When should my child start the Application process?
While you may be tempted to have your child begin preparing for university admission process as early as Year 8 or Year 9, it is better to encourage your child to focus on goal setting, developing interests, exploring passions and engaging actively in their classes. Only by authentically developing their own strengths and interests during their high school experience will students be able to focus on what university programmes will be best suited for them.
Beginning in Year 10, Pao School students will begin attending university workshops and visits by university admissions officers from around the world. Families will receive a timeline for the process. Beginning in Year 9 and continuing to Year 10, the first step in this process will be for you to work with your child to chart the educational path for the remainder of his/her Pao School career.
In Year 11, students are assigned to a University Counsellor who will discuss overseas studies with you and your child and develop a timeline for the process and related activities.
US universities consider a range of factors when reviewing applications. This is called ‘holistic’ admissions. The greatest emphasis is always placed on grades and the rigour of the curriculum. The IB Diploma Programme is highly-regarded worldwide as a comprehensive and demanding curriculum that prepares students for the challenges of university study.
The personal statement or essay is the part of the application in which a student’s own voice can be heard. Pao School’s counsellors work closely with students so they understand the essential features of a good personal statement and how to develop a statement of their own. We provide guidance and editing support for the essay and supplements required by some universities. For most US universities, the essay can be written on a variety of topics.
Unlike those for US universities, approximately 75% of the statement for UK universities focuses on a student’s selected course of study/academic background and the remainder focuses on extracurricular activities and identifying the connection between the two.
US universities practice holistic admissions so a variety of factors are considered in the application review, including extracurricular activities both in and out of school and during summer vacation. US universities look for evidence of leadership ability, while extracurricular activities are less emphasised in UK and EU institutions.
Pao School’s IB teachers and university counsellors will write recommendation letters on behalf of our students. These letters are sent to the institutions electronically.
Check the interview policy for each university on their website as practices vary from school to school. Some universities offer Skype interviews. Others offer staff or alumni interviews in Shanghai. Pao School’s counsellors assist students as they prepare for interviews. There are a few China-based reputable companies who provide unscripted, unedited 30 minute interviews for a fee.
Check the university website for details about information sessions, campus tours, recommended accommodations and much more. Always sign-up for visits in advance as opposed to simply perusing the campus grounds without an appointment.
What should my child being doing during summers to better prepare for the overseas university admission process?
While there is no one specific camp or programme that is the best for students to engage in over the summer, it is a valuable time for students to explore their interests and passions. Regardless of the activity, colleges and universities are seeking students who use their time productively as a way to develop themselves – either by attending camps, volunteering, participating in an internship or holding a summer job.
How can my child differentiate themselves from other applicants and succeed in their applications to overseas universities?
There is no doubt that grades and test scores matter. However, they are only one piece in a very large and complicated puzzle. There is no ‘magic formula’ to applying successfully to overseas universities and, for the most selective universities, excellent grades and scores are by no means a guarantee to admission. In addition to a solid academic record, schools are often looking for students who will actively participate in their own education, enrich the community with their interests and passions and take initiative in the learning process. It is imperative that Year 8 and Year 9 students be given the time to develop these authentic interests and not focus prematurely on the university process.