Another new year has arrived, meaning another graduating class will soon say goodbye. However, this year is very special for the BCIS community since the Class of 2018 will be the 10th group to graduate from our school! Living up to the high expectations set (including the continuation of a 100% pass rate), our Grade 12 students have begun to receive acceptance offers from prestigious colleges and universities around the world. All the efforts they have exerted for their academic and personal achievements during the past four years in particular have paid off, and they are now being rewarded with entrances to well-regarded institutions located in the US, UK, Australia, Korea, and more. These are exciting times indeed as our seniors prepare to move forward to new destinations to chase their dreams and further develop themselves. As they get ready to enter the next chapter of their lives, we would like to highlight some ways the BCIS community has helped them through their journey, as well as share some wise words from some students that have successfully completed the application season this year and been accepted to schools.
The Support that Is Provided
Our highly trained Secondary School Faculty, including our leaders, counselors, teachers, assistants, and support staff, do an amazing job year after year in preparing our students to reach their potential and go beyond. The personalized education they provide in both the IB Diploma Programme and the BCIS Diploma Program, allows students to discover their passions and pursue these further. The young minds are afforded the opportunity to try what they are curious about, with complete support. Through these programs, they are able to live our mission of becoming "compassionate and inspired people, who act for the good of all and for the sustainable development of the world." Indeed, at BCIS, students become empowered and inspired to take on any challenges that lie ahead. Colleen Drisner, Secondary School Principal, states, "in living the BCIS mission, our goal is to develop critical thinkers, creative thinkers, connected learners and purposeful doers. Together, teachers and students shape learning experiences to foster growth and development. This, in turn, prepares students for the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead of them beyond High School."
What Goes On Behind the Scenes
An extensive support program is provided for all Secondary School students, starting from Grade 9 onwards. This involves helping students through every step of the way, listening to what they would like to accomplish, helping them set attainable goals, and providing sage advice to both them and their parents. Of course, this culminates with the successful submission of college applications and then patiently waiting for acceptance offers. Annie Edwards, our school's University Guidance Counselor, shares what this process is like at BCIS:
At the high school level (Grades 9-12), the University Guidance program is designed to support students' academic progress through the high school years and to guide students towards admission to a best-fit university as well as post-secondary educational and career options. This is accomplished through individual and group counseling, the University Prep (UP!) program, academic advising, career planning, and working with the Learning Support teachers to ensure the best educational outcomes for all students. The University Guidance program is delivered through the advisory program with Grade 9 through 12 advisory teachers. The focus in Grade 9 is to identify skills, academic strengths, and personal preferences. Grade 10 explores career options and pathways. Grade 11 focuses on the university search process, from creating the college list to completing the application, resume, and personal statement, and asking teachers for recommendations. The program expands each year of high school using the self-knowledge generated and revealed in the earlier sessions. The BCIS UP! program is supported by the provision of an electronic university and college management system. This software system can be accessed by students and families to add information as it develops, search for universities, track applications and responses, and facilitate the timely sending of support documentation. Parents will be able to access certain sections of their child's file to see progress to date and participate more meaningfully in the application process.
Road to Triumph
We would like to share the trials and tribulations some of our students had to experience on their road to triumph. Whether studying nonstop for consecutive standardized test sittings, or staying up late nights working on personal statements, they each endured the struggles that come with the college application season. Here are a few of their stories.
Grace Wang: The Big Apple Awaits
BCIS senior, Grace, has been part of the BCIS community since her days in kindergarten (even predating the ECC!). She has basically spent her entire life growing up with the school, blossoming from a shy toddler into a Scholarship awardee possessing the voice of an angel. She has been a leader of Beijing Runway, the Banana Arts Exhibition, and other events. She has done internships at live music houses and other companies. She has worked with the Migrant Children's Foundation, as well as other activities related to our Community, Action, and Service (CAS) program for worthy charitable causes. In addition, she has tutored students and fostered strong relationships with the entire community. A long list indeed! With her eyes now set on majoring in Music Business (which is a passion she discovered at BCIS while working on her DP project), she has created a path for her own creative endeavors at her next destination, New York University.
Regarding the ways BCIS has helped her, she stated, "My music teachers at school have definitely helped me find my inner passion for music, giving me a lot of support and encouragement through the entire process." Although she has inspired and led many students through her example, she offered this piece of advice for future applicants and families: "Find a school that fits YOU. For example, if you like the city life, then look for schools in the city because you will spend a lot of time not only on campus, but also in the city area. Also, find the major you are most interested in, and not the one that makes the most money. Many people think this, but it's important to choose a topic that you will be interested in because you will be studying it for the next few years. And if you have parents that are hard to persuade, try and explain to them why you are interested in the major you choose. If you show genuine interest, they will eventually support you."
Jerry Lu: Philosophy Beckons Him
BCIS senior, Jerry, has led a busy existence during his short time at BCIS, joining a number of musical acts to satiate his thirst for composing and performing; taking part in the Calligraphy Club; joining a cross country club; volunteering at Bethel, the orphanage for visually impaired children; and even interning at an art gallery that curated the Andy Warhol exhibition in Beijing. He was recently admitted to King's College London via Early Action, where he has plans to pursue the rare, yet growing in popularity, major of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE).
Jerry's top tips for students desiring to study in the UK would be wise to heed. First, "when applying to universities in the UK, be clear about the major you want to pursue. Then choose universities accordingly, while writing for your essays. Most universities accept TOEFL scores, but for the top universities, such as Cambridge and Oxford, other tests may need to be taken. Also, please note that American universities have different essay questions to be answered. But British universities only look at one essay without a specific title. The official guide will indicate what you should write about and answer the question of why you chose this major. You will also have to mention what skills you have in this area, and what is unique about you. Use your discretion and present your most authentic self." He also desired to emphasize the importance of "staying positive and managing your time well," which can be overwhelming given the many projects juniors and seniors have to tackle during the application season.
Diana Dong: Heads to the West to Meet the East
BCIS senior, Diana co-founded the business group Avenir, and is currently the Translation Team Leader of the student-led paper Editorial. She is also known for her exceptional sports skills on the basketball and volleyball courts. Following her passion of all things related to Japanese culture, she will pursue a major in East Asian Studies & International and Global Studies at Brandeis University located in Boston. She stated, "I watch a lot of anime and have been learning Japanese (the language) since a very young age. After learning more about the culture, I gained an interest in the relationship between Chinese and Japanese cultures. Since then, I've been to Japan a few times and have frequently spoken with elderly shop owners of old boutiques, strengthening my love for the culture." Regarding her decision to study Asian culture in the west, she stated, "Some people may think that it is strange I want to study East Asia in the US, but I want to expand my horizons and see how Western scholars view Asian cultures and gain a different perspective."
Diana also kindly shared some tips she found useful during the application process, including communicating early with admissions officers. "I began contacting the school's admissions officer for the China area as early as the summer of 2017. This was definitely helpful in establishing a relationship with a very important person in the process." Regarding writing the requisite personal essays, she stated, "you want a college to know a certain side of you. So, it is best to just present the real you. You don't need to fake a perfect personality to make a college like you. Also, grades are not everything. Colleges care more about the kind of person you are. So, stand tall."
Frank Zhao: Wall Street Comes Within Grasp
BCIS senior, Frank is known for his business savvy, intelligence, and determination. From cofounding the business group Avenir, to taking the reins of the student-led Editorial, he has led quite the busy existence during his high school days at BCIS. All this hard work has certainly paid off, with his school of choice, New York University, Stern School of Business, accepting him via early decision. Regarding his dream school, he stated he was drawn to it because it "is a target school for many investment banks and consulting firms. It has a lot of internship opportunities and a powerful alumni network. With all of its global centers and Stern-specific exchange programs (whose partner schools include HEC Paris and PKU Guanhua), it's possible to explore the whole world before graduation."
Frank shared that one of the most memorable parts of the application process for him personally was "trying to finish all standardized exams by the end of my Junior year and taking the SAT, AP, SAT Subject Tests, and TOEFL all within 30 days. One Month!" Although it is wise to complete such required tests before senior year commences, perhaps it would be more appropriate to do so in a spread out manner, having ample time to study for each. One tip that we can concur with is this: "When choosing schools, don't look at rankings and don't idolize the Ivy League; you may miss a lot of better options. Also, by the end of junior year, don't spend too much time on exams because activities and essays can be just as important, especially if you're going for business schools."
The Path Onwards
BCIS is an inclusive school that affords students with opportunities to discover and follow their passion. With this in mind, students are assisted in choosing the university that is right for them. Being accepted to schools that are listed at the top of official rankings is a great accomplishment indeed. However, this is not the main goal for students at BCIS. Selecting, applying, and getting accepted to the most suitable and fittest educational institutions for them is. We are proud of our students' achievements in furthering their education after BCIS, and we look forward to sharing more of their stories in the near future with the community and beyond.As of February 1, 2018, over 70 acceptance offers have been given to our Class of 2018. With regular admissions letters now being sent out, many more letters will certainly be given to our seniors. Please stay tuned for an updated and expanded list detailing all the acceptance offers given to our shining Class of 2018 in the next coming months.