In December 2019, we excitedly celebrated the accomplishments of our BASIS International School Shenzhen’s Class of 2020; an amazing percentage of our upcoming graduates were accepted in Early Decision to their dream schools, some of which include Duke University, Northeastern University, Emory University, Carnegie Mellon University, New York University, the University of Rochester, the Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Virginia, and Colby College.

And while the COVID-19 health situation has limited our physical movements, it has not slowed BASIS International School Shenzhen’s Class of 2020! They have continued to gain acceptances into the world’s top universities. In the past month alone, students have been accepted by the University of Chicago, Emory University (our 2nd offer from this school!), Brandeis University, Boston University, Wake Forest University, Carleton College, University of Michigan, University of Miami, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Syracuse University’s highly selective Falk College, King’s College London, University of Toronto, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of the Arts London, School of Art Institute Chicago, University of Wisconsin Madison, and the list continues.

We’re so proud of these students, not only because of their hard work, but because they have remained focused throughout an unexpected and alarming situation that has derailed the latter part of their senior year. They are a resilient group, this Class of 2020, and they will be very very missed on our campus in the upcoming school year.

I’d like to also share a note I recently received from Emory University Admissions, a sentiment that has been echoed by multiple American colleges:

“We will continue to review all applications, including those from China, in a holistic and equitable fashion. Our commitment to the application review process includes looking at each student’s academic preparation in the context of their high school, along with personal attributes…all applications will receive the same equitable review and attention… The health emergency is not influencing that in any way.

It’s a comfort to know that our students’ hard work (and the hard work of our teachers and administrators in supporting them) has and will continue to pay off. So I’ve been hard at work reminding our 11th, 10th, 9th, and 8th grade and beyond to continue moving forward in their classes and preparation for standardized tests, in their plans for summer programs and impactful community service endeavors. And while our meetings are held online instead of in-person, we are continuing to thrive at BASIS International School Shenzhen!

Marissa Arvidson is the Senior Director of College Admissions at BASIS International School Shenzhen.

One of the greatest honors of being a college counselor to our outstanding students is the trust I am given by our parents. Playing a role in the future of these students is only possible because of that trust. I have felt a great deal of happiness this year when, on occasion, my phone will alert me that there is a new message in the Class of 2019 Alumni WeChat group. Through their example of hard work and resilience, last year’s graduates have earned my immediate attention, whenever they might need it, whatever they might need.

Usually, all they “need” is to complain about the food on campus, commiserate over how hard some of their classes are, or to send cat memes.

When my flight was cancelled back to China in February, I knew I would need a place to stay in the meantime. I immediate thought of Tucson, where I worked at a BASIS Charter School for five years and where I have friends and students who are like family to me. In an uncertain time, I have been comforted by the compassionate BASIS family who never forgot about me. It was a bonus that I was able to reconnect with one of those 13 graduates from the Class of 2019.

College counselor

College Counselor Curtis Westbay with Class of 2019 graduate Krystal G. in Tucson, Arizona.

Talking with Krystal G. of the Class of 2019 (though, she informs me that she proudly goes by Siyu at the University of Arizona as a Sociology major) lifted my spirits. Teachers, students, and parents all have worked so hard during this extended break from school, and waking up at 3 a.m. to have WeChat meetings with parents has been a challenge for me. But hearing how well Krystal is doing, and about the friends she is making, and seeing the confidence she has in her ability because of the challenges she met and overcame while at BASIS International School Shenzhen made the next morning’s 3 a.m. wake-up call feel not so bad.

Curtis Westbay is the Senior Director of College Admissions at BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour.

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