Tahseen Consulting Webinar: Gaining Admissions to Selective US Universities From the Arab World

good morning my name is dr. Alex Castilla and I’m very happy to be here with you today i am going to provide you with a comprehensive introduction to university admissions process in the US and afterwards answer any questions that you might have me let’s begin by addressing the following components how competition for admissions is actually increasing the reasons for studying in the u.s. selecting the right institutions to apply to a chore fit admissions criteria how students can improve what we call the soft backers for admission the roles of a college counselor would to look for at a college counselor and how we can help students get into a great American University that best fits their academic and professional objectives 2002 mark the most competitive year in college admissions ever and the number of high school graduates reached an all-time high according to the United Nations the number of international students applying to American universities also reached an all-time high and reach nearly 800,000 students of last year alone for international interested in studying in the US these figures may seem very challenging for them nonetheless with the right guidance it is possible for them to pursue their dream and go to college in the US you’re really great news is that there are over 4,000 American universities to choose from and that means that there is a university out there for everyone once where students can do well be successful and get the best academic training and education in order to be prepared for an increasingly competitive globalized workforce nonetheless the applications process can be overwhelming for international students without a proper strategy and certainly without proper guidance why is it that so many international students choose to study in the US here are some of the reasons according to the Fulbright Commission the US remains the number one destination for international students one reason is that in the u.s. we have an incredibly diverse college and university system where there were four thousand public and prostitution ‘he’s range from small colleges to large state university systems in terms of quality distinguished programs at over 4,900 accredited colleges universities and since Institute’s provide both undergraduate and graduate students with choices in more than 900 fields of study where close relationship between research and education has brought a number of us institutions to the forefront of research and technological development in terms of for example the amortization process this is key also American universities have a worldwide reputation of excellence where quality education is top then expertly trained faculty as a result the degrees that students get in the US are recognized widely they’re accepted and their respected around the world the success of us higher education relies on the use of cutting-edge technology and top learning facilities excellent teaching personalized study programs and individual attention furthermore in terms of choice the diversity of educational opportunities means that students will find an institution that matches their academic and social interests depending on the academic experience they’re looking for students have numerous types of institutions to consider be the public or private university a liberal arts college a technical school a women’s or men’s only college and so forth in addition there’s also a variety of settings the smaller large city New York Boston San Francisco suburban rural areas or than what we call more traditional University let’s say Michigan University of Michigan or the University of Indiana Bloomington and coupled with the myriad of climates which can further match a student’s choice of academic experience in terms of academic and extracurricular offer beyond the classroom walls countless extracurricular activities give students a chance to Dibble leadership hills and commune spirit specifically American universities promote outside class learning or experiential learning through various social cultural and sports activities for some of you who are sports bubs checking out the Saturday games football games or basketball for those who are interested in doing volunteer work and you are let’s say living in Philadelphia you could have the opportunity to work with under under served to children in

inner-city schools there’s just so many opportunities there there are key reasons why international students are attracted to American colleges and those are a few of them furthermore in today’s globalized world something that I’ve touched upon and will in the upcoming slides young people understand that the international experience will give them an advantage in the jobs market when they return home distinguishing them from other graduates to be sure employers are looking for people on national background in a nutshell with the globalization of labor markets generally speaking us-trained international skins have greater employment opportunities greater career advancement and greater recognition and credibility now let’s look at the reason why selecting a school in line with the students interest is key determining their likelihood of admissions it’s really important to understand the factors that will determine whether or not students are accepted to different universities a key component of the college application process is to do comprehensive research on the different aspects of a school such as the academic and social environment in order to make sure that the college is a good match for the students and meets it best interests after we conduct an evaluation based on an interview with the student and his family as well as a self-assessment questionnaire and other professional assessments we will help them begin their search in order for them to become familiar with the many different call universities remember there’s over 4,900 of them so that’s important we’ll spend hours with the applicant and family and really get to the heart of his or her personality interests qualifications and aspirations a successful admission begins when a consultant learns as much as you can about the student then works to find the college or graduate school that provides the best environment for their educational social professional and personal growth it’s not only about being accepted tell us about thriving at the institution that is right fit for the student we have extensive first-hand knowledge of colleges and graduate schools big and small around the country this personal insight provides our students with a much deeper understanding than any catalog or website can convey I really want to emphasize that because we can present applicants with a much wider selection of possibilities and provide vital help in white weighing factors such as cost location and curriculum during the next we will help the student build an initial list of universities that can be a great match for them and afterwards we take the lead and narrow down the list in order to make a more balanced one this consists in creating a balance column so as to reach competitive and safety schools something which is a huge part of the college application process we want to make sure we have a good balance for example for a student as an a-minus average a reach school could be Columbia University a competitive school could be something like Boston University and a safety school or what some people call backup school would be shall we say michigan state which is also true versity some factors to consider and which will help students are their options will include the location size academic program offerings campus life and local community and as we tell our students what makes American University system unique is the fact there’s not just one right school for anyone and so each school on their list will affect will reflect their educational career and personal goals the place where they will grow intellectually emotionally and professionally now let’s look at some of the criteria for getting into college this soft factors as i like to call them many international students assume that nor it again go good so in a selective american university that all the heat of good grades it’s just not true and so let’s look at the criteria or hard and soft factors that can affect one’s chances of admissions the good news is that many factors are considered for admission and are within the students control the hard factors are indeed grades and test scores and the soft factors are essays extracurricular activities letters of recommendation etc as college counselors part of our commitment is to help students maximize their essays engage in meaningful extracurricular activities and assist their teachers and writing recommendation letters what why do we do this to help students highlight their

strengths and again to help them distinguish themselves from the global competition this is true more so than it was even ten years ago as you know the amount of international students is growing in the United States you have so many students coming from China from India there’s going to tremendous rise of students from Saudi Arabia and what they call the Latin American boom they’re seeing a lot more students from particularly Brazil Colombia Argentina etc so the soft factors really playing a very important role in a student application and students can work hard to improve them throughout high school and also while they are working on their actual applications so let’s take a closer look at the hard and soft factors I’m not really going to focus on the hard factors too much but they do include grades and standardized test scores like the s80 a CT TOEFL etc the soft package though are something that just there’s so much room for opportunity include extracurricular activities internships volunteer work and community service the personalized statement and essays which are mandatory and nearly all universities the resumes and even the summer study abroad experiences the soft factors really represent a student’s personality interests and talents and you really what make them unique and distinction as the mother blood candidates what does this mean this means that admissions committees are not solely concerned with scholastic ability they’re also asking themselves whom are we inviting to be part of our new and how can the student contribute contribute to the diversity of our college and student body basically what i’m trying to say there is that admissions committees don’t want a freshman class an incoming class 11 is the same they want one variety they want diversity they want someone who is an athlete let’s say from norway or a musician from Zimbabwe or let’s say someone who’s done involved in political activism from Chile etc because in living in a globalized world we’re trying to bring all these different people together to promote something new there are many ways to improve the soft factor for factors for admission than so let’s look at how admissions officers and there are larger committees through this basically they review all aspects of a student’s application and not just their grade point average or GPA and test scores regarding test scores and grades it is necessary to remember that while they are important they’re not the only deciding factor in admissions with that said they are very important and students need to remain focused on their studies throughout high school and so let’s talk about the soft factors in ways that students can improve the stuff admission it can write a college essay that tells the mission office or something that he cannot learn she cannot learn from any other part of the students application most young people don’t like to talk about themselves but it’s absolutely necessary to and will help them protect their best attributes I want to give you an example based on my own word with the student from from Italy two years ago excuse me an opera enthusiast he was and at first he didn’t really list that many achievements and you know one of the things that I realized in working with young people and I don’t it’s near universal and people don’t like about themselves that much you really have to prompt them most people are shy or their humble but it’s really necessary to talk about yourself because if you don’t your competitor in China or Brazil will and they will be the ones who get admitted so finally after meeting with my my Italian student Marco a couple of times and prompt him and just getting to know him I realized that it that he was an opera enthusiast and then I just off the cuff we were having coffee and I there was a newspaper next to me and I opened it and actually there was an article in the cultural section and when I looked it was written by him when I said is this you he said yes this is me and smiled and he actually blushed he was kind of embarrassed by which i guess is pretty

normal um excuse me and basically I learned afterwards that he had written over 20 opera views within the city’s leading these newspaper and the country’s and opera journal I can say that I’ve never written one I’ve never written an opera review for any newspaper magazine so I was really impressed by that and I found that to be a great achievement for a 21 year old going on to graduate school I so i guided him and got him really to talk about his experiences why he loved opera so much and what do you what he wanted to do with it since he was not a musician he was a writer and basically we were able to really convey he’s allowed for opera and how it related to his desire to pursue a master’s degree in cultural arts management a few months later he was accepted to New York University which was his first choice and he got an amazing internship there which led to a job and two years later he’s still there so the possibilities really are quite amazing what I want to emphasize not to underestimate the importance of the required essays as colleges use them to evaluate and assess the students writing ability as well as their ability to demonstrate that they ought to be part of the college community that they offer something unique that they’re different extracurricular activities are also a great way for an admissions officer to learn about the students life outside the classroom is here she an accomplished athlete musician artist volunteer worker helping the disenfranchised as he or she traveled to another part of the world and witnessed something that has impacted their life and shaped who they want to be whether it’s a doctor engineer or business social entrepreneur will help students talk about because otherwise admissions officers won’t know about what makes them tick what makes them unique that said students should focus on activities that are really meaningful to them during high school and strive to use those interest to make an impact in their school and local communities I want to take a moment to talk about the role of letters of recommendation and be other soft factors letters of recommendation are really a testament to why the student is really unique and are important as teachers remember they work with students day after day sometimes for a few years are well qualified to speak about who a student is safe to say with that in mind it’s really important for them to establish and maintain a positive relationship with their teacher demonstrating their enthusiasm for learning both inside and outside the classroom students should try to cultivate this relationship as early as possible is quite frankly the more teacher knows about a student’s needs and their goals the better the guidance the teacher can give them in this process in other words the better the teacher that they can write a more comprehensive letter of recommendation and I all size because sometimes English is a nod to native language or there don’t really understand how a letter what admissions officers are looking for so we we have we helps teachers in writing letters of recommendation if they requested of course we’re not going to write them for them obviously but if they want to help articulate their ideas were there for them so once again by focusing on developing the soft factors rather than just and not doing anything else with the help of a college counselor students will likely be more successful in identifying their interests what major they want to study and who they are really as an individual equally as important counselors will help them maximize their profile in a winning way which will be appealing to the college admissions committee and will result in that yes letter come March 2014 remember that the uniqueness of each individual is an important consideration and the admission haces and plays a part in determining whether or not an international student is accepted a particular crop college especially the more selected ones at this point you might be thinking to yourself god I’m stressed out or a student or this student is going to get stressed out even overwhelmed when they’re trying to manage day-to-day high school homework they’re socialized

sports and also the essay requirements and application deadlines for 10 to 15 colleges so basically we as educational independent counselors we help alleviate that stress for students and their parents by providing information helping them find the best fit colleges helping them keep organized and on track and then guiding them through the process in a supportive gentle and positive way we’re not here to be Rottweilers we’re here to help them out help the potential will also help them manage and keep on top of all the different components that make up the application and create a checklist to map out and keep track of deadlines finally we also teach students about the college curriculum general education requirements what it means to declare a major the opportunities and options how college is different how college is different from high school and even differences subtle differences like that between a small liberal arts college versus a larger research universities which is Berkeley and so much more we also complement parental advice with significant process expertise in the individual support as independent college counselors were available around the clock and spend hours with college app it’s to brainstorm college admissions essays and help to perfect them draft after draft there are so many components of a student’s candidacy that high school guidance counselor’s simply don’t have the time according to the IEC a there’s 437 students per college school college counselor that’s not the case with us and we’ll talk about that more in a moment but we do have the time to give a student individualized attention equally as important perhaps more importantly we also have the expertise you have to understand that many of the high school guidance counselors many of them are terrific and our qualified but there are many who are not their teachers who have been asked to take on an extra duty or task and they haven’t received a professional training in this field this is really important to have expertise why why do I say that I’m saying that because parents are investing in something that is truly great their child’s education in the future all families have in common a desired by college that is the best fit for their child and one where he or she was receiving an excellent education one which will facilitate intellectual and emotional growth these are great years the college years and parents want to make sure that they get it right for their for their child the student wants to make sure he gets it right lamentably in the united states i would say about twenty-five percent or one-fourth of all students transfer after that first year what does that mean most of the time basically they’re using losing a year of college credits and quite frankly at your tuition as well which is quite expensive so you want to try to make sure you get it right the first time the challenge is also include having so many options so many choices involved in finding the right college and knowing how to get there problem is that students and parents generally don’t know where they fit options are available to this is quite frankly this is particularly true for international students and that makes sense just getting geographical cultural differences etc but that said we also help to reduce stress between students and their parents so come dinnertime you guys can families and their parents and their children and relax talk about normal stuff we will will take care of college related activities and the admissions process always keeping its a holistic process we work together and I’m glad to say that I’ve I’ve been part of that process and I’ve seen how it works in just terrific ways he also help to determine what type of colleges you would best suit them with practice interviews if you have the opportunity or if they have the opportunity students should try to go visit the United States try to visit a few school if not there are other options there might be an alumni living in the United Arab Emirates who will

interview with the with the student there’s skype there’s conference calls etc so it’s really important to practice for interviews so you can convey the best you students also with our help become better writers this is something that I’m really proud of as well because i myself am a writer i understand the process quite well i understand that it can be frustrating without proper guidance but i also understand that it can be really rewarding and self enriching when it’s done properly we also help improve time management skills and organizational skills not just for the admissions process but these skills can also be applied once you’re in college and afterwards for the rest of your lives I think that’s very powerful we also ensure that college and scholarship applications are completed by the deadlines review acceptance in financial aid ops offers with the family and we’ll talk more about that in a moment what I’m trying to say here is that the admissions process is actually it’s done properly with proper guidance is an educational and develop that developmental experience for students and yes we also make it bun I’ve had so many great the students over the last few years who had remained in contact with we’ve had so many good laps over the years I just received word from what one student studying at McGill University loves being part of an international community since she’d studied at one of the international schools in Spain that she wasn’t quite ready for the cold weather in comparison to the Mediterranean so yeah we also make it fun it’s not that we’re here to to have a big whistle on our hands etc students learned a lot about themselves during the process with that said students really only get one opportunity to get it right and that’s why they need to make sure that their college counselor as a successful track record hiring an independent councillor is really a worthwhile investment that pays off most students work to get ready to study in the United States with the price tag of some four-year private colleges and universities exceeding more than 50,000 per year paying a college counselor is worth well when working with them can increase the likelihood of a student finding and gaining admission to school where he or she’s going to be successful happy and a cheap seeking the services of college counselor also makes sense from an economic perspective this is true since the fees involved or less than ten percent of a four-year college tuition bill hiring a college education consultant gives families access to professional expertise expertise and knowledge about the admissions process as well as the individual attention necessary to make an informed decision with that said make sure that you’re hiring someone that is qualified professional college educational consultants have a master’s degree in the field of education or psychology and at least three years counseling experience also when seeking out a college counselor students should keep these factors in mind very important look for someone who support it Estelle’s a good match with your students personality and their objectives the college counselor also should ensure the student and parent feel comfortable and respected should be knowledge of a wide range of colleges and universities understand current admissions trends and participate in continuing education opportunities in comparing high school counselors to independent college counselors I want to briefly emphasize a few points many high school counselors simply don’t have the time nor the resources to help us independent counselors can school counselors have a large caseload very often exceeding the American school counselor associations recommend recommended student council ratio of 251 and those responsibilities also include teaching on the other hand private counselors can devote more time to the needs of students and Families because we have only one obligation just to meet the needs of the student for educational

consultants there are no scheduling constraints no unrelated obligations to perform in the amount of clients a consultant come to is a limited in order to render personalized professional services we’re also privy to hundreds of educational opportunities and Len like school counselors we travel extensively to learn firsthand about colleges just the other day I went to visit a terrific school right out of New York City the Stevens Institute of Technology where I met with the director of admissions so a school counselor can’t do that because they’re bound to their school in terms of availability of ale ability and personalized attention we’re nearby to help all through the calendar year from morning to evening not nine to three with the schedule cater to meet the particular needs of the client this makes independent consultant and invaluable sorts of guidance and support for students who need the one-on-one thorough help of an expert fully invested in eating his or her needs what it boils down to is that we support students throughout the entire university application process and carefully guide them through the application process ensuring all requirements and deadlines are met families working with a senior consultant can expect the professional practice where for example during the pre-application stage of student development and college lyst development the emphasis is placed on the students strengths interests and talents needs and educational objectives and by recommending possibilities pertaining to cost location curriculum activities etc we guide the student Ords finding the best fit during the application phase among other things we work on helping students at drafting personalizing and refining essays recommendations with abiding advising students on extracurricular activities volunteer work etc developing a timeline for meeting application requirements so they get everything in on time and guide them in a way so that they’re going to get a winning submitting application which will help them get accepted finally the post application phase once the students except to an American University we deliver with decision support specifically we advise them on the best potential options once that reflect interests and potential career trajectory and then manage the process of accepting offers we also make sure students submit everything ahead of time this is so important to ensure the best options in terms of securing a student visa enrollment course election housing and even proper health insurance by reiterating the need to provide customized advice to students and while the requirements different from one country to another and one university to another we help secure the acceptance of students into some of the more reputable universities in the world including Harvard Columbia Georgetown Boston University New York University the University of Michigan UK Imperial College Oxford the London School of Economics Assad a business school in Spain and the universities of Melbourne and Queensland in Australia and dozens more to cater the diverse needs of students worldwide we offer several packages as well that provide different levels of support the silver package for example provides students to support the pre-application of application stages offering one-on-one guidance and support for up to a applications students who require more support on their essays and need advice on how to optimize the references and recommendations can benefit from the gold package on offer the Platinum package accommodates all the needs of students supporting them through the application process and providing them with post application decision support which I mentioned earlier is one of the most important areas for students to deal with prior to enrollment in addition to the services we offer to students we leverage our experience in developing strategies to support collagen providers which West will speak to you about thank you for your time Wes you