Nord Anglia Education
Nord Anglia
22 November, 2022
Saying that U.S. university admissions procedures and processes is fairly complicated does not meet too much opposition. Even back when I was applying to US universities, I found applications isolating, stressful, and frankly aggravating -- and the process has only grown more competitive since then. But there is a method behind the madness! And there are opportunities for personal growth with the right approach.

At BISS, students should recognize first and foremost that they are not alone in the process. Our team is well equipped and knowledgeable about US admissions procedures and how to gain a strategic advantage in increasingly competitive applicant pools.

1) Apply Early

Students at BISS are encouraged and supported to apply to US universities early and often. Early Decision (with deadlines usually around November 1st) and Early Decision II (with deadlines around January 1st) are statistically proven opportunities to increase students’ chances of gaining acceptance to their dream schools. Meanwhile, non-binding Early Action and Rolling routes give students an opportunity to stagger their workload and hear decisions from universities sooner.

2) Take the SAT

Students who take the SAT and score well (I recommend above the 75-percentile range for their universities of choice) are known to have an advantage in their applications. Moreover, certain universities such as Georgia Institute of Technology still require the SAT entrance exam. BISS is a registered SAT test centre with the College Board, and as of this year, now offers PSAT for our Y10 and Y11 cohorts, so they can gain a better understanding of how they test.

3) Write Meaningful Application Essays that Revolve around Your “Application Persona”

It’s never enough to say, “I want to study biology.” I thus challenge students to think critically about social issues and causes that appeal to their passions. How will the democratization of technologies like CRISPR revolutionize the future? Are antibiotics sufficient for winning the arms race against bacterial infections? What are the ethical implications of elongating the aging process? Considering questions like these in and out of IGCSE and IBDP classes requires a multidisciplinary mindset and thus better positions students for integrating into the liberal arts-oriented environments typically found at US institutions of higher learning.

4) Take Initiative and Demonstrate Commitment in ECAs, Participate in Competitions

The importance of extracurricular activities and awards/honours in US applications cannot be overstated, and BISS positions students splendidly for putting together a well-rounded and competitive CV. Dedicated ECAs like Global Goals, MUN, Charities Committee, World Scholars Cup and International Award are great places to get started, but students are always encouraged to pursue their passions and hobbies wherever they may be. And yes, it is possible to demonstrate initiative even as an introvert!

One way to take initiative is to reach out to me. I am always thrilled to discuss any of the above points further and address any lingering concerns that pop up. Remember that the HE Team is here to support you in your journey.

Alexander Olya
Head of Higher Education and Careers Guidance