Q – What is university counseling?

A – University counseling at Olympia is the multi-step process of university selection and admission in which students are actively involved and fully experience each step. The first step is for students to discover and understand themselves – their desires, needs, and abilities – and for counselors to understand these factors about students just as thoroughly. The next major steps include guiding, assisting, and preparing students to achieve their educational goals after high school.

Q – What is Olympia’s University Counseling Office (UCO)?

A – Olympia’s University Counseling Office (UCO) is an on-campus counseling office dedicated to Olympia students and only Olympia students. Olympia is the first Vietnamese school in Vietnam to have one. Members of the UCO are employees of Olympia. The UCO’s counselors are knowledgeable and experienced university counseling professionals from Vietnam and abroad.

Q – What are the services provided by the UCO, and what are the benefits to my child and me?

A – UCO counselors provide information, advice, resources, and guidance to students who aspire to study college/university abroad. Counseling services are also given to students who would like to attend college/university in Vietnam.  We help students to discover, understand, and prepare for admission to the college/university of their choice.  In short, UCO counselors help Olympia students from A to Z with the university admission process. Some specific types of support, among many, that students receive are:

  • Understanding your choices – You will receive relevant and updated information and sources of information including meetings with university representatives who come to Vietnam
  • Making the right choice – Your needs and wants will be matched with the most appropriate colleges/universities
  • Understanding admission and scholarship requirements - We will assist you with letters of recommendation and provide you with transcripts
  • Preparing to meet the above requirements – We will help you to get accepted by the most suitable schools and to get the best scholarship possible
  • Understanding and preparing for the visa application process – The Olympia Schools has a 100% success rate in helping students to obtain visas to study abroad
  • Understanding and preparing for your travel abroad – You will be going away far from home, and we will help you to prepare for a safe and comfortable journey
  • Understanding and preparing for studying and living in a new culture – This is a very important step in order for you to be successful in school and comfortable in your new life.

A special and important benefit to Olympia students is our unique relationship with them. We have more academic and social interaction with them than anyone else. Therefore, we know and understand our students better than anyone else, except you, their parents, of course. We know their desires, needs, concerns, frustrations, abilities, and dreams. Counselors work closely with our students’ teachers and advisors in order to get a complete and thorough picture of them. The UCO also has all of the tools and resources necessary to provide our students with accurate and comprehensive university counseling. It is very important to note that the UCO provides objective counseling as well. Olympia’s counselors have no external influences to distract them from providing the best counseling possible. It is also very convenient for students to receive counseling because our office is on campus.

Q – How much do UCO services cost?

A – There are no fees or costs associated with UCO services. Counseling services are provided exclusively to Olympia students. This is one of the many services and benefits that the school provides to its students. All fees related to university applications and the student visa to study abroad are paid directly to the relevant universities and embassies. Other fees are also paid directly to the applicable organizations and institutions.

Q – When should my child begin his/her university counseling process?

A – Our philosophy is that it is never too early to begin. However, during grade 9 is when formal counseling usually begins. Do I need to be involved in my child’s university counseling process? A – Absolutely. We highly encourage parents to actively participate, and we welcome parents to visit our office as often as necessary. University counseling is a process that affects not only the student but also the student’s family.

Q – If my child and I use the UCO’s services, should we still consult with a private “study abroad consulting office” in the city?

A – This decision is completely yours. We believe that Olympia’s UCO understands our students better and that the UCO provides even more services and support to our students than private consulting offices could. However, if you feel more comfortable with getting a second opinion, then we encourage you to do so.

Q – What can the UCO guarantee for my child and me?

A – The UCO can guarantee that our students will receive objective, honest, caring, quality, and complete university counseling that will result in choices that are appropriate for them and that match their needs, goals, and abilities. We cannot guarantee admission to universities, scholarships, or student visas to study abroad. In fact, no ethical counseling professional can make guarantees of such things. However, Olympia’s UCO is very proud of our excellent track record of success in these areas.

Q – Can the UCO guarantee my child a student visa to study abroad?

A – The decision to issue a visa or not is solely the authority of the embassy or consulate general of the country in question. In spite of all of the rumors, no one can ethically guarantee anyone a student visa to study abroad. Olympia’s UCO is extremely proud of the assistance that we have been providing to our students for years which has resulted in a 100% “visa success rate.” We have always and will always assist and prepare our students to the best of our ability.

Q – Who will fill out university admission and scholarship applications for my child?

A – Olympia counselors, just like Olympia teachers, believe in “learning by doing.” By actively going through the process themselves, students will gain the knowledge and experience that will help them to secure university admission and scholarships as well as a successful student visa evaluation and/or interview. Of course, students will receive step-by-step guidance and assistance from their counselors.

Q – My child will be attending university in Vietnam. Can the UCO help?

A – Certainly. The UCO exists to assist all Olympia students. UCO counselors work with each student individually but also with the student’s teachers and advisors closely in order to get a complete and thorough picture of them and to help them to achieve their university goals.

Q – What is the best country for my child to go to, and what is the best university to attend?

A – These are two very common questions. The truth is that there is no “best” country or university because “best” depends on the student’s unique situation. The UCO assists our students, along with parents, to determine what is best, and realistic, for them. There are several important factors that affect the choices available to students. These factors must be considered and balanced carefully in order for students and parents to make the best decisions.

Q – What is university accreditation?

A – Generally speaking, accreditation is a process of validation in which institutions of higher learning such as colleges and universities are evaluated. The standards for accreditation are set by a peer review board whose members include faculty from various accredited colleges and universities. The board aids in the evaluation. In most countries, the function of educational accreditation is conducted by a government organization such as the department or ministry of education. The UCO recognizes the importance of accreditation and will always help our students to determine the accreditation status of schools that they are unsure of.

Q – What are university rankings?

A – The ranking system in the US is based on the voluntary participation of the schools. Rankings are lists of participating colleges and universities that are ordered by combinations of ranking factors. In addition to entire institutions, specific programs and departments are ranked. Rankings usually are conducted by well-known magazines, newspapers, journals, websites, and governments (but not the US government). Various rankings consider measures of research excellence, student choices, student satisfaction, the number and rate of degree completion, success after graduation, student and faculty demographics, and many other academic and non-academic criteria. The subject of rankings is still producing much debate about their usefulness and accuracy. There is a definite lack of consensus in this field. Rankings are used by many students and parents, and they certainly can be useful. However, the rankings issue is clearly very complex and controversial. The most important thing to remember is that rankings must be understood and used in an appropriate context.

Q – What is the best major and career for my child?

A – This is a very common question, and, of course, there has never been an easy answer. We believe that the “best” major and career for our students is the one that allows them to maximize their potential. Needless to say, the answer also depends on each student’s unique situation. Several important factors such as the student’s abilities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, needs, desires, and dreams must be realistically assessed and balanced in order for the student to reach his/her goals and realize his/her full potential. Along with parents, the UCO assists our students to identify, understand, strengthen, and further develop such factors to the student’s benefit.

Q – What can my child do to be accepted by top schools?

A – First, it is important to understand the requirements and expectations of these schools. Second, students will want to fully assess themselves to identify areas where they are strong and take advantage of these strengths. Proper assessment will also help to identify areas that need improvement. It is crucial that while reaching for the stars, students keep at least one foot on the ground. Third, an action plan has to be made. Lastly, act… that is, the action plan must be implemented and monitored carefully and regularly. Olympia and its UCO office are dedicated to doing these exact things for our students.

Q – Which factors are the most important in university admission?

A – Every university has its own process for evaluating applicants for admission. Even though selectivity may differ, the following factors usually are factors considered in the decision-making process:

  • Academic achievements – the better the information found on the student’s academic transcript, the better the student’s chance of being admitted to a desirable school
  • The high school curriculum – has the student challenged him/herself with rigorous and meaningful academic courses?
  • Extracurricular activities and achievements – universities value applicants who have excelled beyond their books and classroom walls and have contributed to the school and to the community (quality is more important than quantity) because such commitments also reveal a great deal about the student’s personal qualities, values, and strengths
  • Standardized tests – superior scores from tests such as the IELTS, TOEFL, SAT, and ACT are often required by top schools and, in many cases, required for scholarships
  • The university application – it is important that this document is prepared accurately, completely, and neatly so that it can be read and understood easily because it is the first representation of the applicant that the university will have
  • Recommendation letters – usually are required by top universities and are useful even if not needed because they allow schools additional and different perspectives and evaluations of the student and also serve as confirmation of what the student has claimed on his/her application
  • The personal statement/essay – this is actually an opportunity for the student to represent and “show” him/herself in a more personal manner, and most universities do require a personal statement or essay because many selective schools place a great emphasis on the applicant’s writing skills and his/her chosen topic
  • The personal interview – although not required by many schools for admission anymore, but it is almost always required for honors programs, highly competitive programs, and special scholarships
  • Supplementary materials – students pursuing majors in art, photography, music, drama, or architecture are usually required to submit a portfolio or audition because performance is a very important factor in the admission process for these fields.

Based on the student’s unique situation and available choices, Olympia’s university counselors will guide and assist accordingly.

Q – Can my child still study abroad even if his/her grades and/or English proficiency are a bit low or even if we are not “rich?”

A – Definitely. All major English-speaking countries offer a variety of quality educational pathways leading to university graduation. UCO counselors will help to determine exactly how low is “low,” what is rich and not rich, what the alternatives are, what the most suitable choice is, and what needs to be done in order to achieve the goal of studying abroad.

Q – How can my child get a 100% scholarship?

A – Depending on the chosen country, 100% or full scholarships may or may not be available. In the US, full scholarships are rare and are usually available only to extremely accomplished students. Other countries, if they offer full scholarships, typically are a bit less demanding than the US. However, it is very important to note that it also depends on the policies of the individual schools, and regardless of the country, 100% scholarships are generally given only to excellent students. In addition, top schools usually do not need to offer full scholarships in order to attract students. On the other hand, many top universities abroad are trying to internationalize their student population and do offer extremely generous scholarships (up to 100%) in order to attract top international students.