AISG College Counseling

AISG employs a full-time college counselor to facilitate the application process. The college counselor is there not only for the students, but also for the parents, offering a tailor-made, individualized college plan aimed at connecting students to pathways and college programs they are passionate about pursuing.

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Our College Counselor

AISG's current college counselor is Dr. Justin Walker, whose high-level profile and extensive expertise ensure AISG's outreach and reputation in the college circuit.


Avoiding Common Mistakes in the Application Process

The process of applying to university can feel so daunting that people often feel lost. The way that students (and families) approach applying can seem random at times, and there are ways to save yourself from stress and avoid common pitfalls that universities see all of the time. Here are the most common mistakes and their possible solutions.


Relying on Rank

While I feel this has been broadcast a lot, it still seems to drive the process. Rank (at least in the US) is poorly contrived and the factors that constitute a ranking have nothing to do with a student’s satisfaction or success. Find a school that fits you and embrace it. Schools are more alike than they are different. Rather than rely on a set list of schools that do not fit any particular personal criteria, start finding options that are realistic and work for you.


Not Looking Elsewhere

The world has gotten smaller. There are so many places students can find success. In this changing age, people need to be more open to the options out there. The US, UK, and Canada are excellent options. But what about Ireland, the Netherlands, and the rest of Europe? There are gems out there that people are overlooking that could save cost, increase diversity, and provide interactions and experiences not found elsewhere. Community college also is a way to save money, earn credits, and transfer to a highly selective school (one that students likely couldn’t get into out of high school). Remember, it’s where you finish, not where you start.

AISG Seniors with their cap and gown


Waiting Too Long

Waiting too long to test (SAT or English-language proficiency (ex., TOEFL)), starting researching schools too late, waiting to talk to teachers about how to improve, waiting to write essays/personal statements… Students often find themselves rushing to get things completed for university at the busiest time of their high school career. They prioritize everything else but fail to dedicate time to this important process of applying. There are calendars and meetings preparing students ahead of time to avoid this issue. Please use them!


Overemphasizing Undergrad

If a student is going to go on to a masters, PhD, law school, or medical school, they need to re-think the undergraduate experience. Your terminal degree is the one where rank, connections, quality of program, and prospects matter. Don’t overvalue that undergraduate program. Sure, it is expensive and important, but it is the first step in a journey. Go somewhere that you can set yourself up for success. Get the experiences you need to make a quality graduate/professional school application. As pointed out by Malcolm Gladwell, you are better off being the big fish in a small pond than a small fish in the ocean. Get great grades, rise to the top of the class, get some experiences, have some fun, and you will end up with a quality application for future study or a top-notch resume for your career.

AISG Seniors with their cap and gowns standing by the AISG letters


Not Understanding the Realities

Everyone is unique, but that does not mean everyone stands out to an admissions officer who sees thousands and even tens of thousands of applications. Students today view themselves differently than admissions offices - who do not know them – who interpret application files. While a student’s grades and test scores are better than most, many students have top marks. The decision to admit or deny may begin here with these data, but they likely do not end here if the student is strong. School activities are shared by hundreds of thousands of students a year and the most competitive applicants have experiences that set them apart, not blend them in. Examples of rare and notable experiences include significant leadership and impact within the school setting and/or often significant impactful involvement in the community beyond school. Furthermore, students pick topics to write their essays on that are used often (examples: traveling, moving, leading a club, my grandma is my hero, etc.), and they miss a chance to shine in the eyes of universities. Essays (US style essays) should reflect specific characteristics and values that are true about an individual and focus on these through a particular story or incident. Not everyone needs an amazing life event to shine. Some people just need to show their shining selves through their own stories.

It is very important for parents to remember one significant factor in this process. Colleges are far more selective now than ever before. Pressuring students to get into to “The Ivies”, or “the top 30” not only leads to disappointment; it is leading to significant mental health issues in young people. Loads of schools many people have never heard of are accepting less than 10% of students, showing that this selectivity pandemic goes beyond even what the media can report. Many private schools are accepting students who fit certain criteria for the school, criteria neither you nor your child can control. There are other, better places eager for your child to attend.


Using Consultants

Consultants, though occasionally experienced and ethical, are often untrained, for-profit individuals. They may lack supervision and make promises to clients based on what they want to hear, not what is fact. This leads to unrealistic expectations and students applying to all the same schools (which definitely hurts their chances). Consultants control almost none of the process of an application and therefore advise students on factors they cannot control. This year alone I have had numerous conversations with families about advice their consultant gave them which is just blatantly wrong, and this concerns me about the welfare of students who are caught between an “expert,” their school, and their parents who are paying for both. As a counselor, I pledge as much time to every one of my students as they require. Your tuition dollars pay a lot for this service, and you should expect that it is done well. Your AISG College Counselor is here for you until the end.


The bottom line is this: if you change your definition of success, and you utilize the tools and timing you have at your disposal, all of our students will be successful (and significantly less stressed) in this process. The world is waiting, and there are more options than ever. Relax, do what is right for you, and go get it.


At AISG, this valuable counseling insight is one of the many reasons why AISG is The Premier International School in Guangzhou. To learn more about AISG College Counseling, click here

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