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STUDY IN AMERICA THE APPLICATION PROCESS DEMYSTIFIED & STUDENT EXPERIENCES 9 January 2013, Maidstone Grammar School Presenters Stuart Gordon (Head of Harvard.

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Presentation on theme: "STUDY IN AMERICA THE APPLICATION PROCESS DEMYSTIFIED & STUDENT EXPERIENCES 9 January 2013, Maidstone Grammar School Presenters Stuart Gordon (Head of Harvard."— Presentation transcript:

1 STUDY IN AMERICA THE APPLICATION PROCESS DEMYSTIFIED & STUDENT EXPERIENCES 9 January 2013, Maidstone Grammar School Presenters Stuart Gordon (Head of Harvard UK Outreach) Robert Ledniczky (Harvard Class of 2016) Nadira Lalji (Harvard Class of 2009)

2 This session will cover… Differences between US & UK Higher Education US Application Process – Researching US Universities – Standardised Tests – Compiling Your Application – Financial Aid Harvard Student Experiences – Current undergraduate – Recent graduate

3 Why study in the US? 1.Quality and reputation of US universities 2.Wide choice – 2,400 colleges in the US offer undergraduate degrees 3.Opportunity to study a broad range of subjects – no specialisation for the first 18 months 4.Learn about a new culture and expand your horizons 5.Internationalise your CV

4 US vs. UK University Systems American UniversitiesBritish Universities  Four year liberal arts degree with wide range of disciplines and courses  Three or four year specialised degree within specific subject  Focus on general education  Focus on early specialisation  Continuous assessment  Subject finals at completion of degree  Specialisation during second year  Advance commitment to a subject, usually no changes  Balance between academic study and extracurricular activity  Extracurricular activity in own time

5 Terminology Differences USUK High school, grades 9 - 12Years 10 - 13 College, university, schoolUniversity, ‘Uni’ Class, courseModule Degree program, majorCourse PublicState-funded

6 What are US colleges looking for? 1.Academic achievement (grades, scores, teacher comments) 2.Extracurricular involvement (activities and achievements outside academic study) 3.Personal attributes (interest in your academic field of choice, character, leadership potential, open mindedness, energy etc.) 4.Overall ‘fit’ with the college 5.Goal is to obtain fullest picture of applicant – both past accomplishments and future potential

7 Typical timeframe Time before enrolment Notes Years 9/10 onwards3-4 years Start to build up a profile for academic achievement and extracurricular activity that will make you a good ‘fit’ for uni Year 11 2 – 2½ years Start researching possible universities Think about what subjects to study in Years 12 and 13 Year 12 1 – 1½ years Do additional research to make a short list of universities Register for taking the SAT admissions tests Autumn of Year 13, before half term 10-12 months Finalise your selection of universities Begin admissions and funding applications Autumn of Year 13, after half term 8-10 months Submit admissions applications (early deadlines in November; regular deadlines in January – March) Submit funding applications Spring of Year 13 4-7 months Receive admissions decisions (1 April at the latest for regular deadlines) Accept/decline any offers by 1 May Summer after Year 13 1-3 months Apply for your visa Read the pre-departure section of Fulbright website Aug. / Sept.--Begin study in the US! Application Timeline

8 Researching US universities 1.Think before you search. Prioritise the factors that are important to you. 2.Begin your search using online search engines, print guides and personal recommendations to narrow your search to 10-20 good options. 3.Do your homework. Roll up your sleeves and research these, narrowing the list to the 4-6 you apply to.

9 1. Prioritise factors important to you Academic –Competitiveness of admission –Courses offered –Enrichment opportunities: Study abroad, internships, co-ops, undergrad research Location –Cost of living & lifestyle issues of being in urban, suburban or rural areas –Proximity to public transport /airports –Cultural differences –Weather and climate –Centres of excellence for certain fields Costs and availability of university funding –Reduce up-front costs –For university funding Campus life - atmosphere; activities; campus size; student body

10 Example: 1.Degree: Bachelor’s programmes in History 2.Location: Texas due to family connections; warm weather 3.Extracurricular opportunities: Rowing club, host family scheme 4.Academic opportunities: Study abroad in major field 5.Funding: Looking to minimise up front costs and have a good chance of receiving funding 6.Prestige: Degree that is accredited and will be recognised as a top programme

11 2. Use online search engine

12 Click on each college to find further info:

13 3. Research your shortlist thoroughly

14 Don’t forget to check out the student profile...

15 ...and whether they have an international office

16 If you definitely want to study in the US: Select a well-rounded list of 4-6 universities: 1-2 dream schools (your Oxbridge) 1-2 match schools 1-2 safety schools Use a similar method to apply to a maximum of 5 UK universities through UCAS Keep your options open – don’t set your heart on just one or two universities

17 Application components Common Application Form (academic record, extracurricular achievements) SAT I reasoning test and SAT II subject tests School report/teacher recommendations Personal essay(s) Alumni interview in the UK (top colleges only)

18 SAT tests SAT I Reasoning test - Critical Reading, Maths, Writing SAT II Subject tests - 2 or 3 subjects required. Subject choices include maths levels 1 and 2, physics, chemistry, biology, US history, world history, French, German, Spanish Tips: –Don’t panic. If you’re good enough to get good grades at A Level, you’re good enough to do these tests. –Prepare by downloading/purchasing past papers and doing a few practice tests. You will then know in advance how you measure up. Each test is scored from 0-800. Scores in the 600s are respectable; 700s are good. –Register with the College Board and book your place at a test centre early – places fill up very quickly. Cost: $75 Reasoning; $59 (each) Subject

19 School Report UK: Sue Smith is a very likeable student with a solid future ahead of her. She interacts well with her classmates and seems to be quite popular amongst her peers. Academically, she achieves decent marks and has good relationships with her tutor, although she could be more focused upon deadlines... US: It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Sue Smith who ranks amongst the top five percent of students within her classes. She is not only passionate about her field of study, but also about involvement in the community and school. I have no doubt she will be an asset to your programme…

20 Essays Importance of admissions essays Opportunity to set yourself apart and showcase your unique qualities as an applicant 1-3 essay questions per university Likely able to re-use elements of essays for different universities

21 Financial Aid Merit based aid (for athletes, musicians, top scholars, etc) available at many US colleges Need based aid available at most US colleges, but may be limited or not available to international students…. ….but, six US colleges (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Dartmouth and Amherst) are both need-blind and full need for international students, and several others come very close At Harvard, families with incomes below £40,000 are usually expected to pay nothing Families with incomes between £40k and £100k will contribute between 0% and 10% of their incomes to university costs

22 Sutton Trust US programme for UK state school students One week summer school in the US (based at Yale or MIT) plus introductory events and application support in the UK before and after Eligible to Year 12 students who attend a state school or college. Preferred applicants: o Have earned 8 or more As or A*s at GCSE o Are from low or middle income families (preference given to those with a household income under £45,000 a year) o Are the first generation in their family to go to university Applications close at 12 noon on Monday 18 February 2013 Apply online at

23 Subscribe to our e-newsletter (includes our Guide to American College Applications)

24 Next steps – start now! Information about applying to US universities: Information for UK applicants to Harvard College: Information and registration for the SATs: Information and registration for the ACTs: Information on the Common Application Form: Financial aid information for international students: Search engine for US universities:

25 Perspectives from a Harvard Freshman Should I complete both US and UK university applications at the same time? And how do I do it? What other resources can I draw on? What should I expect on campus?





30 Perspectives from a Recent Graduate What are my best memories from college? What do I most cherish? Incredible Peer Group International Opportunities & Exchange Programs - Harvard College in Asia Project - Peking University, Beijing - Tokyo University, Tokyo - Ewha Women’s University, Seoul Research & Travel Fellowships Weatherhead Center Grants Weisman Travel Graduate Fellowships & Support Harvard-Cambridge Fellowship


32 Questions?

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