At Park Lane International School, members of the Secondary Management Team, including the School Principal, are ready to assist and support students and parents as they begin negotiating the confusing labyrinth of the university application process. We are ready to answer students’ and parents’ concerns about entry qualifications, accessibility to degree programmes and availability of scholarships to universities in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australasia and Europe, including the best opportunities available at prestigious universities in the Czech Republic.
Counseling students about universities and careers begins properly when they reach Year 9 and are beginning to engage in the process of choosing their elective IGCSE courses. At this stage, students and parents will also be in receipt of their Cambridge International Checkpoint test results and feedback report. Our university admissions counselors will also offer the US ReadiStep exam for Year 9 and Year 10 students, the US PSSS for Year 11 as well as the PSAT for students in Year 12. Careers awareness also starts in Year 9 and continues as students progress towards the IB Diploma Programme. Once students have completed their mid-year IGCSE mock examinations in Year 11, advice is given to them about which IB subjects they need for certain courses at university, ensuring that students will have taken the correct courses they will need for university entrance two years later. For potential US applicants, special SAT preparation lessons will be given to students in Years 12 and 13. For potential applicants to UK universities, preparatory sessions will be organized should a student need to pass the IELTS (English proficiency) examination. Year 12 students begin serious university counseling in the Spring term, so that they can begin contacting universities over the summer before they enter Year 13.
Our university guidance booklet (updated annually) will provide our students with key dates for visits to Prague by admissions officers from various international universities. It will also provide hints on how to write personal statements and university essays, and will confirm the deadlines and selection standards applicants must meet.
The IB Diploma section of the Secondary School will include a library of relevant data, including general guide books, test preparation materials, university catalogues, DVDs of universities and an experienced specialist will be on hand to answer all student and parent queries. Two University Guidance Evenings will be hosted each year, the first for parents of Year 13 students, and one in the second half of the academic year for parents of Year 12 students. The school will also collaborate with other international schools and national gymnasia, to ensure the full participation of Park Lane students at many university fairs held in Prague, including advice sessions held by deans of admissions from various countries on our own premises. Over the next few years, our secondary school personnel will develop strong ties with universities in all parts of the world in order to ensure that our graduates will be able to compete for placements atmany of the world’s top-ranked universities.
Nowadays, to be successful, international university applicants need to fulfill a range of requirements. In our case, these can be summarized as follows:
1) Best possible IB Diploma scores and IGCSE grades;
2) A strong extracurricular record, including (where possible), proven leadership skills, community service, public speaking and debating experience. Other talents and interests (whether sporting, artistic, musical, etc.) also lend support to the application.
3) A good record of relevant work experience. For example, an applicant for medical school should have completed at least two periods of voluntary work or observations in appropriate medical contexts.
4) An excellent school recommendation reflecting upon points 1-3 above.
5) A persuasive personal statement (UK) and/or autobiographical and other essays (USA, Canada and other countries).
At Park Lane, all necessary measures will be taken to ensure that our graduates understand and meet these criteria. Our system of issuing Merits for Achievement will aid the university application process and the establishment of organisations such Model United Nations, Science, Environment and Technology clubs, Community and Charitable Service ventures and a Young Entrepreneurs initiative will provide ample opportunities for older students to gain practical skills and experiences which will strengthen their university prospects and future life chances.
As a relatively small-scale school, we will be able to work strategically with each individual applicant and his/her parents over a period of years to help define future degree and career paths and make our applicants as competitive as possible. In this regard, applicants for Oxford and Cambridge will receive full support in preparation for those universities’ unique selection requirements. Finally, wherever a university conducts formal interviews with its applicants – as is the case with applicants for medical degrees in the UK - the school will prepare the applicant thoroughly by organizing mock interview panels.
Should any Park Lane parent wish to seek specific advice on the topic of university applications, our Principal, Mr Paul Ingarfield, will be very happy to assist.