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Pathway to the Future: What to Look for in a High School to Best Prepare Your Teenager for University

Pathway to the Future: What to Look for in a High School to Best Prepare Your Teenager for University
copyrights JIS.

Choosing the Right High School: Key Factors to Ensure Your Teenager’s Academic and Personal Success in University Preparation.

High school is a pivotal phase in every student’s academic journey, and for parents, it’s crucial to make decisions that can significantly shape their teenager’s future. The school you choose plays an instrumental role in preparing them for what lies ahead.

“It’s not just about academics; it’s about choosing a learning environment that fosters intellectual curiosity, encourages personal growth, and equips students with the necessary skills for university and beyond,” says Edward Wexler, the High School Principal of Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS). “It’s also about finding a space where your child can feel supported and motivated to explore their full potential and deepen their understanding of the world.”

To help parents navigate their search, Mr Wexler and JIS’s experienced team of High School Counsellors highlighted these four key offerings a school should have to best prepare their teenagers for graduation and success at university:

A Diverse Range of Subjects

In addition to the accepted core subjects of English, mathematics, and science, a broad and diverse variety of courses serves more than a student’s academic needs. From modern languages and social sciences to computing, sports, and the performing arts, these learning opportunities promote the exploration of various fields of study, giving students a multitude of avenues to discover their interests.

As they try these different subjects, they begin to learn more about themselves, what they are passionate about, and what they are capable of,” says Mr Wexler. “When the time comes, they will have the full resolve and confidence to decide on a university major — and even a focused career path to pursue.”

copyrights JIS.

A diverse academic background also nurtures critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are valuable strengths in any setting, whether that be educational, personal, or professional, he adds.

JIS High School Counsellor Joe Tavares further underlines the importance for schools to personalise each student’s curriculum and strive to align them with their personal goals and university ambitions. A varied spectrum of subjects ensures both can be implemented at the highest level.

“At JIS, for example, students can take every single maths class in the IB [International Baccalaureate] and AP [Advanced Placement] programmes, which ensures they can take the best-fit courses and be better prepared to study majors that require university-level maths,” Mr Tavares explains. “We offer many language courses, including various levels of Bahasa Indonesia, French, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. We also have many creative arts courses; JIS students can act, dance, draw, paint, and play music while they take other academic classes.”

Such breadth, he says, ensures all students can be appropriately challenged and learn at the highest level to fully prepare them for their journey after high school.

Plenty of Extracurricular Opportunities

While academic performance remains one of the top considerations universities use in a student’s application process, it is widely accepted that they also place a high value on extracurricular activities.

What they look for are multifaceted, well-rounded individuals with diverse interests and experiences,” Mr Wexler says. “Extracurriculars are a fantastic, wholly effective way of fostering these traits. Furthermore, extensive research has shown that engaging in extracurricular activities builds essential life and leadership skills, boosts confidence, develops responsibility and resilience, and greatly benefits mental and physical health.”

Extracurricular activities help students build their confidence and leadership skills.
Extracurricular activities help students build their confidence and leadership skills. copyrights JIS.

Whether it’s through after-school language or arts and crafts clubs, service-learning campaigns, or sports competitions, students who participate in extracurricular engagements tend to show greater academic achievements, character and social development, and community involvement (Christison, 2013).

JIS is a passionate proponent of this approach to balanced education and growth, Mr Wexler adds, urging parents to look for a school that understands the significance of extracurricular involvement and provides a rich array of activities to cater to their child’s diverse interests and talents.

Internationally Recognised Pathway Programmes

Curriculum frameworks like the International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) are known for their academic rigour. They are expertly designed to prepare high school students for the intense challenges of university coursework and expectations, cultivating critical thinking, research, and writing skills while promoting reflective, self-driven learning. IB and AP courses demand the same elevated workload and expectations as universities.

Research conducted by the IB further suggests that IB students have a greater chance of completing their undergraduate degrees than their peers, and they are more likely to be involved in various aspects of university life.

“By taking on the IB or AP, students demonstrate that they are willing to challenge themselves, and that is an attribute that universities around the world hold in high regard,” says JIS High School Counsellor Abigail Wilson.

As one of the few international schools in Indonesia to offer both IB and AP courses, as well as their two-year diploma programmes, JIS allows students to mix and match courses from both as best needed for their individual learning goals.

JIS applies International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum frameworks.
JIS applies International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum frameworks. copyrights JIS.

JIS students can take the full IB Diploma Programme, the IB Career-related Programme, the full AP Capstone, a full slate of IB courses, a full slate of AP courses, or a mix of both IB and AP courses; thus, JIS offers multiple university-level pathways,” explains Ms Wilson. “That flexibility is something that sets JIS apart from other schools.”

Whether your child chooses to take IB or AP courses, or a combination of both, they will not only gain a competitive edge in their university admissions process but also in their academic, co-curricular, and even professional experiences after graduation.

Counsellors to Offer Support and Guidance

School counsellors play a critical role in guiding students as they navigate their academic journey towards university. They help students understand their strengths, interests, and aspirations, and support them in creating a tailored pathway programme of courses that aligns with their goals for university.

As an experienced counsellor himself, Mr Tavares underlines the importance of schools taking every measure to ensure students understand the course choices they have available to them. This can take the form of regular one-on-one guidance sessions with families starting as early as Grade 10.

“With JIS families, for example, counsellors discuss whether they want to take AP courses, IB courses, JIS-developed courses, or a mixture of multiple curricula,” he says. “When students get to Grade 11 and Grade 12, they are faced with literally hundreds of course combinations. I believe JIS families appreciate the academic advice we provide them to ensure they are choosing the right courses.”

Counsellors also provide invaluable support during the university search and application process, offering advice on university choices and guiding students through the application process.

“This process can be mired with complexities,” Mr Wexler explains, referring to multi-tiered requirements such as essays, interviews, standardised tests, and grade transcripts to list just a few. “Individualised support empowers students — and their parents — to navigate their journey with confidence.”

Choosing a school with a solid team of qualified high school counsellors significantly helps ease the process for you and your child, he adds, as they will be on hand to ensure you complete every necessary step.

Additionally, many international schools like JIS will take the extra step of nurturing a close relationship with universities from around the world and connecting with those students are interested in. Their counsellors use these invaluable resources to organise university fairs throughout the academic year, enabling students to speak directly with representatives to gain a better, more concrete understanding of the university experience that may await them.

“JIS students apply to and are accepted to hundreds of universities each year — in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Netherlands, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, and other countries all over the world,” Mr Tavares says. “Consequently, hundreds of universities come to our campus each year.”

JIS students are successfully accepted in well-known international universities
JIS students are successfully accepted in well-known international universities. copyrights JIS.

According to the College Board, universities take into account more than a student’s grade point average or test scores; they also value personal accomplishments, values, and goals. They look for well-prepared, globally-minded students who are going to be involved in school life as musicians, athletes, artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, and everything in between and beyond.

Offering a final piece of advice to parents, Mr Wexler says: “By choosing the right school, or a school that is the best fit for your child, you can ensure your child is not just prepared for university but is empowered with all the academic and social-emotional skills they need to thrive.”

Find out how JIS students achieve academic and personal success through JIS High School pathway programs:

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