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College Counseling

At HIS, we strive to ensure that students in grades 9-12 receive unmatched university and career counseling. The college counselor supports students in the exploration of a wide selection of careers that peak their interests and ensure a successful future. HIS works hard to forge relationships with premier universities around the world and organizes visits and college fairs from world-class institutions. Students are invited to attend informational sessions presented by former college admission officers, alumni, and educational planning organizations year-round. Individualized university counseling begins in the final term of grade 11. At this stage, Grade 11 students receive detailed information regarding international and national institutions of their choice. They begin to create their university list. In Grade 12, students are expected to finalize their university list at the beginning of the school year. The university counselor provides comprehensive guidance through the whole application process and admissions journey.

We are committed to providing our students with the tools they need to pursue life-long academic and personal excellence during and beyond their experience at HIS.

For any questions regarding university, please feel free to contact our upper school counselor, Ms. Pekin, via her email:

College Readiness Timeline

Grades 9 and 10

  • Spend time thinking about your personal strengths and your strengths as a student. Consider taking personality, career, and strengths assessments.

  • Consistently contemplate what careers you are interested in based on your interests, strengths, and passions. 

  • Consider winter and summer programs/internships for subjects and careers you are interested in (they look great on university applications AND help you make decisions about your future).

  • Think about which HL classes you will take for grades 11 and 12.

  • Get involved in athletics or school activities you are interested in and passionate about! EVERY student should participate in AT LEAST one extra curricular program that interests them.

  • Focus on doing your best work and creating a strong academic record. 

  • Take the PSAT (Grade 10).

Grade 11

  • Take your standardized tests (ex: SAT)

  • Talk to your parents about your plans for university. It is important you and your parents both get to share university expectations including how much tuition you can afford.

  • Make a list of majors you are interested in based on your future career choice.

  • Begin making a list of universities on Bridge-U based on fit (safety, fit, and reach schools). 

  • Try to visit universities you are interested in during breaks and holidays.

  • Focus on doing your best work and getting your best IB scores! Grade 11 scores are weighed heavily in the predicted scores sent to universities you apply to. 

Grade 12

  • August-September:

    o   Meet with Ms. Pekin to discuss your university application action plan.

    o   Finalize your university list.

    o   Ask for letters of recommendation in person formally and then request them through Bridge-U. Fill out the Brag Sheet form which will be shared with your recommenders. 

    o   Take or re-take standardized tests (SAT) if necessary.

    o   Prepare applications!

  • October 15: Oxbridge and medical/veterinary/dentistry applications (UK) 
  • November 1: Popular Early Decision application deadline (USA) 
  • November 15: Popular Early Decision application deadline (USA) 
  • November 15: Hong Kong Science and Technology early application deadline 
  • November 15: Chinese University of Hong Kong early application deadline 
  • November 20: Hong Kong PolyU early application deadline 
  • November 30: California State University and University of California application deadline 
  • November 30: Hong Kong Baptist University application deadline 
  • Early December: Early application deadline for some US colleges 
  • December 4: University of Hong Kong application deadline 
  • January 1: Popular regular decision application deadline (USA) 
  • January 2: Hong Kong Baptist regular decision deadline 
  • January 3: Chinese University of Hong Kong regular application deadline 
  • January 6: Hong Kong Science and Technology regular decision deadline 
  • January 13: Canadian applications start to close (different for each university) 
  • January 15: Application deadline for UCAS (UK) 
  • January 15: Application deadline for Germany and Sweden 
  • January 15: Popular regular decision application deadline (USA) 
  • January 30: Application deadline for Finnish universities 
  • February 1: Application deadline for Irish universities 
  • February 1: Popular regular decision application deadline (USA) 
  • March/April: Notification of regular application decisions for many US colleges and UK Universities
  • March 15: Application deadline for Danish universities 
  • Early May: First deadline for responding to offers from UK universities
  • May 1: Application deadlines for most Netherland universities  
  • May 1: Deadline for responding to offers of admission for many colleges. 
  • Early June: Second deadline for responding to offers from UK universities. 
  • Early July: IB results available online


Application Information by Country


There are thousands of schools in the United States and finding the right fid can be a daunting task. HIS high school students have access to Bridge-U, where they can find colleges by filling out preferences as well as predicted and hopeful grades. Bridge-U will separate safety, match, and reach schools. Another great college search resource is the BigFuture, by College Board. IB also offers a guide for international students applying to schools in the US.


Common Application, University of California, State University of New York (SUNY) are the most common application platforms but certain universities may require a direct application on the school's website.

In the US there are three possible types of applications:

  • Early Decision- Typical early decision deadline is November 1 or 15. Applying early decision is a formal commitment on behalf of the student and university. An early decision applicant agrees that if admitted s/he will attend that university and withdraw other applications.
  • Early Action- Similar to early decision, early action deadlines are November 1 or 15. Applying early action will allows applicant to receive a non-binding offer before regular decision applicants.
  • Regular Decision- Deadlines for regular decision varies from early January-February and offers of admission are sent out late March-April.

US universities take a holistic approach to admission. Applicant’s official transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, personal statements/supplemental questions, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, and interviews are all weighed in the acceptance decision.


Universities and College Admissions Service (UCAS) is one platform for applying to up to five universities out of over 100 in the United Kingdom. Application deadline can vary, but most courses will have a January 15 deadline. Students applying to Oxford, Cambridge, or most courses for medicine, veterinary medicine/science, and dentistry have a deadline of October 15.

Compared to the United States, universities in the UK have a much more structured approach to admissions with clear application grade/IB score requirements. Students must look up the requirements for each program they apply to. It is not advised to apply to a program when they do not meet the requirements.

Click here for the IB guide to applying to the UK for international students.


The Netherlands offer over 2000 international study courses in taught in English making it one of Europe's top destinations for higher education. Many universities in the Netherlands have a lower price tag than schools in the USA, UK, Canada, or Australia. is a great resource for finding programs. IB also has a useful guide for international students applying to schools in the Netherlands.

Students apply to all schools in the Netherlands using Studielink. Applications open in September/October for the following fall but deadlines can extend all the May 1. It is advised to check the deadlines for each university because there can be exceptions. 


Australia is known for universities with strong global rankings that are friendly to international students. Australia university costs are also lower than in the USA. There are 43 universities in Australia, mostly located around coastal cities. A bachelor's degree from Australia will typically take three years with an optional fourth year 'honours year.'

Each Australian university has its own process and application forms which need to be filled out separately. Similarly, each university will have different requirements for applications and acceptance. offers a wide variety of information for students looking to study in Australia. IB also has information for international applicants which can he found here.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong universities have been known for being welcoming to international students. Hong Kong also has some of the highest ranked universities in the world. The education system is modeled after a mix of US and UK programs. 

Admissions criteria differ greatly across the institutions and programs. It is important to contact admissions to know exactly what is expected. Each university in Hong Kong has its own institutional application and deadlines for each will be different.

Here is an IB guide for applying to universities in Hong Kong.


Canada is host to about 100 universities and is popular for international students due to low costs and high quality. One perk to attending university in Canada is the opportunity to stay and work after completing a degree. 

Every university in Canada has different requirements and will assess students on an individual basis. Students should make sure to look up the requirements for each school they want to attend before they apply. While SAT/ACTs are not typically required, they may be helpful when applying to certain schools or programs. Application deadlines also vary within Canada and deadlines for certain programs within a school can very as well. 

More information for IB international students can be found here. is another great resource for information. 


Germany is a popular decision for university due to the low to free costs. While most universities and courses are taught in German, there are some English options that can be found using this search engine. Students wishing to apply to a German university will do so on or a separate application directly to a university. 

The IB guide for international students looking to study in Germany is a great resource for information. 

Personal Statements

Students find writing personal statements to be one of the hardest parts of the application process. In general, students are not used to writing about themselves.  The UCAS and CommonApp systems are very different and will require separate essays if students are applying to both. On average, a student will write 4-5 drafts before they submit their application. It is advised that students get feedback from at least one adult (ex: Ms. Pekin, Ms. Koenig, or a teacher). Below are some videos with tips for both UCAS and CommonApp personal statements. Bridge-U also offers helpful guides to writing personal statements. 

UCAS tips

Common Application tips