International Perspectives: Q&A with Susan Kwok

March 23, 2016

We’re back with another Q&A, this time, with Hong Kong International School teacher Susan Kwok. Every year, she sees students progress through high school and journey off to college. We chatted with her and found out everything from her views on college application essays to her favorite book.

How long have you been working as a teacher?

Over 20 years

If you could change the common app essay question to anything, what would it be?

Most, if not all, young people are dreamers and dream-chasers. List 5 most important dreams of yours that you are determined to chase in your life. Explain why these dreams take priority over the others, and why you will chase them in your life.

What’s your motto?

Work hard, play hard, learn hard, earn hard, yearn hard

Favorite quote?

It is more blessed to give than to receive

What are the biggest mistakes students make when applying to college?

It may be that the applicant only gets to know the college by listening to one source of information, e.g., a friend or a parent. There are so many resources out there for students to use when applying, so it’s better to get different perspectives.

What’s your opinion on ACT vs. SAT? What do more of your students take? What do you think colleges think about the two?

By far, Hong Kong students take SAT much more than ACT. I don’t think colleges view them differently.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning to get your day off to a good start?

To have a great breakfast with someone I love.

One breakfast item you can’t skip in the morning?

A bowl of fruit.

Describe your perfect weekend to get some downtime.

A weekend that I can do 4 out of these 6 things: Great meals (breakfasts, lunches, and dinners), exercise, going to church, seeing a great movie, a trip out of town, or helping someone either I know or don’t know.

What advice do you give students to help with time management?

Plan out a timetable for your major ingredients of life (such as study, leisure, family, friends, religious commitments, etc) and try cover all of them. But don’t over-exert or pressure yourself by aiming to be a perfectionist. If you can do 80% of each and every item, that’s plenty. If you find yourself overstretched, try revise your timetable to suit, perhaps by reducing its coverage.

What do you do to relax?

Doing what you like and enjoy most, and occasionally doing nothing at all.

What book would you recommend everyone read in their lifetime?

“How We Think” by John Dewey.

If you could describe yourself to a college admissions officer so they really know who you are, what would you say?

I am a teacher who loves her students, no matter who they are. They’re all so different, but they matter equally.

What do you consider the world’s best invention?

Computer.

What’s one activity / habit you wish you had time to pick up?

I wish I could learn how to play piano.

Have any of your students sabotaged a college application because they didn’t want to go where their parents wanted them to attend?

I have seen students not doing their best in making decisions. Perhaps not sabotaging their college applications, but not doing everything they could to get in because it wasn’t where they wanted to go.

What’s your greatest fear?

When bad things happen that I have no control over.

 

 

About The Author

AdmitSee Staff
AdmitSee Staff

​We remember our frustration with applying to college and the lack of information surrounding it. So we created AdmitSee to bring much-needed transparency to the application process! Read more about the team here.




Browse Successful Application Files

dorszy
MIT ‘20


Accepted to MIT, Princeton, Duke, Stanford, UGA, GA Tech, UNC

I'm a current sophomore at MIT who loves all sorts of things: from engineering and biology to music and dance.
rfkoerner
UMich ‘20


Accepted to UMich, GA Tech, Case, Michigan Tech

I am a hard-working, motivated student, athlete, and performer who enjoys having fun on the side.
VivienneEve23
UC Berkeley ‘20


Accepted to UC Berkeley, Brown, Claremont (CMC), Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Northwestern, Pomona, Stanford, San Diego, Vanderbilt, UCSC, UCSB, UCSD, UCLA, Cal Poly, Cal Poly Pomona, Washington

UC Berkeley Class of 2020
lmelcher
Columbia ‘20


Accepted to Columbia, Brown, UPenn, Rice, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UVA, UC Davis, UCSD, UCSC, USC

Hey! I'm a John Jay Scholar at Columbia, and I'm from Los Angeles. I'm planning to major in Art History and do ballet and theater. Hope I can help!

New Posts

Summer Prep for Every Grade in High School
Summer Prep for Every Grade in High School
March 15, 2019

What should you do as a high school student over the summer? If that's a question you're asking yourself, relax. Spend your summer break wisely, meaning find a good balance between enjoying your time off...

Load More Posts