University Applications Workshop


1.  Preview Agenda / Set Up / Expectations                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

  • Explain the 3 components to an Application & Creating a Unique Student Voice
    1. School Records and Tests (IB, IGCSE, SAT/ ACT, TOEFL, IELTS)
    2. Essay Review
    3. Online Application
2.  Split to Labs: Complete the Application Checklist & Begin Online Applications                                                                                      
  • Application Checklist: Advisers Identify Student Progress In Each Group
    (Resources: Checklist Spreadsheet & Overview of Instructions for Advisers)
  • Update University List on Naviance:
    (Resource: Naviance Family Connection)

    Students Start by Logging into Family Connection on Naviance (see personal log-in email from A. Chiu for any in doubt how to access)
    1. Update Current College List: Go to Family Connection -> Colleges Tab -> Colleges I’m Thinking About (Use Search Bar to Add/ delete Universities)
    2. Add Colleges to Colleges I’m Applying To: (Select Universities in Colleges I’m Thinking About -> Select Icon Move to Application list)
    Note: Colleges listed in Colleges I’m Applying to May Only Be Removed by the Counselors – Make sure students are careful in this process.
  • Online Application Portals
    (Resources: Student G9-12 Transcripts

    • Students work on Respective Application Portals and Complete as much as possible
      • Students will use their Transcripts from YCIS to include Education History, Grades & Ranking
      • Please have students go from one portal to the next to finish as much as possible
      • HK University Portals are active for only 2 weeks – then they are closed and students need to re-open                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
3. Personal Essay Writing                                                                                                                                                            
  • Resources: (University Applications Guide – Application Items: Mr. Gartz’s Winning Tips / Personal Statements etc.)
  • Students will work to improve and complete their College Essays / Personal Statements

*4. Essay Peer Review & Share with Teachers    

(Resources: Peer Review Checklist )  
5. Student Choice: Essay Review, Online Portals, University Supplements                                                                                                    

  • Students will have a chance to focus on any part of their applications to improve
  • Early Application – Students can send applications to the USA

6. College 101  Room 333                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

  • Day Review
  • Trivia & Interactive Discussion
  •   University Mocks Interviews         

*Note: Please see Individual Group Instructions by Group and Agenda Items below:

Objectives: Students need to feel an urgency to complete as much as possible today! 

Early Application 

1.  Application Checklist: 
Students should be very near completion on all items.

  • IB Predicted Score Sheets should be completed & provided to Mr. Gartz
  • Prior Transcripts: Students were asked to order their Prior HS Transcript so they are ready to send directly to their universities. If this has not been done, it is now too late for us to send – They will need to have prior HS send directly to their Early Application Universities! 
  • Financial Bank Statement (US ONLY): Students need to identify if & when their chosen Early Application university wants to see a Financial Bank Statement? There is an example on this website see – Application Items.
  • Recommendation Letters: Letters have been reviewed and formatted & posted to Naviance & Student Info
    HK Applicants will not need to send until November (after Adventure Week)

    • Note: HK Fast Track Deadlines: HKUST: Nov 15th / HKU Nov 16th / CUHK: Nov 17th
  • Sending US/UK Early Applications: We expect to send all Applications with Deadlines before Nov 1st with
    Mr. Gartz during the day. Advisers, will work with students to finalize.

2. Important: Online Application Portals:
Early: Hong Kong

  • Open 2 weeks for  CUHK / HKUST / 4 Weeks for HKU! (change this year)
  • HKUST Online Application
  • Important: HKUST School Records / Recs can only be uploaded after a Student Completes the Application Online

HK Universities: supplements include a copy of their HKID or Passport, Resume – Naviance Resume should be edited so it is more of a professional Resume than a narrative (bullet points) and each will need AP Predicted Scores. 

HK Specific Teacher Evaluation Forms

– CUHK: Teacher / Counselor Evaluation CUHK Evaluation

– HKU; Teacher / Counselor Evaluation – HKU Confidential Referee Report

Please help students prepare the HKU & CUHK Teacher Evaluation Forms.
They ask the student their application # which is provided only after they submit their application online.

To Complete:
1. The HKU Form – Students should put in Bullet form both their Leadership Responsibilities and Hobbies, Clubs, and Extra curricular Activities: Start by Most recent Grade or academic year / Position or Activity / Detailed Sentence of what they achieved or gained in the experience
  • Grade (12) Student Council President – sentence of what they accomplished in detail. 
2. CUHK Form: Students can state everything until the matrix in 3rd person. 

Early: USA  

Common Application – has over 500 universities (see members). Students will find their universities here or on individual websites. Help them complete the online application

Matching Common Application to Naviance: Student’s should have already done this:

Yet if there are any questions:

Matching Common Application to Naviance Family Connection

3. * On Online Application – Education History – Please have students go to Naviance Courses Records if they need to post

4. Personal Essays
USA: Review importance of having an Outline, Following Mr. Gartz’s Winning Tips, and having a Creative Voice
HK Students are writing to a particular faculty so please keep this in mind. Mr. Gartz’s Winning Tips and structure works well for HK.

Note: Take time for Peer Reviews and use Peer Review Checklist Found in University Applications Guide or here:  

Essay Review

Personal Statement Ideas to Include

5. Mock Interviews:Have students prepare questions to use in our mock interview cycle in College 101


1. Complete Application Checklist

2. a. Update University List on Naviance: 
Updating Your College List on Naviance – 2:45min

a.  Students log-in to Family Connection & Go to Colleges I’m Thinking About (this is their current university list)

– Students should check any they are 100% certain they will apply to and select the (left checkbox) next to each university name. They then should select (Move to My applications)

– Students Select Request Transcripts on Colleges I’m Applying To Page (on top next to + add to this list)

– Students select Transcript Request to all universities unless (University of Cal / Cal State / or others that don’t require)

– Scroll down Students should select the teachers writing their recommendation letters

   b. Matching Naviance to Common Application 

Students with any Common Application Universities should Match with Naviance – this allows us to send their school records (Transcripts & Recommendation Letters)

Here’s how to do it in: 2:35min
Matching Common Application to Naviance Family Connection

3. Online Applications: Students will either use Common Application or Individual Websites

– Popular: University of California & Cal State have their own systems.

– Another of Note is State University of New York


Here is the List of: Common Application Member Schools
& Where to 

Create a Common Application Account

A. University of California & Cal State Portals:
The University of California

Note: It’s Important to be aware of the A-G University Requirements for any campus in the UC System: 
University of California Admission Requirements

B. Here is the Online Site for Cal State:

Cal State Mentor
NoteUniversity of California have optional Recommendation letters from teachers
Cal State do not need recommendations nor transcripts.
Students self-report and need an unofficial transcript copy for both

C. Applying to State Universities in New York

SUNY Applications: State University of New York

4. University Essays: (USA will have specific prompts to answer)  

Note: Essays should: Have a clear Author’s Voice  (optimistic, positive, energy as opposed to sullen, depressed etc.)
1. Check Each Students’ Outline – critical to writing quality essays.

2. Essay Prompt: Creative writing is acceptable yet make sure students

3. Does the Essay:
1. Show a Strong Student Voice of Accomplishments & Personality
2. Demonstrate contributions at AIS
3. Show why they want to attend this specific university – specifically in detail (including their strengths & future contributions)

4. Why is the university they are speaking to right for them! (program details, campus, student life, university mission etc.)

 Hong Kong

Application Items to be aware of (Specifically HK)
1. Checklist: Items Needed
1. IB Predicted Scores: Please invite students to request by sending either counselor an email
2. HK Universities ask for Resume’s – Students can use their Naviance Resume and Use a Word Resume’ templlate to revise and complete. (Take the Resume from a Narrative to a bulleted Professional Resume)
3. HK Universities need a HKID Copy or a Passport Copy to Identify their NonJupas Local Status
     Whether a student is classified as Non-Jupas or Local / International Depends on their visa (right to abode in HK)
* If they have any of these documents they could go to the Office to have Ms. Michelle post to their College Folder on Student Info
4. HKU / CUHK Have Specific Teacher Evaluations to complete
(Recommending teacher or counselor)

– CUHK: Teacher / Counselor Evaluation CUHKEvaluation
– HKU; Teacher / Counselor Evaluation – HKU Confidential Referee Report
Please help students prepare the HKU & CUHK Teacher Evaluation Forms.
They ask the student their application # which is provided only after they submit their application online.

To Complete:
1. The HKU Form – Students should put in Bullet form both their Leadership Responsibilities and Hobbies, Clubs, and Extra curricular Activities: Start by Most recent Grade or academic year / Position or Activity / Detailed Sentence of what they achieved or gained in the experience
  • Grade (12) Student Council President – sentence of what they accomplished in detail. 

2. CUHK Form: Students can state everything until the matrix in 3rd person. 

2. Update University List on Naviance
Note: While HK Universities are listed as traditional Mail in delivery option on Naviance – we actually upload to each.
(All HK Universities have an Online Portal)

3. Online Application Portals
HK universities are individual websites. Students should make an account 2 weeks prior to Sending their Application as they close on this time. Students should take time to acquaint themselves with the application procedures:

     These Online Universities Close after 2 weeks 

City University Application Opens in November

  • City UniversityFast Track Open Now:
  • CUHK Admissions 
  • HKUST Online Application
    Open for 4 Weeks – HKU (Overseas/ National Qualifications)
  • HKU Admissions These HK Universities have Open Applications for Students (No 2 week window)HK Polytechnic Opens December 16th – February 5th (Non Jupas Local) (Non Jupas International Open Oct 10th)
  • HK Polytechnic SCAD HK – Online Application is Live Now! Students need to complete in 1 setting if there is any mistake it can be corrected by their assigned Admissions Adviser

4. Personal Statement Essays
Students are writing to a faculty – See Mr. Gartz’s Winning Tips as the Essay Prompts are quite broad in range
(The Structure follows this theme nicely)

Personal Statement Ideas to Include

5. Mock Interviews:

Have students prepare questions to use in our mock interview cycle in College 101


1. Update University List on Naviance
Updating Your College List on Naviance – 2:45min

Students should update their list and move universities they are certain of Applying to – from “Colleges I’m Thinking About” to “Colleges I’m Applying To”

* Please Note: Universities in Colleges I’m Applying to Can Only Be Removed by the Counselors so – make sure students only move those they are certain of.

2 Online Application Portals
We have a wide – variety of Student Choices in International Group. Please see   University Applications Guide to help navigate students successfully as there are excellent resources there by country.
(University Search Resources choose Country) Below are a few of our students most likely 1st choices:
 UCAS – United Kingdom
Allows Students to Apply to Only 5 Universities within 1 faculty.

1. Register on UCAS (University & Colleges Admissions Service):
With an independent account not through the school. UCAS is the entryway to application to all universities within the United Kingdom.(With an Independent Account you do not need a Buzz Word.)

 South Korean Universities
Keep Students aware of the deadline dates and any Specific University Supplements


Cares most about Grades / Less on Testing

A few may have optional essay requirements

In addition, there are 2 year colleges in HK that are available as well as Canada. Please see the University Applications Guide for Details.

3 University Essays:

2. UCAS: Is a unique Personal Statement provided to a faculty that is seen by all 5 universities – it is not possible to make the essay addressed to 1 university.

Art / Hotel Management

1. Online Applications – Identify what is needed and complete

2. Most Important aspect of the Application is: Study Plan (Hotel Management) and Portfolio (Art)

3. See indivdiual Websites: Usually submitted online portals

4. Art Portfolio – make sure you bring in your art work and portfolio for review with Mr. Bracalenti

5. Make a plan as to what you can accomplish throughout the day


Parsons Application

 Resources: Application Checklist / Mock Interview Questions

College Mock Interview Questions

  1. Tell me about yourself.

This question seems easier than it is. How do you reduce your whole life to a few sentences? And it’s hard to avoid commonplace answers like “I’m friendly” or “I’m a good student.” Of course you want to demonstrate that you’re friendly and studious, but try also to say something memorable here that really makes you different from other college applicants. Can you hold your breath longer than anyone in your school? Do you have a huge collection of Pez dispensers? Do you have unusual cravings for sushi?

  1. Why are you interested in our college?

Be specific when answering this, and show that you’ve done your research. Also, avoid answers like “I want to make a lot of money” or “Graduates of your college get good job placement.” You want to highlight your intellectual interests, not your materialistic desires. What specifically about the college distinguishes it from other schools you’re considering?

  1. What can I tell you about our college?

You can almost guarantee that your interviewer will provide an opportunity for you to ask questions. Make sure you have some, and make sure your questions are thoughtful and specific to the particular college. Avoid questions like “when is the application deadline?” or “how many majors do you have?” This information is both uninteresting and readily available on the school’s webpage. Come up with some probing and focused questions: “What would graduates of your college say was the most valuable thing about their four years here?” “I read that you offer a major in interdisciplinary studies. Could you tell me more about that?”

  1. Who in your life has most influenced you?

There are other variations of this question: Who’s your hero? What historical or fictional character would you most like to be like? This can be an awkward question if you haven’t thought about it, so spend a few minutes considering how you would answer. Identify a few real, historical, and fictional characters you admire, and be prepared to articulate WHY you admire them.

  1. Why do you want to major in?
    Realize that you don’t need to have decided upon a major when you apply to college, and your interviewer will not be disappointed if you say you have many interests and you need to take more classes before choosing a major. However, if you have identified a potential major, be prepared to explain why. Avoid saying that you want to major in something because you’ll make a lot of money — your passion for a subject will make you a good college student, not your greed.
  2. What will you contribute to our campus community?

You’ll want to be specific when answering this question. An answer like “I’m hard-working” is rather bland and generic. Think about what it is that makes you uniquely you. What exactly will you bring to diversify the college’s community?

  1. Tell me about a challenge that you overcame.

This question is designed to see what kind of problem solver you are. When confronted with a challenge, how do you handle the situation? College will be full of challenges, so the college wants to make sure they enroll students who can handle them.

  1. What do you do for fun in your free time?

“Hangin’ out and chillin'” is a weak answer for this question. College life obviously isn’t all work, so the admissions folks want students who will do interesting and productive things even when they aren’t studying. Do you write? hike? play tennis? Use a question such as this one to show that you are well-rounded with a variety of interests.

  1. What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?

You don’t need to pretend that you have your life figured out if you get a question like this. Very few students entering college could accurately predict their future professions. However, your interviewer does want to see that you think ahead. If you can see yourself doing three different things, say so — honesty and open-mindedness will play in your favor.

  1. Does your high school record accurately reflect your effort and ability?

In the interview or on your application, you often have an opportunity to explain a bad grade or a bad semester. Be careful with this issue — you don’t want to come across as a whiner or as someone who blames others for a low grade. However, if you really did have extenuating circumstances, let the college know.

  1. Recommend a good book to me.

The interviewer is trying to accomplish a few things with this question. First, the question asks whether or not you’ve actually read much. Second, it asks you to apply some critical skills as you articulate why a book is worth reading. And finally, your interviewer might get a good book recommendation!

  1. If you could do one thing in high school differently, what would it be?
    A question like this can turn sour if you make the mistake of dwelling on things you regret. Try to put a positive spin on it. Perhaps you’ve always wondered if you would have enjoyed acting or music. Maybe you would have liked to give the student newspaper a try. Maybe, in retrospect, studying Chinese might have been more in line with your career goals than Spanish. A good answer shows that you didn’t have the time in high school to explore everything that is of interest to you.

  2. What did you do this summer?
    This is an easy question that an interviewer might use to get the conversation rolling. The biggest danger here is if you haven’t done anything productive in the summer. “I played a lot of video games” isn’t a good answer. Even if you didn’t have a job or take classes, try to think of something you have done that was a learning experience.
  1. What do you do best?

There are lots of ways to ask this question, but the bottom line is that the interviewer wants you to identify what you see as your greatest talent. There’s nothing wrong with identifying something that isn’t central to your college application. Even if you were first violin in the all-state orchestra or the starting quarterback, you can identify your best talent as making a mean cherry pie or carving animal figurines out of soap. The interview can be an opportunity to show a side of yourself that isn’t obvious on the written application.

  1. Why do you want to go to college?

This question is so broad and seemingly obvious that it can catch you by surprise. Why college? Steer clear of materialistic responses (“I want to get a good job and make a lot of money”). Instead, focus on what it is that you plan to study. Chances are your particular career goals aren’t possible without a college education.

  1. How do you define success?

Here again you want to avoid sounding too materialistic. Hopefully success means making a contribution to the world, not just your wallet.

  1. What is your biggest weakness?

This is a common question, and it’s always a tough one to answer. It can be dangerous to be too honest (“I put off all my papers until an hour before they are due”), but evasive answers that actually present a strength often won’t satisfy the interviewer (“My greatest weakness is that I have too many interests and I work too hard”). Try to be honest here without damning yourself. The interviewer is trying to see how self-aware you are.

  1. Tell me about your family.

When you interview for college, an easy question like this can help get the conversation rolling. Try to be specific in your description of your family. Identify some of their funny quirks or obsessions. In general, however, keep the representation positive — you want to present yourself as a generous person, not someone who is hyper-critical.

19. What makes you special?
Or the interview might ask, “What makes you unique?” It’s a more difficult question than it might at first appear. Playing a sport or getting good grades is something that many students do, so such accomplishments aren’t necessarily “special” or “unique.” Try to get beyond your accomplishments and think about what really makes you – you.  

  1. What can our college offer you that another college can’t?

This question is a little different than one asking why you want to go to a specific college. Do your research and look for the truly unique features of the college for which you are interviewing. Does it have unusual academic offerings? Does it have a distinctive first-year program? Are there co-curricular or internship opportunities that can’t be found at other schools?

21. In college, what do you plan to do outside of the classroom?
This is a fairly simply question, but you need to know what extracurricular opportunities exist at the college. You’ll look foolish saying you want to host a college radio show if the school doesn’t have a radio station. The bottom line here is that the interviewer is trying to see what you will contribute to the campus community.

22. What three adjectives best describe you? 

Avoid bland and predictable words like “intelligent,” “creative” and “studious.” The interviewer is more likely to remember a student who is “clumsy,” “obsessive” and “metaphysical.” Be honest with your word choices, but try to find words that thousands of other applicants won’t choose.

23. What do you think about the latest news headline?
With this question the interviewer is seeing if you are aware of major events going on in the world, and if you have thought about those events. What your exact position is on an issue isn’t as important as the fact that you know the issues and have thought about them.

24.What historical figure do you most admire?
Here, as with the “hero” question above, you don’t need to go with an obvious choice like Abraham Lincoln or Gandhi. If you go with a more obscure figure, you just might be able to teach your interviewer something.

25. What high school experience was most important to you?
With this question the interviewer is looking to find out what experiences you most value and how well you can reflect back on high school. Be sure you are able to articulate why the experience was important.

26. Who most helped you get to where you are today?
This question is a little different than the one about a “hero” or the “person you most admire.” The interviewer is looking to see how well you can think outside of yourself and acknowledge those to whom you owe a debt of gratitude.

27. Tell me about your community service. 

Many strong college applicants have done some form of community service. Many, however, simply do it so that they can list it on their college applications. If the interviewer asks you about your community service, it’s to see why you served and what the service means to you. Think about how your service benefited your community, and also what you learned from your community service and how it helped you grow as a person.

28. What subject in high school did you find the most challenging? 

Even if you’re a straight “A” student, chances are some subjects were more difficult than others. The interviewer is interested in learning about your challenges and how you tackled those challenges.