LIS graduates have gone on to do great things with their lives. Of the graduates of 2018 and 2019, we have students studying in Oxford, Sussex, Manchester, Glasgow, Warwick, Kingston, London in the UK, University College Rooseveldt in the Netherlands, Jakobs University in Bremen, Scripps College in the USA and ETH in Switzerland.  We have doctors, future engineers, chemists, geographers, psychologists, teachers, musicians and business people. In the past three years students have gone on to study medicine in Leipzig, law at Oxford University, urban planning in Berlin, art at the HGB here in Leipzig, kindergarten training in the Netherlands, law in Kings College London and medicine in Bulgaria.

I am responsible for ensuring that the seniors at LIS are prepared for their next steps in life after graduation – be that university or college, a training or apprenticeship or a social gap year. For this reason, the focus of my work is with the students, teachers and parents of Grades 11 & 12 although there is some support and guidance for students of Grades 9 & 10. And, based on student preferences that have remained more or less unchanged during the many years I have been doing this job, the focus of my work is on the higher education systems of Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. Additionally, attention is given to vocational career paths and gap years.

The timeline of my guidance starts in Grade 11, usually in the autumn where I introduce myself to the students, outline my job description and encourage them to think about future career paths (if they know them) or areas of work that interest them. I also encourage them to think about the next steps after school when they develop CAS projects or choose their Extended Essay topic and question. This can look impressive on a college application and can greatly assist the student in achieving their goals after school. In the early spring. I give extensive briefings on the various higher education systems and career options,  and invite the students to complete a questionnaire on their plans for life after school. These questionnaires form the basis of a one-on-one conversation that I have with each Grade 11 student. Here we discuss options and put together an individualised “to do list” for the student to address during the summer break. The final step in Grade 11 is to invite the parents to an information evening and provide them with the same information. While the focus is on the needs of Grade 11 students and parents, the information evening is open to all students and parents and will be announced in the ticker.

The actual application process takes place in Grade 12.

Applications to UK

UK university applications, which usually are the first, are made through a centralised admissions system called UCAS. Students can apply for five courses (or four courses of medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine). They will need to write a personal statement and the school will need to provide predicated grades and a student reference. The application deadline is January 15th but applications for medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine as well as to Oxford or Cambridge need to be submitted by October 15th. All of these degrees as well as many others require an additional admissions test and possibly an interview before an offer is made. The UK charges EU students the same fees as home students and this will still be the case for students applying for 2019 – despite Brexit. It is unclear whether this will continue to be the case once the UK leaves the EU.

Applications to the USA

Applications to the USA also take place around this time. The application process is decentralised although more than 600 North American colleges have joined the Common Application, which does centralise a lot of the paperwork. The deadlines for applications are variable although applications that ask for an early decision usually need to be submitted by the beginning of November. It is commonly known that it is expensive to study in the United States.  Fees vary depending on the type of university (state universities are usually cheaper than the elite Ivy Leagues schools) but US higher education institutions are eager to point out that there are all manner of scholarships available  – also to international students. One of our graduates is currently studying in North Carolina on a full sports scholarship and another graduated with honours from Syracuse University in NY having studied on a full music scholarship. She now works for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Many universities also offer credits to IB students with exceptional results. In some cases these credits can be enough for a student to go directly into the second year of their degree. US colleges tend to follow the liberal arts and sciences approach. This allows students to take a broad range of subjects in their first two years of university before deciding on a major and a minor or two majors. Most universities require SATs or ACTs as part of the application although a growing number accept the IB diploma directly and recognise its value.

Applications to the Netherlands

The higher education system in the Netherlands is divided between universities of applied science and research universities. Admission to the former is possible with only IGCSEs or the IB Careers-related Programme, and we have a number of graduates who have been successful in getting onto a course with these qualifications. Research universities require the IB diploma or equivalent. Additionally, there is a growing number of university colleges. They are harder to get into and follow a liberal arts approach.  The application is done via a system called Studielink. Universities might have additional application procedures as well. Generally speaking, applications are due by May 1st. Exceptions are applications to university colleges and so – called numerus fixus (requiring a set minimum grade) courses which are due at the beginning of January. Studying in the Netherlands is cheaper than in the UK and the USA. EU students pay €2,060 a year for bachelor degrees. Finally, a huge advantage to studying in the Netherlands is that they offer nearly all of their courses in English as well as Dutch, including medicine.

Applications to Germany

Applying to Germany tends to come at the end of the application cycle. Germany operates a semester system, which means that courses starting in the autumn of a given year only become available in April. In addition to that, German universities require actual grades; therefore students can only apply when their IB results come out. Germany also requires a conversion of IB results to the Abitur although foreign student can apply with the IB directly via uni-assist, although this can entail more requirements e.g. proof of German proficiency. The application process in Germany is decentralised meaning that all universities have their own admissions processes. The exception is for medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine, which is managed centrally through Hochschulstart. While there are some courses available in English, most of the courses are in German.

Having mentioned various higher education systems, it is very important to point out that we do not value academic career paths over all others. Certainly, most of our students tend to go on to some kind of university education but a number also opt for non-academic and vocational tracks. We are just as active in supporting students with these goals and offering vocational options for students for whom it would be a good fit. It can be challenging to figure out what one wants to do with one’s life upon leaving school. Students are faced with a bewildering range of questions, options and occasionally warnings. Does one look for financial security, happiness, ease or excitement when choosing one’s career path? Should one stay close to home or venture further afield? And when should one start thinking about life after school? The answer to the last question is: as soon as there is interest. This is where you as parents play a crucial role. You understand your child’s wishes, dreams, strengths and weaknesses better than they themselves might and you are in a unique position to guide them and counsel them. This could certainly start in Grade 9 but could also start earlier. Talk to them, encourage them and help them “keep it real”. Support and facilitate work experiences, internships or volunteering opportunities that would help them gain more insight into potential career paths. Visit careers fairs, colleges and apprenticeship providers with them, and put them in contact with friends, family and colleagues who might already work in those fields of interest.

Gap years are one way to give students both the time to plan and prepare their future and the opportunity to further explore various options. Students could use a gap year after school to do internships but also volunteer in the social sector, environmental projects and even in scientific research. In Germany, the Bundesfreiwilligendienst offers a wide range of gap year projects, both at home and abroad. Some of these can lead directly to a career path. For example, one of our graduates doing a freiwilliges wissenschaftliches Jahr at a German university was offered a study place thanks to his work during that year. We believe that – if well planned and prepared – a gap year can be invaluable in helping a student prepare for life after school. More importantly, further and higher education providers think so too. Students not only gain valuable additional experience in a particular field but they become more mature and independent and this gives them excellent skills for successfully completing a three to four year programme.

The work we provide in preparing your child for life after school would of course not be possible without the help and collaboration of external providers and individuals. I would like to mention two people in particular who have become invaluable and indispensable partners. Herr Maschek of the Zeugnisanerkennungsstelle in Dresden is responsible for converting the IB to the Abitur and ensures year in and year out that this is a smooth and efficient process. Frau Elsner-Eichhorn is our contact at the Arbeitsagentur and as such is a veritable oracle on career paths in Germany – whether academic or vocational. She regularly visits the school and offers individual counselling to interested students, and has offered to provide information evenings to parents.

If you are a Grade 11 or 12 parent, then I look forward to seeing you at one of the information evenings or at an individual careers talk with your child. However, all parents are warmly invited to get in touch with me at if they have any questions or would like to meet. I would also like to draw your attention to the careers section of the website at There you will find, information, news of events and downloadable resources. 

I hope that I was able to give you a solid overview of university admissions and careers desk at LIS and welcome any questions, suggestions or feedback you may have.

Beyond LIS Team/University Admissions & Applications

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