International schools in Singapore are some of the best in the world, so when it comes to career and university choices, the possibilities can be overwhelming. Which university, what subject, which career and what country are just some of the questions running through young students’ minds. As parents we often think we have the answers, but youngsters need to find their own way; it’s their life after all! Here, career advisors from two top international schools share advice on how parents can best support their budding tertiary-level scholars.
What three tips would you give parents whose children are thinking about which university to apply to, or which career to pursue?
Rosalind Allen, Secondary School Head of Careers at the Australian International School (AIS):
#1 “Be positive: Encourage conversations with your child about career and course ideas and accept all suggestions with enthusiasm. Young people are often very sensitive about their careers ideas and are looking for positive feedback. Keep lines of communication open.”
#2 “Encourage self-understanding: Help your child to identify and celebrate their personal aptitudes, interests, skills and values. Focus on their strengths. Self-knowledge is the first step towards successful course and career choice.”
#3 “Engage with their journey: Celebrate the exploration of diverse career and course options rather than asking ‘what are you going to do when you leave school’”
Zoë C. Williams, Head of Careers & University Guidance at Tanglin Trust School:
#1 “Do something you love, follow your academic passion, and work on your skill set. In a recent US Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, only 19% of employers said they looked for a specific degree major when employing graduates. Most said they valued creativity, problem solving and critical thinking over anything else.”
#2 “Ignore rankings! Do your research and draw up your own set of criteria. There are tens of thousands of courses and institutions to choose from, and the number is growing every year. Students need to focus on their ‘best fit’. (This can be tricky as parents may have preconceived ideas of the standing of a university from 20 to 30 years ago.)”
#3 “Have a very frank discussion about the cost of a university degree. This is a big investment and it needs to be a manageable one. If a student sets their heart on a university but ultimately can’t afford it, they can be very dejected before exam season. One way to experience the dream university is with a student exchange programme, or saving the money for a post-graduate degree.”
Career and university guidance in schools
These days, many schools have dedicated programmes designed to help students figure out where they want to go, and how they’re going to get there. From counselling to careers libraries, roadshows and more, parents and students should tap into the wealth of support available.
“The Australian International School nurtures the career development of every student through a customised career development programme in Years 10, 11 and 12,” explains Rosalind. “Psychometric careers testing is implemented at the start of Year 10 and followed by individual career counselling sessions provided by experienced careers counsellors. This process provides an excellent basis for informed subject and course selection during their senior years and beyond.”
At Tanglin Trust School, there is a dedicated Careers and University Guidance team that offers a bespoke counselling service to students.
“Everyone from Year 11 to 13 has an individually assigned advisor,” says Zoe. “Throughout the year, we provide a series of workshops, enrichment lectures and presentations to students and parents encompassing the differing university application systems, programmes of study, pathways and career options. During this February alone, we have held a European University session for Y12 students and parents, a UK University Roadshow and an Australian University Roadshow. We run dedicated advisory groups such as LNAT prep, Medical Society, Oxbridge and USA applicant workshops. We also host a multitude of university fairs every year, a five-day work experience programme with local businesses in Singapore for all Year 10 students, a Bi-annual Careers Fair and we have interns every autumn to assist in reading essays, applications, enrichment studies and personal statements across many subject areas.
“The team also attend and present at regional conferences, are members of local and international organisations dedicated to University Guidance, and actively visit institutions around the world throughout the year. This keeps us up to date and creates a wide network of connections which support our students. Tanglin has a dynamic, teamwork approach towards supporting students, with faculty staff, parents and alumni supporting a myriad of events. The strength of our guidance is in our community.”
Important calendar dates for university applications
* UK: Oxbridge and Medical applications in the UK are due by 15 October each year.
* UK: UCAS deadline for UK and EU students is 15 January.
* USA and Canada: Scholarship application deadlines in North America are typically due by 1 December
* USA: Early Action and Early Decision dates vary but 1 November is a popular deadline.
* USA: University of California deadlines are 30 November
* Be sure to check test dates for SAT and ACT, LNAT, UKCAT, BMAT and Oxbridge Admissions tests.
Tanglin Trust School
95 Portsdown Road
6778 0771 | tts.edu.sg
Australian International School
1 Lorong Chuan
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