30 June 2020

Smooth Sailing to University

Published by Stamford American School Hong Kong
Renovation-and-refit-projects

University admissions is a passion-finding process that can become overwhelming for first-time families, but an experienced guidance counselor can reduce this stress and turn the process into a rewarding journey for families.

Ms. Christina Meherg, Stamford’s University Counselor, connects students’ social-emotional competencies with their academic success in developing Stamford’s high school counseling program.

“I started as a Humanities teacher in the United States, but I quickly realized that my favorite part of being an educator was building confidence in students, helping them develop empathy and problem-solving skills, and discover their strengths. I am passionate about my students’ personal growth, and my proudest moments have been watching them cross the stage at graduation, excited about their future university. What a privilege to be a part of that!” - Ms. Christina Merherg

Q: What are some of the frustrations students and families may face when approaching university applications?

The most common frustration I have observed is the pressure that some students feel to have their entire life planned out at such a young age. This makes perfect sense because making such an important choice about your future can be quite stressful. It can be very challenging to narrow down the university choices and not feeling overwhelmed.

Coupled with that is the challenge to keep up with deadlines and stay focused throughout. The whole university admissions process can span across a few years and this strenuous task requires support and positive encouragement from peers, parents, and teachers.

This is why it is really important to start doing research early. Gather as much information as possible, keep an open mind as you search for the best university for your child, and stay connected with the school and your child.

Q: What do you think are some common misunderstandings towards university admissions?

When it comes to university admissions, you should always remember that one size does not fit all! It is really important to recognize the individuality of each university’s admission criteria and to educate yourself. Each country has many different options for higher education and the program model and requirements for acceptance vary from school to school. 

Q: What does Stamford’s university counseling program entail?

A great advisory program helps students set academic and personal goals, and supports them as they purposefully turn their goals into unique individual pathways. This will be a collaborative effort made great by teachers, administrators, and parents.

Our advisory program led by teachers helps build social-emotional skills which will lead to greater success in university. Career, interest, and learning style inventories led by the counselor will help students to understand their strengths better. 

At the same time, you will have ample opportunities to research universities and degree programs as well. Not only will you be able to access our online platform with detailed information about universities, but students will also attend university fairs to meet with admissions representatives from schools across the world. One-on-one guidance from the counselor will be available to assist families in this process.

Q: Do you see any trends in the changing landscape of university admissions?

Many universities are interested in considering more than just an applicant’s grades and test scores. In fact, some schools are even offering “test optional” or “test flexible” admission which means that they are deemphasizing the importance of SAT or ACT scores when considering applicants. The trend has been for selective colleges to have a holistic approach in which they consider personal essays, recommendations, and extracurricular experiences to be as important as grades and test scores.

The Stamford curriculum and community is set up to prepare students academically and emotionally for life after high school. Our approach to educating the “whole child” will greatly benefit your students and prepare them for the next part of their journey.

Q: If you must provide ONE piece of advice for parents, what would that be?

Relax and Research! Talk to your child about where they might want to study and begin educating yourself on the admissions requirements, financial costs, and international student programs. It is important to consider your child’s strengths, interests, and passions and remember that finding the school that is the best fit for them is a process, but it will all work out in the end!

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