One of the most exciting things about higher education is that it's always changing: new campuses are opening, new courses of study are being offered, and the criteria for admission are being updated. This constantly shifting landscape makes the field of college counseling incredibly exciting, but it also means that our college counselors at TASIS must remain engaged with the higher education community to keep our students and their families informed.
“We stay engaged in many ways,” said Johanna Fishbein, TASIS Director of University and College Counseling. “We invite university visitors to TASIS. (For example, we recently learned all about the liberal arts from true experts in the field.) We volunteer with higher education advisory boards, like the Common Application, to make sure the voices of our students are ‘heard’ when it comes to application changes. We also attend conferences and share best practices with our peers.”
Ms. Fishbein added that one of the best ways to stay informed and updated is to actually visit universities, and earlier this spring, TASIS College Counselors Conor Fritz and Kirk Mitchell did just that, with Mr. Fritz traveling to Cambridge and London and Mr. Mitchell making a trip to Paris.
“These university visits offer a wonderful opportunity for our College Counseling Team to learn about universities ‘on the ground,’” said Ms. Fishbein, who started at TASIS in the fall of 2020. “We meet with students, faculty, and admissions representatives and then share all of this new information with our TASIS community. Before the pandemic, these visits happened very frequently, and we are very happy to see them returning now!”
Mr. Fritz started his trip by participating in an on-campus program for international college counselors at the University of Cambridge. This event was one part of a larger, month-long program aimed at demystifying the application and admission process at one of the oldest and most well-known universities in the world. While at Cambridge, Mr. Fritz engaged in discussions with admission tutors, students, and faculty members and toured the campuses of King's College, Downing College, and Trinity Hall. The part of the program he found most fascinating was being able to watch a series of mock Interviews that highlighted the necessity for students to be fully committed to the field they are choosing to study and illustrated the passion with which students pursue these fields. He also learned about changes Cambridge will make to its entrance exams for next year—most notably that students wishing to study Law will now take The Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT) while students pursuing Economics will take the Test of Mathematics for University Admission (TMUA).
Not to miss an opportunity to expand his understanding of university admissions in the UK, Mr. Fritz also took some time to visit a number of popular universities in London. He met with representatives from SOAS University of London; the London School of Economics and Political Science; Imperial College London; City, University of London; Queen Mary University of London; and University College London. “Visiting all of these different universities in one of the most exciting cities in the world gave me an appreciation for the diversity of experiences that our students can have in London,” he said. “I also learned that each university will attract a slightly different type of student based on their high school performance, a potential area of study, and expectations of life in the city.”
Mr. Fritz shared his impressions from a few of the schools that stood out to him:
City, University of London: “This is one of my favorite schools to visit. It has an urban feel, and you can really feel how the diversity of the student body is celebrated and adds to the learning environment at the university. With a diverse offering of courses, City is really interested in promoting more of their "Industry Year" programs, during which students take on a full-time paid internship/job during the third year of the program to gain experience and add to their resume. If you are looking for an accessible urban university in London, City is a great option. Fun fact…Margeret Thatcher was an alumna!”
London School of Economics and Political Science: “While LSE is known for its Economics degrees, it also has many interesting programs in the social sciences. It was actually founded by the British Labour party as a university that would attract students from the lower classes, for which OxBridge was not really an option at that time. The focus has always been on studying public policy and effecting change at the societal level. Interesting note...for students who may not have the level of math required but would like to be in an economics-related field, Economic History at LSE might be a great option!”
Imperial College London: “This is the place in London for the sciences and engineering—a university wholly focused on these areas, which is amazing to see! Imperial has a great campus with lots of options for "on-campus" housing in the vicinity. It’s in a really cool area of London that includes the Museum of Natural History, and the Victoria and Albert Museum is right next door! A new program worth noting…BSc Economics, Finance, and Data Science.”
While Mr. Fritz was in London, Mr. Mitchell had the opportunity to visit Paris for the first time as a guest of the American University of Paris (AUP), a school that he said ought to be near the top of the list for students seeking liberal arts options in Europe. “It is an outstanding option for independent, adventurous students,” he noted. “The facilities are excellent, and the main building is right on the Seine River.”
Mr. Mitchell listed the following as additional attributes of AUP that may appeal to TASIS students:
- Excellent grad school matriculation
- Great internship opportunities
- Good financial aid with loans and scholarships available, particularly for IB students
- First-year housing is provided, but living independently is a big part of the experience after the first year
- Guaranteed transfer systems with Southern Methodist University, Tulane, and University of Southern California
- Dynamic and diverse international population.
- Looking for the particular type of student TASIS tends to produce: “AUP's liberal arts education in Paris shapes global explorers to be able to take their places as responsible actors in communities, civil societies, and countries around the world.”
During the course of his trip, Mr. Mitchell was able to learn about several other potential opportunities for TASIS students in Paris. Below are his observations.
Ecole Polytechnique: “This leading French institution offers three-year degrees in Math/Physics, Math/CompSci, and Math/Economics with a number of scholarships available, particularly for women. The European counselors I met raved about this university, particularly as a STEM option for women. All degrees are taught in English.”
Sciences Po Dual International Degrees: “Some of these partners are super selective (e.g. Columbia University), but there are also Canadian, European, and Asian partnerships that may be more reachable. These dual international degrees could be a good option for some students and are worth looking into.”
Parson’s College of Art and Design: “This college is 100 years old! It is small but perfectly placed in the fashion district, and it has a fantastic faculty and an incredibly dynamic environment. It has a second campus in the fashion factory district outside of Paris for upper-class and graduate students, and students have the option to study at the Parson’s campus in New York City for their final year.”