British International School Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Simon Finnigan has used BridgeU to transition into a new counselling role and make his department's guidance strategy both more holistic and more tailored to the students at his school. 

  • Simon Finnigan, Senior University Guidance Counsellor at the British International School in Ho Chi Minh City credits BridgeU with making the transition into the role smooth and simple when he began.
  • Simon’s implementation of BridgeU works on a wide-scale. It is central to how his department operates, and it has broadened its scope and impact.
  • With BridgeU, Simon hopes to take a more holistic approach to guidance: starting earlier, including parents, and taking account of students’ ambitions and strengths.
  • BridgeU’s data analytics allow Simon’s department to provide more tailored and targeted guidance.
Simon Finnigan
University Guidance Counsellor, British International School in Ho Chi Minh City

“I’ve had BridgeU since day one and I’ve tried to incorporate it into our guidance at every opportunity.”

Finding the perfect fit for his school

Simon transitioned to the position of University Guidance Counsellor at the British International School in Ho Chi Minh City from his previous role as an English teacher at the school. Having worked on both US and UK university campuses, it was felt that he would bring a wide range of relevant knowledge and expertise to help students achieve their goals in terms of university applications.

The BIS HCMC is exceptionally diverse in the scope and diversity of students’ applications, even for an international school - something which made Simon’s new role all the more challenging. As a result, he was on a quest for tools that would help him get to grips with his new responsibilities.

A presentation he saw convinced him that BridgeU would be the perfect fit. This belief was buoyed by the great rapport he developed with his Customer Success Manager: “she actively reached out and listened to our feedback,” he explained.

Simon Finnigan
University Guidance Counsellor, British International School in Ho Chi Minh City

“The platform made us realise that we need to get students far more engaged and thinking about the future much earlier.”

Focusing on early years and careers guidance

As he has grown more comfortable in his role, Simon has realised the value of beginning guidance as early as possible, and thinking broadly about future careers as well as focusing more closely on particular higher education programmes.

In part, this wider focus has been made possible thanks to BridgeU streamlining the department’s processes, freeing up time and attention. For example, many of the preliminary meetings and questions which Simon’s department contended with at the beginning of the guidance process are completed through tasks within BridgeU in students’ own time. In total, Simon estimates this saves his department a huge 100 hours per cohort.

students with a counsellor at the British International School Ho Chi Minh City

With more time available, Simon has been able to gradually incorporate BridgeU into his guidance with younger year groups. This decision was influenced by the role Simon’s department plays in guiding students as they choose IBDP programmes. They realised that students need to be engaged earlier, so they select subjects with degrees and career paths in mind. Here, BridgeU’s careers and course-matching elements are invaluable.

In particular, Simon feels that younger students benefit from BridgeU’s Discover tool, which displays content tailored to their interests and ambitions. This, in turn, shows them how valuable it is to complete their BridgeU profiles thoroughly, so that they see information closely related to their goals.

Simon Finnigan
University Guidance Counsellor, British International School in Ho Chi Minh City

“It’s clear that this is a powerful source of information. These links, videos… they’re bringing things together in one place that students aren’t going to look for. It synthesizes everything.”

It’s in relation to co-curricular activities that Simon considers BridgeU crucial for younger students. With the Strategy Advisor, students gather all their experiences in one place, and understand how they’ll strengthen their applications. Here, parental input is particularly helpful.

Engaging parents in the guidance process

Simon thinks it’s so useful to engage younger students’ parents because they’re often more focused on their children’s university plans than the students themselves. When they hear about tools like the Strategy Advisor, they actively encourage their children to use them, reminding them to record their experiences and activities.

As a bonus, by introducing parents to BridgeU, Simon’s department saves even more time - many of the questions that parents often asked are now answered by the content they encounter on BridgeU. The department also includes this content in bulletins and newsletters.

What’s more, Simon invites parents to BridgeU’s free webinars, saving time and resources spent organising their own information sessions.

Simon Finnigan
University Guidance Counsellor, British International School in Ho Chi Minh City

“This isn’t just another platform, this is integral to our students’ education.”

A tailored guidance strategy

Better still, Simon's team can tailor their entire guidance strategy in line with the trends they find. For example, let’s say they notice a big percentage of students want to study in the UK, and many of them are interested in business. They can collate all of the best information they have on the top UK business courses, and send it on.

Similarly, when planning university visits, he’ll use BridgeU to see which universities are being shortlisted by lots of students, and book visits from them. He’ll then look at what subjects those students are most interested in, what co-curriculars they’re inputting and so on, and ask the university rep to focus on relevant areas.

Simon Finnigan
University Guidance Counsellor, British International School in Ho Chi Minh City

“It’s thanks to BridgeU that we can provide the quality of provision we do. BridgeU is collating all this data for us that allows us to tailor our provision to our students.”

Reporting to stakeholders

Having all of this data at their fingertips also makes things easier when it comes to other stakeholders in the school. The headteacher no longer has to contact Simon to find out things like how many students have applied to the USA, or how many students have already received offers.

When a Head of School has a presentation to the regional team, Simon can share accurate data at the click of a button, and even send the graphs BridgeU provides.

two students working together on a laptop

Overall, Simon sees insights as “a real time-saver”, and an emblem of the notion that you get out what you put in: the longer he uses BridgeU, and the more his students use it, the more representative and useful the data will be.

But for Simon, being sure to use BridgeU isn’t a challenge. “BridgeU is my working day,” he said. “When people ask me what I do with it, all I can say is ‘what don’t I do with it?’”

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