Adventurer on International Educations
August 1 , 2018
Adventurer on International Educations
--Information on 2018 HFI Admissions
Editor’s Note: As one of the most competitive international schools in China, HFI has made significant progress and achievements over the years since its foundation. The achievements are well presented in students’ standardized test scores (e.g. AP, TOEFL, SAT) and their admission to highly-selective undergraduate programs around the world. Students who take the AP exams receive a pass rate over 94% each year and reached a peak of 99% in 2017; our students also received an average score of 107 in TOEFL and 1459 in SAT, achieving a superior assessment in Guangdong. This year HFI has expanded its AP 10 courses admission range from the province to the whole country, which is a reflection of its ascending reputation due to its high quality of education. In order to get an inside perspective, Ferdinand Du as student in HFI and reporter of official website, interviewed Ford Huang, Head of the Admissions Office in HFI.
Reporter (Below abbreviated as R):
What has HFI achieved to expand the admission range?
Ford (Below abbreviated as F):
There are various achievements that contributes to our confidence.
HFI is one of the first international schools for Chinese students in China, and it has some of the best results here.. Throughout its 13 years of development, HFI has offered students with programs which are accredited by world-renown education institutions—The IFY is accredited by the Northern Consortium UK and AP courses are accredited by the College Board. Up to now, our continuous effort has brought satisfying results, which tells us a lot about our school’s quality, in both academic and administrative fields. We have the students who take the most AP courses in China (students at HFI attend 7.2 AP courses on average),and our 20 AP classes contribute to our second rank for the number of courses provided in international schools (which is an essential indication for our qualified academic advance).
This year we got some exciting news! The media has published the ranking system for international high schools in China, in which HFI occupies one of the top-rankings. This is significant because we finally have an authoritative system that validates our achievements in international education. We have also recognized that international schools generally restrict their admission within provinces. This is one of the reasons we are going to provide high quality educations for students all over the nation, acting as a pioneer for international schools in China as we have been insisting doing.
Moreover, as a private school, HFI can have a wide range of admission criteria not restricted by the national educational system of China, which is an inherently unique advantage we have which allows our admissions process to be completely self-determined; in this way we are able to bring our educational resources into full play.
R: As you have mentioned, HFI has been a pioneer among the international schools in China. What are some significant pioneering events of the school?
F: We were founded our education as Guangdong International Foundation Year (GDIFY). This was the earliest example of an international school for Chinese students in China. Again in 2007, when there was a change to the U.S. student visa policy. We first noticed that the change of policy was friendly to international students, so we founded one of the first AP programs for local students in this country.
Back then, no previous examples for Chinese international schools existed. The greatest challenge was to find a system that suited our target students. It would even be appropriate to say that the first year’s AP graduates were participating in the greatest experiment of the establishment of Chinese international education at that time. We were very lucky that our ideas in this educational exploration worked. In the first year of our education, students learn about natural sciences and math like high school students in China generally do. They also learn a series of English curriculums which cover skills of critical thinking (which are important in their AP and university studies), standardized test preparations, essay composition, etcetera.
After receiving the positive feedbacks from the first students, we have been continuously adapting the system to our students up to now. Courses for sophomores (which is our starting grade for our AP courses) provide students with a transition from the domestic education system to our various AP courses by introducing them to foundation knowledge and basic skills mentioned above.
Learning to plan for the future is also our emphasis. This is essential for our students, as their previous education generally lacks this component. Now we are glad to see our junior and senior students active and self-motivated in their studies and social activities.
We have also been innovative in our school’s administration. We have adopted technology that greatly promotes convenience in different areas for our faculty and students. Systems like Naviance, PowerSchool, Turnitin, and CommonApp all have been introduced to this country for the first time by HFI. Naviance provides students with platforms to explore their course, personalities and potential careers and provide them with overall pictures of themselves; PowerSchool provide an assessment system for students to easily view their grades; Turnitin is where students hand in their essays to get them compared to one of the largest existing academic databases in the purpose of eliminating academic dishonesty and providing them with habits of creating their original works; CommonApp (Common Application) help students hand in and manage their applications to universities. We also regularly provide usage instructions of these systems to other international schools.
R: What is attractive about HFI for students from regions of China outside of Guangdong?
F: The initial reason for that is our significant academic advances mentioned before, which is of course an attraction for students willing to receive education that aims to foreign countries.
Our confidence and motivation of expanding our admission is based on not only academics, but also campus culture. We work to implant the characters of critical thinking, openness, independence, community contribution, etc. For example, our International Day activity is one of our important yearly events for our students and people interested in our schools. Students do researches to learn about cultures in foreign countries. They subsequently show what they learn by presenting products (including foods) with characteristics of countries they investigate. The whole process, including researches, food production, on-site marketing, and so on, are completely handled by students. What’s more, the funds they earn from their products donated are donated to Guangzhou Social (Children) Welfare Office, implanting their awareness of the importance of charity and contributions to people around.
The great diversity of the student body contributes to the various attitudes that coexisting in this high school (which is also an innovation among high schools in China). Since the first day students come to our campus, they are encouraged to explore their areas of interest. student, Students are also encouraged to express different points of view, given a place established to share new ideas and explore beyond the comfort zone.
R: Who are HFI’s target students? What is the major educational goal of HFI?
F: Our target is students who are self-motivated in their studies, work and lives. We have adapt from their previous test-centered education system to discovery and product-based learning, which means that they make progress with their own effort.. As this is an important skill for university life abroad, we value self-motivation even more seriously than academic performance when we consider a student’s candidacy for a spot at HFI.
This is also one of our purposes for expanding our admission range. As we have found out from our previous students, students who travel farther to be at HFI (and by extension are farther from their relatives) commonly develop their independent and self-motivated character, which is what is strongly required in their future studies. They are also active in the school and stay close with members in their classes, which is pretty beneficial for students in HFI when they move from the fixed-class system to an optional class system.
R: How is the admissions process organized in order to make sense of students’ abilities and features required for their studies?
F: In our admissions process, students initially take tests for us to assess their academic abilities. These tests are targeted at students who have advanced experience in English and mathematics.
The interview is another essential part of our admissions process, giving us a holistic view of students. We pay attention to the mental situation and thinking of students applying for our high school, in order to anticipate whether they possess the motivation to study in independence. What is also included in the evaluation are their time management skills, their potential self-study abilities, and more—all things associated with their personal advance. This can be a little bit hard at times – their motivation is not to quantified during the evaluation. However, these are our primary aims when testing students.
During the interview students are evaluated on their oral linguistic abilities and their potential of achievements in the high school environment provided by HFI. Parents, on the other hand, are asked in detail about their attitude towards their children’s education. The whole admission center considers carefully whether the family supports their kids and their developments, whether or not the parents emphasize their children’s self-study, self-administration and time management skills. Their ideas on their children and their roles they are likely to play in students’ life are recorded for our reference. After students are enrolled, we also keep track of their character and emphasize self-motivation and critical thinking in our curriculum teaching and life guidance. Thus we are active and studious about the communication between school and families.
R: What are some of HFI’s features that need improvements? Are there any specific plans lately?
F: As you can see our physical space has been one of the biggest problems for this school. We only have a small amount of space in one building. Given the circumstances, we’ve been negotiating with the normal high school with which we share the campus (currently the playground and the canteen are shared). We are have plans to improve the classrooms and dormitories which will start on the upcoming summer holiday.
R: What are some future challenges for HFI? What are the future plans for this school to face these challenges?
F: As we make adaptations to move from being just a school in a province to being a school for the whole nation, we know we will be facing much more attention and competition. This could be challenging for an international school, while we believe it will lead to a better future for us and students in our school. We could achieve the further reinforcement on our quality of education facing the challenges and attention. The efforts we will be making can push our students to perform even better. Subsequently we are more likely to be recognized and approved by students all over the country. The process mentioned above can be defined as a virtuous cycle by attracting better students to HFI, which indirectly leads to higher overall achievements for students themselves.