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Counsellors need to broaden horizons

More than ever before, school leaving students and their families, are expressing interest in enrolling in universities and higher education institutions (HEIs) abroad. Therefore, school principals and counsellors need to raise their knowledge and awareness of HEIs overseas and connect with their admission representatives and offices. Simultaneously, they need to develop the skill-sets of their teachers and counsellors to help and advise students aspiring to study abroad.

Quite rightly, international post-secondary education is regarded as highly beneficial for students interested in rising to leadership positions domestically and overseas, because study abroad will equip them with creative, multi-disciplinary and innovative education that is the prerequisite of business and professional success in the newly emergent global marketplace.

With several thousand options available in the US and elsewhere, a school’s counselling unit needs to be sufficiently knowledgeable to help students explore and prioritise options. It also needs to be sufficiently competent to help students submit strong, persuasive applications to most preferred universities/HEIs. Over time, school counsellors need to develop strong and durable ties with college admission offices, even if the vast majority of them have not had the experience of higher education abroad.

Reaching these goals involves collaboration across schools, and international boundaries. For that reason, my colleagues are excited about attending the 2016 IC3 Conference, which will bring secondary school leaders and counsellors face-to-face with global university representatives in Mumbai later (August 31-September 1) this year. The conference will provide a great opportunity for school leaders to connect with several of the world’s best higher education institutions, and ensure these HEIs learn about the strengths of India’s best secondary schools. Simultaneously, Indian school leaders and counsellors will get an opportunity to interact with their counterparts abroad.

For school students in India who might be looking for a great engineering programme at Georgia Tech, or a strong programme in green chemistry or environment sustainability at the University of Oregon, or a global affairs programme at Yale, there’s no substitute for connecting directly with the institutions which offer these disciplines and learning about the type of undergrads they prefer. Moreover, many US colleges which are renowned abroad for specific programmes are often domestically more famous for the broader education they provide. As principals and counsellors in India learn more about what American universities and HEIs offer students by way of broad learning and varied curriculum, it will help them reform and upgrade their own curriculums to empower their students to think across multiple disciplines.

In the United States, a long history of collaboration between secondary school counsellors and university admission officers has built mutual understanding. The major professional organisation of counsellors, NACAC (the National Association for College Admission Counselling), has been in existence for over 75 years now. Its 15,000 members include a growing number from abroad, and its personal outreach programmes and website ( make it easier than ever for counsellors in India to join this community, and benefit from it.

During the past seven decades, NACAC has learned that success in helping students to enter the most suitable programmes and HEIs requires cooperation between school administrators, teachers, community representatives, government officials, parents, students and trained school counsellors to enable and facilitate student development and achievement.

This planning must begin early, not as an eleventh hour exercise. Counsellors must advise students set on entering particular universities not only on which final classes to attend in secondary school, but ensure they start doing so several grades earlier.

Acquiring counseling expertise requires more than signing up for seminars and conferences. School counsellors need to visit universities in the US and elsewhere. For instance visiting us in Eugene, Oregon, would enable Indian school counsellors to not only learn about highly regarded majors offered at the University of Oregon, but also interface with our faculty and get an insight into our institutional culture, climate, geography, and access other information which they could communicate to their students — even something as simple as where to find an energising cup of tea.

Whether through the 2016 IC3 Conference or other platforms, NACAC and its international affiliates, CIS (Council of International Schools), and other well-connected professional groups, I invite school principals and career/college counsellors to derive the benefits of reaching out and connecting with universities and HEIs abroad, especially in the US, to ensure the success of your students in a variety of settings. We look forward to Indian students coming to America to realise their hopes and expectations.

(Jim Rawlins is director of admissions at the University of Oregon, USA and former president of NACAC)

977 Views  | Posted on:10 Jun,2016 Add Comment  Show Comments (0)