BISP has two experienced University Counsellors. Dale Ford works with students whose surnames start with the letters A-K, and Jacqui Brelsford works with students whose names begin with the letters L-Z. Jennie Austrin assists both the University Counsellors and Carey Christensen, the IB Coordinator. The University Counsellors’ office is located on the third floor next to the IB Study Centre.
BISP’s University Counsellors provide information and offer advice to students and parents through one-on-one meetings, presentations and written materials. They provide guidance regarding IGCSE and IB subject choices, standardised testing, and all other aspects related to selecting and applying to colleges and universities all over the world.
The University Counsellors make extensive use of Family Connection, a university and career planning system that coordinates all aspects of selecting and applying to college. Students in Years 10 to 13, along with their parents, have personal logins. If you need assistance logging in, contact Jennie Austrin.
This calendar shows upcoming college visits, fairs and holidays. Students can add it to their Google calendar by clicking the link on the bottom. Admission representatives can use it to plan a visit. Students who have a visiting college on their Family Connection list will get an automatic email with a visit reminder one day in advance.
University & College Representatives
We hope you will consider visiting the counsellors and students of the British International School, Phuket (BISP). You’re welcome to come as an individual, in a small group, join a fair, or with Linden. Although we are a British school, we have a diverse student body representing over 45 countries. We also have five high performance sports teams. In the past four years our students have matriculated to 19 different countries. The UK, Thailand, US, Australia and Canada have received the highest numbers of graduates.
Scheduling a Visit
As you begin making your travel arrangements, you should start by looking at our calendar, which shows when we are in session and the representatives already scheduled to be on campus. Our preferred time for a visit is during the 12:45 until 1:35 PM lunch break. It is also possible to come during the shorter 10:10 until 10:40 AM morning break. After school, from 3:40 until 4:30 PM, is less desirable since many students are busy, but it is sometimes possible. Once you’ve narrowed down a date and time, please contact Dale Ford, the counsellor who coordinates individual and small group college visits. Jennie Austrin, Office Assistant, will coordinate the logistics of your visit. Please be aware that BISP does not have a college reference room and does not need any extra copies of printed materials.
Plan Ahead: University Fairs in 2017-2018
On Monday, September 25, 2017, immediately after the September 22-23 CIS-EARCOS Institute on Higher Education conference in Bangkok, BISP will host a Phuket International Schools University Fair. You can take the one-hour flight to beautiful Phuket on Sunday, September 24, spend the day on the beach, and on Monday attend our 10 AM until 1:30 PM fair. We will host a late afternoon sunset cocktail reception, or if you’re in a rush, you can leave after the fair to fly to your next destination. In addition to BISP students, United World College, Head Start, and QSI international students will be invited. Since it is low season in Phuket, excellent hotels have very attractive rates – much cheaper than remaining in Bangkok for the weekend. Not only will you be able to see over 200 students, you can save your institution some money by coming to Phuket! Full details will be available in May.
We will also hold a fair on Wednesday, November 15, 2017, from approximately 10:00 AM until 1:30 PM (exact times and details to be confirmed later). This dovetails with the OCSC International Education Expo in Bangkok on November 11-12, and tends to draw more UK universities.
Other Schools in Phuket
In addition to visiting BISP, in one day it’s possible to visit one or two other schools on the island. These international schools include UWC Thailand (previously Phuket International Academy, contact Len Peters), Headstart International School (contact Heather Lucass), and QSI International School of Phuket (contact Brian Gerbracht).
Getting Around in Phuket
BISP is in the middle of the island and the airport is in the northern part. If you are coming straight from the airport, plan on up to an hour to get through immigration/baggage claim (less if you’re coming from Bangkok and can skip the immigration lines) and then about 30 minutes by taxi to get to BISP. A taxi costs around 600 – 700 Baht or US$20. While a taxi can be booked in advance, they are also easy to get at the airport. Taxis do not take credit cards, but they will give you a receipt. Your hotel can also organise a pick up, but it will likely be more expensive than just taking a taxi from the airport to your hotel.
Give yourself at least 45 minutes to get to the school from most places on the island. While it’s likely only 30 minutes, road construction seems to frequently occur making the trip longer, especially during the “high season” of November to March. Try to arrive at BISP 30 minutes before the student break so that you will have time to speak with the counsellors. Please stop at the Information booth so they can call and let us know you have arrived. Feel free to arrive early, use our wifi and relax in our office or at our “Bake” coffee shop/cafe near the Information booth. If you find you’re running late, please call us at +66 76 335 555.
You will want to charter a car and a driver for the day of your visits since you will not be able to flag down a taxi around school. Your hotel can also assist with transportation or you can negotiate a daily rate with any taxi driver – even the one who picks you up at the airport. Grab Taxi are also an option in Phuket, but you’ll need to download the app and have a phone data plan. They usually call to confirm, meaning you may want someone who speaks Thai close by, so they can speak to the driver.
Once you arrive at BISP, ask the driver to take you to Gate 1 in the front of the school – note this is a change from previous years. The information booth is at the round about next to the school. Our full address is English and Thai is at the bottom of our contact page. You will also find us here on Google maps.
Arriving on Campus
Please bring some form of ID other than your passport since you will be asked to exchange an ID card for a visitor’s pass at the security gate. After entering Gate 1, have the driver head to the main academic building and drop you off near the BISP information booth. They will call us and we will come down to greet you.
Phuket is 90 minutes or less from Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. August to November is the low (yes, rainy) season so the cost to stay in a luxurious hotel on the beach can be very reasonable. Consider combining a Friday or Monday visit to BISP with a weekend of relaxation.
Hotels – Phuket has a wide variety of hotel options. Hotels in Patong, Kamala and Bang Tao beach areas will allow you to get to BISP and most of the other international schools in less than 30 minutes. Before you book a hotel, take a look at Google maps to get a sense of the drive. Hotels in the far north or far south of the island could require a drive of nearly an hour.
Sightseeing/Eating – There is plenty to do in Phuket, but with transport being relatively expensive and traffic sometimes difficult, it can be a challenge to get around. Where and how long you stay will probably determine how much sightseeing you do. The beaches are world-renowned and cater to all interests. Patong, the most famous, is very busy, with Bangtao and Surin being quiet and more relaxing. All have great sunsets. Phuket Old Town is lovely to explore and very different from the rest of the island. For something a little different, you could try a cocktail at the Chalong Rum Distillery. If you are into fitness there are plenty of yoga and Muay Thai gyms, as well as scuba diving if you are in Phuket long enough.
Thailand is famous for its food and there are plenty of restaurant options – both local and international. If you have a sensitive stomach (or even if you don’t) you may want to stick to restaurants instead of street food. Here are some Thai dishes to try:
- Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup)
- Som Tum (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)
- Tom Kha Kai (Chicken in Coconut Soup)
- Pad Thai (Thai style Fried Noodles)
- Khao Pad (Fried Rice)
- Pad Krapow Moo Saap (Fried Basil and Pork)
- Gaeng Keow Wan Kai (Green Chicken Curry)
If you are strict vegetarian you’ll want to choose a place where English is spoken. Many dishes will contain fish sauce.
Travelling in the Region
Over 50 different carriers fly into Phuket, including several discount carriers that fly to neighbouring cities and countries. These carriers (e.g., AirAsia, TigerAir, Nok, etc.) are much like RyanAir in Europe or Southwest in the US. Flights have to be booked on the carrier’s website and cannot be arranged by travel agents. Although luggage and seat assignments cost extra, flights can be very reasonable (e.g., a round trip flight to Singapore can be as cheap as US$150). Skyscanner or Google Flights provide great ways to compare prices.
You can also travel by boat to neighbouring islands, such as Phi Phi and Koh Lanta. There are plenty of tour operators offering day trips or packages. Boat tickets can also be bought on the day at Rassada Pier, simply arrive in good time before the boat you want to take (a return ticket to Phi Phi is US$20). You can find the schedule here.
This is normally the beginning of the long process in which students start to think about the direction they wish to take their studies.
In January, Year 9 students meet with the University Counsellor (often with their parents) to discuss their IGCSE decisions for Year 10. This is an important meeting as IGCSE choices may have an impact upon what the student is able to study in Year 12, when IB choices are made, and thus potentially affect what courses can be applied for at university. Therefore open and detailed discussions between parents and their student, as well as with the University Counsellor, are encouraged.
A strong start in Year 10 can often set the tone for a successful high school career. The student’s focus should be on developing strong study habits and thinking about what they would like to study at IBDP level in Year 12.
Throughout the year, students are invited to meet with visiting college and university representatives in order to begin to think about where they would like to go and what they would need to get there. It is recommended that students consider how they can make their summer holidays fruitful and rewarding. Therefore, from January on, Year 10 students and parents are invited to meet with the University Counsellor to discuss their plans for the summer.
At the beginning of the year, the PSAT (also known as Practice or Preliminary SAT) is introduced. The PSAT is an excellent way for students to experience formal standardized testing and to understand what will be expected of them in Year 12, when most of them will be required to take some form of standardised testing for university admissions throughout the world.
Students are given the opportunity to take this test at BISP in October. In February, the University Counsellor reviews test results with students and parents and offers suggestions for further test preparation.
In December, Year 11 students are required, and parents are invited, to meet with the University Counsellor in order to discuss their IB subject choices and the implications these may have on their plans after graduation.
Throughout the year, students are invited to meet with visiting college and university representatives in order to begin to think about where they would like to go and what they would need to get there. It is recommended that students consider how they can make their summer holidays fruitful and rewarding. Therefore, from January on, Year 11 students and parents are invited to meet with the University Counsellor to discuss their plans for the summer.
Year 12 is a very important year for college and university preparation and applications.
At the beginning of the year an overview of standardized testing is given to the whole class. This overview is primarily focused on, but not limited to, the details and dates of the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, the ACT, the TOEFL, the IELTS and any specific testing required for those applying for Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science or Law. For most tests, students are given instructions on how to register online and advised on which to take, but ultimately it is the students’ responsibility to register, be mindful of deadlines and to prepare for these tests.
In January, Year 12 have their ‘University Kickoff’, which is where their university and college application process officially begins. They have three hours of workshops and information sessions on the application processes and timelines, systems and requirements needed for the UK, US, Europe, Australia and Asia. Parents are invited later to attend a meeting offering a condensed version of this, covering topics such as financial aid and important deadlines.
Following the “University Kickoff” Year 12 students may schedule appointments (individually or with their parents) with the University Counsellor to begin researching their options.
It is strongly advised that students do as much research as possible at this stage, attend higher education fairs and speak to the University Counsellor and visiting universities.
This is the last opportunity for students to do something meaningful during their holidays, therefore arranging internships, volunteering, attending courses, workshops or summer programs related to their preferred area of study is important and can be discussed with the University Counsellor.
August to January of Year 13 is a very busy time for these students. Hopefully, by this time, most of the testing has taken place. Now students focus on preparing the rest of their applications, particularly the required essays. Students should by now have an organised list of colleges and universities to apply to, the first draft of their application essay, the course they wish to study and all of their deadlines.
The University Counsellor offers advice to students on their choices as well as financial aid and scholarship opportunities. It is important that students openly discuss finances with their families in order to determine whether financial aid is required if applying to the United States or whether it is possible for them to apply to places that offer little financial aid to undergraduates, such as the United Kingdom.
Throughout the first term in Year 13, various workshops are offered on topics such as “SAT Preparation,” “UK Personal Statement and US Essay Writing” as well as ‘refresher’ information sessions to both students and parents on country specific applications, finances and the financial aid process.
By February, most Year 13 students would have completed and submitted their applications. Once offers begin arriving, students discuss with their family and the College Counsellor in order to select a college or university that best suits their academic, personal, financial, professional, and family needs.
Finally, there are workshops on offer in transitioning from high school into university. These sessions are organised by regional destination so that customs and culture may also be discussed.
Sometimes students find that their college or university choice ultimately does not meet their academic, personal or professional expectations. In this case, the University Counsellors are happy to provide assistance to alumni wishing to transfer and to discuss the transfer processes.
A Final Note
Throughout the entire process, from Year 9 to Year 13, open and consistent dialogue between students, their families and the University Counsellor is very important. Grades, countries, universities and subjects that students have had their heart set on since they were ten years old can all change when it comes to deciding where to live and study for the next three, four or even five years. It is okay for a student to change their mind, providing they have thoroughly done their research and that informed discussions have been had with all those concerned.
During the whole process, the University Counsellor is there to offer counsel, to give the student the necessary tools to be informed, however, it is up to the student to decide where they wish their lives to lead and to do so through independent research and through being organised and responsible for their own applications.
It is a daunting and exciting time for a student, particularly in Year 12 and Year 13, but it can also be a very stressful time for both the student and their family. There will be a lot of work to be done in addition to their regular studies and exams. Therefore, being organised from the very beginning and using the services offered by the University Counsellors can help minimize this stress and hopefully serve to make the students’ applications effective and perhaps even enjoyable.
The courses students take and the IB scores they earn are the most important factors considered by university admissions officers, with standardized test scores a close second. These test scores are usually the only common comparison a university will have between students coming from a variety of educational systems, schools and backgrounds.
Depending on the country they are applying to, the individual institution they are applying to, and sometimes the course, students may be required to take one or more standardised tests. The most common tests are:
If students are applying to the United States, Canada or international universities in Europe and Asia, they will most likely be required to take either the SAT Reasoning (and SAT Subject) Tests or the similar ACT. These can be taken more than once. Students will earn the best scores late in Year 12 and early in Year 13.
BISP is a SAT testing center, meaning the SATs can be taken at the school. You will find more information, test dates, and registration links on the College Board website. You can take the ACT instead of the SAT. It is offered in Phuket, but not at BISP. Details about it are on the ACT website. If you are unsure whether you need the SAT or the ACT, see your College Counsellor.
Students whose native language is not English may need to take either the IELTS (International English Language Testing Service)or the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Students applying to UK universities must take the IELTS. Students applying to US or Canadian universities can take either the IELTS or the TOEFL.
UK Admission Tests
Students applying for Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary Science in the UK may be required to take either the UKCAT or the BMAT, depending on the university they are applying to. In some cases they may be required to take both. If needed, these tests should be taken in the summer before the student begins Year 13. Details on whether you need these tests can be found on these sites:
Students thinking of applying for Law in the UK may be required to take the LNAT exam. The requirement varies by university. If needed, t is recommended that this test be taken before the Christmas holidays in Year 13.
BISP students apply to colleges and universities all over the world. Here are some helpful links listed by country.
BISP makes extensive use of Naviance to manage college and university planning for students. Family Connection gives students and their families access to online resources and is used to transmit documents to most colleges. Login here.
The Common Application provides an online application to nearly 700 colleges and universities, mainly based in the USA. Click here for the link and to create your account.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a membership organization governing athletic programmes, championships and scholarships in more than 1200 colleges and Universities in the USA and Canada. BISP athletes who plan to play college sports in the US must register with NCAA. This will ensure you have met amateurism standards and are academically eligible.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is the organization responsible for managing all applications for higher education in the United Kingdom. Create your account or register here.
In addition to UCASs you can review these guides:
- The Complete University Guide for UK universities
- Subject specific rankings of universities from The Guardian.
Here are several sites you can use if you are considering Canada:
- Official information, published by the Canadian government.
- The Canadian Interuniversity Sport, the national governing body of university sports.
- The Canadian government website on immigration.
The following websites can be used to search for courses, institutions and scholarships, read about studying and living in Australia as well as find out more about university and visa requirements.
- The official Australian Government website for international students.
- The Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students
- Universities Australia represents Australian universities
To apply, students must submit their applications either directly to the individual university or to one of the following university admissions centres:
- NSW & ACT – Universities Admissions Centre (UAC)
- QLD – Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC)
- VIC – Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC)
- SA – South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC)
- WA-Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (TISC)
- Open Universities Australia