University Guidance Counselling

Role of a University Guidance Counsellor [Career Counsellor]

  • Assess the student’s interests, needs, GPA, admission test scores, extra-curricular activities.
  • Assess the student’s personal preferences, social goals, and values in consultation with parents/guardian.
  • Compile a list of potential colleges and universities for the student to research.
  • Collaboratively choose colleges and universities to which the student will apply to and have a high probability of being accepted and succeed.
  • Determine the time frame in which the student will commence the application process.
  • Provide assistance with completing admissions applications, resume development, personal statement/essay topic selection and review.
  • Monitor the student’s progress with the application process providing direction and advice throughout the process

The College Search

With so many college choices available and the wide variety among the institutions that can be found across the world, the college search process can be quite overwhelming.

To start with there are countless books and websites out there to help you navigate searching, applying and deciding on a school. The college search process is an opportunity for you to learn more about colleges, potential careers and yourself. To find your "best fit" college, take the time to learn more about what is important to you. Look at your interests, activities, values and personality. It is a good idea to talk to your school counsellor about what you are looking for. The counsellors will be able to give you the names of several colleges that match you interests. Talk to your parents about what you are looking for in a college. Attend all the University fairs and if possible visit few campuses if possible or else one can do a virtual tour of the campus online. Try to get a feel for the place to determine if it is a welcoming environment—a place where you feel comfortable.

Based on your research, you will probably refine your list of criteria somewhat and your final search list may look very different from your original one. This is but expected as each time you refine it; you will be coming closer to identifying your college options and the schools that can offer what you want, provide you with appropriate intellectual challenges, enrich your life and prepare you for a successful future.

Although some colleges may be similar in some ways, no two colleges are exactly the same. While the differences may appear subtle, they are very important. One good way to start the process is by knowing what college characteristics are important for you. The following list includes some of the important characteristics named by most of the prospective college applicants:

  • Does this college offer what I want? While that is an important question, it should not be your main concern at this point. “Undecided” is a very popular major among first year college students and choosing a major can usually be postponed until your fourth semester in college
  • The quality and rigor of academic study at the institution and the kind of activities (co- and extra-curricular, as well as social) offered.
  • Will I be happy there? You must be convinced that you will enjoy the years you will spend at the college. That is why spending time at the institution’s website, visiting the campus, talking extensively with the school’s admissions officers and current students, etc. are crucial parts of the college search.
  • Support services like academic advising system, counselling, safety and security support that are available to undergraduates
  • Scholarship and financial aid policies and practices of the college/university
  • How expensive is the college and how many students who attend the college receive financial aid and how much aid do they receive?
  • Is this college out of reach for me or is it one to which I am likely to or might possibly be admitted?

College Planning Timeline

College Planning – IGCSE - 1

  • Plan your extracurricular activities and pick the right mix of classes.
  • Make the effort to get involved in school activities and join groups, clubs, or teams that interest you. These activities are fun and make you a well-rounded student.
  • Get off to a good start with your grades because they will impact your grades as they really do count toward college admission and scholarships.
  • Explore your interests and possible careers and discuss your skills and interests with your guidance counsellor.
  • Keep track of all your achievements and events that you participated in as it will come in handy when you will fill out the college applications and build your resume.
  • It’s a good idea to take a PSAT at this stage as this will prepare you for the real test next year and will give you time to work on your weak areas

College Planning – IGCSE - 2

  • Keep up the participation in various extracurricular and community service activities but make sure you keep a track of your grades too.
  • This is a good time to begin learning about the college admissions process and about general college entrance requirements
  • Read up on potential careers options according to your interest and learn about the work profile, education, and training necessary for each occupation.
  • Work on your reading and writing skills and read the newspaper every day to learn about current affairs
  • Attend college fairs
  • Take the first attempt of SAT

College Planning – IBDP - 1

  • Prepare for standardized tests and find out if the colleges you are interested in require the SAT, ACT, or SAT Subject Tests.
  • Register for and take the ACT, SAT, or SAT Subject Tests as necessary. Be sure you have requested (either by mail or online) that your test scores be sent to the colleges of your choice. You can take them in the winter or early next year. You can take them again in the beginning of your senior year if you’re unhappy with your scores.
  • Stay on track with your classes and grades. Even if your grades haven’t been that good so far, it’s never too late to improve. Colleges like to see an upward trend.
  • This is the time to start working on your resume and SOP and keep it ready
  • Narrow down your choices and make a list of colleges that interest you.
  • Attend college fairs and try to get as much information about the college options for your potential career choice.
  • Have a discussion with your parents/ guardian about the colleges you’re interested in. They will learn about what you want to pursue and offer any concerns or suggestions that they might have.
  • Plan a calendar for taking your standardized tests and make a separate folder for each college you are planning to apply to so all correspondence is handy for quick reference.

College Planning – IBDP - 2

  • Get in touch with your teachers and guidance counsellor for writing your recommendation letters. Consider whom you want to ask now and let them know so they will have enough time to prepare. Letters of recommendation from a coach, activity leader, or adult who knows you well outside of school are also valuable.
  • Start working on your college application essays. Compose rough drafts of the essays and have a teacher/counsellor read and discuss them with you so you can see what to work on. Write and rewrite till you are satisfied that it reflects your thinking well and brings out your unique personality traits.
  • Visit university fairs with your parents and visit campuses if possible and finalize your college list
  • It’s important to stay focused on getting good grades in your classes and keep your commitment to extracurricular activities.
  • Finalize portfolios, audition tapes, writing samples, or other evidence of talent if required for admission.
  • Finish the application forms for the colleges you’re interested in. Make sure you and your school’s guidance office have sent all necessary materials, including test scores, recommendations, transcripts, and application essays and keep track of the deadlines.

Difference between the ACT and SAT

The ACT is an achievement test, measuring what a student has learned in school. The SAT is more of an aptitude test, testing reasoning and verbal abilities.

The ACT has up to 5 components: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and an optional Writing Test. The SAT has only 3 components: Critical Reasoning, Mathematics, and a required Writing Test.

The comparison below helps making the choice easier



  • SAT is a reasoning test
  • Test format - Critical Reading: 2, 25-min sections and 1, 20-min section; Math: 2, 25-min sections and 1, 20-min section; Writing: 1, 25-min essay, 1, 25-min section, and 1, 10-min section
  • Content covered is reading, vocabulary, grammar & usage, writing, and math. The questions are often tricky and can be phrased in ways that make them difficult to decipher
  • Math, Critical Reading, and Writing scores will each range between 200-800; total SAT score ranges between 600-2400
  • There is a penalty for wrong answer and you lose ¼ of a point for incorrect answers (except on the grid-in math questions)
  • The questions increase in difficulty level as you move through that question type in a section
  • The SAT test is popular with private schools and schools on the east and west coasts; however, every four-year college in the US accepts SAT scores
  • It is offered seven times per year: January, March or April, May, June, October, November, December and registration deadline is typically about four weeks before the test date.


  • ACT is a content based test.
  • Test format - English: 1, 45-min section; Math: 1, 60-min section; Reading: 1, 35-min section; Science: 1, 35-min section; Writing: 1, 30-min essay (optional)
  • Content covered is grammar & usage, math, reading, science reasoning, and writing (optional). The questions are straightforward and may be long but are usually less difficult to decipher.
  • English, Math, Reading, and Science scores will each range between 1-36. Composite ACT score is the average of your scores on the four sections; ranges between 1-36
  • There is no penalty for wrong answers
  • The difficulty levels of the questions is random
  • The ACT test is popular with public schools and schools in the Midwest and south; however, every four-year college in the US accepts ACT scores
  • It is offered six times per year: February, April, June, September, October, December (note that some states offer the ACT as part of their state testing requirements; these tests are not administered on the national test dates) and the registration deadline is typically about five to six weeks before the test date


A scholarship is a financial award given to a student on the basis of academic achievement and promise. Many scholarships are awarded based on merit. However, some also take into account financial need. There are many types of scholarship like merit- based or need blind scholarship, need-based scholarship, athletic scholarship, gender specific scholarship, international scholarship and community service scholarship. Following is the list of scholarships offered to undergraduate students from India.


Tata Scholarships at Cornell (US)

Thanks to a US$25 million endowment from the Tata Education and Development Trust, around 20 scholarships are available every year for Indian undergraduate students at Cornell University. To be eligible, it’s necessary to first be accepted onto an undergraduate course at Cornell, and then apply for need-based financial aid.

Dr Manmohan Singh Scholarships (UK)

Named for India’s 14th prime minister, these scholarships aim to help top Indian students follow in Dr. Manmohan Singh’s footsteps, by studying at the UK’s Cambridge University. Available for all courses except medicine and veterinary science, the scholarships cover all undergraduate tuition and college fees, as well as a grant for living and travel expenses. Applicants must first receive an offer of a place at a Cambridge college, and scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis.

Oxford and Cambridge Society of India (UK)

Sticking with the Oxbridge theme, the Oxford and Cambridge Society of India offers a selection of scholarships for Indian students – most specifying a particular college within one of the universities. However, while scholarships are available at both undergraduate and graduate level, applicants must have already completed (or be completing) a degree from an Indian university.

Edinburgh Napier University (UK)

While a growing number of UK universities offer scholarships for Indian students at graduate level, relatively few do the same for undergraduate Indian students. An exception is Scotland’s Edinburgh Napier University, which offers a merit-based fee reduction of £2,000 (about US$3,000) for students from the Indian subcontinent, at both undergraduate and graduate level.

University of Sheffield (UK)

The University of Sheffield likewise offers scholarships for Indian students at undergraduate as well as postgraduate level. These include some scholarships for specific subject areas, as well as three merit-based scholarships available across all subjects, worth £7,000 (about US$10,650) per year.

Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)

Moving across the Irish Sea to the UK’s neighbour, Ireland, a number of universities here also offer scholarships for Indian undergraduates. These include the nation’s highest ranking institution, Trinity College Dublin, which offers scholarships worth €9,000 (about US$11,700) per year for Indian students applying for undergraduate courses in arts, humanities, social sciences, science, computer science or engineering.

University College Dublin (Ireland)

Ireland’s second ranked institution, University College Dublin, also has specific scholarships for Indian undergraduates. The UCD Global Undergraduate Scholarship scheme offers five tuition fee scholarships worth €5,000 (about US$6,500) for science programs, and four worth €2,500 (US$3,250) for business, social sciences and arts. There’s also one UCD Global Excellence Undergraduate Scholarship, which offers a 50% fee reduction, available in all subjects except medicine, veterinary medicine and radiography.

University of Wollongong (Australia)

Heading to the southern hemisphere, some Australian universities also offer dedicated scholarships for Indian students at undergraduate level. At the University of Wollongong, one successful Indian applicant each year is selected for the UOW Bradman Foundation Scholarship, which means a 50% fee reduction.

Huawai Maitree Scholarships (China)

Back in Asia, the Huawai Maitree Scholarship program offers scholarships for Indian students, both undergraduates and graduates, to study in China. Ten scholarships are available in 2013, with preference given to those applying for courses in science and technology, social studies, culture and development. Each award covers full tuition fees as well as living expenses.

India 4EU II (Europe)

This EU initiative provides scholarships for Indian nationals to spend time studying and working in Europe, from undergraduate up to postdoctoral level. Scholarships are available for full undergraduate degrees, as well as shorter periods of study as part of exchange schemes. Awards cover tuition fees, travel expenses, insurance and a monthly allowance. The scheme has partner universities in France, Finland, Italy, Sweden, Portugal, Germany and Spain.

As mentioned above, there are even more scholarships for Indian students at the master’s and PhD levels. And of course, there are many more scholarships for which Indian students may be eligible – some are open to students from a particular group of countries, some for all international students, and some for everyone regardless of nationality.

Study Destinations

Study in India

India offers a wide variety of disciplines for the undergraduate study and has globally recognized private and public universities. Public universities are supported by the Government of India and the state governments, while private universities are mostly supported by various bodies and societies. Universities in India granted recognition by the University Grants Commission (UGC). In addition there are 16 Professional Councils are established that control different aspects of accreditation and coordination. The bachelor’s degree is typically three- four years.
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Study in UK

The Universities in UK offer many options in choice of subjects and specializations. All undergraduate admissions to the UK are via the online system UCAS. Each UG course has a UCAS code thus helping you identify which college offers your subject. For some subjects the colleges will only consider students who have taken A level examinations or IB Diploma. Most British Universities accept grade 12th certificates from CBSE, ISC and some state boards. One generally needs to take an English Language test like IELTS or TOEFL too as a requirement for visa. Undergraduate degrees usually take three years to complete although some institutions offer special four year programs for students whose high school qualifications do not meet university requirements. In these cases, some universities may require an applicant to complete a “foundation year” before enrolling in the full degree program. Professional courses such as medicine, dentistry and architecture may take up to seven years to complete.
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Study in USA

USA has the world’s largest international student population, with over 800,000 students choosing to broaden their education and life experience in the United States. US is well known for a state of the art educational institution, highly acclaimed degrees and international work exposure of 15 months in most of the good institution. It also boasts of an extremely professional yet favourable environment, which is conducive to the overall growth of an international student. The students find US attractive because of excellent teaching facility, practical knowledge and flexibility in the program. After completing undergraduate program in US, international students have the options to use OPT- Optional Practical Training in order to gain practical experience related o their course of study.
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Study in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong universities are well ranked internationally. Hong Kong is fast becoming an international higher education hub thanks to its high-performing universities, world-class research, safety and attractive lifestyle. The Indian grade 12th certificates are widely accepted as well as the A levels and IB Diploma. The tuition is much more affordable compared to other high ranking universities of the world. A major factor in Hong Kong’s success in attracting international students is the proportion of courses taught in English and offering opportunity to familiarize oneself with Mandarin.
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Study in Singapore

Singapore offers a variety of learning opportunities evolving into a fast growing hub of tertiary education. Singapore has an advanced education system and has good infrastructure supported by its curriculum to optimize the learning activities of the students. These factors make this country an attractive destination to pursue high education. Singapore does not have a ‘common application’ system for all universities, but as the online acceptance platform is common across the three local universities, namely NUS, NTU and SMU, you may be offered a course of study in each of the three local universities if you have met the admission requirements and selection criteria of each university. The online common acceptance platform will reflect the place(s) that have been offered to you, ie. For example if you are offered a place each in NUS and NTU, the online acceptance platform will reflect the two courses.
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Study in Canada

Canadian universities operate much like those in the U.S. Applicants are evaluated on their high school academic preparation as well as SAT and SAT Subject test scores in some cases. IB course work and diplomas are well received in Canada. The application deadlines are usually in mid-February and the notifications for admission, wait listing or rejection usually arrive in April or May. Undergraduate programs in the humanities, social sciences, physical and applied sciences are available at most universities in Canada. However, professional programs such as medicine, dentistry, law, architecture, engineering and journalism are not available in all provinces. Degrees conferred from Canadian universities include Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD’s.
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Study in Australia

As Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, their academic calendar is different from the United States and Europe. Most universities begin their academic year in Feb/ March, have a semester break during June and/or July, and end the academic year in November or December. Application procedures vary with each university. Generally, however, students complete an application through each university’s admission office (either in paper or online) and submit their application along with a copy of their high school transcript. For Australian universities, the successful completion of an IB certificate program may be enough to gain entrance into the university, although various programs have specific IB scores that must be earned, and the IB Diploma is the most direct route to gain admission. Australia is home to world class institutions, campuses and academics which have multicultural and diverse study environment and leading research and teaching facilities.
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Study in Europe

Europe offers high-quality education for students with great potential. The cost of education is affordable. The higher education institutions provide a strong support for education. Europe is culturally rich and diverse and one gains the skills you need for the global economy. Europe has more than 900 universities and even more educational institutions, academies and schools that offer secondary and higher education. European education has always been known for its high level of quality. The Universities and colleges offer undergraduate study mostly in local languages, however there are many Universities that offer English as medium of instruction.


Switzerland is home to 12 general universities and a number of other universities of applied sciences and research universities. Swiss universities are generously supported by the government and fees for nationals are low. At many institutions, fees are the same for foreign students or there is only a small premium, reflecting the country’s desire to attract overseas students. Of those studying at university in Switzerland, 21% are international students. Switzerland is rich in cultural diversity andhas four national languages — Swiss German, French, Italian and Romansch.
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Universities in the Netherlands are state-funded and are split into two categories: research universities and universities of applied sciences. There are 14 research universities and 41 universities of applied sciences in the country. The former offer more research-intensive education, while the latter are focused on preparing students for a particular professional field. Six universities in the Netherlands are ranked in the Top 100 of the 2013–14 QS World University Rankings (an increase of two from 2012–13), with the University of Amsterdam highest at number 58. There are two different methods for applying to Dutch universities. In some cases you apply directly to the institution you wish to study at, while in other cases you need to apply via a centralized application system called “Studielink”.
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German universities have a quite good network with universities all over the world. As it is becoming a popular destination for international students, German universities and technical colleges try to provide enough university places for international students and they also make efforts to support them in many other questions concerning the time abroad. The university websites carry the details of the application procedure to be followed and UNI-ASSIST is a body that accepts the application, screens it and forwards it to member University of your choice.
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France provides some of the finest courses in reputed universities and Grand Ecoles. The disciplines are varied and handled by skilled and experienced professors who guide and nurture students towards their desired professional interests. If you attend a university in France, there will be several professors who have achieved Nobel Prizes and other awards in their fields. The French Government, to encourage further studies, gives students affordable degree programs and scholarship honors to promote education. The tuition fees of undergraduate study in with medium of instruction in French at a public university is very nominal, however the fees would be much higher if one chooses the medium of instruction as English.
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Study in New Zealand

New Zealand has a total of eight universities which offer globally recognized qualifications and all of them are featured in international rankings. The Universities offer assured quality of education as they are public institutions that are partly funded by the Government of New Zealand. The tuition and living expenses are affordable compared to many other countries in the world. New Zealand is a safe country with temperate climate that offers friendly learning environment and post study work rights. Like Australia the University year begins in Feb/March and ends in November or December. New Zealand has a well developed system in place to take care of international students monitored by government.
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