ISSUE #19 | THE PIE REVIEW | 45
With the US topping the list of desirable study destina-tions
for students at Yongsan, Lee explains that many East
Asian parents believe that colleges overseas will automati-cally
meet all the social or emotional needs of the student,
and “because college success is so highly revered, that’s
the primary focus”.
When assisting vulnerable young adults to find their
best fit, Lee says he tries to shift focus away from big name
schools and matches students to the institution instead.
“The way I counsel students is by starting with their
wellbeing,” he relates. “So I make sure the campus environ-ment
is the right fit, that they will be sufficiently supported,
academically challenged and that they will have success
when they graduate.”
At the other end of the spectrum, the degree of influence
that a counsellor has in guiding students towards their
overall decision on post-secondary education can also
come down to culture.
At Transylvania College in Romania, where 75 per cent of
the student body eventually go on to overseas postsecondary
education, a compulsory two-week block of work experience
ensures each young student has a good understanding of
which profession they may wish eventually to pursue.
And it’s up to the student to research how to get there.
“I have individual meetings with them, but due to their
work experience most of my students already know what
they want to do with their lives,” Transylvania College high
school counsellor Adina Toma tells The PIE.
“It is the students’ future and their decision, so they are
the ones who research where they want to apply. When the
student is more knowledgeable about what universities have
to offer, it is much easier for them to choose a good match.”
Toma explains that a big part of her counselling process
is helping students to develop strong research and writing
skills that they can use to plan for the right career path.
“Then when visiting the universities they go prepared
with a list of ‘intelligent’ questions, whose answers are
not posted on the website, because another objective is to
make a good impression. I’ve had students who, after visi-ting
prospective universities, saw their conditional offers
become unconditional ones,” she adds.
But even students with exceptional grades and their sights
solidly set on one particular career path are not always
ready to dive into a four-year university course straight
after high school. Today an ever increasing number of
counsellors are encouraging them to consider alternative
routes into post-secondary education.
Having previously worked as a college counsellor, direc-tor
of international education for San Mateo Community
College District in California, Diane Arguijo, knows the
value to be gained through developing meaningful part-nerships
with community college representatives.
“I would tell international students I was counselling
about the idea of transitioning between community colleges
and universities, because if they were considering coming to
the US, sometimes schools such as Harvard were the only
ones they knew,” Arguijo tells The PIE.
“But to be able to get into a top university straight out
of high school, the chances are very slim. So by going to a
community college that has transfer agreements in place,
the chances of getting accepted increase.”
For international students, however, there has often
been a stigma associated with applying to community col-leges,
continues Arguijo. But economically, it makes sense.
With the growth in the sector
and increasing numbers of
prospective mobile students,
some counsellors are pointing
towards alternative HE options,
such as community colleges.
PHOTO: INTERNATIONAL ACAC