Career guidance is more important now than ever and if you’re wondering what role parents and the schools themselves should play in it, we have a few answers for you. Finding a job after school is difficult enough, but finding work that you actually enjoy doing and have the relevant skills for is even more difficult. Because of this, getting the right advice early on is key. Here, we learn about the help on offer at three international schools in Singapore.
How do the schools help?
Canadian International School
University advisors work with students in Grades 7 to 9 to take part in career exploration activities, while in Grade 10 they work closely with the Diploma Programme Coordinator to help students select course choices based on requirements for their future university programme. In Grade 11, advisors have individual meetings with students and parents and hold regular workshops on the university application process. In Grade 12, they work with students on university applications, ensuring they meet deadlines and choose universities that fit their personal and long-term goals.
Hear from a student
“The university advising team has been very helpful in guiding me about which universities I should attend. They’ve also taught me how to apply effectively and efficiently. My university counsellor Mr Taskin has been very hands-on throughout my application process. We are in constant communication about improving my university essays and he always makes sure that all documents are submitted correctly and on time.”
– Adrien Dubois, Grade 12
GEMS World Academy (Singapore)
To help students find the universities and courses that fit with their academic, personal and career aspirations, the school has a dedicated university counsellor to provide support and advice, from researching, shortlisting and applying to and selecting the university. Diploma Programme Day Seminars are held to deepen students’ understanding about their subjects of interest. The school hosts an annual university fair and arranges university visits throughout the year where students and parents can speak directly with representatives, admission officers, academics and professors from top colleges and universities.
Hear from a student
“The IB Diploma Programme was an extremely challenging experience. The variety of subjects offered at GEMS allowed me to focus on particular areas of interest such as psychology, biology and literature – all of which I continue to pursue at university. The university application process can be stressful and overwhelming, but the support and advice provided by academic advisor Mr Cox enabled us to accomplish the requirements needed to get into our desired universities.”
– Rebecca Samuel, Graduate of Class 2018
UWC South East Asia
The school has a student-centred careers and university advising service that starts with preliminary sessions in Grade 9, before progressing into an individualised support programme in Grades 10, 11 and 12. The focus is on providing information, guidance and advocacy to assist students find a good fit, where they’ll thrive both academically and emotionally. UWCSEA’s team includes former university admissions officers and educators who are able to offer a first-hand understanding of the process of applying and the academic environment that’s best for each student. The school also hosts regular university information sessions for students and parents, including welcoming over 200 universities to the campuses each year.
Hear from a parent
“I wish I hadn’t worried as much about her university choices. I had the big existential crisis for years before, but in the end, it all worked out just fine. I’ve realised that our children, as third culture kids, have a very different upbringing from other students; they support each other.”
– Parent of a UWCSEA alumni
Handy tips for parents
Career Guidance Team at the Canadian International School
#1 “Demonstrate genuine interest in learning about the dreams and aspirations of your children, even if they don’t totally match up with what your expectations may be. Take note of what their special talents, interests and preferences are.”
#2 “Help your children during their future career exploration process by looking up summer programme opportunities, connecting them with friends or family who might offer job shadowing or an internship. You can have them take a career interest survey.”
#3 “Visit university campuses when you can. Whether or not the campus is on the list of universities your child is applying to, visit the campus facilities, ask staff and students questions, and visit the admissions office. It’s a good opportunity to imagine if the setting and vibe of the university would be an attractive place to live and study for three to four years.”
Jonathan Cox, Secondary Years Deputy Principal at GEMS World Academy (Singapore)
#1 “Look at what your child is good at and pick those subjects. I’ve worked with countless students who have nursed lifelong ambitions to be engineers or doctors, only to find that their science and math grades are terrible! There may still be an alternative pathway or it might be that the ambition needs some readjustment.”
#2 “Another great approach is to look at what your child enjoys the most at school and go toward that direction. It has become a cliché that most of our children will be doing jobs that don’t even exist yet, but like all clichés, it’s actually based on a large degree of truth.”
#3 “Above all else, listen to your child. I remember speaking with a family where Mum and Dad were both doctors. They told me with great confidence that their daughter also wanted to be one. I asked the daughter if that was true and she said, ‘No, I want to study design.’ Mum looked aghast and said, ‘You never told me that.’ The daughter replied very simply, ‘You never asked.’”
University Advisory Team at UWC South East Asia
#1 “Make time to discuss the future and explore options with your child. Be led by their preferences rather than by your own aspirations! Initiate the discussion, but remain open to their thoughts and ideas. Expat families sometimes need more time to understand the implications that the choice will have on their family – including how the countries and course options being considered may mean your child will not be going ‘home’ to uni.”
#2 “Make full use of your child’s school’s career and university advising programmes. Schools provide a comprehensive advising service which places the needs and preferences of the student at the centre of the process. External advisors are, for the most part, an unnecessary expense.”
#3 “Encourage your child to develop an understanding of themselves as a person and a learner so that they can take the lead in identifying not just possible career paths, but options (be open to a gap year!) and an educational system best suited to their strengths and learning style. The keys in this are advance preparation and trust.”
Written in collaboration with:
Canadian International School
Tanjong Katong Campus: 371 Tanjong Katong Road
Lakeside Campus: 7 Jurong West Street 41
UWC South East Asia
Dover Campus: 1207 Dover Road
East Campus: 1 Tampines Street 73
Check out What’s Next?, a blog by UWCSEA’s university advisors to help parents navigate the process of selecting a university.