So what's the deal if one of my dc wanted to go to uni in the USA?

(45 Posts)
Squarepebbles Thu 11-Apr-13 13:16:48

Dp has US family(only cousins now) and one of my dc is talking about this a lot.We have some time on our side but don't want to encourage him in something not possible iykwim and wondering if you need to prepare earlier.

So what happens?

Is it ££££££ more in tuition fees.How does accommodation compare?Can you still get UK student loans to cover it?

Are the better US unis more expensive?How do they compare with the better UK unis.

DS isn't particularly sporty but bright and very driven.Would the lack of brilliance in sport be an issue?

I'm guessing they need to do US tests,are UK qualifications taken into account or even looked at?How do they do the US tests,prepare for them?

Has anybody's dc done this?

janinlondon Thu 11-Apr-13 13:24:32

Try googling Fulbright Commission. They have a US college day in London each September.

Squarepebbles Thu 11-Apr-13 13:28:09


Do you think a student would have problems adjusting at the end of the course?

A friend of mine went to uni in the States and never really settled back over here,always wanted to go back.Your uni experience has a big impact on your social life etc after.

Also do UK companies hold US degrees in the same light as UK degrees.Are only the top unis recognised?

QTPie Thu 11-Apr-13 14:01:56

It is ££££££££

When I was at secondary school (22+ years ago!) we VERY briefly looked at it, but to be honest I didn't have the courage to do it (living so far from home). Back then, the tuition fees at the top universities were about $30k+ per year, plus accommodation,

QTPie Thu 11-Apr-13 14:06:42

Plus other costs, travel, they would very likely need a car too (depending on where they go). And that was 22+ years ago....

Some other colleges/universities would be cheaper, but if you go all if that way you would probably want a good one.

University courses are somewhat different in the US - the education is more general early on and you specialise later. May suit some and not others.

It sounds like fun if you can make it work and providing your child is very committed: wouldn't want to go to the trouble and the expense for them to later drop out...

mrz Thu 11-Apr-13 17:42:43

One of our staff went to the US as a Fulbright scholar on an exchange from her Uni

turkeyboots Thu 11-Apr-13 17:50:54

As an overseas student fees are higher than US students. And the more prestigious a uni, the more expensive. So Harvard and Yale are wildly expensive compared to a State College. And all courses are 4 years, so adds up.

Entry is by SAT score - a verbal and maths multiple choice test. And each college wants application essays and grades from the last 4 years of school.

It's a lot of work just to apply. But if your DS is exceptional, you might get financial support which could make it do able.

turkeyboots Thu 11-Apr-13 17:51:57

Sorry - comprehension not verbal

FairPhyllis Thu 11-Apr-13 18:01:08

It is $$$$$$$$$$$$$ (sorry don't have pound symbol on US keyboard). Many places do have financial aid but I have no idea what income level it kicks in at. You might be surprised though.

It is also socially a very different experience - not just the not being able to drink thing although that is a factor - and educationally students have a very different attitude to UK students. I am a PhD student in the US which is how I know this btw.

Also it is getting harder and harder to get visas to work post-graduation. If he wanted to stay on after graduation it is not necessarily easy to get a company to sponsor you, especially if all you have is a bachelors.

Again, if he wanted to do postgrad in the UK they might not necessarily accept a US degree - a friend of mine got a BA at an Ivy League college, which Oxford didn't accept for postgrad work. They made her do a second BA before she could do her masters because they didn't think her course was up to scratch.

If he wants to study abroad it might be better to do an exchange year.

OrganixAddict Thu 11-Apr-13 18:05:37

If your DS is aiming for Harvard they offer all students financial support, based on family circumstances. They have an online calculator which will estimate what your costs (including tuition, accommodation, food, travel) will be & your contribution. But with 35000 applicants for about 2000 places getting an offer might be a challenge.

FairPhyllis Thu 11-Apr-13 18:07:00

OTOH having a British accent is a massive advantage for dating on campus ...

mummytime Thu 11-Apr-13 18:08:25

Do go to the Fullbright site, and go to their information days. Harvard and Yale could be more affordable than "cheaper" US Unis as they offer funding help even to foreign students. You don't just have to have a Sports Scholarship, although the one boy who got one from my school didn't even get it in his main sport.

Most Unis want scores in the SAT or ACT exams, and for the SATs often want certain subject specific SATs as well as the general ones. You will have to find a place to sit these and pay the relevant fees, they can get very busy for the June sitting. You can study yourself for them or spend lots of money to get tuition (Fullbright can give information on this).

Some US Unis do not require SATs, but will just accept A'levels (but it can be hard to find out which ones).

No you can't get a UK student loan, some Unis will provide loans for overseas students as part of their financial aid package, but you won't be eligible for the normal Federal/State loans.

Finally the courses are very different and the Universities are looking for different things to UK ones. So you need to do a lot of homework first.

clam Thu 11-Apr-13 18:12:49

My friend's ds is about to start at a US university (although they're expats and living out there anyway)and he categorically won't be taking his car when he goes. Apparently it's not necessary and would cost around $1000 a year to park. Might vary depending on the campus.

I did an exchange program when I was an undergraduate - 4 months in LA. Was brilliant (but 30 years quite a long time ago).

Mominatrix Thu 11-Apr-13 18:25:16

For private universities, there is no difference in fees for an international student and an American student. For state universities, there is a difference in fees between in-state and out of state.

For an idea of the best colleges (universities with just undergraduates departments) and National Universities (includes graduate divisions), this is a very good resource. It lists fees, statistics on student life and financial aid.

Some schools have needs-blind admission and the student is accepted without any idea of what their financial situation is. If they are accepted, the school will assess how much the student and family can contribute and fill in the gap with a mix of grants and loans. To give some idea of financial aid available, Harvard University will give a full ride (tuition, board, travel stipend, living stipend) to those whose parents make less than £75,000. However, schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton and other generous schools also are extremely academically/extracurricularly selective - acceptance rates of 4.8%- 6ish%.

In terms of selection, simply being good academically is not good enough. 3 years ago (the stats I know very well) over 700 applicant to Harvard had perfect scores on their SATs (not the equivalent to SATs here, but a basic college entrance exam) - of these, they only took about 200. They prefer a student with a lower score, but brings something else (very significant extracurriculars) to the table. The admissions office said that they were not looking for just heads on sticks, for a dynamic person. Student activism, meaningful volunteering experience demonstrating the applicant made a real difference, or a very unusual accomplishment are really favoured. This definitely does not mean being sporty - apart from being nationally ranked.

The academic requirements would be to take the SATs (not difficult at all - maths, reasoning and comprehension, and a short essay - preparation books can be purchased on-line), a school transcript, 2 letters of recommendations, as well as the application (which requires 2 essays usually). Many of the top schools are familiar with the academic qualifications in the UK and have quite active outreach programs (DH is very involved in one, which is why I have loads of info).

In terms of accommodations, most students at the top schools live on campus in dormatories or fraternity/sorority houses. There is a huge emphasis on campus life at these schools.

I could be wrong, but I always thought that Fulbrights covered graduate studies, not undergraduate.

mrz Thu 11-Apr-13 18:30:44
Mominatrix Thu 11-Apr-13 18:36:48

Thanks for the clarification mrz. I was getting confused between the Fulbright organization and the Fulbright Scholarship.

mummytime Thu 11-Apr-13 19:38:30

They are the same place, but the Scholarship is just part of what they do. They also have lots of information for students just wanting to do a term or year in the US etc.

mrz Thu 11-Apr-13 19:54:21

That's what our staff member did mummytime

Talkinpeace Thu 11-Apr-13 21:54:35

we are teasing DS that he should aim for Stanford - the fact that I was born in US should help though !

Knowing from family members who were faculty members at top US colleges, the academically excellent are funded to a large extent. Strivers have to work harder for their money.

Talkinpeace Thu 11-Apr-13 21:59:02

when I sat my SATs I got into all the gap year colleges of my choice (Ivy League) but then went and failed my a leveles!

Eastpoint Fri 12-Apr-13 05:30:47

A friend of mine's son has just been accepted by a college I've never heard of on a golf scholarship. Normal fees are $56,500 PER YEAR at a liberal arts college I know of but 42% of students receive financial aid. I know another student who is on an athletic scholarship at Stanford.

Your DC can do the PSAT in the autumn of year 11 or 12 to see where they need to improve their SAT score. A lot of the top US colleges have about 15% of places going to legacies & major donors.

Another friend's son is doing a year in the US as part of his UK degree, would that suit your DC?

MrRected Fri 12-Apr-13 06:09:16

My dc1 is 11 years old, 6ft tall and an incredibly motivated basketballer.

Do any of you based in the US know about sports based scholarships?

Mominatrix Fri 12-Apr-13 06:28:55

MrRected - it depends on how good he is in basketball. If he is exceptional (and he would have to be to garner interest from the top basketball schools), I would contact the schools' basketball teams directly - better yet, have his coach contact the schools. Another important thing to do is to have your son attend one of the high profile summer basketball camps - this is where talent scouts swarm to. Additionally, college level basketball is extremely high profile in the US (March Madness anyone?), and there have been issues surrounding the recruiting of players so it is very regulated and I believe there is a NCAA eligibility form which you need to fill out. Sorry I can't help you out more than this - I was never athletically gifted and seem to have surrounded myself with other such people!

Mominatrix Fri 12-Apr-13 06:30:26

Eastpoint, I would do the PSAT earlier. American students take this exam in the beginning of 10th grade when they are 15.

middleclassonbursary Fri 12-Apr-13 10:33:32

I have a friend who used to be professor at Oxford all her children went to US universities two to the Ivy League. I once asked her if was better than going to Oxbridge I was surprised at her answer "its always better". Why? apparently its a much broader education you can combine unrelated subjects which is harder at Oxbridge and the really super bright can really excel theres no holding them back and there's loads of money for research etc. all of which is pioneering. All have gone onto top jobs (although as a staunch left winger not ones she necessarily approves of) both here and in the US and all received financial support from their university she said if they really want you and you cant afford it they'll fund you. In her view and experience although other things matter to get into the Ivy League when it comes down to it its all about intelligence.
I accept this is anecdotal but certainly an interesting and knowledgeable point of view.

DS1 has looked into this seriously but decided against US study.
The main reason for him was the nature of study. UK students start to specialise at 16 when they choose A levels. USA students don't do this until well through the degree course, which incidentally is 4 years rather than three. This may well suit many students but my DS wants to do one subject and nothing else.
The ACT requires a lot of preparation for all but the very brightest at the same time as A levels. If your child wants to keep the door open for a UK university they have to juggle both at the risk of diluting both.
You can also look at this

Eastpoint Sun 14-Apr-13 06:59:01

Mominatrix not trying to have an argument but US 10th Grade is our year 11. They are 15/16. The pupils taking it in year 12 are those who have only thought about US unis late.

Mominatrix Sun 14-Apr-13 07:28:31

Eastpoint - I think I know where the confusion in our interpretation of UK Grade 11 is. you are correct in that in terms of years left until finishing senior school, UK year 11 is the same as US Grade 10, but that would also imply that US Grade 1 is the same as UK Year 2 - which is most definitely is not. However, in the US, we start school later and finish a year earlier and the UK. Canada has a pre-university timetable closer to the UK, and their students go on until Grade 13, as opposed to the US Grade 12.

This does bring up something to keep in mind for international students - they might arrive at their American universities surprised by how immature their peers are as the vast majority starting with them will be a year younger, and also would not have had a specialised education for the last 2 years prior to university. However, because they have had to continue a broad based education, they might be a bit more well rounded in terms of broad subject knowledge. The point of the undergraduate studies in America is that of a Liberal Arts Education - thus, a broad-based education which only narrows to specialist studies in the last 2 years. Graduate studies are there to further pursue the chosen specialist studies. As a result of this kind of education, I was able to major in the equivalent of PPE whilst taking all my medical school requirements. Additionally, because I had to continue French, I was able to spend my Junior year (3rd year) studying Art History in France. I loved my education because of the ability to study such a wide variety of subjects and find that, looking back, it is precisely those "outside" subjects which really stay with me.

lljkk Mon 15-Apr-13 16:48:57

Very funny thread for me to read; previously on MN I got repeatedly screeched at for spouting ignorant rubbish when I said that the main thing required to get into a US uni (not necessarily Ivy League which is usually all MNers talk about, just like of course Britain doesn't have any Unis other than Oxbridge either, right?) was $$$$$$$. Where the F were all of you then??

I would love to see some case studies & examples of how much folk spent & how much they got subsidised (limited to entry in, say, last 15 yrs). For me, having been to US uni, the UK student funding system looks wildly extremely infinitely cheaper & more generous. It's a factor for at least one DC.

I fell in love with Stanford & my dad was prepared to remortgage the house to send me there (this is how ordinary Americans afford to send their DC to top Unis). My SAT scores were 98th percentile but my extracurriculars were nothing special, so I had no chance whatsoever at being accepted to Ivy League as an undergrad (perhaps it's easier for foreigners, many MNers claim it is easy to get into Ivy League). PG study I would have walked in no problem, though.

lljkk Mon 15-Apr-13 17:03:57

most recent report produced by NAFSA: The Association of International Educators estimates that $7.223 billion was received by over 690,000 international students"

that's good, works out as over $10k each. Almost one year of living cost & tuition at a not especially good Uni try Jacksonville State in Alabama on this calculator. 25% of costs isn't bad at all. Only about 2.5 months of costs at an Ivy League Uni though (try Yale). 4 months somewhere inbetween (like Cal Berkeley).

Community college is the cheapest route. I like this quote: "You'll find that most British students are from very wealthy backgrounds, or upper middle class families. In my case my dad is working very hard to get me though this.".

I think the T&C on student loans in USA are extremely ungenerous, too; no means-testing about when or how much you repay, for instance.

Mominatrix Mon 15-Apr-13 17:36:05

lljkk, I have the specific figures for UK admissions to arguable the most selective school in the US broken down by specific applicant for the past 6 years - it is not easier for international applicants to get into Ivys (or their College equivalents) as the acceptance percentages mirror the total acceptance percentage - something which has seriously perplexed the administration of the top selective Independents which are used to acceptance rates of 35%+ to Oxbridge. FOr some countries which are schoolroom focused in their education (France), they are actually disadvantaged.

In terms of $ and admission, I don't think that anyone would doubt that it does occur, but for the top schools (not just Ivys!), it is a small minority. Proof is in the financial aid figures which are found on the US News and World Report site.

pastoralacademia Mon 15-Apr-13 17:52:48

but that would also imply that US Grade 1 is the same as UK Year 2 - which is most definitely is not i am sorry but why do you think so?

Mominatrix Mon 15-Apr-13 18:22:43

Grade 1 is the first year of mandatory schooling in the US.

lljkk Mon 15-Apr-13 18:39:39

"In terms of $ and admission, I don't think that anyone would doubt that it does occur, but for the top schools (not just Ivys!), it is a small minority. Proof is in the financial aid figures which are found on the US News and World Report site."

I dont' understand what that sentence is saying. I'm not saying that people bribe to get their place; I'm saying that some US uni somewhere has low enough admission standards for most people who might want to go to Uni, so in reality the only truly difficult hurdle is finding the money. If folk are only thinking US Uni = Ivy League (and that no other US Uni offers degrees worth having) than obviously, the academics & extracurrics are very hard to obtain too. But vast majority of US degrees are not Ivy League (just like Oxbridge aren't the only worthy UK degrees to have, either... although I guess some would argue otherwise).

Can you give links to the US News & World Report site(s)? Sorry if I missed the links above.

This Ivy League case study mentions cost of $48k/yr after all "financial aid" (that includes loans, usually) but presumably allowing 20 hours/week that the student can also work (generously I'll pretend they could earn $10/hour after tax, so $200/wk, $20k/annum. Cost-out-of-pocket down to a mere $28k/yr (about £18k), or a mere $92,000 after 4 yrs. Bargain?!

Mominatrix Mon 15-Apr-13 19:19:15

Sorry lljkk, that comment was in response to "the main thing required to get into a US uni (not necessarily Ivy League which is usually all MNers talk about, just like of course Britain doesn't have any Unis other than Oxbridge either, right?) was $$$$$$$."

I suppose that I assume that people in the UK would not be thinking about US universities unless they offered something above and beyond their local universities, thus their criteria would assume an academic minimum - not just Ivy League, but also including MIT, Stanford, Cal Tech, Northwestern, U Chicago, U Michigan, Washington University, Duke, Georgetown, CMU, Pomona, Amherst, Williams, Swarthmore, Middlebury, Wellesley, Haverford, Claremont McKenna, Johns Hopkins, Rice U, Notre Dame, Emory, Bowdoin, Carleton, etc. here is the link again.

I do agree that people here are not aware of the quality and reputation of the colleges and universities which I listed (all are top 20 Universities or Liberal Arts Colleges), and if looking at American Unis, these are ones I'd also consider.

Regarding the case study you linked to, in terms of Financial Aid, Princeton is a needs blind school, thus the financial aid office must have concluded that it was reasonable for her family chip in $48K (not much different than what her parents were paying for Cheltenham Ladies College). Had her family income been less, they would have found the money to fund her. I know how these packages work, and they would not have a student work 20 hours a week! I did mention above that Harvard (thus the other Big Names) will give a full ride (including travel and living expenses) for UK residents with families earning less than £75,000. Additionally, there are specific scholarships giving full rides to UK residents at these institutions (Harvard has 2 geared specifically to state school students).

lljkk Mon 15-Apr-13 19:45:19

I guess I'd like to see some case studies where non-US nationals of truly modest means and only ordinary brilliance got to Ivy League, and how much they still had to fund (and what the loan repayment terms were, too).

Mominatrix Mon 15-Apr-13 20:30:03

Yes, but things have gotten so competitive that even US nationals of ordinary brilliance would have difficulty getting into these schools. Nowadays they are looking for brilliance full stop, and they have the world knocking at their doors!

ramonaquimby Mon 15-Apr-13 22:29:47

The majority of Canadian students finish high school in grade 12.

It's only in the province of Quebec where students graduate in grade 11, but those wanting to attend university have to attend for 2 more years

Mominatrix Mon 15-Apr-13 22:33:00

Strange - I dated a man for a while in uni who grew up in Toronto and he and his friends were telling me about Grade 13 (he was at Upper Canada College, so a big name private school). He was at McGill, so is this a Canada wide thing that people going to uni go to grade 13?

nicecupofteaandbiscuit Mon 15-Apr-13 22:36:32

Places like Harvard and Princeton have very good financial aid. I imagine it would have been cheaper for me to go to uni there than in the UK (I'm from a single parent household). The all have these calculators on their websites now:

ramonaquimby Mon 15-Apr-13 22:43:48

Only Quebec offers grade 13. Maybe they were taking about their French Canadian mates?!

Mominatrix Mon 15-Apr-13 22:49:04

No, themselves. Has the system changed over the past 20 (gulp!) years?

ramonaquimby Mon 15-Apr-13 23:12:55

Haha. Think it was actually phased out 10 years ago? Family of teachers here (in Canada but I'm in UK)

lljkk Tue 16-Apr-13 09:49:10

Harvard and Princeton have very good financial aid. I imagine it would have been cheaper for me to go to uni there than in the UK

But only if you manifest terrific leadership potential as well as high academic potential by the time you are 17; if I believe the fin aid packages are really that terrific then it's terribly depressing, the American education system is even more elitist than I thought. The elite who already have so much going for them get an guaranteed easy ride & the rest get huge debts. I know so many merely ordinary brilliant people who didn't go to Uni because they couldn't face the funding hurdles.

Maybe. Americans think of Ivy League as amazingly expensive regardless of what's claimed here. I cannot think of Ivy League as true American Unis; very very few real people go there.

happygardening Tue 16-Apr-13 10:17:36

"it is not easier for international applicants to get into Ivys (or their College equivalents) as the acceptance percentages mirror the total acceptance percentage - something which has seriously perplexed the administration of the top selective Independents which are used to acceptance rates of 35%+ to Oxbridge."
Many top independents are I think starting to get to grip with the requirements my DS's school this year is sending 10 -12% and has been increasing the number year on year. A couple of school are now employing full time advisors just to assist with Ivy League (and others) applications. Parents already paying £33 000 a year are likely to be less put off by the fees and also the increasing number of international students at many top schools are probably a factor in the increasing numbers.

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