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US Counselor Updates: How to Choose the Right College?


Hui Qin Chan

Counsellor at CURIO Education

  • Former Arts Peer Mentor at The University of Melbourne 
  • Former Global Officer at Monash University’s Study Abroad Department
  • Ranked in the top 10 percent of IB grades globally upon finishing high school
  • Visual Artist for MudFest (Melbourne University’s Art Festival) in 2017
  • Featured visual artist in Antithesis Journal Volume 27 and Farrago Magazine Edition 5 in 2017
  • Intern at Shanghai Daily and at F&T group
  • Multicultural upbringing with living abroad experience  in five countries to date



Hello students!

Welcome to my first college counseling related blog post. This is my first serious attempt to write a blog, so do pardon me for any faux pas. I am always open to suggestions and improvements, so if you ever have one (or many) along our journey together, please please please send me a message on your preferred platform (you know what they are if I’m your counselor!). 🙂

How to Choose the Right College

“The Right Fit”, a concept that is rather common in the US but foreign to Asian-born and bred ears? Does it really matter, especially when you’re going to be sent halfway across the world – doesn’t it make more sense to base your college list fully on rankings?

WELLLL do you pick your clothes based on what is the priciest outfit? Or on what looks and feels good on you? And if it’s the former then…

Fit is like finding the right dress or outfit to wear – the same outfit may look very different on different bodies. Just because one person likes a certain outfit doesn’t mean another will! The same applies to colleges – just because one student finds a certain college suitable for them, does not mean another will – and that is OKAY!

So how do we go about finding the schools that are the right fit for you?

You should consider a myriad of different factors that will impact your college life.

This includes, but is not limited to:

1. Size
2. Academic Environment
3. Academic Offering
4. Cost
5. Religion
6. Ethnicity
7. Co-Ed/Single Gender
8. Student Body
9. Student Life
10. Activities
11. Name vs Fit
12. Selectivity
13. Location

There are more details on this on Antonoff’s College Values and Qualities Worksheet, which provides you with a comprehensive and well laid-out document to better analyze your preferences.

You are also more than welcome to try out Corsava, which has a more animated and ‘game-like’ format that will assist you in formulating their college fits. 

When you have completed either assessment, please send it to me. I will be using this initial list of preferences to start hunting down the best fit colleges for you! 😀


1.1 College Fairs

College Fairs are SOOOO fun to visit! Admissions officers from the US (and any other country you are considering) fly in just to speak to prospective students. More often than not, you can also get some cute trinkets like pens, badges, or posters of the schools. #schoolpride!!! I am hoping that college fairs will happen again once the effect of the coronavirus has passed. Here are some college fair events to keep an eye on if you are in China (Shanghai in particular)!

Also, do your best to make a good impression on the admissions officers that you will be speaking to. You will make an impression, either way, so you don’t wanna be an idiot and leave a bad scar on your future application because you asked silly questions. 😛

How not to be a silly duck in college fairs:

  1. Do your research on the schools that are attending the fair – especially those that you are thinking of applying in the future.
  2. Dress to impress and introduce yourself – name, school, major of interest are good starting points.
  3. Ask specific questions – especially if they are not on the school website!
  4. Sign up for the school’s mailing list if you are interested.
  5. Write a ‘Thank You’ email to the admissions officer when you get home~

The above steps will help you leave a good impression on the admissions officers, which in turn, will help you show a genuine demonstrated interest in the school. 


1.2 College Visit – How to make the most out of it as an international student?

It’s a bummer that we weren’t able to go on Curio’s School Tour this year because of CoVid19, but no fear! There are still ways for you to “visit campus” without ever having to set foot on it. The following websites provide fun video tours around many different university campuses for you to explore!


Also, sign up for your school of interests’ mailing list – many schools are creating their on-campus tours given the lockdown and are sharing the links to the specialized school tours via email! 🙂

Once this virus is over, come to join us for our school tours! Won’t try to pitch it here since the details are on the link. 😉


Application Timeline

Hello freshmen!

As you enter your sophomore year in the following fall, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Consult your counselor as to class selection! The US is more forgiving with class choices, but the UK has stringent requirements depending on major. 
  2. Begin building relationships with your school teachers. They will be writing letters of recommendation for you in 11th grade!
  3. Join clubs and societies at your school. If they don’t have the club you want to join – create it! Quality and depth of impact are more important than quantity. 
  4. Start prepping for your TOEFL exam if you haven’t already! The ideal scenario is to have your TOEFL at 110+ in the summer between 10th and 11th grade so that you can focus on SAT/ACT in the Fall of 11th grade*. 
  5. You and your counselor will begin major, career and/or college research** to help you better determine what you would like to learn in your 4 years at college!
  6. Sign up for Curio’s mentoring program if you haven’t already! More details on our mentoring program in the clickable link. 🙂

*The testing timeline is extremely dependent on student ability. 

** Dependent on student’s personal circumstances (ie. Do they already have a major/career they know they want to pursue? Do they have English language skills to do quality college research?)

Juniors and seniors, I haven’t forgotten about you – do hop onto Curio’s Application Timeline For Grade 11 and 12th graders if you need a refresher on what we are doing, and when we are supposed to do it – although I’m sure you are already getting a million messages from your mentor every day to remind you of what needs to be done! 😛


Additional Reading: Freshmen aren’t too young to be thinking about college. Here’s why!


So far, if you have any questions regarding US college research and application timeline, please feel free to leave a message by filling in the form below. I am here to support you! See you next week!

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