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In Secondary School, students are contemplating their future. As they reach grade 10, they are beginning to understand where they excel academically, and what motivates them intellectually. They investigate fields and careers they might want to pursue, and what IB DP courses will be needed. They also have to narrow down where they might go to university, and which schools they should actually apply to.

These are not easy questions for a teen to answer. Gaining admission to university is a complex process that can be very challenging, and there is no one-size fits all approach. Students must understand their learning style and what sort of university environment will suit them. An Ivy league school really is a fit for very few students.

They need to know where they want to go geographically and what that means in terms of university applications. What will students’ shortlisted universities use to evaluate their application - is it grades, extracurricular activities or leadership experience or a combination of all.

This exploratory journey can be both exhilarating and stressful. It is one that requires expert advice and guidance along the way so that students are able to make informed decisions. At CIS, our internal expertise includes college counselling, course selection assistance, DP coordinator meetings, and so on. We also hosted global experts to help our students guide the process.

One of these experts is Ms Jennifer Ann Aquino, an international educational consultant who specialises in university and educational planning. Jennifer has consulted to schools, parents and students globally, and is the author of the upcoming book, The International Family Guide to US University Admissions, to be published by Wiley & Sons globally in May 2017.

Last October, Jennifer shared her first-hand experience as she hosted information sessions for students and parents, offered training and insight to our faculty on how best to support students in their university applications, and met with Grade 11 students and parents individually to discuss university choices, applications, and strategies.

Jennifer returned to CIS to work with grades 10 and 11 for an intensive university planning week on 21-28 April. She hosted a range of seminars for parents and students to strategically prepare them for the university admission process; and met one-on-one with grade 11 students to review their university shortlists, discuss references and answer questions, and to best prepare them for the next steps in the applications process.

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