College Planning

Student ResponsibilitiesSchool Responsibilities
Strive for academic success.Rising 9th Grade Orientation during 8th Grade
Create a 4 year academic plan.Rising 9th Grade Course Registration during 8th grade
Get involved in extracurricular activities.Classroom Counseling Lesson on Time Management
Start a list of your awards, honors, paid and volunteer work.One-on-one Meeting with the Counselor during each semester
Complete Interests Profiler and research 3-5 suggested careers. Add interested careers to your Career List.Rising 9th Grade Parent Coffee Talk: Transitioning to the Upper School
Meet with your Counselor. Discuss your goals, interests, and likes, as well as your schedule of classes.College Visits
Create SMART goals for College/Career & Academics.New Parent Orientation
Search colleges that fit your career interests and add 3 to your Colleges List.9th Grade Course Registration Workshop
Think about where in the world you would like to be.Maialearning Training
Parent Coffee Talk: Maialearning Training
Parent Coffee Talk: Financial Aid Workshop
Student ResponsibilitiesSchool Responsibilities
Explore testing options (SAT/ACT, IELTS, UPCAT, etc…)One-on-one Meeting with the Counselor during each semester
Complete the Skills assessment.New Parent Orientation
Go on college tours and attend college visits10th Grade Course Registration Workshop
Search colleges with the various Search tools, and identify program(s) of study to go with your career choices. Add these colleges to your College List.Classroom Counseling Lesson on Career Development and Identity
Start thinking about IB or Brent DiplomaIB Subject Specific Orientation sessions
From 9th GradeIB Preliminary Parent Orientation
Strive for academic success with grades.College Visits
Continue extracurricular involvement with more focus.Maialearning Training
Update career choices in your Career List.Parent Coffee Talk: Maialearning Training
Update your 4 year plan.Parent Coffee Talk: Financial Aid Workshop
Update Resume.
Meet with your counselor.
Review SMART goals and update them as necessary.
Student ResponsibilitiesSchool Responsibilities
"Develop your priorities (criteria) for your colleges (size, location, program, cost, etc). Be realistic about:
- Your finances and what fits your family budge
- What is a reach, target, and safety school for you"
One-on-one Meeting with the Counselor during first semester
"Edit your College List down to the top 10 or so colleges you are most interested in.
- Note deadlines & requirements."
Junior Interview - meeting with student, counselor and parents during second semester
"Request Recommendations from 2 or more teachers and your counselor.
- Fill out the Recommendation Request Form electronically and upload to Maialearning."
New Parent Orientation
Start researching scholarships.11th Grade Course Registration Workshop
Take the PSAT & relevant standardized tests.Kick off to College Workshop during Study Hall
From 9th & 10th GradeParent Coffee Talk: Kick off to College Workshop
Strive for academic success with grades.PSAT
Continue extracurricular involvement with more focus.College Visits
Update career choices in your Career List. You should have at least 5-8.Provide students with information about summer programs
Update your 4 year plan.Provide students with information about scholarships
Update Resume.Maialearning Training
Meet with your counselor.Parent Coffee Talk: Maialearning Training
Review SMART goals and update them as necessary.Parent Coffee Talk: Financial Aid Workshop
Attend college visits.
Update colleges in your college list. Include 10 reasons why you would like to attend.
Summer Between 11th & 12th Grade
Develop a preliminary list of schools you are thinking about. Your final list should have a maximum of 7-10 schools.
Go on college tours.
Attend summer programs in your career interest or at a school of interest.
Start college and scholarship applications
Write your essays.
Take relevant standardized tests.
Student ResponsibilitiesSchool Responsibilities
Semester 1One-on-one Meeting with the Counselor during each semester
Be watchful for symptoms of “Senioritis”One-on-one Meeting with the Counselor during each semester
Request recommendations, transcripts, predicted grades, and all other supporting documentation."Send Documents
- Transcripts
- IB Predicted Grades
- Teacher & Counselor Recommendations "
"Complete your college and scholarship applications.
- Note deadlines & requirements."
Classroom Counseling Lesson on Transition out of High School/to College
Write your essaysEdit essays & provide feedback
Complete financial aid applications.Parent Coffee Talk: Letting Go
From 9th, 10th & 11th GradeCollege Visits
Strive for academic success with grades.Maialearning Training
Continue extracurricular involvement with more focus.Parent Coffee Talk: Maialearning Training
Update Resume.Parent Coffee Talk: Financial Aid Workshop
Meet with your counselor.
Review SMART goals and update them as necessary.
Attend college visits.
"Take relevant standardized tests.
- Students send their test scores directly to the universities they are applying to"
Finalize your College List. You should have a maximum of 7-10 schools.
Semester 2
Review college acceptances and financial aid packages.
Accept your college and inform all other schools which accepted you.
Accept and/or decline financial aid awards.
Upload college acceptance letters into your document locker, and enter Admission Status in your College List for all schools.
Enter Scholarship results in Maialearning.

University Application Timeline

College Handbook

Each Fall, students start the frenzy into the whole college selection process. One key to avoiding being caught up in this rush is to start the process early. The intent of the Orientation and the College Planning Handbook is to help guide the student and parents through the process. Every parent and student should take the time to read through the booklet. Most of the information and resources used in the creation of this booklet have been borrowed, begged or stolen from a whole variety of other sources. We believe we have compiled the best information that is most applicable to our population of students in the most compact format.

As students are thinking about going to college, there is a myriad of elements about which they and their parents must think about.  

Where?  Cost?  Major?  Which school?  And lots, lots more!!!

This guidebook is meant to provide you with some basic information as you think about higher education.  The emphasis is upon higher education in the United States as majority of BISM students are planning to go to the U.S. for their undergraduate college studies.  However, a lot of information provided is applicable to other countries as well.  To find general info about non-US systems, go to the appropriate page in this guidebook or visit websites mentioned.

College decisions are a collaborative effort among students, parents, counselors, teachers, friends, and admissions personnel.  Communication and information gathering from all sources is essential.  We have taken the liberty of extracting information from many primary and secondary sources as well as some opinions of our own to provide this eclectic presentation of information.

This section is an attempt to address some of the unique differences for schools in various countries around the world. Students attending colleges and universities in countries other than U.S. need to check on the specific entrance requirements for that country and that specific school.   When applying to universities abroad many countries will accept the IB diploma as equivalent to their secondary education leaving certificate/diploma.  With this in mind, the IB diploma will allow students the most direct path to university education.  Many universities also have pathway programs for students who do not meet the academic requirements for admission ie. Brent diploma, IB course certificates.

Australia and New Zealand

The school year in Australia and NZ begins in February/March. Students need to begin applications no later than the September after their graduation for the February/March entry date. Some schools offer mid year entry (based on IB predicted grades), but the semester starts at the end of July right after graduation.  

For more information, visit these websites:


Compared to the US, there is a clear distinction between a “college” and a “university”. Generally speaking, “colleges” offer technical and vocational training while “universities” is the term used to refer to schools offering Bachelor’s degrees and beyond. Applications are usually due between January and April of the applicant’s senior year. There is a general application for schools in Ontario. SAT’s are generally not required if applying with the IB diploma, while the TOEFL maybe required for students whose first language is not English.

For more information, visit these websites:


Many countries in Europe have a desire to increase the number of international students and each year there are more Bachelor’s programs offered in English.  Applications are generally completed during the second semester of senior year. You need to have a clear understanding of what documentation you need as each school has different requirements.

To learn more about country specific information, visit the link below:


Many Japanese universities have Bachelor’s programs conducted in English.  University applications deadlines span throughout senior year.  Returning Japanese students may have different requirements for admission.  

For more information, visit these websites:

S. Korea

Specific information can be obtained directly from the individual universities as requirements vary from year to year.  Overseas Koreans, their admission may be based on the number of years they have been living abroad.   The majority of applications will be completed during the second semester of senior year and after graduation.  A number of foreign universities have opened a campus on the Incheon Global Campus in Songdo.  These may be an option for both Korean and international students.

For more international students looking to study in Korea, visit this website:


In the UK, students are required to indicate their desired course of study at the time you apply. UK acceptances are for a particular course of study within a particular university. If a student decides to change his or her course of study after the first year, then he or she would have to reapply for that particular course. Another difference is that most UK programs are three years rather than four years. The UK has a common application process through UCAS, where students can apply for up to five different universities. Offers of admission in the UK are contingent upon your meeting certain conditions. The major factors in UK admissions are predicted scores and final IB examination results.

For more information, check out these websites:

The research process is vital to your college search. Because your goal should be to find the college that is right for you, it is your responsibility to gather as much information as you can about those that you are interested in. The process of choice is yours. You will certainly want to decide your list of colleges based upon current and reliable information. Recently much of the focus in the research process has focused on the Internet. Spend some time doing some research through the various websites, which are linked to the BISM High School Guidance office website. There are many websites that will not only help you with your college search and research but will also offer information on all aspects of college admissions. You can also check:

  • College guidebooks and videos (available in the guidance office).
  • Your college counselor and teachers, BISM alumni
  • College tours and college reps, Campus visits.

You need to take a close look at your academic record as well as your strengths, weaknesses, needs, and goals as you try to select colleges to which to apply. What your friends say about the “best school for you” and what your parents’ friends say is “good” are not particularly good indicators as to what is really “good” for you. You need to research what schools offer and how that fits with your needs. Keep in mind that what is “good” for one person is not necessarily “good” for you.

The Prestige Factor – School “Brand Name”

Students and parents should be wary of selecting a college based upon its name and the perceived prestige of that name. It must be kept in mind that at the prestigious, big name research universities, professors concentrate more on graduate students and research than they do on undergraduate students. The designer-label college diploma can assist in getting one’s first job but after that, jobs, promotions, and raises are based upon one’s personal qualities and achievements.

Where Friends Go

Going to college where your high school friends go can be great or terrible. As a general rule, select a school that is right for you and if your friends end up there then great. But don’t base your college decision (and potentially the rest of your life) on where your friends are going to school. After all, there is a good chance you will grow apart anyway. And you’ll make more friends if you don’t have the old gang to fall back on. If you do end up going to the same college as a friend, you are better off not being roommates. Living with a person is a different story than simply being a friend and this scenario often leads to damaged friendships. And besides you’ll meet a lot more people and establish a larger circle of friends.

Selecting A College

When looking at schools within the U.S., there are many factors that must be considered before making the initial decisions as to determining schools that are of interest to you. The 3,200+ schools in the U.S. are spread throughout the 50 U.S. states and represent all the variety of elements of the United States. Not only is it important to know what you want to study but you also need too know “where” you want to study in terms of location, school size, climate, cost, and lots of other factors.


Urban? Suburban? Rural? Long, cold winters? Sunshine year-round? Near a city? Not a city within hours? One of the easiest ways to start narrowing your search is to consider where you want to be. You are not only selecting a school but a place to live. Campus settings range from places such as New York University and George Washington University blending right into urban setting with no identifiable campus at all to campuses of 10,000 acres of forests and hills several hours from a city of over 100,000 people. Your personal happiness for your four years of study is going to depend greatly upon the environment in which you study so you must consider the actual location of schools. If being near family or friends are important, fine, but then use that importance to pick out possible locations. Keep in mind that being in a small town does not mean “nothing to do” and being in a large city does not mean necessarily mean “lot to do”.

Types of Colleges

Colleges can broadly be divided into either liberal arts or comprehensive universities. Generally, a comprehensive university is large and has many different departments and degrees are generally professional training programs in areas such as law or medicine. Liberal arts colleges, by comparison, provide students with a breath of knowledge and majors are usually of a more general nature (English, psychology, and biology) and help student to become better thinkers, writers, and problem solvers. Students that know they will be going into graduate programs often find liberal arts colleges to be good preparation. Specialized Colleges – those that offer majors in one particular area. Examples of these are generally in the fields of the arts (Juliard), business (Bentley), or engineering (Harvey Mudd). Women’s Colleges – are those that are totally committed to the personal, social, and academic development of women. They provide extensive opportunities for leadership and independence.


Colleges in the U.S. range from 24 students to 55,000 and the school size is very important as you evaluate what you want. Consider: Will you feel comfortable in a lecture class of 700 students? Do you prefer taking notes rather than discussing issues? Is it important for you to have a teacher know your name? If a more personalized education is your preference, then you should be looking at the smaller liberal arts colleges where a student is a name as well as face. Pre-med programs can make a liberal arts college an excellent choice in terms of working with and getting to personally know professors. Small colleges are those generally referred as those having fewer than 3000 students while Mid-size refer to those with between 3,000-10,000 students, and large are those that have over 10,000 students. Not only do you have to consider the size of the school population but you must also consider the size of the community it is as well as the typical class size.


You and your family must take a close look at the cost of a college education. As the annual cost of private education in the U.S. can now exceed $35,000, it is likely that a private institution will cost your family at least $150,000 over four years. Is this a cost that is affordable? Public institutions currently range from $10-18,000, which will still amount to possibly $80-90,000 for a four-year education. If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you are eligible for institutional-based financial aid in a combination of grant, work-study, and loan monies. Most financial aid is Need-Based which means a family has to demonstrate financial need. The financial aid for foreign national is severely limited and very, very competitive to be granted. Non-U.S. citizens must select schools for which the family can provide complete financial support as documentation of complete support is required for getting a student visa.

Programs of Study

If you have a specific major in mind, make sure that the schools to which you apply have that program. If you are undecided about a major, it might be a good idea to apply to schools that have a range of majors so that you can pick a major later and have some choice about what to study. If you decide to apply to a “specialty” school (i.e., a school that specializes in just one area such as business), make sure that your interest to study that subject is strong. If you enroll in a school that specializes in business, for example, and decide that you don’t like business, you will probably have to transfer to another college to study “something else”.

Student Diversity

Schools vary greatly in terms of percentages of international students and/or American students of color. Generally speaking, an international student might feel more comfortable in a school in which there are other international students. A college that has 90+% or more of in-state students and 1% foreign nationals is not going to offer the diversity of students that you might prefer. If a school has 3% or more international population and at least 10% American students of color, you can consider that school as having a relatively diverse population.

On-Campus Housing

It is important to consider the percentage of students who live on-campus. The personal growth and learning that goes on in the residential arena on a campus is important as in an international student feeling “at home” away from home. If fewer than 50% of the students live on campus, weekend activities could be limited.

Pre-Professionalism vs. A Liberal Arts Education

Pre-professional programs of study are ones that are designed specifically toward certain career goals. Pre-med, pre-law, engineering, and business are good examples of pre-professional majors. Majors that do not lead directly to a specific career goal fall into the Liberal Arts category. The goal of a liberal arts education is to teach students how to think creatively and analytically, thus preparing them to pursue any career. There are pros and cons for both. If you really know what you want in terms of a career, then a pre-professional course of study might be most comfortable for you. However, if you are not sure, a liberal arts education is an alternative route into a professional career track.

Freshman Satisfaction

One statistic provided in most guidebooks is the percent of freshmen who come back after their first year. If this is a high number, it indicates that most freshmen were satisfied with the school and were successful. If this statistic is low, it would be good to find out why. However, keep in mind that not all schools are suitable for everyone and that you should focus on finding a school that is right for you.

Academic Atmosphere and Campus “Culture”

Each college has a different “Culture” or feel. Some offer a large variety of intramural and extracurricular activities while others are more limited. Some have large international populations while at others the international percentage is small. The degrees of stress, competition, and intensity are also all different and will impact on the overall quality of personal life at any college. A stress-filled environment does not necessarily indicate a high-quality education. The analogy of “the big fish in a small pond / small fish in a big pond” merits some consideration.

Applications should be completed with care and caution. Application are a reflection of individual students and and students want to make a good impression.

Top 6 Tips When Completing the Application

  1. Read and follow the instructions.
  2. Establish a separate file folder for each college to which the student is applying and keep copies of all of the work and correspondence from that school.
  3. Spelling must be correct – proofread before submitting.
  4. If declaring an intended major, make sure that the college has that major. “Undecided” can be an appropriate major.
  5. Think about the activities that are important to list on the application. Keep in mind that the quality of an activity is more important than quantity.
  6. Be honest – don’t exaggerate.

The Completed Application Checklist

When students have completed an application, they should be able to check off each of the following items:

  • Aware of the deadline for submission.
  • All parts of the application are completed.
  • Made copies of applications and all letters sent.
  • Teacher recommendations are on file in the Guidance Office.
  • The counselor form and recommendation are completed.
  • A request to send official test scores has been made to College Board, ACT, ETS and/or TOEFL.
  • Official transcripts of grades 9-12 high school work have been sent.
  • Application fee has been paid.
  • Essay has been given to your counselor.
  • Financial aid forms have been included.

Once the checklist has been completed, relax and focus on school work. Applicants can expect a letter of acknowledgement when the admissions file is completed and applicants will be informed of any items that are missing.

Can you pay?

For non-US citizens, most colleges in the US go so far as to say that if you can’t pay your own way, then you needn’t apply. However most colleges do offer financial assistance to some students but their funds are limited. For some schools it is easier to get in if you can pay your own way because that means they will have funds to entice other students who would be good additions to their student body but who may not be able to afford the full cost.

Financial Aid

Issues around paying for college or university are varied and complex.  And, each family’s financial situation is unique.  Therefore, please speak with the student’s counselor for more information about financial aid.


This is the one part of the application that students can control; try to do a good job. An essay permits students the opportunity to express themselves so take advantage of it. The essay is a chance to personalize the application in a way that isn’t possible in the rest of the application. Students at Brent are very different from the typical U.S. high school applicant, and the essay can be used to convey this difference. Even more important than what is written is how it is written. Have parents, teachers, counselor, or friends proofread and help edit essays. However, make sure that the student is doing the writing.


3 Steps to an Outstanding College Essay

From Shah. J. Chaudhry Guide to College Admissions:U.S.

Planning the College Essay

A lot has been written about how the college essay is one of the most important parts of your application. There is also a great deal of material about the components of the ideal college essay and about how the college essay is your “one-way dialogue” with the admission officer(s). Now that’s all very good, but what about actually writing the essay? Very few articles get around to help you actually start composing the essay – and that is just what we’ve tried to do here.

Your approach to writing the college essay should not be particularly different from how you have gone about writing essays for class. The steps are the same, the stages are the same, and the process is the same – the only difference is that this time you’ll be writing about yourself (and not about how Edison invented the light bulb) and never before has an essay about “you” been so instrumental in deciding the future course of your life. In many ways, your education, your career and basically the rest of your life depends on this one essay about yourself (that was just to scare you into getting serious!).

Now that we’ve established that this essay is your last ray of hope of a successful life, let’s get down to business.

The college essay will be written in 3 distinct steps:

Students are often asked what advice they would give to the next class or classes. They are very good at verbalizing the things that CAN and WILL make a difference. All of the following statements are direct quotes from students.

  • “Take SAT I/II and TOEFL in Grade 11 so that they are out of the way.”
  • “Don’t take it easy in Grade 11, thinking that there’s plenty of time to get sorted out in Grade 12 – there isn’t!”
  • “Socialize with a wide variety of people. If you speak a language other than English, try not to hang around with others with the same language all the time. It cuts you off socially and doesn’t do your English any good either.”
  • “Start thinking about and planning your Extended Essay early (IB folks).”
  • “Try to participate in extra-curricular activities – they’re fun and you need them.”
  • “If you don’t understand something in a lesson, ask the teacher because, if you don’t, you probably won’t understand the next point either.”
  • “Don’t let work pile up. It will only make you feel guilty and miserable.”
  • “Use private study periods constructively – you don’t get back time you waste.”
  • “If you don’t like a course, speak to the teacher and get advice.”
  • “Don’t make hasty judgments about teachers. They know what they’re talking about and the best way to learn is to cooperate with them.”
  • “Make sure YOU know what YOU need for your IB and academic diploma courses – it avoids problems later.”
  • “Don’t moan about something if you haven’t tried to do anything about it.”

Test Information

Please find below the schedule for this school year for SAT exams at Brent. Please note the following regarding testing:

  • Brent students must register through the College Board’s website. Offices at Brent do not assist students with registering for SAT dates.
  • Slots for testing at Brent are usually full WEEKS before the published Deadline to Register below. Register earlier than you think you need to.
  • SAT at Brent is open to our enrolled students, but also to students from other schools. There are enough slots for Brent students if you register early.
  • If slots are already full at Brent for a specific SAT date, on College Board’s website look for other schools offering SAT and then register at one that has available slots. If all other schools are also full, register for the next available SAT date at Brent.

SAT Test Date

  • October 7, 2023
  • December 2, 2023
  • March 9, 2024
  • May 4, 2024

Deadline to Register

  • September 7, 2023
  • November 2, 2023
  • February 23, 2024
  • April 23, 2024

SAT Online Information visit: