College Counseling Testimonials
Recent TASIS graduates discuss how the College Counseling Office helped them achieve their goals. Learn more about each student’s journey by clicking on the link at the beginning of each testimonial.
Aurelia Dochnal ’19 (Poland) is pursuing a joint Bachelor's and Master's degree in East Asian Studies at Yale University after turning down offers from University of Oxford, Stanford University, Williams College, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, and Cornell University. She feels indebted to UK University Counselor Howard Stickley and Director of University and College Counseling Greg Birk, who went above and beyond on her behalf.
“Mr. Stickley truly helped me prepare my application for Oxford, meeting with me periodically throughout all four of my years of high school,” she said. “He helped me choose my IB courses, worked closely with me while I participated in the program, and even initiated me to the IB Board, a meeting society devised to improve the experience of IB students at TASIS. He held a mock interview with me in November before the real Oxford interview, preparing me thoroughly. Throughout my journey, he was wholly invested in my success and encouraged me constantly. Without him, my experience would not have been complete. I am so grateful.”
“Mr. Birk was also very helpful,” she added. “He wrote the reports to go to the US universities I applied to and helped me understand the complicated process of applying to America.”
Diana Khassanova ’19 (Kazakhstan), who is studying History of Art at University College London (UCL), praised Mr. Stickley for keeping her on track over the past four years.
“Mr. Stickley has been helping me since the first time I came into his office in 9th grade to discuss my future university and career plans,” she said. “I remember how shocked he was that a 9th grader came to him to choose IB courses for the upcoming years. I am very thankful to him for giving me advice and helping me throughout my high school years.”
Refilwe Lauren Riba ’19 (South Africa), who is pursuing a Bachelor of Law at University of Cape Town, described Mr. Stickley as a big help during the college application process who was always available to discuss her options and answer her questions.
“He has been instrumental in assisting me throughout the process of getting into university, and I couldn’t be more grateful for his guidance, patience, and understanding,” she added.
Virginia Italia ’19 (Italy), who is studying Architecture at University of Manchester, praised the entire College Counseling Office.
“They helped me understand which universities I wanted to apply to the most, opening my eyes to a multitude of options,” she said. “Thanks to this I was able to achieve my goals.”
Alex Secilmis ’19 (Turkey/USA), who is studying English Literature with Film Studies at King’s College London, also spoke highly of the entire department.
The Birks, Mr. Stickley, Ms. Shepherd, and Ms. Abisi were all extremely helpful and a massive support in my application process,” he said. “My goals were always relatively clear, but these individuals helped me reach them.”
2018 Valedictorian Shu Ye (China), who is studying Art History at the University of Pennsylvania, credits both her teachers and the TASIS College Counseling Office for setting her on the path that ultimately led her to the Ivy League. “Before I got to TASIS, I dreamed about going to a US school, but I did not have a clear goal,” she said. “Then I studied European history and architecture, went on an amazing faculty-led trip to Florence, and began to develop an interest in art history. Mr. Birk suggested several great schools with strong Art History programs, and he also encouraged me to apply to the most challenging schools even though I felt like I was not qualified for them. Throughout the whole process, I always felt less stressed after talking to Mr. Birk, and the valuable suggestions he and Ms. Abisi had for my essays also strengthened my application profile.”
Throughout the whole process, I always felt less stressed after talking to Mr. Birk, and the valuable suggestions he and Ms. Abisi had for my essays also strengthened my application profile.Anastasia Kolesnikova ’18 (Russia), who is seeking a degree in Biochemistry at Imperial College London, relied upon veteran UK University Counselor Howard Stickley to help her achieve her goals. “In addition to having the best sense of humor, Mr. Stickley was an excellent help in the application process,” she said.
“Not only did he help me with my personal statement (to be fair, it was a lot of work because I had two very different drafts written and am a very indecisive person), but he also coached me on every step of my application to Cambridge, arranging numerous practice interviews and giving me feedback. He even stayed behind in his office to supervise me while I was doing my entrance exam and emotionally supported me throughout the process.”
Serena Rand Bardi ’18 (Italy/United States), who is studying International Management at King’s College London, applauds Howard Stickley, Greg Birk, and Carroll Birk for helping her successfully navigate the daunting college application process.
“Starting with a class trip to the Netherlands and the UK to visit a number of interesting university prospects, they provided invaluable guidance in course selection, the application process, and securing promising college offers,” she said.
Bryan Soh ’18 (Singapore), who intends to pursue a major in the social sciences at UCLA after completing his two years of compulsory National Service for the Singaporean military, is grateful for all the opportunities he had at TASIS and credits the College Counseling Office for pushing him to set lofty goals that were in line with his considerable academic potential. “The college counselors told me it was possible to aim high without much hesitation when I first thought certain institutions were out of reach, and I appreciate that they helped me realize what opportunities were attainable for me,” he said. “This made me strive to put my best foot forward and aim for the very top in my college searches. If they hadn’t done this, I don’t think I would be where I am today. I would’ve underestimated what my abilities were and lowered my college expectations.”
“The college counselors told me it was possible to aim high without much hesitation when I first thought certain institutions were out of reach, and I appreciate that they helped me realize what opportunities were attainable for me,”2017 Valedictorian Adam Novak (Ukraine), who completed a degree in Economics at Bocconi University after a stellar career at TASIS that spanned 12 years, notes that his plans for college changed dramatically over the course of his time in high school. He wanted to study to become a doctor when he began 11th grade, but as the year went on, he slowly realized that medicine was a subject he was no longer interested in. He decided to look into economics more closely during his senior year and discovered that it suited his interests more appropriately. He credits the College Counseling Office for helping him navigate this transition. “The college counselors were an invaluable asset during my last year in high school,” he said.
“They offered vital information regarding the strengths and teaching styles of universities, which allowed me to understand where I would feel most comfortable at.”
Niccolò McConnell ’17 (United Kingdom), who studied Economics and Statistics at University College London, is indebted to veteran UK University Counselor Howard Stickley for helping him find the best fit after TASIS.
“Mr. Stickley helped me extensively with the UK application process and was always willing to answer any questions I had,” he said. “I am very grateful for this.”
Aida Loggiodice ’17 (Venezuela), who earned a Bachelor of Science in International Economics and Management at Bocconi University, credits the College Counseling Office for helping her successfully navigate the college admissions process and find the right fit for her passion for economics. “It was at a college fair organized by Mr. and Mrs. Birk that I found out about Bocconi, and I am fairly sure I would not have made the choice I made had it not been for this event,” she said.
“Mr. Stickley was additionally a superstar: always willing and ready to answer any questions I had for him about the fairly confusing UCAS system and even organizing a trip to the UK our junior year to get to know some of the UK universities. All in all, I leave the school very happy with the college counselors and their efforts to match me to the right universities.”
Lisa Caberlotto ’17 (Italy), who completed a Bachelor of Science in International Economics and Finance at Bocconi University, is grateful to the College Counseling Office for helping her define and achieve her postsecondary goals. “The aid that I was given by the College Counseling team was simply priceless, as the counselors targeted advice really helped me in my decision-making,” she said.
“Something that I particularly appreciated was the great joy with which Ms. Carroll Birk, Mr. Greg Birk, and Mr. Howard Stickley shared the offers I received. Overall, I could not be more satisfied with my post-TASIS options: I have been accepted into the course I applied for at the university of my dreams! I have to say that the preparation that TASIS has given me and the values that it taught me have truly had a big impact in relation to the achievement of my goals.”
Caimin Long ’17 (United States), who studied General Management at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, gives credit to the College Counseling Office for influencing his path and helping him achieve his goals. “In the beginning of the long and complicated application process, Mr. Greg Birk was very upfront and frank with me,” he said.
“He wanted me to definitely apply to schools that would be difficult to get into, and he especially wanted me to apply to schools that I would have the best chance of getting into. The guidance aspect of the College Counseling Office made the application process tremendously straightforward. Mr. Birk was always very easy to get in touch with, and he was always able to meet when I requested.”
Marianne Tissot ’16 (France/Puerto Rico), who studied Neuroscience at Bowdoin College, gives Mr. Birk credit for helping shape her college plans.
“Mr. Birk was supportive throughout the entire process and guided me towards picking the school that would be the best fit for me,” she said.
Jonathan Xie ’16 (United States), who sought a degree in Political Science and Economics at UCLA, concedes that it wasn’t always easy to manage applications to 10 different schools while also navigating a very rigorous course load. He credits the College Counseling Office for keeping him on track and making sure he met the “oftentimes obscure college deadlines.”
Mindy Chen ’15 (United States), who earned a degree in International Relations (Global Business) with a minor in Music Industry at the University of Southern California, is grateful to College Counselors Greg and Carroll Birk for helping her find a perfect fit. “The TASIS College Counseling Office took great care to get to know me on a personal level, not just as another statistic,” she said.
“I am extremely grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Birk for helping me through the college application process, particularly in helping me realize what I was really looking for in a university. I know I for one was too focused on university rankings; at the end of the day, your experience is what you make of it, so if you embrace the opportunities that come your way, you will be happy regardless of where you end up going.”
Ryan Osgood ’14 (United States/France), who studied Computer Science at Tufts University, was initially only considering schools in the UK. After several detailed conversations with the college counselors, he decided to focus his search on the US.
“The College Counseling Office offered me advice and guidance on school choices while helping me see the differences between a British and American education,” he said.
Jan Vincent Huntenburg ’13 (Germany), who completed a degree in Composition with a minor in Conducting at Berklee College of Music, knew early on that he wanted to study music in college, but he credits the College Counseling Office for helping him land at Berklee, a school that Director of College Counseling Greg Birk had helped a handful of aspiring musicians gain admission to in the past.
“They were a great help in finding schools that would suit me because I had no idea,” he said. “They were also a great help with the application process.”