Do you love art? Are you an athlete? Are you interested in engineering or anthropology or languages? The first step in the college process should be considering your individual needs and interests. How do you like to learn—in discussion, in lectures, or through hands on work? How much contact do you like to have with your teachers? What kinds of people do you like to be around? There is no shortage of high performing universities that can provide you growth, opportunity, and a lifetime of memorable experiences. Have a look through the resources below to get a better understanding of the types of schools that might have what you need to achieve your goals
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- Thinking About a Career
- College Rankings
- College Athletics
- Independent College Consultants
- Financial Aid
- Researching Colleges
- Searching for Non US College Options
First, it is important to know that most people will change career paths multiple times over their adult lives. And most students who apply to college in the US do so “undecided” -- in other words, they have not yet figured out what they want to study or what occupations interest them. But students are often asked asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” during the K-12 years. The answers change along the way; some students think they know exactly what they want while most spend time testing different options.
When applying to schools in the US, students generally do not need to know their intended career path. There are a few exceptions: if a student wants to be an engineer or a nurse, then it is important to know this by the end of junior year. All students applying to the UK will be required to know and speak to their intended major and career possibilities.
Here are a few good resources for students interested in exploring possible career options.
Planning a Career - This site has one of the best overall career planning strategies available on the web.
JobStar Central - Includes career guides, salary information and resume hints.
CareerZone - Divides careers into six categories and then lists the careers for each category, with well organized descriptions for each career.
Occupational Outlook Handbook - From the US government
Family Connection includes "Do What You Are," a self discovery assessment that can point you to careers and college majors specific to your interests. It takes 30 to 45 minutes to complete this assessment.
Each year several publications provide college and university rankings. Rankings vary widely, and they are best understood when they are reviewed with a critical eye. When studying rankings, look carefully at the set of criteria used to create those rankings. Do those criteria matter to you? SAS college counselors will be happy to discuss the pros and cons of various ranking tools with you.
To get offer some perspective on the many factors that go into college rankings, The Chronicle of Higher Education developed a following chart that identifies the measures each of the ranking guides used in their underlying methodology. Notice that few measures are shared by two or more raters. This indicates a lack of agreement among them on what defines quality. Again, you will need to decide what qualities matter to you.
There are now hundreds of ranking publications available online Some are well known, such as US News & World Report (for US colleges), McClean’s (for Canadian universities), and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (covering schools across the globe). But there are many others that offer interesting and different perspectives. Here are just a handful to consider:
National Survey of Student Engagement: looks at student participation in educationally purposeful activities.
Kiplinger’s Best College Values: rankings by cost and financial aid measures
Washington Monthly: rates colleges based on their contribution to the public good
For more information on rankings, from methodologies to lists to cautions and controversies, take a look at the material compiled by The University of Illinois.
Many students dream of playing a sport in college, and there are many opportunities for doing so. Most colleges offer not only varsity and junior varsity teams, but also club and intramural teams. This means that students can make thoughtful choices about how large a role athletics will play in their college experiences.
Some students hope to be recruited to play sports in college. It is worth noting that this can be a difficult path -- with less than 10 percent of US high school athletes playing their given sport in college, and less than a third of those receiving an athletic scholarship, the truth is that it is extremely difficult to become a recruited athlete. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has data on the likelihood that a student with be able to compete in athletics beyond high school. The NCAA also offers toolkits for Divisions I-III, information on scholarships, recruiting calendars, and frequently asked questions (FAQs). The SAS college counselors will also be happy to answer questions you may have about the athletic recruitment process.
STEPS TO TAKE
If you truly are a superior athlete, not just at SAS or at IASAS but compared the universe of students playing your sport, there are some steps you need to take early in high school.
- Think about the level at which you want to play in college. NCAA Division I and II teams require year-round commitment, and you will often spend as much time with sports as you do with your academics. There is more variation in the commitment required at NCAA Division III schools and at schools in Canada. If you want your sport to take up less of your time, consider playing at the club or intramural level.
- For Division I and II sports, make certain you meet the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) eligibility standards. Students who play college sports must have completed a certain number of core academic courses, and SAS graduates generally do so without difficulty. The Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athletes, Road Map to Initial Eligibility, Checklist for College-Bound Student-Athletes, International Student Athletes, Division I and II Worksheet, and Division I and II Test Score Requirements are other useful resources to read.
- If you think you want to play at the Division I or II level, register with the NCAA Eligibility Center in your junior year.
- Begin to make a list of colleges where you might be able to play. If you are playing a sport such as swimming or track where you can objectively be measured by your performance times, it is much easier to assess your athletic talents and compare your times to a college's team. For team sports like football or soccer it's a bigger challenge to realistically assess your skills. It is important to talk with your coaches about the likelihood of your being able to play at different levels.
- Create a video. A recruiting video is one of the most important ways an athlete can attract the attention of coaches. The content will vary depending upon the sport. Sports such as volleyball and football generally work best with a collection of 15-25 highlight plays illustrating your ability. Continuous play sports such as soccer, basketball and rugby should have 10 to 15 highlight plays, perhaps with an additional game half included to show overall ability. Keep your video short, simple and as professional looking as possible. You should upload it to YouTube so that you can provide a link to the coaches.
- Create an athletics resume. This should include the name of your high school, your GPA, and any test scores you might have. It should also include teams you’ve played for, positions played or events in which you participate, summer programs attended, and any relevant times, statistics or accomplishments.
- Make contact with coaches in your junior year. Check each college’s website to find out who you should contact. When you email the coach, provide a brief introduction explaining who you are and why you're contacting them. Keep the message short, but attach your resume and a link where they can view your video.
- Attend summer programs. Attending summer sports camps, tournaments, and ID events allows you to get an assessment of your skill level and provides some exposure to coaches. Camps help athletes get better and to get noticed. Therefore, it is worth researching sports camps to find one or more that you would like to attend.
ARE YOU BEING RECRUITED?
Students sometimes think they are being recruited when they receive mailings from a college admission office. But please know that colleges purchase lists of prospective students from several sources, so if you received an email or letter, it may have nothing to do with your athletic talents.
If you receive an email, letter or questionnaire from a college coach it can be a good thing, but it doesn't necessarily mean you're being recruited. If a coach calls you, that’s a strong sign -- it means there is some interest in you. Should a coach invite you on an official visit where the expenses are paid by the college, it is serious stuff.
Regardless of whether you initiated contact with the coach or are being actively recruited by a coach, there are some questions that you should consider asking him or her in order to be sure that this college's athletic program is right for you. Here are several sample questions that you may find helpful:
- How many athletes are you recruiting?
- How do I fit into your program?
- Where am I on the depth chart?
- What are my chances of playing as a freshman?
- What are my chances of being a starter?
- What or how many other athletes do you currently have in my position?
- What is your coaching philosophy?
- Based on your past experience with student-athletes, how do I compare to those who have or have not gained admission?
- How many athletes are graduating?
- How is your program different from others?
- Can I try out as a walk on?
- What is the 4-year graduation rate for athletes on your team?
- What would your players tell me they like most or least about you?
- How much time is devoted to/what is the schedule for practices?
- When are the competitions typically scheduled/how often do students miss class?
- How much travel is involved?
- What is your off-season training expectation?
The vast majority of high school seniors at SAS – including those who are admitted to the most competitive colleges – successfully navigate through the college admission process with the help of their SAS college counselor. Very few need or seek assistance from an outside college admission counselor. Occasionally, however, an SAS college counselor is asked, “My friend has a private counselor – do I need one?” The short answer is, “no, you don’t.”
The SAS college counselors have years of training and experience in their field, and they have caseloads designed to make sure that they can focus time and attention on each and every one of their students. There is little that an independent counselor knows or can offer beyond what you can get from SAS. But if you do feel a need to work with an independent counselor, please have a conversation with an SAS college counselor first -- they are in the best position to tell you whether this is a wise course of action.
If, after a conversation with an SAS college counselor, you decide to hire an independent counselor, please make sure that person is accredited in some way. They should hold membership in organizations such as the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), or NACAC's regional affiliate, the International Association for College Admission Counseling (International ACAC).
Never pay a consultant to write, re-write, or significantly change a college essay. When students submit a college essays, they should be submitting their own work. Even a sprinkling of well-intentioned re-writing can call a student’s authorship into question. And the SAS college counselors are trained in helping students to edit essays in ways that will best represent the student in the admission process.
Finally, if you do choose to work with a private college counselor, you should continue to keep your SAS college counselor informed as you develop your college plans. The SAS college counselors are the ones who must complete the required school recommendation forms, speak with the nearly 300 admission officers who visit our campus each year, and have other private conversations with admission officers as they are reviewing SAS applications. Being honest about your concerns and needs, along with taking the time to get to know your SAS college counselor, can increase both the extraordinary care you receive and the chances that you will be successful as you select and apply to college.
Financial Aid Overview
Planning for college expenses is one of the biggest financial projects a family can undertake. Four years of college usually costs tens of thousands of dollars. Indeed, the average annual cost of attendance (tuition, room and board, and other expenses) at private U.S. colleges is often over $40,000 USD, with several now over $70,000 per year.
Paying for college is a family affair. Parents and students must work together to make college affordable. Obviously, the earlier you start, the easier it will be; however, it's never too late to make a difference. There are four basic ways to pay for college:
- You can save enough to cover all college expenses before you child enrolls.
- You can work to pay for expenses while he or she is enrolled in college.
- You can take out loans and pay after your child graduates.
- You can apply for need-based financial aid.
Conversations about finances are important during the college process. Students can only make realistic choices if they understand their family’s ability to to pay. Honest communication between parents and students about finances is essential.
The SAS college counselors are available to have conversations about how to make college choices depending on your financial circumstances.
COST OF COLLEGE
In most countries, the price tag of the college reflects what you will pay to attend. In the US, this is not always the case. College prices may vary from the published price based on your family’s ability to pay and/or merit scholarships. If you want to get a sense of what an individual college might cost your family, go to the school’s financial aid web page and complete the information required for its Net Price Calculator. The Net Price Calculator should give you a rough idea of how much you will be asked to spend per year at that school.
When looking at college costs in the US, make sure you are considering all of the costs associated with attending college: tuition, room and board, fees, travel expenses, books, and personal expenses.
FINANCIAL AID VOCABULARY
It is important to understand the different kinds of financial aid available if you are applying to schools in the US. Financial aid can be divided into two categories: need-based and non-need based. Here is some basic terminology:
Need-based financial aid: This is aid provided only to those who apply and qualify, based on the US government’s and the school’s assessment of a family’s ability to pay. Once a family’s ability to pay has been determined, assistance may be provided in a variety of ways:
- Grants: This is money given to a family that does not need to be repaid.
- Loans: Most financial aid packages ask families to take out loans, which must be repaid over time with interest. These loans are usually provided by the US government for US citizens. Private loans are much less desireable options.
- Work Study: Students may be asked to take a job on campus during the school year as part of a financial aid package.
Non-need-based financial aid: Many colleges award “merit scholarships,” which are monies that are provided by the individual institutions and do not need to be repaid. At most schools, these merit scholarships do not require extra applications. Students may also apply for private, outside scholarships. A good search engine for these may be found on the Fastweb website.
APPLYING FOR AID IN THE US
The decision about whether to apply for aid is complex. Some families will absolutely need to apply; others will wonder whether they will qualify and whether it is worth it to submit an application. Please note that many colleges are “need-aware” in their reading of applications -- in other words, they may take a student’s ability to pay into consideration when they are making an admissions decision. We recommend that you start your consideration of financial aid possibilities early, that you do good research about the financial aid process, and that you have a conversation with your SAS college counselor about your options.
The financial application process is separate from the college application process -- and it has its own set of timelines. Please check the financial aid website of each college to which your son or daughter is applying and keep a list of each school’s requirements and deadlines.
All US citizens applying for need-based financial aid in the US must complete the FAFSA, the US federal application for student aid. This application is free.
Some US colleges may also ask students to complete separate institutional applications. Others may require that students fill out the CSS Profile, a tool created by the College Board to capture more financial information. There is a small fee for submitting the Profile.
FINANCIAL AID: OPTIONS VARY BASED ON CITIZENSHIP
On the tabs above you will find information based on your individual circumstances.
- Each of the 50 states have a different set of legislative rules about what makes you a state resident for purposes of paying in-state tuition at a public university. If you think you might still be a state resident somewhere, research and learn about these rules.
- If your child is a US citizen, you should look at the US citizen information. US citizens and permanent residents are eligible for need-based financial aid. That said, many SAS parents have compensation packages that makes eligibility for need-based aid unlikely. Check the information under the US citizen tab for more information.
US citizens living abroad who seek admission to a public university in a state where their family has existing ties may be eligible for in-state tuition. If you own real property in that state, are registered to vote there, file a resident income tax return, hold a state driver's license or motor vehicle registration, and can demonstrate prior residence of at least 12 months, you may qualify for state residency for tuition purposes. Each state legislature has its own rules and regulations for determining residency and universities make the determination.
For additional information about residency, check the requirements for the different US states. The College Board also provides a link to check state residency requirements. While the interpretation of the law should be consistent, SAS counselors know of situations where one university in a state determined a family was a resident while another institution in the same state told the same family they weren't.
Further, many states have tuition discount programs that allow residents to attend universities in another state without having to pay out-of-state tuition.
California: SAS counselors frequently get questions about California residency requirements. In California, a student's residence is determined at the campus level. Campus officials can give you the most accurate advice on residence issues. If you have specific questions about your residency status, please read the statements of residency requirements published in the catalog of the public institution you plan to attend or contact the official who has been designated to make residency determinations for that institution. Here is additional information provided by UC Santa Cruz for the State of California. Information can also be found on individual UC websites. For example, on UC San Diego's website you will find the criteria to establish residence for tuition purposes.
In brief, to be considered a California resident for purposes of tuition, an out-of-state student must have lived in California for more than one year preceding the residence determination date, relinquish residence in other states, show an intent to establish residency in California and demonstrate financial independence. Unmarried undergraduates from other states qualify as financially independent if they were not claimed by their parents or others as dependents for tax purposes for two preceding tax years and if their annual income is sufficient to meet their needs.
Texas: Texas is another state for which SAS counselors often get questions. Rules and Regulations for determining residence status are set by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Residency information can be found at CollegeforTexans.com. The University of Texas at Austin also has extensive information about Texas residency.
Non US Citizens
Very few colleges or universities in the world offer financial aid to students who are not citizens of that country. Students who are not US citizens or permanent residents should plan on finding their own sources of money to pay for their US college education. If you are not a US citizen, the cost of a college may become a large factor in your choice of where to apply. If you plan to study in the US, you will not be granted a visa unless you can prove you have sufficient financial resources to pay for your college, living expenses, and a return trip to your home country.
If you are an international student and you must have aid, don't waste your time applying to schools that don't offer it. Because the amount of aid available to international students is limited, colleges will only offer it to the very strongest applicants in their applicant pool. A general rule of thumb is that if you are a non-US citizen who requires financial aid, you will need to be among a college’s top applicants in order to receive an offer of aid. If your scores or grades are marginal for that college, you will most likely be rejected, since money will be allocated among the top students, and the college cannot admit you without proof that your family will be able to pay your bills.
If you are not a US citizen but are looking for financial aid to attend a US university, determining which colleges offer aid can be confusing. Fortunately, Jennie Kent and Jeff Levy have provided a list, updated in 2015, that offers some insight by detailing which colleges offer need and merit aid. As you can see, most public universities offer no aid at all. Some, like Washington State, offer modest amounts. Others like Stanford and Yale offer a full ride to needy (and superior) students. eduPASS also provides a list of colleges and universities that provide aid to international students is included. The Council of International Schools (CIS) also provides information on financial aid for the US, Canada, and the UK.
You should realize that some colleges and universities are less expensive than others. Cost doesn't always equate to quality, but may be based upon the school's endowment and location. If cost is an issue for your family, please be upfront about that as you're meeting with your SAS counselor.
DEMONSTRATING FINANCIAL RESOURCES
If you are not a US citizen but plan to go to the US for college, you will be required to obtain a visa from the US Department of Immigration before you travel to the US to attend college. This requires you to demonstrate that you have the necessary funds for the first academic year. For most schools you must complete a "certification of finances" form and attach documentation showing that your family has sufficient financial resources to pay for your schooling. Most colleges do not require this documentation until after you are admitted, but some ask for it at the time of application. Additional details are on our immigration and visa page. [FIX LINK HERE TO IMMIGRATION AND VISA PAGE]
MERIT BASED SCHOLARSHIPS
The most selective US colleges provide only need, as opposed to merit-based, financial aid. Less selective colleges do, however, sometimes provide merit awards. These awards are used to encourage talented students to consider attending these schools. Colleges realize that talented students will have a number of acceptance offers and use merit awards as an incentive to attract them. Talent grants are given to students who demonstrate a particular talent in sports, the arts, leadership, social service, or academics. These grants are offered regardless of a student’s financial need and are often open to international students.
Students can attract merit aid by applying to schools where their class rank and test scores will place them in the top 25% of the applicant pool. The most generous colleges tend to be private liberal-arts colleges that boast large endowments but face stiff competition from more-affordable and academically comparable state schools.
Merit-based aid is based on a student's achievements in areas such as academics or special talents such as music or athletics and is almost always open to international students. This free website allows students to complete a profile and a summary of colleges with merit scholarships will be generated based upon the information provided in the profile. Be aware that while the site says they don't sell your email to third parties, students do end up getting a lot of email from the site.
Local community organizations offer scholarships to SAS students most years. In recent years the Singapore American Community Action Council (SACAC), the SAS PTA, and a handful of other private organizations have offered awards to SAS students. SAS counselors announce scholarships to students as they learn of them. Applications are usually available in the Counseling Office each March.
PRIVATE SCHOLARSHIP SEARCHES
A number of foundations and other private organizations have developed scholarship programs. The following search engines can help you sort through them. Beware of scholarship scams. If anyone asks you for money to apply for a scholarship, it's probably a scam. Also, if you're not a US citizen be sure to verify that it is open to international students. Check out these sites:
- Wired Scholar - This is a reputable scholarship search program, some say the best online. It takes 15 - 20 minutes to fill out the profile, but for a national scholarship search it does the job.
- FastWeb - a free scholarship search engine.
- GoCollege - information on financial aid and more.
- College specific scholarships - colleges sometimes offer scholarships to all admitted students meeting narrowly defined objective criteria (e.g., 3.0 GPA and 1900 SAT)
There are several ways to pay for college other than applying for financial aid. Students can also work! As SAS counselors hear about summer work opportunities, information will be announced.
The US government has consolidated 16 different financial aid web sites into one clean link. Studentaid.ed.gov now contains all information on applying for aid, including the FAFSA application and the FAFSA 4Caster to estimate aid; it also has a direct link to the incredibly useful College Navigator program, a college search engine that rivals that of any private company; another link offers advice on avoiding scholarship scams, and there's an expanded section on paying back loans that includes a link to contact the government if you need to talk to someone about the loans you owe. Some colleges will require the CSS/Financial Aid Profile, a more detailed form, in addition to the FAFSA. However before completing the CSS Profile, check the list of participating institutions to see if it is required. The College Board provides helpful tips on the CSS/Financial Aid Profile through an interactive presentation.
HOW NEED-BASED FINANCIAL AID WORKS
US financial aid is only available to US citizens who demonstrate "financial need" as determined by a federal formula. Need based financial aid in the form of grants (grants do not have to be paid back and are often referred to as “scholarships"), low-interest loans, and student work-study programs is available based on the information submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid--the FAFSA. There is a very helpful online step-by-step guide to filing the FAFSA, which we encourage parents to read. The federal government makes a determination about your expected family contribution (EFC), or the amount your family can reasonably be expected to contribute toward a student's education, based on information you have entered on the FAFSA about assets, income, and other data from a parent's (and student's) US income tax form.
The data you submit on the FAFSA goes to a place called CPS (Central Processing System) where it is compiled and then a formula is applied. The EFC is basically what the government believes you should be able to contribute toward the cost of attending college, based on your state of residence, household size, number in college, and student and parent income and asset information.
Next, the school you attend establishes a Cost of Attendance (COA). The COA is composed of tuition, room and board, fees and estimated expenses (e.g., books, supplies, personal items). Together, the EFC and COA are used to determine your financial need. Financial need is calculated by subtracting the EFC from the COA and is a guideline in determining how much need based financial aid you may receive. The equation looks like this:
COA - EFC = Demonstrated Financial Need
The college's financial aid office then uses the "need based" resources they have available to try to "meet" your financial need.
FINANCIAL AID SCENARIO
Sally files her FAFSA and a couple of weeks later receives her Student Aid Report (SAR). She notes that the EFC on the SAR is "01200" or $1,200. Her school has a COA of $18,000. So, using the formula above we find that Sally's need is $16,800.
The financial aid office then uses this information to construct a financial aid package. For example, the college offers the following:
$5,000 INSTITUTIONAL GRANT
$1,550 FEDERAL PELL GRANT
$1,000 FEDERAL SEOG
$3,500 FEDERAL SUBSIDIZED STAFFORD LOAN
$1,000 FEDERAL PERKINS LOAN
$1,600 FEDERAL WORK STUDY
TOTAL AID: $13,650
Sally's need for financial aid is $16,800, but the financial aid office was only able to meet $13,650 of her need. The difference between the two is called unmet need. In this case, Sally's unmet financial need is $3,250. What that means to Sally is that she will have to contribute more than her EFC in order to meet her educational costs. Unmet need is a common occurrence in financial aid packages. The school is under no obligation to meet your full need for financial aid and, in many cases, is simply unable to do so, given the types and amounts of funding at their disposal. What the financial aid office does, to the best of its ability, is to meet as much of your need as it can with the resources it has available. Those resources may include scholarships, grants, loans, and work. If you think you have an "unusual circumstance" which should be considered (e.g., recent loss of job or divorce), you should discuss it directly with the college's financial aid office.
Before you go through the arduous task of completing financial aid forms, take a look at financial aid estimator on sites such FinAid or ACT. You can enter your financial information and these estimators will provide a rough evidence of whether you might qualify for aid.
While some colleges are more expensive than others, cost doesn't always equate to quality; rather it may be based upon other factors such as the school's endowment and location. Of course state universities offer a lower cost option to state residents so you may wan to click the state resident tab above for details about your possible eligibility for in-state tuition at a public university. If cost is an issue for your family, please let your counselor know.
If your financial aid award package includes an education loan, you are responsible for applying for the loan. Instructions are generally provided with the award letter. Even if an education loan is not a part of your financial aid award, you may apply for a loan if you cannot meet the Expected Family Contribution from your savings or current income.
Loans have made higher education possible for millions of students, but you should consider your options carefully before borrowing and limit it to only the amount necessary. The following sites have more information about student and parent loans:
All SAS students have access to Family Connection, a college information website used to track college applications for all SAS students. Family Connection is a valuable research tool; it has some very sophisticated ways to develop a list of colleges that might be good matches for you. One other feature of Family Connection is its ability to help predict chances of admission at any college through a tool called "scattergrams." Scattergrams graphically depict the GPAs, SAT scores, and admission experience of SAS students at hundreds of different colleges over the past years. While scattergrams are a limited tool -- they only plot two pieces of a student’s application -- they can be used to estimate the likelihood of gaining admission to a particular college.
While Family Connection is a robust site, you may find that you want to explore other search engines. We would suggest that you take a look at:
For general information on attending college in the US, please visit EducationUSA, a website for international students created by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.
RESEARCHING COLLEGES: BOOKS
Books can be valuable in providing a succinct, bird’s-eye view of schools. We would suggest that you look through some or all of the following:
- The Best 381 Colleges, by Princeton Review
- The College Finder, by Steven Antonoff
- Colleges that Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges, by Lauren Pope
- Cool Colleges for the Hyper-Intelligent, Self-Directed, Late-Blooming, and Just Plain Different, by Donald Asher
- Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians, and Writers, by Elaina Loveland
- The Fiske Guide to Colleges, by Edward Fiske
- The Hidden Ivies, by Howard Greene and Mathew W. Greene
- The Insider's Guide to Colleges, by the Yale Daily News Staff
- Looking Beyond the Ivy League, by Loren Pope
Students can find copies of many of these books in the SAS college counseling office or the SAS high school library.
NON-US UNIVERSITY OPTIONS
As an international school with students from over 50 countries, SAS sends students to colleges all around the world, from Australia and New Zealand to Japan and Korea to the UK and Germany. Some SAS graduates choose to stay right here in Singapore. In most graduating classes, around 20% of the class will choose to attend non-US universities. The most popular non-US countries for university are included on the tabs above.
The SAS college counselors are knowledgeable about many different countries’ application systems and will support you in applying to any university. Please know that if you are planning to apply to a university where the language of instruction (and application) is not in English, you will need to let us know what documents and assistance you require.
To find schools in different countries, you might start by looking at:
- World Wide Colleges and Universities - This is a resource of the UCLA Center for Global Education and provides web links to colleges and universities around the world.
- Braintrack University Index - lists over 10,000 higher education institutions in 194 countries
With its close proximity to Singapore and lower costs than many American colleges, Australian universities continue to gain popularity with SAS graduates. Australia's school year begins in February and their applications are not available until August or September, after students have graduated from SAS. Due to the timing of the Australian academic year, students going to Australia have a 6-month gap between graduation and the beginning of university. Only a small number of universities and programs have a July intake.
If you're not an Australian citizen, one of your first steps should be to contact the International Development Program (IDP) Education Australia. IDP is a semiprivate company set up by Australian universities and the Australian government and serves as a "one stop shop for Australian education" for international students. There is a local office in Singapore.
There are different types of universities in Australia: the "Group of 8" research universities, the technology universities, and the universities that focus on undergraduate teaching. Admission criteria will differ among these groups, and even from one university to another.
As a general rule, Australian universities seek non-Australian students with high SAT Reasoning or ACT scores. In addition, some will accept a student with three to five good AP scores and a strong GPA. Some universities will be more flexible.
If your qualifications are not sufficient to allow direct admission to a university, you may want to consider admission to a "Diploma" or "Advanced Diploma" course. After 12 to 18 months of study, these courses lead directly into the second year of a B.A. or B.S. degree program. Another option for non-Australians is a six to twelve month "Foundation Course." Many courses in Australia are three years long, so taking the Foundation Year will give you a four-year experience.
AUSTRALIAN CITIZENS APPLYING TO AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITIES
The information written above applies to non-Australian citizens. If you are an Australian citizen, the process is much different. During the SAS summer holiday at the end of grade 11 or winter break of grade 12, students and parents should find out from the Tertiary Application Centre in their state(s) exactly which documents will be needed. These will likely include an official SAT scores, official AP scores, and official copy of the SAS diploma.
You will apply through the application center for the state where the university is located. Here are the centers:
- UAC: Universities Admissions Centre for institutions in New South Wales (Sydney, Newcastle), Australian Capital Territory (Canberra) and Griffith University
- QTAC: Queensland Tertiary Application Centre for institutions in Queensland (Bribane, Cairns, Gold Coast, etc.) and a few universities in northern New South Wales
- VTAC: Victoria Tertiary Application Centre for institutions in Victoria (Melbourne) and in Tasmania (Hobart)
- SATAC: South Australia Tertiary Application Centre for institutions in South Australia (Adelaide) and Northern Territory (Darwin)
- TISC: Tertiary Institutions Service Centre for institutions in Western Australia (Perth, Freemantle)
There are several universities (e.g. Griffith, Australian Catholic University, University of New England, Bond) that can be applied to through two different TACs. Do not double up and apply through both routes. Doing so can actually reduce your chances of admission.
Applications are not complete and no offers will be given unless all required documents have been received. At some TACs you get a code, which you will need for all documents you send yourself or have had sent on your behalf (such as standardized test scores). The closing date for documents varies by state. You must determine which documents will be needed.
Most students in Australia live in off-campus housing. If you choose to attend a school with on-campus housing, please note that the application for housing is separate from applying for admission. You should check each school’s website to review their housing options.
In Canada there is a big distinction between a university and a college. Institutions that grant bachelor's degrees and beyond are called universities, while colleges focus on vocational and technical training. Most SAS students apply to the university system.
The most important factor in admissions to the Canadian universities are your junior and senior year grades in the core courses. Beyond that, since you are coming from an American School, you should find out what is required of a student from a US high school -- even if you are a Canadian citizen. Nearly all universities require SAT scores. Some schools also require Subject Tests or AP test results. Review the admission information for each university to find out what academic background and test results you will need.
If you apply to universities in Canada by December 1 and your transcript and SAT scores are submitted at the end of the first semester, you can expect to receive a decision by late March or early April. This will be in time to compare offers with those from US colleges.
Ontario is the home to 40 per cent of Canadian university students. The universities there use the Ontario Universities Application Centre, a centralized application center. After submitting your OUAC application, the universities will contact you to request supplementary materials. To apply to other schools in Canada, you will need to use each school’s individual application.
- The Study in Canada site has a wide variety of information about higher education in Canada.
- A directory of all Canadian Universities is available from the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada. They provide information for Canadian and international students.
- ScholarshipsCanada.com is Canada's most comprehensive scholarship portal. You'll also find information about student loans, applications and budget planning.
The United Kingdom (UK) is comprised of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Universities in all of these regions are subject to the same government regulations and processes, but the system of education in Scotland is different from that in the other parts of the UK. Thus, while the application process is consistent throughout Great Britain, what you experience as a student will vary depending on whether you enroll in Scotland or elsewhere in the UK. Most degrees in the UK can be completed in three years, whereas in Scotland, the usual length is four years.
WHAT TO STUDY?
If you are applying in the UK, you are required to indicate your course of study at the time you apply. Unlike the US, where students can apply without having decided about their major, there is no such thing as “undecided” at UK universities. If you like the idea of studying in the UK, you must be prepared to launch into a quite specific course of study, and to stay with it for three years until you complete your degree. Once your studies begin, all classes relate to that subject area, or two subject areas in a joint degree. If you change your mind about your course, you have to reapply to a different course, and unless it’s a closely related field, you would have to begin your degree over from the beginning. For this reason, students who are not certain of their interests are not a good match for studying in the UK.
RESEARCHING UK COURSES AND UNIVERSITIES
The UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) website is the best place to begin the research process. If you use the UCAS Search Tool, you will be able to find the entry requirements for each of the courses of study in which you might be interested.
Once you’ve decided on a course, you should consult Unistats, a website that allows you to compare a particular course – for example, Advertising -- at all universities in the UK that offer it. You will find data there about the number of A-Level points achieved by the average admitted student, which is a rough way of determining selectivity – see your SAS college counselor for assistance with interpreting this information.
There are numerous other resources available for investigating courses. Many students have found the Higher Education League Tables, published by the major British newspapers such as The Guardian, to be very helpful.
HIGH SCHOOL REQUIRED COURSES
While some courses will be open to you whatever subjects you choose, other courses will require you to have studied specific high school subjects and complete exams in those areas. As you're designing your SAS four-year course of study, you must make certain you take courses where you will be able to complete external (AP) exams. "Which? University" and some other UK websites have information on the exams you need for the degree you want to study.
The UCAS application will also ask you to address what other avenues you have taken to pursue your field of study. Have you pursued extracurricular interests relevant to your planned course? Have you read books or websites, watched TED talks, been to lectures, or done summer or Catalyst project work related to your area of academic interest? The more you can demonstrate that you have paid attention to your planned course of study during high school, the more compelling your application may be.
UK APPLICATION PROCESS
UCAS serves as the central clearinghouse for university applications in the UK. Applicants fill out a single online form and a reference is added by your SAS college counselor. Once the form is submitted, UCAS forwards the application to the universities that the student has indicated. Each university then makes a decision about the application; the decision is then posted in the student’s UCAS account. The UCAS application limits you to a maximum of five courses choices, or four choices in clinical areas such as medicine or dentistry. These course choices could be at five different universities, or two courses could be chosen at the same university (e.g., one course called Psychology and another called Social Psychology at University of Kent would make up two course choices).
Deadlines: Since the UCAS application deadline is January 15th, your part of the completed application must be submitted online no later than December 1, so the reference can be added and the form submitted before school closes for the winter holiday. There are earlier deadlines for specific universities and courses. Students applying to Oxford or Cambridge, for example, must submit the UCAS form plus a supplemental paper application by mid-September. If you plan to apply to Oxford or Cambridge, discuss this with your college counselor in the spring of grade 11 in order to begin planning for submission of the work samples which are often required by those two institutions. Students applying for medical, dental, or veterinary courses must submit applications to their counselor by October 1st in order for the form to reach UCAS by the October 15th deadline. Interviews are almost always required for these clinical courses.
UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT
Your personal statement is your chance to make a convincing case for your admission. The personal statement can be no longer than 47 lines or 4000 characters, including spaces, and should focus on why you have chosen to study the courses you have listed, and what interests you about your subject. Details about what you have studied, read, or experienced in relation to your course will help the admissions tutors assess your suitability for admission.
Some students will choose to remain in Singapore for university. The three public universities in Singapore are:
- Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
- National University of Singapore (NUS)
- Singapore Management University (SMU)
To learn about the admission requirements for these universities, go to their websites and search for admission requirements for international students from America. Even if you don't have a US passport, you will leave SAS with an American high school diploma so those admission requirements will apply to you.
While US universities base their admissions decisions primarily on a student's transcript, Singaporean universities focus more on examination results. SAT and AP scores are extremely important, and you may also be required to take Subject Tests as well. All three of the Singaporean universities have minimum exam score requirements, and most successful applicants will have higher scores.
There are also several private universities in Singapore, including SIM University (UniSIM), S P Jain Center of Management, DigiPen Institute of Technology, LASALLE College of the Arts, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), and The Harrah Hotel College of The University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
SAS College Guide: Each December, each junior's family is given a printed copy of our annually updated College Guide. You can also download a copy from this website by clicking the link above.
I was accepted to every school I applied to, including Cornell, Carnegie Mellon University, and Northwestern. At nearly every UC I was offered the Dean’s or Regent’s Scholarship. I narrowed my choice down to Caltech, USC, Harvey Mudd, and UC Berkeley.
It was a really tough decision, but I ended up choosing USC because compared to the other schools, I’ll have more freedom to figure out exactly what I want to do, and because I’ll be attending for free as a full-ride Trustee Scholar and Viterbi Fellow.
Roopal Kondepudi (Class of 2017)