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The Admissions Process: A Guide for Parents

What should I be doing now!?


Grade 9 Parents: 

Your children are growing up and becoming young adults. The most important thing you can do for them as they embark on a four-year journey to independence is to let them form their own dreams and ambitions. It is easy to put our hopes and desires onto our children, because we think we have an idea of what is best for their future. We want to protect our children from risk and failure as adults, and we hope they can find a profession that can afford them comforts. Our children know what you want for them, but they are going to be learning about the world and what it takes to be successful in a variety of fields. They deserve to be able to make the choice for themselves about what gives them joy. 

NIS has had plenty of students that have a passion for arts be led into professions that their families felt were “safer” or more valuable. Those same students are the ones that are transferring universities and changing careers when they feel distance and less fear about confronting their parents about a future they did not desire for themselves. Your children are secretly hoping you will support them in discovering their interest and passions. 

A family that can discuss openly the ambitions of the children will be a strong family throughout the high school years and remain close when the student goes off to university. University admissions officers are looking for students that are their own creation, able to advocate for their decisions to apply to their schools and the programs that the university offers. A student that has focus in their extra curricular activities, course selection, and is able to articulate their dreams at the time they apply will have a better chance at acceptance than someone that is just following a plan that is not their own. Throughout high school students will have opportunities to practice responsibility. By the time a family is ready to apply to university, you should be confident that your child is informed and in charge of the application process. When a student leaves for university they need to be capable of independent living. You can give them practice by allowing your student to drive decisions related to their future, including where to apply for university. You can help yourself prepare for the day when they are on their own by giving more responsibilities to your child during the high school years. When you are confident in the maturity of your student, you can trust that they understand how a career choice and university choice will affect them long-term.

During the ninth grade year a parent should be learning about the interests of their child, supporting their passions and hobbies that will become the after school activities for university applications, and ensuring that the academic efforts of the student are supported by making sure homework is done, planners are used, and time is taken to prepare for assessments. Sleep and health should be a priority for parents. The majority of childhood depression, eating disorders, and poor relationship patterns can be avoided by caring and attentive parenting. To you, your children are your babies. To the world, they are young adults and the high school years will be a test for both of you to come to terms with their maturation and eventual independence.


Grade 10 Parents:

The 10th grade year is important in your child’s life because it is often a year of transition outside of school. Emotionally and physically your child is growing up and wanting to be more independent. They should be allowed to practice taking care of themselves, and you should welcome the break when they take that opportunity. It is possible that your child has been attending cram schools and after school programs like Kumon to improve their abilities in different subjects. The 10th grade year is one of the times that the effort will pay off. With the PSAT scores you can see where your child will need to improve to keep their opportunities at the schools they want to attend after high school if they are interested in U.S. colleges or universities. As the parent, you have been sacrificing your free time to drive and care for your high schooler. You have been looking for the answers to help your child succeed at the level you see fit. During the 10th grade year your child will be learning about careers and personal health information that may challenge your own beliefs. Take time to talk with your child to learn about how they are changing and please consider their interests and desires for their future. Let them guide their future while you share your opinions.

Remove ego and replace it with empathy for the delicate stage of development your teen is enduring. They are trying to figure out how they want to be, who they want to be, and how to get there. The good news for them is that there is a world of opportunities for them if you as a parent allow them to see those options. By exploring together you can eliminate one major source of conflict in the home, and create a stronger bond with your child.

Students will have access to Naviance, our college/university searching and application software. You can have access to this as well, and begin looking at the requirements of universities that you and your child desire to apply for. Use the information you find to guide course planning in the last two years of high school. Help your child succeed by setting limits and access to distractions when it is time to do homework and other assignments.

You can expect your child to pull back some from you and attach themselves to their cell phones and friends. You can enforce some family time by creating a mandatory meeting time to talk about life, school, etc. Your child wants you to show interest and be there when they need you, but they are hoping to have as much freedom as they can get. Make them earn it by communicating with you.

Using your child’s interests, spend time looking into potential careers together. You can learn about your child and how they see their future at the same time. Using the resources in this handbook you can begin to put a list of potential universities together that offer programs for your child’s desired field of study. At the end of sophomore year your child should have a solid idea of where in the world they want to attend, and they should be familiar with Naviance and other university searching should you. As your child begins to figure out schools that interest them, keep an eye on the financial costs of those institutions. Start having a conversation as parents if you have not already, about how you intend to finance your child’s education, and what responsibility they will have for the financial burden. Being open about what you can and cannot afford will help make expectations realistic for university applications.

Grade 11 Parents:

Your student should be driving the application process through sending applications in 12th grade. Selecting a university to apply to is a big decision that should be discussed in depth for academic and financial factors. Do not allow your child to apply to a school that you can not afford to pay for. If you are going to use loans to help pay for school, discuss that with your student. Just like other purchases in life, university needs to fit in your budget. International aid is limited and not guaranteed for all students. There are as many ways to succeed in life as there are universities to attend, and no school will make or break your child’s future. If money is an issue, set a limit and let that guide your family choices.

Do not be too proud to look at community colleges that can save your family money and provide a gateway to excellent four-year universities. Schools in Japan, UK, and Canada are cheaper on average than American universities. If you come from a place that offers your child less fees, it should be a major consideration. While money is important, it is not the only factor in selecting a school. Your child has interests that might not align with yours. Please consider what your child wants to do in university as the most important factor in selecting a school, then discover how to merge the cost with the opportunity for your child to meet their goals. The counselor office and wiki have resources about paying for university. The internet has scholarship websites like to find private money for your child. Never pay for access to scholarship information online. There are scams that seek to take advantage of unsure parents and applicants. Parents can have access to Naviance and add universities to a prospective list. Look through the information to find schools that are in the price range you can afford, and that have the programs your child wants. There is a book in the counselor office called ”Book of Majors‚” that lists all the programs at each school, that can be a resource in matching a major or course to a school. If you are looking internationally, see the UCAS website for information about courses.

Grade 12 Parents:

The senior year is going to be stressful for you as your child is creeping slowly towards independence and potentially leaving home in one year. You may feel out of control, pressure to speed your child through their applications, and fear of them not getting an admission offer. These are common feelings, and ones that can be controlled through communication and teamwork. What you need to know is that your child is capable of doing all of their applications on their own, and they should do all of the work related to their applications.

You can set up a family calendar to know when each application is due, and you can follow along in Naviance to see what universities have been added to the application list.

By fall of senior year, you have hopefully had the discussion of finances and which schools make sense for the family. Your child will need your emotional support and optimism while applications are away. You should be preparing your child for independence, letting them handle more responsibility in the home and making sure they can handle basic living duties like laundry, cooking, and organizing their space. Something to prepare for is the cost of applications. The actual application can cost up to 100 USD and shipping of materials to schools will cost 1,200 yen per EMS envelope sent. Midyear transcripts will also be sent.

Being smart about applications can save you money, do not waste an application fee on a school you are not sure as a family that you would want to attend. Applying to more schools is no guarantee of success. On the other hand for a few ”reach” schools, 100 USD is a small price to pay if you are in love with a school, and are very close to their admission standards. Be patient while waiting for updates from schools. They are notoriously slow to update their websites for status changes. Resist the urge to call the office. If contact is necessary, the counselor or the student should do the contacting.