/type? What is your full 3 letter Holland code?

Using your 3-letter code list 3-5 career possibilities. In some cases your 3-letter code will not have 3 jobs listed. In that case look for jobs that contain only your 1st and 2nd codes.

Click on MU Departments on the bottom left and list some majors that might be interesting to you based upon your Holland code: 18

III. The College Board MyRoad Web Site Log in and click on I.D. Me – choose the High School/College ORA Personality Profiler. It will take you about 30-40 minutes to complete this personality assessment, but it can be helpful in choosing a major or thinking about whether you would enjoy certain careers. Your four letter preference code captures how you make decisions, your approach to problem-solving, and how you like to socialize. What is your 4-letter code? List at least 5 characteristics of your 4-Letter type that resonate with you. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. The ORA Personality Profiler will also generate lists of majors and careers that fit with your personality type. It’s up to you to evaluate whether those sound good to you.


College Handbook  
College Handbook  

A resource for parents and students on researching and applying to university in North America