College Admissions & Covid-19

Focus on: Eye On Ivy

Under the recent conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been a number of changes in the way schools and students are approaching education, including the new move towards online classrooms. Parents are anxious about the futures of their children and especially those who have to venture on to university abroad or in Pakistan.

Covid 19 has prompted changes in the way students will apply to universities abroad.

Shanza N. Khan is the Founder and Head Counselor at Eye on Ivy, the first student counseling firm in Pakistan that specializes in the guidance of International Baccalaureate (IB) students.

She was on a fully-funded scholarship at Harvard as a Dean’s Fellow and won several other scholarships and awards while there including the Roy Scholarship and the Jane Mansbridge Award. She launched Eye on Ivy as a passion project last year to help kids in overseas admissions. Eye on Ivy has already been recognized at the International School Awards in Dubai and won best start-up college counseling firm in 2019. She is an economist and public policy specialist and has worked with international financial organizations such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UN Agencies etc. for the last two decades.

We are fortunate to get the opportunity to interview her to get her expert view point on admissions, their procedures and future trends for students applying abroad post Covid 19!

  • What inspired you to start this project?

I moved back to Pakistan two years ago after being mostly in the States for the last fifteen years. When I visited the college counselors at my children’s IB school in Lahore and asked for options regarding summer activities, volunteer opportunities and internships, my questions generated perplexed reactions. My daughter was in 8th Grade at the time and I was firmly informed that there was no need for such activities till at least 11th Grade (or A-levels). Having helped many students informally over the years apply successfully to top universities, I know that your profile 9th Grade onwards matter a lot. I did a lot of market research and found out that this was not an isolated incident. Schools, which do have college counseling, start engaging with students when it’s time to apply to colleges. They guide according to what a student has accomplished – by this time it’s too late to rewind the clock and say that you should have tried to be an office-bearer of x club or taken part in these international competitions. These students have missed their chance to get into a better college or land a better financial package. Thus, was born the idea of Eye on Ivy.

  • What makes ‘Eye on Ivy’ stand out amongst so many platforms offering educational guidance?

There are several reasons. First, we are the ONLY college placement service that specializes in counselling IB students. We understand the unique curriculum that IB students are required to master and help them use it to their advantage. Second, our team comprises only of policy practitioners. We have not just obtained degrees from top universities, but have also worked in the best organizations in our respective fields. We know that your goal is to ultimately find employment in your ideal organization. Each member of our team has on-ground experience in the workforce. We know that a degree whose only purpose is to be framed in your drawing-room is useless. Third, we use our proprietary, carefully developed Strategic Personalized Approach (SPA) to help students and families navigate the complex world of applications. Fourth, Eye on Ivy offers a unique array of services. Applicants and their families typically approach an education consultant when they are ready to apply for colleges abroad. While assistance in narrowing academic institutions and support on the admission application is important, at Eye on Ivy we work with 9th/10th/11th grade students to build their portfolio and resume during these critical years so that they will have all the necessary components covered when it is time to apply.

  • Do you guide only IB students or students who have taken A’ Levels or F.Sc as well?

We guide O and A level students but not those who have done their matriculation or F.A/F.Sc. Our focus is on overseas admissions and thus we primarily work with students who are in the IB, British or American system.

  • How is Eye on Ivy planning to give special assistance to students applying for universities during this pandemic?

We have shifted to working with both students and their parents remotely. We were already familiar with working with students and their families on platforms of their preference whether it be zoom, skype or WhatsApp since we have students in different provinces and a couple even overseas!

  • Do you think that colleges abroad will hold the same level of importance after the pandemic ends or will online education become more popular?

At the moment there is no way of knowing when the pandemic will really end or even if the current situation becomes the new normal! If the situation continues, we will certainly see a greater move towards online education or a mix with larger classes taking place online and spaced out smaller classes. Several colleges abroad have already moved in this direction offering only classes in the Fall term whether it be Boston University or Cambridge.

  • Where do you see Eye on Ivy in the next five years and in which countries will you be focusing on more?

Eye on Ivy specializes in admissions to the US though we work globally. If the pandemic continues, I would not be surprised to see greater international admissions in Asian countries such as Malaysia, Turkey and South Korea.

  • What advice would you give to students who are currently being heavily impacted by the current events and especially those who’s exams got cancelled because of the pandemic?

Be resilient and look at the silver lining! If your exams have been cancelled, the vast majority of schools are planning to send in predicted grades. It is important to be focused and take initiative – in the current environment, schools will likely not be able to cover the entire curriculum for the academic year. Dig out the required syllabus and try and cover as much material as you can on your own. Check out outline internships and competitions. You may well be surprised at your own capabilities!

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