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. Lek Berman assists both the University Counsellors and Jason Perkins, 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. For students taking a gap after graduation, the counsellors continue to assist students after they graduate.
For many years the University Counsellors have made extensive use of Family Connection, a university and career planning system. While it will still be used by Year 13 in the 2018-2019 school year, this platform is being phased out internationally. BISP is switching to a new platform called Cialfo (pronounced “See-Al-Foe”), which is more internationally focused and will provide more robust information for our students and families. The system is currently being setup with historical BISP data being imported into it. Cialfo login information will be provided to all families after the setup is completed.
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 60 countries. We also have five high performance sports teams. In the past four years our students have matriculated to 24 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, but less preferable, to come during the shorter 10:10 until 10:40 AM morning break. Once you’ve narrowed down a date and time, please contact Dale Ford, the counsellor who coordinates individual and small group visits. Lek Berman, 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.
Annual Phuket University Fair
On the Monday, immediately after the September CIS-EARCOS Institute on Higher Education Conference in Bangkok, BISP hosts the annual Phuket University Fair. You can take the one-hour flight to beautiful Phuket on Sunday, spend the day on the beach, and then join us for a sunset cocktail reception.
In 2018, nearly 500 students and 90 university representatives attended the fair, making it the largest university related event in Phuket. Following the fair you can either remain in Phuket for a bit of rest, or take the 30-minute drive to the international airport and immediately fly on to your next destination. In addition to BISP students, UWC Thailand, Headstart International School, Kajonkiet International School, and QSI International School of Phuket students, along with local English speaking Thai students, are 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 many excellent students, you can save your institution some money by coming to Phuket!
Watch this space for further details. If you have questions, contact Jacqui Brelsford who will be coordinating this event.
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 (contact Len Peters), Headstart International School (contact Gemma Caines), Kajonkiet International School (contact Martin Poveda), and QSI International School of Phuket (contact Rob Peters).
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 at the taxi kiosk. Except for Grab taxi, local taxis do not take credit cards. To use Grab, you will want to download the Grab Taxi app (similar to Uber) and add your credit card before your arrival in Thailand. Note that some Grab taxis are reluctant to enter the airport. Your hotel can also organise a pick up, but it will 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 or rain can make the trip longer, especially during the “high season” of December to March. Try to arrive at BISP 30 minutes before the student break so that you will have time to speak with the counsellors.
If you will be making multiple school visits you may want to charter a car and a driver for the day since you will not be able to flag down a taxi around most schools. 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 is also an option, but the drivers like to call to confirm, meaning you may want someone who speaks Thai close by to speak to the driver.
Arriving on Campus
Ask the driver to go to Gate 1 in the front of the school and drop you off at the round about that serves as the Primary School entrance. 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. The Information Booth is next to security. They will call us and we will come down to greet you.
If you arrive extra early, you are welcome to spend some time at our “Bake” coffee shop/cafe near the Information booth. They have good coffee and free wifi. If you find you’re running late, please call us at +66 76 335 555.
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 about 30 minutes – longer during the December to March high season. 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 or even longer during the high season.
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 Bang Tao 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, with a large night market each Sunday beginning at 5 PM. 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 and Google Flights provide great ways to compare prices and will show both full service and low cost carriers.
You can also travel by boat and visit Phi Phi or any of the other neighbouring islands. There are tour operators in and around every hotel offering day trip packages so you can make a decision on going an a tour after you arrive in Phuket. These trips only need to be booked the day before so you can check the weather forecast before committing.
This is normally the beginning of the long process in which students start to get a little more serious about school and think about the direction they wish to take their studies. In January, Year 9 students meet with the university counsellors to discuss IGCSE decisions for Year 10. While all students take the core IGCSE courses, there are several elective options that students will want to consider. The IGCSE elective options allow students to get an early indication of the kinds of courses they like – or don’t like – and that can help them make better IB choices later.
A strong start in Year 10 can set the tone for a successful high school career. The student’s focus should be on developing strong study habits, finding success in school and being happy. A high school transcript includes the internal BISP grades earned from Year 10 to Year 13 so it’s important to do as well as possible. There is nothing in particular a Year 10 student needs to do to prepare for university other than have a great year both academically and socially.
In October, the PSAT (also known as Practice or Preliminary SAT) is given to all BISP Year 11 students. The PSAT is an excellent way for students to experience formal standardised testing and to understand what will be expected of them in Year 12, when most will be required to take some form of testing for university admissions. Results are shared with students in December.
In the middle of the academic year, Year 11 students and parents are invited to meet with the university counsellor in order to discuss IB subject choices and the implications these may have on their plans after graduation.
Throughout the year, students are invited to meet with visiting university representatives and attend university fairs to begin to think about the wide variety of higher education options. Students should also consider how they can make their summer holidays fruitful and rewarding.
Year 12 is a very important year as students begin to consider their college and university options. A large number of university representatives come to BISP from countries all over the world. Students are encouraged to have conversations with them so they can compare and contrast the different options.
In the second half of the academic year, students in Year 12 will be asked to get more serious about university planning. Individual meetings are held with students and their parents to talk about the tasks that will need to be completed over the next year based upon the countries being considered. A prospective university list will start to be developed. Discussions about summer options will also be held. This is the last opportunity for students to do something meaningful during their holidays.
One of the topics that will need to be discussed relates to the cost of university. It is important that families have an open conversation about any financial limitations since that is an important aspect when deciding where to apply. Except for top students, finding financial aid is a challenge for international students. It’s important that families have an open conversation with the university counsellor so that an appropriate strategy can be developed.
August to January of Year 13 is a busy time for BISP students applying to universities in Europe and North America. In addition to completing any final admission tests, students will be helped as they prepare their applications and any required essays. Students will have a fairly firm list of universities in which they are applying and once predicted IB results are available in late November, students will finalise their list and apply.
The BISP university counsellors are available to help students with any aspect of their university applications. As offers and decisions begin arriving, students will want to discuss their acceptances with their parents and university counsellor in order to select an institution that best suits their academic, personal, financial, professional, and family needs.
Adding IB courses together with university applications can be stressful time for students. Being organised from the very beginning and using the services offered by the university counsellors can help minimise this stress.
Students who are taking a gap year or applying to Australia or another system with a different application cycle are encouraged to continue to seek assistance from the BISP university counsellors after graduation. Sometimes students find that their university choice does not meet their academic, personal or professional expectations. The university counsellors are happy to provide assistance to alumni wishing to transfer.
A Final Note
Throughout the entire process, from Year 9 to Year 13, open and consistent dialogue between students, their families and 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 or four years.
The university counsellors are there to offer counsel and to give the student the necessary tools to support the university selection and application process. Ultimately it is up to the student to decide where they wish their lives to lead and to be responsible for their own applications.
Depending on the country or countries in which students are applying along with the individual institution or course, students may be required to take one or more standardised tests. The following are the most common tests:
If students are applying to the United States or international universities in some European or Asian countries, they are usually required to take either the SAT (and in a few cases the SAT Subject Tests) or the similar ACT. Students will earn the best scores late in Year 12 and early in Year 13 as they have completed more academic work. These tests can be repeated.
BISP is a SAT testing centre, meaning the SATs can be taken at the school. You will find more information along with test dates on the College Board website. Because BISP reserves seats at our test centre for BISP students, you’ll need to read the instructions on Family Connection to register to take the test at BISP.
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 who will need a visa, must take a special version of the IELTS called the IELTS for UKVI, which in Thailand is only offered in Bangkok. Students applying to US or Canadian universities can take either the IELTS or the TOEFL. Speak with your university counsellor about whether you will need an English proficiency exam.
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, this test should be taken before the Christmas holidays in Year 13.