What's the best way to connect with students? International school counsellors provide tips and advice for universities
Katryna Snow CIS Associate Director of Higher Education Services


By Katryna SnowAssociate Director of Higher Education Services, CIS



Our university members asked for advice from school counsellors during our recent series of webinars Monitoring a changing landscape: Counsellor conversations on how to best connect with their students at this uncertain time. 

We’ve outlined their tips and advice below.

  • “Having groups of universities come together and present at one time [is helpful]. I know some universities have hosted webinars—some of them specifically on how to do applications or writing a personal statement and I think that’s really helpful because it carries a different weight when it’s coming from a university. Questions and answers with current students is [also] a great idea.”—Kathleen Leishear, American School of Brasilia, Brazil
  • “In terms of [virtual] programmes [universities can offer], have the programme around a topic. If it’s around ‘writing the essay’ or about ‘applying to schools in Canada’ I think the engagement might be higher than an individual visit.”—Paul Sweet, St. Mary’s International School, Japan
  • “It would be very helpful if we could have groups of universities presenting together—“like” groups—a liberal arts group or a research university group [for example]. That would be really helpful for students to access a lot of information at once.”—Sky Riber, International School of Tanganyika, Tanzania

Join us for University Exploration Days

CIS member universities can meet students at international schools worldwide at our University Exploration Days. Check our events list for upcoming dates.


  • “Bring the student voice to the table. Webinars that have included a current student at your institution, even better if they’re from our region – that has really helped students connect with that imminent question of ‘what is my life going to be like there?’”—Roshan Gujar, Cedar International School, British Virgin Islands
  • “When the universities have the ‘day of the life of a student’ videos, I always think those personal touches from students [are nice]. Because you can’t visit campus right now you don’t get that feel. Anything that can make [a virtual presentation] more personal.”—Ryan Hinchey, ACS Cobham International School, United Kingdom
  • They want more up-to-date information. What’s the situation where you are? How does the school handle it if there is something that happens [related to COVID]? How is teaching conducted? How are students supported both academically and socially and emotionally?”—Dwayne Zamora, Taipei European School, Taiwan
  • “If you are planning programmes [online or summer] that you’re trying to market to our  students, I would encourage some times that might work for our students in this time zone.”—Sonja Phongsavanah, Yew Chung International School of Shanghai, China
  • “We are a large continent in Africa, and we’ve had issues where time zones didn’t work for our students. Maybe they worked for students in West Africa, but not for us in East Africa. Some universities have split into a ‘West African seminar’ and an ‘East African seminar’ and I think that’s been more successful.”—Jim Barekman, International Community School of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Learn more from counsellors

For more insights from international school counsellors during the webinar series Monitoring a changing landscape: Counsellor conversations, read our accompanying post Taking the pulse of international students: What do their university decisions look like in 2021?


  • “More handholding through the visa process. Just really being clear and available to answer any kind of questions surrounding how the student gets there and what happens to the student once they get there. It’s possible that parents may not be able to travel with their [child to university] because of quarantine requirements. Just being able to facilitate that even more than you normally would.”—Kaersten Deeds, Dulwich College Seoul, South Korea
  • “Make the [virtual] opportunities that you do have really easy to find on [your] website.”—Keith Layman, International School of Düsseldorf, Germany
  • “[Students] would like more information on the university [websites] about how they’re dealing with the pandemic, and not just at the university or institution level but more locally, and then expanding it to the state and countrywide. Also, the requirements for when they enter the country: quarantine, any specific health screening or tests that they need. They spend a lot of time researching it on their own. [My students] request that universities make it all available for them on their websites.”—Maria Bibler, International School Ho Chi Minh City - American Academy, Vietnam 


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