College Guidance

Student Support


College Counseling

CIS has an extensive College Counseling Program, which helps and guides students while looking into their needs and abilities, and ultimately into the right career path. Our College Counseling office works with students as early as Grades 9 & 10 to prepare for their college and university choices. Our College Counselor partners with students and provides a 1-on-1 support to guide students through the process of determining interests, educational career goals, family decisions, and then helps students to navigate through the university admissions process.

CIS invested in the Cialfo College Counseling program, which is a wonderful resource for students, giving them easy access to information, to discover the right college for them.

Over the years CIS graduates have been accepted at prestigious colleges in many countries, and in some cases, as a result of being IB students, have been awarded valuable scholarships to help with their studies.

Ask The Counselor

I want to apply to universities in the UK, how do I apply and what are the requirements?

To apply to the United Kingdom, you need to apply via the UCAS system. UCAS stands for Universities and Colleges Admissions which is a centralised service students use to apply to universities and colleges in the United Kingdom. A student needs to create an account on ucas.com and link his application to Cebu International School. 

There are 3 main requirements for an application:  a) A personal statement b) A teacher recommendation and c) IB Predicted Grades or your grades in Grade 12. 

How do I link my UCAS application with my high school?

When creating your UCAS account, the website will ask you for a UCAS buzzword. The buzzword is a password that you obtain from your college counselor. Once you input this buzzword, it will link your application to your high school if your school is a UCAS registered centre.

Is Cebu International School a UCAS registered centre?

Yes, CIS is a UCAS registered centre. Therefore, any senior at CIS may apply to the United Kingdom via the UCAS system and link their application with the school. Once their application is linked with the school, they choose a program, 5 institutions, submit a personal statement and pay a fee of £24. After  payment, the student informs the college counselor and the counselor submits the reference and predicted grades to UCAS.  

When do UK universities release decisions?

UK universities start releasing decisions at the end of January through March.  

I got a conditional offer, what does this mean?

A conditional offer means there are conditions in order for a student to be admitted to the University. For instance, a student may be admitted to the University of Edinburgh for the Political Science program if the student earns an IB Diploma at 35 points with HLs at 665. This means the student can only enroll at this university once he earns the IB Diploma with 35 points or higher and all his HL subjects should have a final mark of 6, 6 and 5.

What is the Common App and which universities are linked to the Common App?

The Common Application (Common App)  is platform for an undergraduate college admission application that applicants may use to apply to any of more than 800 member colleges and universities in 49 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in Canada, China, and many European countries. All applications are submitted electronically which includes document submissions like transcripts and recommendations.  

What is the advantage of using the Common App?

The Common App saves time and effort in completing multiple college applications.  It cuts down paperwork and cost of mailing application documents since all submissions are electronic.  

What universities are members of the Common App?

The list of member universities globally are found in this  linkhttps://www.commonapp.org/files/search/MemberList8_18.pdf .

What are the Common App Essay Prompts for School year 2019 – 2020?

2019-2020 Common Application Essay Prompts  – Students will need to choose one of these essay prompts in addition to specific questions provided by universities.

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

What is the difference between the IB Diploma, IB Certificates and the CIS HS Diploma?

The IB Diploma is a qualification awarded by the IB after studying the curriculum for 2 years and culminating in external examinations in May in the final year of high school.  To earn the IB Diploma, one has to take 3 Higher level subjects and 3 Standard level subjects and fulfill the core requirements in Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Extended Essay (EE) and Creativity, Activity & Service (CAS).  

Taking IB Certificates means a student takes the IB exams for specific subjects.  They can choose a minimum of one subject (any level) up to 6 subjects. Most US universities do not require the IB Diploma for admission but students earn credit with their HL certificates if their marks range from 5 to 7.  The IB credit scale for universities in the US is dependent on the institution.  

The CIS HS Diploma is earned by all students who complete the requirements of graduation after Grade 12.  This means studying 6 subjects (with the option to take all SL) and taking internal exams at the end of the year set by their subject teachers.  Students also need to fulfill the TOK, EE and CAS requirements to earn this diploma.  The CIS HS diploma is equivalent to a North American diploma. In addition, our WASC (Western Association of School’s & Colleges) and CIS (Council of International School’s) accreditation, is recognized by major universities abroad.  If a student is a graduate of an accredited school, they usually waive the English Proficiency requirement and a student is eligible to apply for admission.

I plan to apply to universities in Canada.  Do I need to take the SAT exams?

Most universities in Canada recognize the IB Diploma as an admission requirement so they do not require SAT scores for students to be eligible to apply.  However, if a student is not a candidate for the IB Diploma, some Canadian institutions require a standardized test exam score like the SAT or ACTs.

I am applying to the USA for university.  What is the difference between Early Decision (ED), Early Action (EA), Regular Decision (RD) and Rolling Admissions?

Early Decision (ED) is a binding application to one university.  A student can apply ED only to one institution. If a student is admitted, he/she is obliged to enroll in the institution.  One has to be absolutely certain that if admitted, they will attend and can afford to pay the fees at the university. ED deadlines are usually earlier, either in mid-October or early November in senior year.

Early Action (EA) is an early application to any university and a student can apply EA to a number of universities.  It is not a binding application and if admitted, a student is not obliged to enrol. The advantage of applying EA is knowing their admission decisions early, usually before Christmas.  This removes the stress in the second semester of senior year and one can focus on their academic tasks especially the upcoming IB Diploma exams.

Regular Decision is an application where one submits at the regular deadline set by the university.  RD deadlines are usually January 1st or January 15th of senior year.  

Rolling Admissions is an application system where the university accepts applications anytime during the school year of a student’s senior year.  Acceptance may be limited if the slots are filled to capacity. Students who apply to universities with Rolling Admissions are advised to apply early.

What is financial aid?

Financial aid is funding that helps one pay for college education.

What are the types of financial aid?

Financial aid may be:

  • Merit-based : based on a student’s accomplishments in academics, talent and/or extra-curricular activities.  Eligibility to this type of aid is not based on a family’s ability to pay or family finances.
  • Need-based : eligibility of a student is based on an evaluation of family finances
  • Grants/Scholarships/Gift Aid: awards that do not need to be repaid
  • Loans – funding that must be repaid

Does a student need to apply to qualify for financial aid?

It depends on the institution.  Some universities will automatically award merit-based scholarships based on a student’s application portfolio which includes academic reports, extra-curricular activities, personal essays and teacher/counselor references

In some cases, institutions will indicate that a student needs to apply for a scholarship if they need financial aid to go to college.

What does the Cost of Attendance to college include?

Direct Costs:  tuition & fees, room and board (if on campus)

Indirect Costs:  Books, supplies, transport, personal expenses

Universities publish the costs of attending their institution and usually have a tuition price calculator.

What is FAFSA and the CSS Profile?

FAFSA is  the Free Application for Federal Student Aid which is completed by current and incoming college students to receive federal aid.  FAFSA is only for American Citizens. Filling in the FAFSA is free

The CSS Profile is the College Scholarship Service profile which is a form on the College Board website.  This is used by colleges to determine a student’s eligibility for scholarship. This is used by international students (non-American citizens) to qualify for financial aid in most US universities. 

Both FAFSA and CSS Profile will require in-depth information into a family’s finances which includes income, expenses, assets and liabilities.  

Why do some American citizens still need to submit the CSS Profile?

FAFSA provides federal grants, loans and other types of government assistance while the CSS Profile is used to gauge how much non-federal financial aid a student may need.

Where can I find scholarship opportunities in the USA?

There is a “financial aid” tab on almost any university’s website.  Take time to do your research and look at eligibility requirements and how much scholarships are awarded versus the total cost of attendance.  

This link is also a useful scholarship search tool provided by the College Board:


University & Institution Visits

Many representatives from universities around the world visit CIS throughout the school year and direct university consultations are regularly offered to students to guide them through this major life decision processes. Students and parents are welcome to attend these university visits throughout the school year.

For more information, please contact Ms. Jenny Basa, CIS College Counselor: jbasa@cis.edu.ph

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