What to Do If You’re Waitlisted by a College?

What to Do If You’re Waitlisted by a College?

Getting waitlisted at a college certainly isn’t a bad thing—your application was good enough to not get rejected!—but it’s definitely an uncomfortable place to be.  After all, when you’re on the college waitlist, you don’t know whether you’ll be admitted or not, and that alone is anxiety-inducing.

Luckily, there are many things you can do to increase your odds of getting off a waitlist.  This article explains how the college waitlist works, what steps to take if you’ve been waitlisted, and how to raise your college waitlist chances so you can attend your dream school.

What Is the College Waitlist and How Does It Work?

What exactly does it mean if you’ve been waitlisted by a college or several colleges?

The college waitlist is a list of applicants whom a school might or might not offer admission to.  These applicants are essentially put on hold by a college and would have been admitted had space allowed.  The total number of applicants offered a place on the college waitlist varies each year and at different schools.

If you are offered a spot on the college waitlist, you may either accept the invitation and allow your name to be added to it or decline it right away if you’d rather not wait for an admission decision or have already decided to attend a different college.

Applicants are typically only admitted off a waitlist starting after May 1, or the date by when admitted students must submit their decisions to attend the college of their choice along with the non-refundable deposit.  Colleges usually begin to admit students off the waitlist if and only if they need to fill more spots in their freshman class. Essentially, once the May 1 deadline has passed, if not enough applicants have decided to attend, the school will start to admit applicants off the waitlist with the hope they’ll accept the offer.  Waitlist acceptances often roll out gradually throughout May, June, July, and sometimes even August right before the school year starts.

Of course, not everyone on the waitlist will be admitted.  In fact, some colleges might admit just a few students or even none at all one year!

Finally, some college waitlists rank the applicants on it.  So if you’re ranked highly, you’re more likely to be accepted off the waitlist.  Nevertheless, most colleges don’t rank waitlist applicants and instead make their admissions decisions based on other factors such as what majors they want to have represented and which applicants will be most likely to attend if admitted.

What Are Your Chances of Getting Off the College Waitlist?

If you’ve been waitlisted at your dream school, you’re probably wondering what exactly your odds are of getting off the waitlist and moving on to a full-blown acceptance.  Your chances of getting off the college waitlist primarily depend on five factors:

  • How many spots the school needs to fill for its freshman class.  The fewer the spots there are, the less likely it is you’ll be admitted off the waitlist.  In contrast, the more spots available, the more likely it is you’ll be offered a placement.
  • What majors, locations, etc., the school wants to have represented in its freshman class.  If a school didn’t admit enough engineering majors, for example, it will most likely admit engineering majors off its waitlist first.
  • How likely you are to attend the school if admitted.  This factor mainly depends on how interested you are in the college and whether you’ve actively demonstrated your continued interest in attending.  Carnegie Mellon maintains a Priority Waiting List, for example, for applicants whose first choice is CMU.
  • How strong your overall application is, especially compared with other waitlist applicants.  While this is impossible to know, if you have strong qualities such as an SAT score well above the school’s 75th percentile, then it’s likely you’re a top candidate for admission.
  • How highly ranked you are on the waitlist (if the school ranks applicants).

Ultimately, how likely it is you’ll be admitted off a waitlist really depends on the particular school you’ve been waitlisted at.  Very popular and selective schools get applications from thousands of qualified students each year – many of whom end up on the waitlist – making it super difficult to determine how good your odds are of being admitted.

Moreover, the year you apply can have a big effect on how many applicants a college decides to admit off its waitlist.  This happens because both the quality and number of applicants usually changes slightly each year, along with the specific needs of the school (for example, a school might want to admit more majors one year than it did the previous year).

Let’s take a look at some real-life examples.  At Dartmouth, a highly selective school that’s also part of the Ivy League, “the number of candidates offered admission from the waitlist varies, from zero in some years to dozens in others.”

Similarly, here’s what the UC system says on the topic: “The number of students who are ultimately admitted varies from year to year, campus to campus. There is no way to tell how many students, if any, will ultimately be offered admission for any particular year.”

As you can see, in general, there’s no easy way to determine your odds of getting admitted off a college waitlist.  College waitlist acceptances can vary dramatically from year to year, mainly as a result of the changing number of qualified applicants and the school’s needs.

Got Waitlisted? 4 Steps Everyone Must Take

If you’ve been waitlisted at a college, you’ll need to take certain steps to ensure you’re ultimately able to attend college without issue. Regardless of whether you choose to stay on the waitlist or not, here’s exactly what you’ll need to do if you’re offered a waitlist spot.

Step 1: Make a Decision About the Waitlist
Do you want to stay on the college waitlist in the hopes you’ll get admitted, or would you rather decline the invitation and just go with a different college?

After you’ve gotten a waitlist invitation, take time to consider whether you truly want to be on the waitlist for this school.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this your dream school?
  • Are you comfortable with not hearing back from the school right away and feeling stuck in a sort of limbo state throughout the summer?
  • Are you OK with potentially losing money on a non-refundable deposit to a different school if you do end up getting admitted off the waitlist?
    Once you’ve made your decision about whether to stay on the college waitlist, it’s time to move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Officially Accept or Decline Your Waitlist Invitation

If you’ve been offered a spot on the waitlist, know that you won’t be automatically added to it—you need to officially accept the invitation to confirm your spot.  This usually needs to be done by a certain deadline, typically in mid-April or by May 1. Check with the school or look at your waitlist notification letter to figure out when the deadline is.

If you fail to confirm your placement by this deadline, you will not be placed on the waitlist and will have indirectly declined your spot on it.  If you’ve decided to not have your name put on the college waitlist and would rather decline your spot, be sure to notify the college of your decision by the deadline, ideally as soon as possible.

Step 3: Pick a College to Attend and Submit Your Deposit

Regardless of whether you’ve decided to stay on the waitlist or not, you’ll need to pick a college you’ve been admitted to that you want to attend, even if it’s not your top choice and you’re still hoping to get off the waitlist at the other school.

Go through all the schools where you’ve been accepted (not waitlisted) and, for each, consider important factors, such as what kinds of majors it offers, what kinds of professors work there, what extracurriculars are available, what its campus is like, where it’s located, etc.  You can do research on the schools you’re considering attending by looking at their official websites, visiting their campuses, and talking to current or former students. Once you’ve decided where you want to go to college – even if you’re holding out hope that you’ll get admitted off the waitlist at your top choice – it’s time to accept your offer of admission and submit your non-refundable deposit.  Both your acceptance of admission and deposit must be submitted no later than the May 1 deadline.

Step 4: Wait for Your Waitlist Decision

After you’ve decided on a college to attend, all that’s left for you to do is wait to get your waitlist decision notification.  When you hear back from a college regarding its waitlist decisions can vary considerably, from as early as May to as late as August, and there is no way of telling when you’ll receive your decision (and whether it’ll be a positive or negative result!).  If you do get admitted off the college waitlist, congratulations! You now have to make the decision between accepting this offer of admission and withdrawing your previous acceptance, or rejecting this offer and continuing with the other college you’ve agreed to attend.  If you decide to accept the offer of admission, note that you will not be able to get a refund on the deposit you submitted to the other school. If you don’t get admitted off the college waitlist, not much will change. You’ll still have the other college you agreed to attend waiting for you!

5 Key Tips to Raise Your College Waitlist Chances

Getting waitlisted doesn’t mean sitting around and waiting (as the word implies). Rather, there are several actions you can take at this time to increase your odds of getting off the college waitlist.

Here are our top fix tips to help you raise your chances of securing an acceptance from the waitlist at your top-choice school.

#1: Write a Letter of Interest

One of the best things you can do during this time is to write a letter to the school you’ve been waitlisted at emphasizing your continued interest and how the school is your top choice.  Remember that colleges want to admit applicants who are very likely to attend. And by confirming that you’ll 100% attend the school if admitted, you are effectively increasing your odds of getting off the waitlist.  (Note that this type of letter is non-binding, so you’re still allowed to change your mind later on!)

Your letter of interest can be an email to your admissions officer or regional dean, or even a note on your college’s waitlist response form (many schools use this form or a similar form to confirm whether an applicant wants to remain on the waitlist or not).

#2: Send Important Updates (on Accomplishments)

If you’ve had any notable accomplishments since getting waitlisted, you can actually enhance your application by sharing these successes with the school that’s waitlisted you.  In general, these should be highly relevant accomplishments and updates. If you’re not applying for a science major, it might not be that beneficial to tell the school about your successful science project, for instance.  You can typically update your school on what you’ve been up to via either the waitlist response form (which most schools will give you online) or a letter or email.

Even if you haven’t had any major achievements recently, try to draw attention to any positive changes in your life, such as awards you’ve received, good or better grades you’ve gotten, and so on.  Some schools, such as Johns Hopkins, allow you to send an updated resume if you wish to highlight any changes to or accomplishments in your extracurricular activities.

However, some colleges will not accept additional materials or information than what you originally submitted for your application.  In these cases, you won’t be able to update the school on any new achievements you have, so don’t try to send an update since it won’t have any effect on your chances of getting admitted!

#3: Keep Up Your Grades

Even though you’ll only have a month or two of high school left by the time you’ve been waitlisted, it’s still important to get good grades in all your classes.  Many colleges allow (and encourage!) waitlisted applicants to send updates relating to any (positive) changes in their grades or GPA. This could be a major improvement to a specific grade in a class you’re taking or new grades or transcripts that have only recently been released (and that are more recent than your mid-year report).  For example, Vanderbilt recommends that waitlisted applicants “consider submitting any substantially relevant new information (e.g., new grades that might be available).”  You can send an updated transcript or write a brief email or letter detailing your recent grades.

#4: Stay in Contact

Some schools give slight preference to waitlisted applicants who make an effort to stay in contact with the school, specifically the admissions committee/officer or regional dean.  This generally just means keeping in touch via email. You might occasionally send an email to notify the school/dean of any recent updates about you or to elaborate on your continued interest in the school.

On its official website, Franklin & Marshall College states that “continuing to maintain and achieve outstanding grades, as well as having occasional email contact with your Regional Dean, will supplement your interest in the College”.

#5: Get an Interview (If Possible)

Schools don’t typically allow this, but if a college is willing to interview waitlisted applicants or let them come to campus to interview, it’s worth it to take them up on this offer.  Make sure you prepare for the interview and are able to answer key questions such as why you want to go to this school and what you hope to do with your education in the future.

Recap: What to Do If You Are Waitlisted at a College

The college waitlist is a list of applicants who might or might not be offered admission to a particular college.  Schools usually start to admit applicants off the waitlist after May 1 and will continue to admit applicants until they’ve filled their entire freshman class.  How likely it is you’ll be admitted off the college waitlist depends mostly on the following factors:

  • The number of remaining spots in the freshman class
  • What types of students schools want to admit in terms of majors, locations, etc.
  • How likely you are to attend the school if accepted
  • How strong your application is overall
  • How highly ranked you are on the waitlist (if the school ranks waitlisted applicants)

If you’re waitlisted at a school, there are four steps you should take in this order:

  1. Make a decision about the waitlist
  2. Officially accept or decline your waitlist invitation
  3. Pick a college to attend and submit your non-refundable deposit
  4. Wait for your waitlist decision

Finally, here are five tips you can use to try to raise your chances of getting admitted off the college waitlist:

  • Write a letter of interest
  • Send important updates (on accomplishments)
  • Keep up your grades and GPA
  • Stay in contact with the school, specifically the (head of the) admissions committee
  • Get an interview (if offered by the college)

What’s Next?

Want to build the best possible college application?

We can help.  College Compass is a college admissions consulting program for the most ambitious rising Grade 12 students in Saigon who aspire to attend top universities and colleges abroad.  The program is led by the two co-founders of Everest Education, Tony Ngo and Don Le, both of whom graduated from Stanford University and have served as alumni interviewers for Stanford.  We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit, and we want to get you admitted to your dream schools.

Learn more about College Compass to maximize your chance of getting in.  We are now offering scholarships covering 100% of the tuition for the entire College Compass program worth $3,500 each.

Source: PrepScholar Admissions


3 Surprising Reasons Students Don’t Get into Top Colleges

3 Surprising Reasons Students Don’t Get into Top Colleges

For many of our students, getting into a good college is a top priority. They crazily work to get perfect grades, spend years enrolling in test-prep courses, and signing up for every extracurricular activity available. After all, this is what they have been advised to do.

It turns out that this widely prescribed triad of perfect grades, perfect test scores, and a laundry list of extracurriculars may be a bit…imprecise. In other words, a lot of what we think will get students into highly selective colleges might actually have the opposite effect. What’s worse, a lot of those activities can be incredibly time consuming, energy draining, and expensive.

Shirag Shemmassian has had plenty of experience with college applications. He attended Cornell University and UCLA himself, spent several years as an admissions interviewer at Cornell, and now, through Shemmassian Academic Consulting, he guides students and their families how to achieve college admissions success.

Over the years, Shemmassian has learned what factors really make colleges take notice, and what he has to share might surprise you. 

“Parents and students don’t really know where to go for high-quality information,” Shemmassian says.

“It seems like everyone around them is doing everything…enrolling in the most difficult classes, trying to get the highest standardized test scores. But beyond that, they’re not really sure how to stand out. Should they join every club or activity? Students are all hearing the same advice, so they, of course, end up looking like every other applicant. What they thought they should do is actually contributing, in large part, to them not standing out.”

Here we’ll take a look at three common mistakes students make in the name of getting accepted into their top college choices. Shemmassian explains why these choices are counterproductive, and what students should be doing instead.


“Top schools are looking for students who challenge themselves academically,” Shemmassian says, “and of course the more AP classes or honors classes you enroll yourself in, the more it’s going to seem like you challenged yourself. So it makes sense, right?”

But every one of those classes requires a great deal of study time outside of class. If course loads completely max out all of students’ available free time, it limits their ability to pursue other things. And those “other things” are ultimately what will make a student stand out to colleges.

“Say you’re applying to Yale for admissions, and the person on that admissions committee sees a ton of applications, mostly from students who are incredibly high achieving, so they have perfect or near perfect grades, they have perfect or near perfect SAT scores. So if you’re that person, how could you differentiate among these candidates? Do you just close your eyes and put your fingers on a few names and admit them? No. That’s not the way it works, right? They’re really looking for the superstars outside of the classroom. Now if you’ve enrolled in too many AP or honors courses, it takes away a lot of time that you would otherwise be able to devote to extracurricular activities.”

“Students are all hearing the same advice, so they, of course, end up looking like every other applicant.”

So what should students do instead?

Shemmassian says students should absolutely take challenging classes, just not necessarily all of them. “So if there are five AP courses being offered by their school for that grade year, then maybe take three. If you feel like it’s a subject you’re especially strong in, you could take four, because the fourth one isn’t as difficult. The goal is not to think too much about the number of them, but to make sure that you leave time to pursue other things.”


When it comes to college admissions, of course SAT and ACT scores matter. But Shemmassian explains that “focusing or over-focusing on standardized tests takes away time from what truly matters, which is building that unique extracurricular profile to stand out.”

When students spend years enrolled in test-prep courses and devote hours studying for, taking, and retaking these tests for the sake of a few more points, they are using up time that would be better spent deepening their experiences within some area of interest. And even if a student does attain those perfect scores, without anything else to differentiate him, he simply won’t stand out.

“It’s important to remember that it’s not all 1600 scores who are going to Ivy League schools.”

Instead, students should take a more reasonable approach that values a good test score, but not at the expense of other activities: Pick a period of time to really focus on test prep—Shemmassian recommends about a semester—during which time a student should study intensely, take the ACT or SAT a few times and shoot for a score between the 25th and 75th percentiles of admitted applicants at their schools of choice.

“If you visit any school’s website, you can look at a class profile, and they will very clearly have the data there. So the 25th to 75th percentile of admitted applicants’ SAT scores, for example, say they’re 1480 to 1540, right? That’s the range that you should aim for. Anything above that is a bonus…there are many students who get above the 75th percentile who don’t get in. It’s important to remember that it’s not a bunch of 1600 scores who are going to Ivy League and UC schools and other top schools like that.”

Once these first two mistakes are out of the way—once a student is no longer spending every hour of their free time studying for tests or maximizing their course load—LESS IS MORE.

If there is one theme that unites all three of these, it’s that students who want to get into top colleges need to be doing less of the stuff that doesn’t make a big impact so they can do more of what does.

For students whose schedules are packed with an insane number of classes and activities, this advice should come as a relief, giving them permission to figure out what really matters to them, what they were put on this earth to do, then devoting plenty of time to pursuing that.

Sounds like a recipe not just for college admissions, but for a happy, healthy life that student spends the remaining time is what will make the biggest difference to college admissions officers.


“People think that colleges want to admit ‘well-rounded students,’” Shemmassian says. So students join as many clubs and teams as possible and try to pursue leadership positions in each one.

In reality, “Colleges are actually looking for student bodies that are collectively well-rounded, comprising a bunch of specialists who together are an incredibly well-rounded and diverse student body. They’re not looking for students who do a little bit of a lot of things.”

Instead of being Jacks of all trades, students should figure out what they’re really passionate about, then become a specialist—what Shemmassian calls a “Michael Jordan”—in that area.

But what if a student doesn’t know what to specialize in? What if she doesn’t feel she has natural talent in any one area?

“It starts very small,” Shemmassian says. “So if the student is interested in art, they might start out with just doing their own artwork, maybe teaching other students in their community to paint, maybe it’s students from a low-income school that don’t have resources or access to art classes and things like that. So you can see what your student demonstrates interest in and take that step. So you’re exploring at the beginning.”

If that student continues to work within that field, growing her skills, taking on leadership roles, and finding ways to serve the community in that same field, rather than pursuing ten other things, she becomes a specialist. “Even though you’re not necessarily Picasso or anything, when you take these incremental steps and start making connections in the community and start getting attention, by the time you apply, you look like a Michael Jordan.”



Direct your child in choosing a career path

Direct your child in choosing a career path

It is never too early to start talking to your child about career choices.  As a parent, there are several things you can do to support her through the process.  Even the most driven people need some external motivation. You can also be a trusted mentor to guide her with your wisdom and advice.  Just remember that finding the right career path takes time and structure.

This article can help give you some guidance of how to identify your child’s skills, career options, and steps to create a career plan.

Help Your Child Identify Their Skills

1. Have a discussion with your child about their interests

Before she starts to choose a career path and to plan her next move, your child will need to find out more about her own interests, likes and dislikes.  She could start by answering the questions below and making her own list as she goes. Ask your child what her favorite subject is in school are. Discuss your child’s hobbies and extracurricular activities.  Make note of what she is good at as well as what she enjoys. Listen and be supportive of things that your child shows interest in during this discussion.

You might start the discussion by saying something like “So what is your favorite class this year?”.  For example, they might enjoy math and basketball, but only be good at math.

2. Use career assessment tools to help pinpoint your child’s strengths

Your child is still growing and developing into an adult and may be surprised to find out that she has specific strengths that could be beneficial in a profession.  Tools such as personality assessments, and standardized tests such as the SAT are designed to pinpoint a child’s strengths. Understanding her own strengths will help her start looking at professions that will allow her to leverage her unique talents.

For example, some children really have a knack for technology.  If this is the case, a career in an IT field might be a great fit.

3. Expose your child to a variety of activities to see what piques their interest

Give your child opportunities to try new things.  Expose them to nature, the arts, science, museums, animals, travel, people… There are so many ways to enjoy activities together.  Pay attention to what piques her interest. If there is a subject she is curious about or she shows excitement toward, encourage her to learn more about that topic.  Encourage your child to volunteer or try a part-time job in her desired fields. Oftentimes, the decision to choose a certain line of work comes gradually, as people continue to explore their interests more deeply.

4. Schedule a meeting with your child’s school guidance counselor

Guidance Counselors often have career assessment tools that can help to narrow down career fields.  They will also have a record of your child’s grades and school achievements which might aid your discussion with your child.  You can ask your child’s guidance counselor: “Do you know of any particular tools that we could use to explore career opportunities for my child?”

5. Discuss what tasks are deal breakers

Everyone has a task or set of tasks that they want to avoid at all costs.  You should be upfront with your child to recognize what these things are for them.  Knowing what she does not like doing will help her steer clear of professions that heavily expect her to do things she dislikes.  Bring up tasks that you know your child struggles with and discuss how she might apply them in a career. For example, you might say something like “I know you complain about your math homework every night.  Are you sure you want to be an accountant?”

Discuss Career Options

1. Research different career options with your child

Use the skills and interests that you identified with your child to guide your research.  Include things like salary range, benefits package, and typical work schedule for each profession you research.  You can find information about different career fields online, at career fairs, and by consulting professionals and companies in that field.

2. Discuss locations with your child

Ask your child where she would like to live as an adult.  Your career often dictates where you will be living. If location is important to your child, she needs to understand what her career options are in that particular location.  The amount of travel you do for family, business, or vacation will also be heavily influenced by the career choices.

3. Look beyond traditional careers

 Common careers such as teachers, doctors, and lawyers are discussed frequently.  Many children will have no interest in these fields, and should be exposed to newer or more unique fields.  Science and technology are changing every day, as are the arts. Be open to looking at nontraditional careers as well as the tried and true careers.

4. Find real-life references

 Reading about colleges, career schools, and job options online is useful.  It always helps to have a real world example to learn from. Try to get your teen to talk with the adults in her life — friends, relatives, neighbors — about their careers.  Hearing people’s real-life experiences in different careers might give your teen a better sense of the options. You can find professionals in almost any field in the phonebook or online.  Contact them and see if they would be willing to meet with your child. A first hand account is often more telling than the research statistics you find online. Have your child request a meeting with them and set out a list of questions to ask them.  Some examples might be:

  • What does your day-to-day work schedule look like?
  • What sort of education or training did you need to be qualified for this position?
  • What does your work mean to you?

Also get your child to explore Roadtrip nation, a valuable resource suggested by Miss Maria Bibler from ISHCMC AA VN in our article “What can high school students do to prepare for college abroad?“.  There are thousands of videos featuring people in all kinds of careers, with all kinds of interests, from all walks of life for your child to watch, think and consider.

Create a career plan

1. Build an action plan towards their dreams

Plans can change for many reasons.  Create alternative plans in case your child’s chosen profession doesn’t work out for some reason.  Alternate plans in the same field, or a closely related field, are less costly and more time efficient.  This way, your child is well prepared if their chosen profession doesn’t work out as planned.

Your child might be interested in becoming a physician.  It is a good idea to also come up with alternate plans in the same field.  They could also become a high school biology teacher or a nurse.

2. Research the education or training required.

Understand the prerequisites needed to be accepted into that educational or training program.  It is also important to know the costs of the education or training, and develop a plan to pay for or finance it.  It might be a good idea to ask people who are currently training in that field and talk to them about what their day-to-day life is like.  

3. Encourage your child to gain experience in their field.

Networking and experience are just as important as education and training.  There are several ways to gain experience and contacts in a particular field including volunteering, shadowing, and internships.  You should encourage your child to seek out work experience placements, take up volunteering roles, attend taster days, or simply speak with people already working in a sector that they’re interested in.  Explain to your child that the more opportunities they take, paid or unpaid, the more seriously they will be taken in the future by employers

And, it’s never too early to start thinking about the future – encouraging your child to start a portfolio of experiences for use on a future CV, or as part of a personal statement, can be beneficial from as early as grade 9.  Remind them to record all their work experience placements and gain references from them, as well as include part-time jobs held and roles involving responsibility either at school or outside organizations.

To sum up, as a parent, you should be her supportive career mentor. Remember that you were once a teenager, and how hard it was to you when choosing your career path.  Proper guidance means a lot to your child in this stage. You can try to apply tips in this article, and share with us if you have any questions about this matter.


Conversational vs. Academic English: What Are the Differences?

Conversational vs. Academic English: What Are the Differences?

Although English language learners may speak English on the playground, this does not mean they have mastered the academic and cognitive language of the classroom, especially when diving into an international environment.

Conversational vs. Academic English: how they are different?

Basically, Conversational and Academic English refer to formal and informal English respectively. Take a look at the table below to see the different applications for Conversational and Academic English:

Conversational English Academic English
Definition Social language is the simple, informal, everyday use of English we use when talking face to face with family members and friends Academic language is very formal,  with more sophisticated vocabulary and expressions
Purpose Used for daily conversations Used in academic and professional environments.
Context Everyday interactions in the spoken/written form Textbooks, research papers, conferences in the spoken/written form
Vocab in use Repetition of words, high frequency vocab Variety of words, more sophisticated, low frequency vocab
Slang May use slang expressions or abbreviations Does not use slang or abbreviations
Learner Appeals to those who are not looking to study/work in the academic field Necessary for those who are seeking opportunities in higher education internationally
Grammar Sentences do not necessarily follow grammar conventions (e.g., ”you’re hungry?”) Sentences begin with appropriate transitions, heavier emphasis on grammar and vocabulary. (e.g., ”moreover,” ”in addition”)


Example: Can you choose a right one?

Now that we know the differences between Conversational and Academic English, let’s take a look at the four examples below and guess which two are using Academic English:

Let’s examine the table on page 65. Let’s sit at that table, over there.
Went to the store and bought a few things like bread, milk, and peanut butter. Didn’t have enough. Wanne let me borrow a dollar? The character proceeded to the grocery store where she purchased a few necessary items. However, she did not have enough money.


Can you figure out which are Academic English?
Now you get the idea!
→ To be a great communicator, we must be able to listen, speak, read and write both Conversational and Academic English. The most successful students come not only to learn how to communicate socially, but also to become academically proficient in English.

Academic English is the language of school

As you can see above, Academic English is essential for those who want to succeed in international schools and workplaces. We use academic language to describe and comprehend complex ideas, process higher-order thinking, and understand abstract concepts. It is through the use of academic language that students read, write, listen, and speak about the topics they learn at school.

When a Vietnamese student enters an international school without prior exposure to academic English practice, she faces a disadvantage compared to her friends, and may struggle tremendously when it comes to academic language. For example, if the topic is Social Studies, an English-speaking student will have a lot more background knowledge than a non-English speaker. Thus, to survive in international schools, it is crucial for Vietnamese students to start developing their academic language in English early because they will need this knowledge in order to succeed and understand more in-depth information that they will learn in future schooling.

So, if you are planning to send your children abroad, get them ready: since academic language is the language of school, prepare your child to acquire good academic English skills, beyond just the capability of everyday communication.

Academic English requires much more time and effort

Students can learn conversational English through exposure, practice, and interaction. Conversational English can be developed by watching videos, chatting with foreign friends, taking online English courses; even if they don’t go to any English classes, they can still confidently communicate with native speakers.

Academic English, by contrast, is more demanding and complex. Students need direct, explicit instruction of academic language. For example, when students are given an academic task, the student may understand what the concept is, but not be familiar with the wording of the question itself. Therefore, direct instruction of academic language insures an accurate assessment.

They say that it takes an English Language Learner 3 months to a year to achieve conversational English, but as much as 7 years to acquire academic language. That’s why students should begin preparing their Academic English skills as soon as possible.

Academic English needs to be developed within a meaningful context.

Since Academic English contains many low frequency words, students have to find an environment where they can practice and practice as much as possible. Some students already have a basic understanding of English skills, such as recalling and memorizing, summarizing and writing short paragraphs. All they need is more high-level vocabulary words to increase their ability to express their ideas and knowledge.

Academic English can be gained by providing students with engaging topics and many authentic opportunities to practice it.

Let us help.

E2 wants to provide that environment for students with our English Language Arts program. The program aims to take students who already have basic conversational English to the next level by enhancing and deepening their academic knowledge. With this course, we hope that we can empower Vietnamese students to be more confident to overcome challenges of overseas study and become more open, confident and independent.

Tran Huu Quang Huy: 2016 Lawrence Ting Scholarship Winner

Tran Huu Quang Huy is currently a 9th grader at Vo Truong Toan Middle School in District 1. He’s been studying with E2 since Spring 2015 and have recently won the Lawrence Ting Scholarship to study at Saigon South International School (SSIS).

Each year, SSIS offers a three-year scholarship for one local Vietnamese student who has demonstrated commitment to academic excellence, proficiency in English, and interests in global and international affairs, along with a willingness to help others.

Q: Hi, Huy! Congratulations on your achievement! How do you feel?

A: I’m really excited! But thinking of next years makes me a little nervous as well.

Q: How did you find out about the Lawrence Ting Scholarship, and what was the preparation like?

A: My E2 Math teachers, Mr. Duong, told me about the scholarship. To apply, they require your transcript and other information about club and volunteer activities. Of course, if you have any other academic successes, you can send it along with your profile. There was also an essay and an interview involved. Honestly, I didn’t prepare much for it. I just give it my all.

Q: In your opinions, what was the strongest point that helped you stand out among other applicants?

A: I’d say it was my writing skills. Mr. John from my E2 English class has helped me a lot with structuring my essays, how to arrange my ideas and theses. I know I wouldn’t have made it to SSIS without applying what I’ve learned from him. Academically, Mr. Don, my Math teacher, has prepared me well for international Math programs. He’s given me a strong foundation to start at SSIS. Now I won’t be surprised when hearing certain terms and concepts in English.

Also, learning to adapt and make friends with other students from international schools here at E2 has been an essential experience. We study together, sharing personal experiences with one another. It is not easy for a local student to transition to an international learning environment at a school like SSIS, but I believe with what I’ve learned at E2, I’ll be ready for the new challenges. I can’t wait!

Q: At which stage of the application process did you feel the most challenging?

A: It was the interview, but it was also my win. From what I’ve learned, just a few Vietnamese students can be as confident and open as I was with the interviewers. For me, I just went for it, and I was glad that things worked out. (Laugh).

Q: You talked about confidence. Is that something natural to your personality or that you have built over time?

A: It’s something that I’ve learned from my personal failure. I still remember, when I was in 7th grade, I was selected as a speaker for an event at my English center. I prepared carefully every word for the speech, but when I stood in front of people, I was nervous and trembling so much I forgot all my lines. That was such a turning point for me. After that incident, I told myself to engage in more activities and build up my confidence. I’ve acquired many strong skills for my interview from those activities. (Smile)

Q: Thank you for sharing your great news and insights with us! I wish you the best on your preparation for the new chapter of your academic journey. Keep us updated on your future achievements as well!