College Advisory

College and University Advisory at Access International Academy Ningbo (AIAN)

by Jennifer Burns


For the past four years, all of our students have been accepted by at least one (up to 8!) of the universities to which they have applied. None have been left without an acceptance to a university. This is a source of pride for our school. We know that we prepare our students well for the university phase of their lives.


At AIAN, I help students research the requirements for entry into their desired universities. I also help our students find and consider some universities that they did not even realize might be great for them. For example, one of our students wants to be a pilot. One of the ways I directed him was to have him research Embry Riddle University in Florida, which is a university which focuses and excels in the study of Aeronautics.  


Another type of help we give our students in our AIAN university advisory program is to aid the students (and their parents) in understanding which universities are best for the student. Some universities are particularly famous for their business school, or their engineering program. While they may not be the #1 university overall, they could be #1 in a specific subject.


At AIAN, we keep a list, from grades 9 through 12, of a student’s experiences outside of the classroom. After-school activities (ASAs), clubs, volunteer work, community service, sports, tournaments, performances, and work experience are all important for university entrance. If a student only shows academic achievements without any of these other elements, then they may not be taken seriously by university entrance committees. By showing aptitude in academics as well as these other areas, a student will be seen as being “well-rounded.” This means that they are able to excel in many areas, not just at studying. Universities like that quality in their students. The university committees also like to see that students care about their communities and the world around them. This can be on a small or a large scale of interest.


Another service that we provide for our students is to write letters of recommendation for them so that the university entrance officers can better understand our students’ strengths and areas for growth. Nobody is perfect, and we encourage our students to examine their characters and build on their strengths. We also help students to recognize and develop skills which will help them in their university careers. Recently, we read an article about how they can empower themselves by asserting themselves in the correct manner. Another article we discussed has them questioning why they probably need more sleep, and how to get it. This can help them learn better and retain information for longer periods. It also helps the students to feel less stress by giving them practical advice. All of these are important lessons for students to know how to succeed at university.


I encourage our students to apply to one or two “highly competitive” universities, two or three “competitively appropriate” universities, and one less competitive university. They can then receive a number of placement offers, and decide which university offer to accept for their best learning experience.