Your College Search

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

Researching Colleges

Search Engines

All SAS students have access to Cialfo, a college information website used to track college applications for all SAS students. Cialfo 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 Cialfo 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 Cialfo 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.


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.

Searching for Non-US College Options

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:


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.

Canada Links

  • The Study in Canada site has a wide variety of information about higher education in Canada.
  • is Canada's most comprehensive scholarship portal. You'll also find information about student loans, applications and budget planning.

The UK

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. 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. Most universities in Singapore have minimum exam score requirements, and most successful applicants will have higher scores.

Public Universities

The six public universities in Singapore are:

Local Arts Institutions

The two arts institutions in Singapore provide diploma and degree-level courses:

Foreign Private Universities

There are also several private universities in Singapore, including:

Affiliated Private Institutions

Affiliated institutions are partnered with universities worldwide. This means that these universities do not confer any undergraduate or graduate degrees; only the institutions' partner universities are able to confer these degrees. These institutions include:


College Rankings

College Rankings

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.


Ranking Publications

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:

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.

Independent College Consultants

Independent College Consultants

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.

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 provided link.

Download the SAS College Guide

Life Changing Opportunities

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)