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Sep 08 2023

Why is BCIS’ admissions so rigorous?

Phil Clark

Who can apply to Beijing City International School?

BCIS admits students of all nationalities, including Chinese nationals and foreign nationals who reside in Beijing, subject to the availability of seats and resources. BCIS is an English-medium, non-profit, private, international IB school that welcomes students from families who understand and support the School’s mission, vision, philosophy and goals. 


Is there an entrance exam?

Some schools only accept “top students”, with exceptional academic ability, and require them to pass an admissions entrance exam. BCIS has an inclusive admissions policy that provides a balanced enrollment based on gender, academic history, a student’s passions and interests, English language proficiency and the composition of the current student body. We require students to complete age-appropriate diagnostic admissions tests and interviews to help us build a holistic overview of each applicant to help us determine whether they can thrive in an English-language learning environment.


Fiona, the Vice Principal of the Secondary School, shared, "It's not about the traits we deem unsuitable for BCIS. We view students as whole, developing individuals, and assess whether the education and support we offer can effectively aid them in their learning journey. So, it's not about passing or failing; it's about compatibility.”


Why is the admissions process so rigorous?

Choosing the right school is one of the biggest decisions parents make for their kids. At BCIS, education is a genuine partnership between the student, the school and the family, and that partnership begins with the admissions process. Our admissions staff and school principals carefully review application documents and spend time getting to know each family to better understand their hopes, dreams and expectations. We celebrate the fact that each student is different, as a person and as a learner, and we offer a personalized education specifically designed to stimulate the intellectual curiosity of the child. It is important for parents to fully understand what and how their kids will learn at BCIS. Students and parents must understand and support the School’s mission, vision, philosophy and goals before they make their final decision. 


Early Childhood Center Principal, Jackie, comments, “BCIS Kindergarten believes that the way  children learn is through play and, besides academic development, we place emphasis on the holistic development of children in their early years. Families admitted first need to share the same vision and educational philosophy as the kindergarten, so that parents won't feel anxious or disconnected during their child's subsequent learning.”



What is different about a BCIS education?

Unlike other international schools, BCIS is located in the center of Beijing, we honor our Chinese roots and embrace the fast-paced nature of this vast modern city we call home. We celebrate diversity and empower students to engage as global citizens in an interconnected world. BCIS is future-focused, employing innovative educational practices and comprehensive learning strategies, guiding and supporting our students to make informed choices and create their own unique life stories. BCIS is a community of learners, our campus is open to parents and we provide many opportunities for parents to learn together. We invite parents to be actively involved in the life of the school. BCIS alumni are proactive and remain connected with the school, engaging and enriching our community.


Secondary Principal Natalie explains, “Students choose BCIS not solely as a pathway to schools in the United States, Europe, or Australia, but because they recognize that it contributes to their character development. We aim to produce individuals who attend prestigious universities, but also individuals who are morally upright. When we engage in discussions with families, we assess whether they seek what our school offers, not only academically, but also in terms of social education, character development, and the kind of people we hope our students will become.”



Is BCIS academically rigorous?

Having an inclusive admissions policy does not mean BCIS lacks academic rigor. On the contrary, our rigorous curriculum creatively and authentically implements the Chinese national curriculum. Grounded in PERSONALIZED learning experiences, we actively engage and CHALLENGE each and every student to be proactive thinkers and purposeful doers. Our expert academic staff EMPOWER students by supporting and equipping them with the skills and capabilities needed to thrive in an uncertain future. Our IB diploma graduates consistently outperform global standards in terms of average scores and pass rates, and our alumni attend leading universities around the world.


Elementary School Principal, Fred, explains that the elementary learning-style is inquiry and concept-based which is different to more traditional styles of education. It allows the teachers to really personalize the learning, there is a lot of student choice. Students don’t have one textbook, they have multiple resources to dive deeper into a topic of their choice. My job in the interview process is to help families understand what academic rigor looks like at BCIS so when they decided to say “yes we want to come” there are no surprises.


Secondary Principal, Natalie,  concurs. “While some aspects of our program may be conventional, others are more progressive, giving students a voice and empowering them to make choices in their learning. This is integral to our identity as a school. If we encounter a family or student seeking a very traditional approach to education, one with heavy homework loads, teacher-led lectures, and standardized testing as the main focus, we must be clear that this is not what we offer. It's not a matter of a family being inadequate or our school falling short; it's simply a matter of fit.” 


Do you ever decline an application?

Choosing a school is a huge decision, and making the right decision is as important for us as it is for the parents and students. Sadly, sometimes we have to decline applications. We receive many enquiries and simply don’t have enough seats to accept everyone. It is never easy to say no to a student or family, especially when we offer such a personalized approach. However, sometimes parent expectations are not aligned with BCIS’ mission, vision, philosophy and goals, or occasionally, we may not be able to meet a student’s individual needs with our existing resources. We all want the children to thrive in the right learning environment, so a rigorous admissions process helps us make the best decisions together with families.


Secondary Principal Nathalie continues, “When we engage with families, we have our program and our current student body in mind, considering whether the new families and students in front of us will integrate well with our community and program. From the outset, our goal is to include every student, and while we do make selections, these are based on our capacity to meet and address their needs. For example, if a family has a child with ADHD or a similar learning challenge, and we have the resources to support them, this is not a disqualifying factor. We do not reject students with learning support challenges as long as we have the means to address their needs. However, when our resources reach capacity, we have to decline because it would be unfair to accept a family we cannot adequately serve. What I would emphasize is that once we admit a student, we are committed to doing everything in our power to help them graduate and succeed. If, during an interview with a family, we realize that our resources are insufficient to support that student and family in succeeding at BCIS, that is why we may choose to decline.”



When is the best time to apply?

Education is a long-term investment in your child’s future. It is never too soon to begin your research, to contact the admissions team to schedule a visit and a conversation. The earlier you apply, the more time our admissions team and principals have to consider your application. We are already accepting applications for school year 2024-2025, we recommend you contact the admissions team as soon as possible and begin the application process. 


Admissions Officer, Han, explains, “Making a decision and following through with it in the selection process also means parents relinquishing other possibilities. Choosing the right educational path for your family is a significant decision, especially for many parents who have achieved success within the familiar public education system but opt to explore a new educational model for their children's future. BCIS deeply understands the challenges of making such a decision. Therefore, we aim to assist families in making the right choice on their educational journey. We appreciate the parents who choose BCIS as their partner in education and look forward to exploring more possibilities for their children's future together.”