Careers Service

Introduction to University Applications Guidance

New Cairo British International School helps students build upon their positive experiences at NCBIS to gain admission into colleges and universities all over the world. Applying to colleges and universities is an exciting and revealing experience which gives you a chance to look at who you are, what you value, and what you might want to do with your life. It can also be a complicated, demanding and time-consuming process, which is why NCBIS limits the number of applications to ten. The NCBIS Head of Careers helps guide, support and counsel students as you research universities/colleges, make choices, select and visit universities and complete applications.

Student responsibilities in the University Application Process
For students in Year 12 and 13, the university application process is the first step towards individual independence. It is a complicated, demanding and time-consuming process. It can also be an exciting and enriching experience. You will have to do a lot of research and spend a lot of time filling out applications and writing personal essays. However, this will give you a chance to look at who you are, what you value and what you want to do with your life. You will have to make some important decisions, develop self-reliance and confidence, and perhaps for the first time think about life on your own, outside the environment of your family life. Due to the time required to complete successful university applications, NCBIS limit students to 10 applications in total.

Where do you want to study?
When asking this question, you should first realise that the IB Diploma is a rigorous and demanding programme that provides you with a first-class preparation for you future after NCBIS. Students follow a course of study with a global reputation for academic excellence, and universities throughout the world recognise the IB Diploma as an entrance qualification to higher education degree courses. In some countries, such as the United States or Canada, the IB Diploma qualifies students for advance placement or academic credits; furthermore, students with the IB Diploma are accepted at a higher rate at selective US universities than those with other qualifications. In general, European universities prefer the IB Diploma for entrance over IB Diploma Courses results. European and Canadian universities may require a SAT, if a student only has Diploma Courses.

Introduction to UK Universities

The academic system in higher education in the UK is course (subject) based. Students apply for a specific course to pursue at university, such as English, and focus solely on the one or combined subject programme they have selected to study. The majority of the undergraduate degree programmes in the UK (except for Scotland) take three years to complete. Within this system, there are no general education requirements and few elective subjects outside of the course area. If you have a specific interest in a subject area and are certain this is the subject you would like to study at university, then the UK system is a good choice. If you would also like to focus in one or two areas of study and not have to take classes in other areas, this system provides that opportunity. Some of the course areas are more open to an interdisciplinary approach than others, such as European Studies or combined honours programmes. Applications to all UK public universities are completed through the UCAS system. Students may select a total of five courses. Usually, conditional offers are based only on IB predicted grades that are submitted by the Head of Careers to UCAS. Every course from each university lists the entry profile for IB predicted grades that are required for acceptance into the course.

Interesting research links for UK Universities – The universities and colleges admissions service website for the UK – Course comparisons at universities Guardian online newspaper with UK university rankings and other useful information - The Times online newspaper with UK university information. – IB student guide to the UK

Introduction to US Universities

Universities and colleges in the US are based on a liberal arts system in which students choose the institution and study a broad range of subjects during the first two years before selecting a final subject as a major for the final two years. Except for certain majors, such as engineering and other professional programmes, most students take a variety of courses that provide a general, broad education. The “core” requirements of a liberal arts education help ensure all students have a breadth of knowledge when they graduate, in addition to their specialised area. This academic approach is great for students who are not sure what course or major they would like to study.

The application process in the US is somewhat more complicated than other systems, such as the UK and Canada. Universities and colleges in the US set their own criteria for determining who gets admitted. Although many schools take the Common Application which allows students to fill out one form to submit online to school, most competitive schools also have supplementary essays. In addition, schools have a variety of deadlines and set their own policies regarding SAT requirements and other required materials. For this reason, it is very important that for you to keep track of what each school requires and to be very organised with your applications.

Interesting research links for the US – Information about SATs, scholarships, My College QuickStart, and college searches – The Common Application website – The Princeton Review site for college information – The Chronicle of Higher Education publication website – The National Association for College Admission Counselors – An interesting research website from the students’ perspective – College guides written by students covering every aspect of college life – IB guide to US university applications

Introduction to Canadian Universities

Canada offers a great academic system for studying at university and has developed a first-rate education system with high standards and academic credentials valued the world-over. The academic approach is closer to the liberal arts than the course-based system, although students apply to general programmes or faculties within the university. In addition, the application process is amazingly simple for international students – it is academic-based, so acceptances are evaluated on transcripts (term grades) and predicted IB grades. Most universities place emphasis on Year 11, 12 and 13, although some schools require Year 10 grades as well. The application does not require essays, teacher or Head of Careers recommendations, or SATs. For students who have completed only DP Courses, SAT may be required from some schools. Students apply online for an academic programme or faculty at the institutions, for example the Applied Sciences programme, or the Faculty of Humanities. Each university in Canada has its own policy regarding admission requirements and indicates on its website the number of IB Diploma points that the schools seeks in a candidate, although both the transcript and the predicted IB grades are equally important. Students with an IB Diploma are accepted at McGill University into the second year, and therefore the undergraduate degree programmes are three years. Since students apply for a faculty, you should be aware of the requirements for your general area of study. For example, in the Sciences and Math Faculties, IB Mathematical Studies is not acceptable, although it is for the Humanities Faculties.

Interesting research links for Canada – Useful site guide for higher education in Canada - Directory of all Canadian universities - Annual rankings and review of Canadian universities - Ontario Universities Application System - Canada’s most comprehensive scholarship portal. This extensive database can help find scholarships, student awards, bursaries and grants, in addition to information about student loans, applications and budget planning – IBO information regarding the Canadian Application system

Other English Speaking Universities

Every year, students apply to other English speaking universities all over the world including Ireland, Australia, the Netherland and Germany. The IB Diploma is accepted at English speaking schools around the world and therefore, students submit their IB results for admission. Students must notify the IB Coordinator to request that the IBO makes their results available to the university. The Head of Careers will help to gather all necessary supporting documents, wherever you decide to apply. Usually, the student’s application section is completed online and paid for with a credit card. The school will send paper copies of transcripts and recommendations, unless an online system is available, via DHL once the DHL cost has been paid. The countries in the southern hemisphere have school years that begin later (usually around February) so the applications are usually submitted from July to September, after the student has already graduated. Students are responsible for submitting all the required documents for admission within the deadlines.

Applying to American University of Cairo (AUC)

AUC frequently changes their admission requirements. Please check their website,, for the most up to date information.


Resources for researching courses and universities

The official UCAS (University Counseling webpage)

Students applying to UK universities must apply through the UCAS site ( for most courses. This site has all the information students need to research courses, universities, get advice for writing the personal statements, and more.

University websites

Every college and university maintains it own website offering all information on courses, programmes, course and application requirements, and even virtual tours of the campus.

Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter

Universities offer social networks with current students as well as videos and other forms of communication for prospective students to gather more information about schools


Eunicas is website ( which can search all university programmes in Europe which are taught in English. Please note that fees quoted are for EU nationals/residence. Not recommended that you apply through Eunicas, but just use it as a reference tool.

Reference Materials

The school maintains a university reference section in the school library and the Head of Careers Office which included university prospectus, university brochures and university guidebooks. Some of the very helpful guidebooks include: The Times Good University Guide, How to complete your UCAS application, How to write your UCAS personal statement, the Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges.

Summer and School Holiday visits

Students should plan to visit universities where they have an interest in applying. This is an excellent way to help narrow your college choices. In the UK, Open Days – where the university departments open their doors to introduce prospective students to the facilities, tutors and programmes – are an excellent way to learn more about the course and university. Universities list their Open Days on their websites as well as under Open Days on the UCAS site. Most universities also offer daily tours or self-guided walks.

Please click on “The Careers Service at NCBIS”, underlined below, for a comprehensive overview of our Secondary Careers Programme. There are bound copies of this document in Reception and Secondary School, should you prefer a hard copy.

The Careers Service at NCBIS

NCBIS School Profile 2017

For all Careers matters, please contact Ms. Rebecca Gardner, Head of Careers and IB Co-ordinator, at