NIS Stories

Supporting Pathways Beyond NIS

Graduates of the class of 2020 slap hands in congratulations.One of the essential questions on the minds of prospective families when considering school options is, “What kind of choices will my child have for their future?” In other words, what does the college pathway look like for NIS students? Can students attend a Japanese university? What options are available in other countries? Are students able to get scholarships? These aren’t easy questions to answer because all students are as unique as their dreams are varied, but we know that these are important questions that families and students need to consider, and NIS is committed to helping each student find their best-fit path to a future that they envision.

A Great Team!

Ms. Hayashida and Mr. Moody are the college counselors at NIS, and from as early as Grade 9, they are engaged with students to help them start the often-times long process of figuring out what they will do after they leave NIS as a graduate. As college counselors, they have specific roles - Ms. Hayashida is the counselor for students applying to universities within Japan and Mr. Moody is the counselor for schools outside of Japan, primarily in North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand. And although that difference requires some specialized knowledge, they are a united team of support, working together to help students decide which field of study, which possible country, and, finally, which university or college they may wish to consider. The class of 2022 pose with their college counselors.

Mr. Moody considers his role as one to boost the students’ confidence, encourage students to challenge themselves and to advocate for them. Moody encourages his students to “think outside of the box” and look beyond the big-name institutions. He’s been around long enough to know that with the variety of universities  - and now countries, for instance, Holland -  looking for IBDP students the caliber of NIS students, they would be selling themselves short to only consider the name-brand universities like the Ivy League or popular destinations like the California system. Moody enjoys helping students by introducing universities that have scholarship or honors programs in which NIS students have proven to be very successful.

Ms. Hayashida sees her role as more ‘tending her flock’ as opposed to leading it. Her goal for students is to get them to think and act independently, support them with information on where to seek the knowledge they need to make decisions, and then answer questions as they get deeper into their own searches. All of these are skills, she knows, needed to be successful university students and, indeed, successful and happy adults. With more and more programs of study available for international school students in Japan - especially IBDP students - Hayashida makes sure that students have access to all the information they need to do their research. “There is nothing more rewarding than to see the students start to do the research, consider their options, and then take the next steps to apply.” She’s there along the way to help make sure that all of the necessary steps are completed, and when they hit the ‘send’ button on the online application form, she loves to see the sense of accomplishment - and relief - that they have.

It's a Process!

In actuality, however, hitting the send button is the culmination of many one-on-one discussions and consultations, and sometimes also with parents. ”A small school like NIS has the ability to really know the students and understand what motivates them. Sometimes it may just be noticing that they have a particular talent for art or music or noticing what clubs they are involved in that might shine a light on their passion for social justice or interest in science. These lead to discussions that help the students start framing their college application journey.” commented Moody.

In addition to updates on programs and study opportunities available to the students, there are ‘Information Nights’ held for Gr. 11 students and their parents There are also events with representatives from admissions offices of colleges and universities (many held virtually in the last couple of years) that help students to gain other perspectives. Just recently, an in-person event was held for the Gr. 11 students with four different Japanese universities that sent representatives and set up booths in the East Lobby.A student and her mother talk with a representative of a university at a college fair. Students and parents were able to ask questions and receive information directly - a first since the pandemic hit. As a bonus, two NIS alumni were on hand to help parents and students understand the bigger picture of what it is like to be a college student and beyond. Thanks to the counseling department, several other alumni visits were also arranged this year. It is always helpful to hear real accounts of the joys and struggles of college life from their Dolphin senpai!

And starting this year, the counseling department had one class period every two weeks set aside to work directly with the students about the mechanics of how the process works  - from how to do an internet search to how to fill out applications and get the required supplemental documents. This class is for Gr. 10, 11, and 12 and was catered to each with their own unique needs along the process. This time spent together throughout the academic year was such a success that the program will continue next year as well. 

Deciphering the Many Pathways

But what if a student doesn’t want to go to college just yet? Or maybe not at all? The answer is almost always that the student doesn’t necessarily not want to go, but that they are lacking in the self-confidence or self-awareness to know what they want to pursue in the future. This is where the personalized touch that NIS counselors offer is so beneficial. A student and his parents talk with a college counselor at college fair.Because they know the students, they can ask the right questions that can lead to the underlying concerns to help them work with students to push their thinking further. And because they are knowledgeable about different options, ranging from specialty programs in community colleges to four-year programs, they can help point students in the right direction. As Moody stated, “College is a lot more than just academics; it is a place for students to find themselves and figure out who they are.” Given that, both counselors have a very special place along the high school journeys of NIS students. And as you can see from the statistics from the class of 2022, they do it well. 

NIS has had students graduate from the big-name institutions and from community colleges. We’ve had students matriculate into a Japanese university through recommendation and through entrance examinations. There is no “it cannot be done,” but there might be some roads that take more determination and higher IBDP scores than others. It can be a roller coaster of drama and intrigue for both the students and their parents, but the day the final decisions are made, there is no better feeling than knowing that the students are off on a journey of their design - off to a wide world that is theirs to capture with their abilities to Inquire, Inspire, and make an Impact!


Interested in learning more about where our Alumni's journeys take them? Click below to read our Alumni Feature, Dolphin Tales!