All aspects of education are essential; however, the final years at high school have a significant impact on student future choices and success. Our counsellors have already helped many graduates successfully choose, apply and graduate from the world’s top colleges and universities.

Meet our dedicated and experienced University Careers Counselling team, Mr. Bob Barss and Sissy Wu. We interviewed our Head of University and Career  Counsellor, Mr. Bob Barss, to discuss the individualized path for students, what advice do we give to students to be successful as they embark on their journey, and how do families determine the best-fit for post-secondary education. We also asked our alumni how did CISB help you with university selection and the application process.

From advising IB course selection assessing personality traits and career interests, deciphering best-fit universities, reviewing and providing constructive feedback for personal statements, compiling transcripts and letters of recommendation, to mailing away applications to universities, the counsellor plays an important role in helping students and families make choices about their future.

We asked Mr. Barss what would one piece of advice be for any students or families hoping to attend the top universities in the world?

The best students, the most successful students, the brilliant students all started planning back in the MYP. However, you might say, why so early? It takes content academic efforts to ensure you have the correct grades. It takes extracurricular effort to ensure you learn the soft skills and hard skills that the universities are looking for. In addition, it is crucial to top university applicants to bring their writing skills to the level where they can write their own personal statements and college essays and not have a ghostwriter do it.

Furthermore, It takes considerable effort and reflection to understand what kind of career you want. At this time in a young person’s life, one year, they want to be a geologist, the following year they want to be a teacher, the next year they want to be a musician. So with the maturation of the cohort, they have the opportunity to do that exploration. By the time they reach grade 12 our students have a reasonably good idea of their goals. We want them to be able to identify as far as the career cluster or what they’re interested in. Great students are focused; they are very passionate. That makes things easier for them when they choose their university. So, long-term preparation is essential. I say to all students, prepare as early as you can.

For parents, it’s vital to be more aware of the university selection process, the ranking process and enter into that dialogue with their son and daughter early on about what they want to be in life. We support parents in this area a lot. However, parents must understand how to lead these discussions and be good listers and activistly engaged in dialog with their child about the school. They are the number one influence with the young adults we are supporting.

We spoke to Mr. Barss about how he supports students to be admitted to the best-fit university. Mr.Barss said we have a curriculum for 21st-century skill development. We also have a brand new curriculum development called Career Exploration. As counsellors, we do an in-depth analysis of personality analysis and job attitude analysis. Our role is to provide a platform for self-discovery.

Secondly, most students start researching career opportunities as early as Grade 10, allowing enough reflection time to determine what majors they need to study at university to reach their goals. Finally, the third phase is the actual university preparation and doing the necessary research to succeed at that university while providing all the proper documentation. These three tracks are what we provide at CISB. We are one of the few schools that offer an end-to-end holistic approach in China, and we’ve been very successful.

Bob, should students and their families choose a university based on its ranking?

That’s a common question. One aspect that we highlight to both the parents and the students is the best university is one that you are successful in graduating from. So it’s a long process! We are very skilled at supporting students to get into their desired university; as University Counsellors, we want our students to study at the universities where they can thrive and graduate with ample job prospects.

We recieve a lot of pressure from both the students and parents to get to the best brand name university. Over the course of the three years, we educate families on successful choices and what ranking means. What are the realities of getting a student into these very selective universities? We, of course, encourage it, but the decision must be made on a university based on their major rather than brand. We educate families to research. If they’re going to pick the universities that are the highest rank, we dive into ranking for their specific major.

Career guidance remains one of the most essential tools schools must effectively utilise.  With it, students are assisted in exploring their potential career endeavours. We asked our alumni how did CISB help them with the university selection and application process.

“Starting from grade 10, the university counsellors started meeting with us every month. During this time, we were able to understand the application process better and also learn more about ourselves and what we would like to study. Our teachers at CISB also helped us by assisting us with our course selection for the IB DP program and allowing us to choose courses that will allow us to study what we want in the future.” – Anna Zhao, 2021 Graduate

“I was able to get a lot of support from the University Counselors’ Office, and they helped me through the process and answered all of my questions. Teachers were also accommodating,  helping me to develop the skills that I will need in university.” – Sunny Meng, 2021 Graduate

“We had easy access to our university counselling office, regardless of weekend or holiday times. It was very assuring to know that they were available often so we students can organize our university tasks and schoolwork effectively.” – Carolina Liu 2021 Graduate

CISB is committed to supporting all students reaching their potential with college and university placement and beyond.

To find out more about CISB universities counselling or CISB IBDP High School Program please contact Admissions;

64657788 ext. 4