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Is it smart to meet with my counselor just so I can introduce myself? How can I schedule a meeting with my counselor?

It is definitely smart to meet with your counselor and introduce yourself. This way, your counselor gets to know you and a relationship is established. (During the application process for universities and other academic programs, a counselor's letter of recommendation is an important document for admissions.)

To schedule a meeting with your counselor, you can…

  • Go to the Counseling Office at Main Hall, 201 and find your counselor.
  • Tell your counselor in person when and why you would like to meet with them (Ex: “Do you have time during office hours today to talk with me about engineering summer programs?” “Are you available to meet during lunch to help us understand what standards-based grading means?”)
  • Send your counselor an email: 

Mr. Mastreani <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Mr. Arnold <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Ms. Yu <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Ms. Brophy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ms. Jones <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>


What do I do if my counselor is unavailable when I need to talk to him/her?

If your counselor is unavailable you can do any of the following:

  • Come back at another time
  • Leave a message with one of the counseling assistants, Ms. Zhan or Ms. Yao
  • If it is an emergency, please let a counseling assistant or another counselor know. There is always a counselor available and they may be able to help you immediately. The counseling assistants can also help you find someone to talk to.
  • If no counselor is available and you feel an urgent need to talk to someone, please find the Principal (Mr. Mai / Mr. Yeung) or Dean of Students (Mrs. Shang). 


What hours is the Counseling Office open?

The counseling office is open from 8:00am – 4:30pm, or by appointment.


Where can I find a list of activities that I can be involved in at NCPA?

All NCPA students in high school and middle school have the opportunity to sign up for clubs and sports during three trimesters each year. See this page for more information about the ASA program: NCPA After-School Activities


What transition programs are there for new NCPA students?

Advisory is a great place to get to know a smaller group of students and feel comfortable with a few teachers who you will see every day. New students will also have an opportunity to meet the counselor before starting school. You can also ask your counselor if you would like to be introduced to a same-grade or upper-grade classmate to help your adjustment to NCPA social life! 


Is there is any way students can choose their teacher for a particular class? 

Although it is true that students have different styles of learning and teachers have different styles of teaching, an important part of developing adult life skills is learning how to adapt and work with people who have different personalities and styles of teaching. Since all student schedules change from fall to spring semester, all students have a great opportunity to experience different teaching styles. Although some students might see this as not helpful for learning, other students may find that they are often surprised by how much they grow to like even the most strict teachers. These students learn to appreciate the experience of different classroom settings. 

A final note: if we were to give you only your “favorite” teachers for four years, you would be very unprepared for college and the world of work! It is also our job to balance classes and teacher responsibilities in the best ways possible.


(Grade 9-12) How do I choose my required and elective classes? 

Starting from high school, students should consult carefully with their parents, teachers and counselors when choosing electives and considering more challenging courses like AP. For college admissions, the classes you choose AND the grades you earn in those classes are very important. At NCPA we have many course selection options so that students are encouraged to seek out new academic experiences. We recommend that students meet with their counselor in order to plan their academic course-load and discuss the impact on college admissions.


How can I get more information about colleges and careers?

Here are some of the ways to get more information about colleges and careers:

  • For high school students, log in to Naviance Family Connection here. Use the “Colleges” and “Careers” tabs to access information.
  • All students are welcome to come and use the College Resource room (MH-202) to learn more about specific colleges and their programs.
  • All students are welcome to check out a book in the Counseling Office (MH-201). Please see the booklist question below to see some of the resources we have!
  • The advisory curriculum for Grades 7-12 is another place where college and career topics are introduced to students during their studies at NCPA.
  • Starting from Grade 11, all students will begin to use Naviance to access college and career information and prepare for the college application process.


What is the purpose of the PSAT?

The purpose of the PSAT exam for 10th grade students is to familiarize and prepare them for the SAT exam, which will be one of the factors for college admissions decisions. In the U.S., the PSAT score will often give students and parents an idea of how the student might score on the SAT. It also helps to identify which sections or question types the student might need more practice in.


When should I take PSAT, SAT, ACT, TOEFL, and AP exams?

In the U.S., it is common for students to take the PSAT exam in 10th grade and the SAT exam in 11th grade. At NCPA we are an official testing site for the PSAT, and we help administer the exam to all students in 10th grade. 

As for the ACT and SAT exams, our students usually choose to register and take the exam with their classmates in locations such as Hong Kong and Macau. The counseling department will host one trip to Hong Kong for 11th grade students to take the SAT exam together. We also recommend students to register and take the TOEFL exam sometime before their 12th grade year. 

Finally, AP exams are taken only after consulting with your AP teacher. These exams are offered annually in the month of May, near the conclusion of an AP course. More details about these exams will be given by your AP teachers.




What does a college application include?

When evaluating student applications, college admission officers consider many factors. Among the most important are:

  • High school academic record (including the courses you chose and your grades)
  • Standardized test scores (SAT, SAT II, TOEFL, ACT, AP, etc.)
  • The quality of the student’s application (including the personal essay and written responses)
  • Letters of recommendation from the counselor and other teachers
  • Extracurricular activities, internship experience, employment
  • Special talents and interests


What is the difference between ED, EA, and RD? 

ED = Early Decision

EA = Early Action

RD = Regular Decision

Most U.S. college applications are due in January or February of the student’s senior year. These are known as regular decision (RD) applications and we generally recommend that students apply to between 6 to 10 schools. Students usually receive RD admissions notices in March or April.

Many colleges and universities also offer admission during a round of early applications. These early deadlines might mean students need to submit applications in November and December. “Early Decision” (ED) means that a student must make a binding commitment to a specific college. If the student is accepted, they will cancel all other applications and accept the offer of admission. “Early Action” (EA) does not require a student to commit to the college; therefore, they can submit regular decision (RD) applications as well. Keep in mind that different schools can have different rules for admissions. If you are interested in submitting an ED or EA application, please look carefully at the Admissions Page of each school and ask your counselor for support.


What possible responses could I receive from colleges?

For RD applications, students can be accepted, denied admission, or waitlisted. For ED/EA applications, students can be accepted, denied admission, or deferred to the regular decision round. 


What reasons might lead to receiving a "denied" admission response?

Being denied admission usually happens due to more than one reason. For most colleges and universities, the biggest reason is because of the large applicant pool and the competitive nature of the admissions process. Most university admissions officers would say that many of the students who receive a “denied” admission would actually do well and be a great fit for their school. The trouble is that there are simply too many other applicants. For example, UCLA shared that during one year, they received 92,000 applications and only had the space to accept 5,700 freshman. A quote from The College Board website also says: “Admission officers at selective colleges readily admit that as many as two-thirds of the students they reject are fully capable of succeeding academically at their institutions. Unfortunately, it is often a matter of too much demand for too few places.”


I received more “denied” responses than “accepted”. Is this normal?

In the U.S. college admissions process, almost every student should expect to receive a “denied” admission response from at least one school they applied to. Unlike the college entrance process for other countries like China, admissions to U.S. universities depends on many factors and each school’s admissions department can have different requirements and different measurements for what they are looking for in applicants. 

The bottom line: U.S. college admission results can be unpredictable and negative responses are often due to numbers and spaces. It does not make sense to take “denied” results personally, or overthink them.


What reasons might lead to a "waitlisted" response? 

Again, these reasons could also vary depending on the school’s admission criteria. However, being on the waitlist means that the final outcome could be affected by your mid-year 12th grade academic reports. In the U.S., students are often accepted into more than one university, and so they will need to turn down at least one of the offers. When the school has a better idea of the number of enrolled students they will have, they may choose to accept students who are waitlisted. Often the first place they look at for the waitlisted students is their mid-year report card: proof that your senior year grades are important!


What do counselors do to advocate for us during the admissions process?

NCPA college counselors regularly network and communicate with college admissions officers, prepare and send your transcripts, write a letter of recommendation for all students, prepare and send the updated NCPA School Profile and other supporting documents, reach out to admissions departments to help them understand the students in our school, support students to create a college list of best “fit” schools, and teach seminar courses to help students through the process of completing their college applications.


Does the counseling department recommend any books for students and parents to read about the college admissions process?

Yes! and most of the following books can be found in the NCPA Counseling Office! 


“Conquering the College Admissions Essay in 10 Steps” by Alan Gelb

“Personal Statement” by Jason Odell Williams

“On Writing the College Application Essay, 25th Anniversary Edition: The Key to Acceptance at the College of Your Choice” by Harry Bauld

“50 Successful Harvard Application Essays” by The Harvard Crimson Staff


“Countdown to College: 21 ‘To-Do’ Lists for High School” by Valerie Pierce with Cheryl Rilly

“The College Bound Organizer” by Anna Costaras and Gail Liss

“Admission Matters: What Students and Parents Need to Know About Getting Into College” by Sally P. Springer, Jon Reider and Marion R. Franck

“Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania” by Frank Bruni

“The College Admissions Mystique” by Bill Mayher


“Colleges That Change Lives” by Loren Pope

“College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students” by Jeffrey J. Selingo

“Insider’s Guide to the Colleges” by The Yale Daily News

“Looking Beyond The Ivy League” by Loren Pope

The Princeton Review: “The Complete Book of Colleges” (2014)

The Princeton Review: “The Best Value Colleges” (2014)

The Princeton Review: “The Best 378 Colleges” (2014)

College Board: “Book of Majors” (2014)

College Board: “International Student Handbook” (2014)

College Board: “College Handbook” (2014)

IAU: International Handbook of Universities (2013) Volumes 1-3

Peterson’s: “Four-Year Colleges” (2014)

Fiske: “Fiske Guide to Colleges” (2014)


“Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Getting In…to College: 101 True Stories from Kids Who Have Lived Through It” by Jack Canfield

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” by Sean Covey

“The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook” by Martha David, PhD 

“How to Survive Your Freshman Year” by Scott C. Silverman