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askjohnaboutcollege.com makes applying to US colleges easier

With more than 30 years of experience helping and advising high school students worldwide to apply to universities in the US, John Carpenter is eager to help teenagers make a successful transition into post-secondary education.

askjohnaboutcollege.com makes applying to US colleges easier

Providing an invaluable service to students around the world, Carpenter launched askjohnaboutcollege.com in April in order to give students and families the benefit of his experience and support.

Carpenter answers questions covering the A to Z of college applications around the clock through email, telephone, texting and instant messaging.

“I have the best job in the world,” he said. “I work with great kids and get to answer questions all day. I’m a terrific additional resource for them, the one person they can go to with absolutely any questions. I can give them the best advice.”

Currently based in the US, his career has included working in American and international schools in Asunción, Santiago, Istanbul, London, Munich and the US, guiding students and their families through the university application process. Carpenter aims to help all students who can benefit from his experience, both near and far.

“When I was overseas, a lot of students there had no one to help them through the process,” said Carpenter. “It doesn’t matter where the students are from or what passport they have. There is one process they have to go through. I can help them with all aspects of that process.”

The students who seek Carpenter are just as diverse as the programs and schools that they are interested in and parallel the reasons behind their interest in studying in the US.

Students abroad who seek Carpenter’s services include children of expats who want to return to the US, as well as European national students who have studied at international high schools, boarding schools and local private and public schools in their home countries.

“I’m a big fan of going to college in the States,” he said. “The system is a lot more flexible and open to students changing their minds about academic majors without having to start over or lose time. The support services on campus, career advising, housing and residential life programs are all really good.”

Carpenter charges a one-time sliding fee that gives families and parents the flexibility to contact him whenever they have questions depending on their needs.

To prepare his students for the long road ahead, Carpenter offers a wide range of services, including application planning, help with essay writing, test planning and preparation and advising on costs and financial aid.

In addition to taking the necessary standardized tests for US college admission, Carpenter is also well versed about the language requirements for students coming from foreign school systems.

The prime time for students to work with Carpenter is in their second-to-last year of high school or gymnasium to ensure there is enough time to thoroughly evaluate all possible schooling and testing options, but he is prepared to work with all students whenever they are ready.

“My services are really meant to give families an additional resource when they need it, allowing them to have the confidence that they have explored every option of overseas study in the US for their children,” said Carpenter.

A significant part of the work together is to create a list of schools that meet the student’s interests and needs while simultaneously offering the greatest chance of admission.

Carpenter works with each student to help them identify individual and long-range goals related to choosing the colleges and universities where they will apply.

“Kids are so different,” he said. “I work with students to look at schools where their chances of admission are strong.”

As Carpenter pointed out, the sheer volume of forms, paperwork, details and requirements is a challenge for even the most determined and organised of students. Consequently, parents often have no idea where to begin for information or for help.

“For expat parents whose children attend American-style schools, sometimes that means having a second resource to consult with privately and completely separate from the school’s counselor,” he said.

He added, “For parents of children in local gymnasium or other national schools, it means having someone who understands the system advising their children to make informed choices and good decisions.”

The best way to contact John Carpenter is through his website askjohnaboutcollege.com.

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UNIVERSITY

Swedish university exam unlikely to go ahead at all this year

It is looking increasingly unlikely that 'högskoleprovet' – an exam used by thousands of students every year as a way to enter Swedish university will go ahead – despite a government U-turn.

Swedish university exam unlikely to go ahead at all this year
In a normal year, 100,000 students sit what is known as the SweSAT or 'högskoleprovet'. Photo: Malin Hoelstad/SvD/SCANPIX

The Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test (SweSAT, or högskoleprovet) is normally held twice a year, but was cancelled in spring and then later in autumn due to the coronavirus pandemic. But after pressure from opposition parties, the government last week said it would pave the way for the test to take place on its usual date in October in a limited format, open only to people who had not previously sat it.

Usually around 100,000 people sit the exam each year, around 40 percent of them doing so for the first time. The exam is not compulsory, but many people use its results to get into university, and it is seen as a crucial second chance for those who are not able to get accepted based on grades alone.

But any hope lit by the government's announcement last week was quickly extinguished this week, when university principals said it would still not be possible to organise a coronavirus-safe sitting. In the end it is up to the exam organisers to decide whether or not to hold it, so the government holds limited sway.

“They [the university principals] do not want to take responsibility for conducting the exam during the autumn, but would rather spend time and resources on conducting two tests as safely as possible in spring,” Karin Röding, director-general of the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR), told the TT news agency on Tuesday.

“I have no reason to have another opinion,” she added.

“It appears to be the case that you are going to have to wait another few months before an exam can be carried out in an infection-safe way,” confirmed Sweden's Minister of Higher Education, Matilda Ernkrans.

Meanwhile the political pressure eased on the Social Democrat-Green coalition government to ensure the test could be held before the deadline for applying to the spring semester of university, when the Liberal party joined the centre-left in voting no to pushing for an autumn sitting. Last week there was a majority for a yes vote on the Swedish parliament's education committee, consisting of right-wing parties Moderates, Christian Democrats, Sweden Democrats and the Liberals, but after the latter switched sides the committee voted no.

The Mdoerates blamed the government for not acting sooner to help the exam go ahead, by for example allocating more money and investigating the possibility of using more venues.

“There is one person who is to blame. That's Matilda Ernkrans,” said the party's education spokesperson Kristina Axén Olin. “The government has handled it really poorly and now it is thought to be too late and impossible.”

Ernkrans argued that she and the government had done everything they could, including making sure that test results from previous years will be valid for eight years rather than the usual five, as well as allocating extra funding to make it possible to hold more than one exam next spring.

Swedish vocabulary

cancel – ställa in

test/exam – (ett) prov

second chance – (en) andra chans

government – (en) regering

semester – (en) termin (note the false friend – the Swedish word semester means holiday)

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