“It shouldn’t be a last resort option that counsellors
advise their students to consider; they should look at it
as a pathway, an opportunity to get used to US academic
expectations, to become more polished with language skills
and build a support structure in a new country.”
And beyond US-based schools, an increasing number of
counsellors are shifting their focus towards learning more
about non-traditional locations for their students to consider.
At the International Association for College Admis-sions
Counselling conference held in New Orleans in July,
seminars that demonstrated the value of high quality but
lower cost education options such as in eastern Europe,
the Baltics, the Netherlands and Canada received enthusi-astic
feedback from many attending counsellors.
“The biggest challenge for us is the spiralling costs for
students who can’t afford to study abroad, and finding
places for deserving students who cannot afford tuition,”
explains Kelly Wetzell at UWCSEA.
“More families are willing to look beyond the US and
UK now, so it’s very important that we as college coun-sellors
look at good quality options at affordable prices,
as the traditional options have become very expensive
for international students.”
So with the immense benefits that young students gain
through having access to the advice of a college counsellor,
why are certain locations, particularly ones with a strong
focus on encouraging periods of international study, slower
to incorporate the role of full-time college counsellor into
their education systems than their counterparts?
46 | THE PIE REVIEW | ISSUE #19
“Part of the problem is that people in the UK don’t ex-pect
university to be a transformative experience – aca-demically
at least – and culturally, it’s not the same thing
as going to college in the US,” explains David Hawkins,
director of UK-based independent university advising
consultancy Hawkins Global Education.
“Additionally UCAS Universities and Colleges Admis-sions
Service is a simple applications process, so if a stu-dent
ends up doing history in Warwick, when really they
should have done liberal arts in the Netherlands, it’s hard
to quantify, because most students do alright.”
Having previously juggled two roles as history teacher
and career counsellor at Taunton School in the UK
before taking a role as the head of college and careers
counselling at the International School of Brussels,
Hawkins tells The PIE that the difference between the
countries is astronomical.
“In Taunton, I was teaching a history timetable 80 per
cent of the time. Whereas in Brussels, I had five full-time
staff, a large budget of €60,000 per year and no teaching-commitments
at all. That’s a massive difference.
“So if a kid came to me and said ‘I want to go to India for
university but I don’t understand how IB entry works there’,
in Brussels I could have spent three days just looking into it,
whereas in the UK I would have to say ‘can you speak with
your parents about it, and then tell me what you need’.”
is more knowledgeable
about universities, it is
easier for them to
choose a good match “
When the student
The international sector has not yet caught up with the US market,
but International ACAC and others are boosting counselling globally.
So while college counselling on a global scale many
not yet have reached the dizzying heights of that
achieved in the US, given the record-busting attendance
at conferences like International ACAC and the rising
number of independent counsellors, there is no doubt that
the sector is booming, and the value of having an adviser
who can help navigate the tricky path to academic success
– whatever success means to each individual student – is
increasingly being recognised too.