Going to uni in america

(41 Posts)
mummymeister Wed 22-Jan-14 15:49:13

My DD is seriously considering this. how on earth do you go about finding out which ones to go to, what the courses are really like etc. what about interviews and visits? is there some sort of education fair in the uk that she could go to? anyone any experience would be v. grateful of your help.

MrsBright Wed 22-Jan-14 15:57:34

There was a Uni Fair in London last year - http://www.fulbright.org.uk/news-events/usa-study-events/usa-college-day

PS. Unless you are seriously wealthy then this isnt a realistic option. The overseas fees and accom costs are mammouth, never mind the homesickness.

She'd be far better off doing a UK degree with a integral Year Abroad in the US. Examples - http://www.manchester.ac.uk/undergraduate/courses/studyabroad/ OR http://www.exeter.ac.uk/undergraduate/studying/abroad/ plus many other leading Unis.

mummytime Wed 22-Jan-14 15:58:48

You want to start with the Fullbright Commission. There is a careers fair every autumn, there are also seminars on the different application proceedure etc. The Good Schools guide also have a book which gives a lot of useful information, but if you can get to London and its a few years I'd start with the Fair in the Autumn. She could also ask her school, I know my DCs State Comp has some information - some privates have much more.

University in the US tends to be very different to the UK, so she needs to be able to answer why she wants to study there instead. Also if she needs support, don't rule out the most expensive places.

MrsBright Wed 22-Jan-14 16:01:00

Wrong link for Manchester - try this http://www.manchester.ac.uk/undergraduate/courses/search2014/coursesincludingstudyabroad/

rightsaidfrederick Wed 22-Jan-14 20:12:45

Definitely suggest the Fulbright Commission. The Sutton Trust is also now doing some work regarding getting the not-wealthy into top US universities, which does prove that you don't need to be wealthy, as there is a lot of financial aid available if you know how to go about getting it.

You might also like to try College Confidential, which is a forum all about US college admissions.

Do make sure, however, that she understands the differences between UK and US education. Most starkly, for instance, there will be 'general education' requirements that will see her still studying maths and the like, and so no chance to just study one subject that she loves for four years. It's a great system for those who don't know what they want to do at 18, and a crap one if you want to specialise.

UptheChimney Wed 22-Jan-14 20:27:39

I think people think that with a £9k pa tuition fee here, it's "cheaper" to study in the US. I don't think that's so, and frankly, I think you get what you pay for. And the US Government generally wants an upfront indication of parental finances. My long-term experience of working or having research fellowships in the US is that it is actually a highly bureaucratic society (I have a US SS number somewhere ...) -- far more so than the UK, actually.

You need to cost in return airfares, and shipping costs. Are they ready for extreme heat & extreme cold, on the East Coast and the mid-West?

You also need to warn an 18 yo that the drinking age in the US is 21, and a lot of colleges will be very very strict about this. Especially for an overseas student. It's a good way to be deported ...

As others say, the US system is quite different from the English/Welsh system, although it has similarities to the Scottish system. The main consideration s that the US system is huge and the choice can be baffling. And it's not really possible to do a variety of campus visits.

I'd be asking your child why they want to study in the US. What's the motivation? If it's adventure, what about a gap year project, Summer Camps USA or similar?

UptheChimney Wed 22-Jan-14 20:31:39

Oh, meant to say, A level students here tend to be the equivalent of Sophomore standard in their chosen subjects in the US, but not in the General Ed subjects (or Maths if they've stopped Maths?sciences at GCSE, ditto vice versa for languages etc). Academic standards at US colleges can be variable, so care is needed in choice.

I find US exchange students -- who are Juniors, but come into our 2nd year -- often struggle until they adjust, but I imagine that the reverse is the case: so the actual academic adjustment could be bumpy.

So it seems to me it's about the motivation, and the overall aim of 4 years of study in the US, as opposed to the UK. It could be really exciting. But if the experience of our undergrads who do an exchange (in their 2nd Year) is anything to go by, it is tough -- such a different culture & educational system.

NatashaBee Wed 22-Jan-14 20:32:49

Why does she want to study in the US? Is there a particular subject she wants to study?

Most US colleges have fees on their website for international students. There may be some assistance available, but i'm not sure she'd be able to get a student loan as she would if she was studying at a UK university. It could prove to be very expensive.

mummymeister Thu 23-Jan-14 07:36:21

wow thank you to everyone who has posted. there is a lot for her to think about here. she is maths, science and business based choices for her A levels but likes the idea of doing other subjects as well rather than just studying one core thing. we have family in America and on speaking with them over the course of time has become more and more interested. its not so much about the adventure of it but more about the broad base of study that she will get in addition to her chosen field - theoretical physics/theoretical maths/astrophysics are the areas she is interested in. she is sitting 13 GCSE's predicted A and A* so is bright and hardworking but will need to look at the cultural issues more. any other information would be great.

UptheChimney Thu 23-Jan-14 07:37:26

She should also look at the Scottish system. But if she's only just doing GCSEs there's a bit of time yet.

Tabby1963 Thu 23-Jan-14 07:41:52

My daughter's friend has just gone over to Chicago for a six month exchange through a Scottish Uni. She's in Chicago during the fiercely cold weather too. A real shock to the system.

ajandjjmum Thu 23-Jan-14 07:49:19

A very good friend of our started her US uni career last summer - she seems to have settled well, although is finding it strange to go from A levels back to a broader range of subjects.

She is an excellent sportswoman, so has gained a very good scholarship which makes the fees/living costs far less than the UK.

Her parents paid around £2K for an organisation to find her a number of offers, and recommend which would be best for her.

My sneaking feeling over Christmas was that it wasn't all she expected, but she is a fabulous girl who will make the most of everything, so I feel sure will finish the 4 year course.

Eastpoint Thu 23-Jan-14 07:51:15

My dd is the same age & prefers sciences. We went to a talk at school and decided the uk would suit her better. Your daughter would need to do SATs in the UK at a recognized centre and fill in application forms for each college, from what I understand there is no centralized system in the US, lots of the colleges are private. The forms are quite demanding, essays etc which are specific to each college.

UptheChimney Thu 23-Jan-14 08:13:24

She should think, too, about what she might want to do, and where she might want to live (I mean, which continent!) after graduation. A US degree in the UK, can be a bit tricky to "sell" unless it's from a well-known college (especially an Ivy).

And professional vocational training: medicine, law & so on, are all done as graduate (UK: post-graduate) degrees, so a BA or BSc is a deliberately generalised course of study.

Again, this might be a good fit.

I'd want to be talking to her about her motivation: if the impression of US colleges is drawn from college movies, or Buffy, then think again!

MrsBright Thu 23-Jan-14 08:42:19

Liberal Arts (Bristol or Exeter) or Liberal Arts & Science (Birmingham) are 4 year degrees with an integral Year Abroad (USA/Australia/Europe) that allow students to study a variety of disciplines and the connections between them.

mummytime Thu 23-Jan-14 09:42:23

If she does want to go to the US, is she bright enough and well rounded enough to get into an "elite" college? Because although their tuition fees can be truly eye watering, they are also the places she is most likely to get financial support as an overseas student.

If she is serious you might like to read College Unbound to learn a bit more to make you both savy consumers of US colleges.

lljkk Thu 23-Jan-14 09:51:29

I totally prefer the American approach of broader education with less early specialism. This part is excellent. The British systems leave me shock.

It will be very expensive unless you think she's very extremely elite material and can get into one of the few universities that are truly Needs Blind. Even then, you would need to pay for things like Airfare (£500-£600 RT to west coast).

Americans have a very different attitude towards Uni than the British, it's accepted that it is always expensive, parents have to cough up an awful lot and students normally leave debts as well as having worked PT much of their way thru. That's how it was back in the 1970s and it's not any easier now.

A year abroad programme might be a better compromise.

21 may be the official drinking age but it's very widely flouted. Just like no legal sex under 18 (yeah right).

DS explored this a year ago to the extent of gaining a place on this.
In the end he decided it was not for him.
Study in the US involves broad based subjects at least for the first year. He wanted to do Maths and thought he had left English etc behind at GCSE.
He also came to the conclusion that he could not put the time and effort into an American application without sacrificing his A level grades. (He would have had to study for and sit the ACT at the same time as AS levels).

Slipshodsibyl Thu 23-Jan-14 19:02:37

As mentioned above, the Fulbright Commision is the starting point. I have experience at Post grad level and they are very helpful, but the application and later, education is different to the UK and you need to understand how - it isn't as simple as those articles in the Telegraph suggest!

If that research and the costs don't put you off then I see. I reason not to pursue it. I have lived overseas a lot and know a lot of children, from international and some from UKschools who have done it/are doing it very successfully. They are high achievers though and very often international in outlook. Their parents are not short of money either. Those who go to less well known Colleges, often on a scholarship for a talent which may not be academic, are far more likely to leave the course.

By well known I don't mean only those towards the top of the QS league tables. Some State universities are very good and well known to Americans and act as feeders for postgrad for the top universities at a lower price. Check the alma maters for the first degree of some of the US educated professors and researchers at the likes of Harvard

There will be culture shock.

My own elder children are at university in the UK, although they were offered the opportunity to try for the US. They managed to get into courses they really wanted here. I was glad as I would prefer to send them for postgrad if they want to go.

dotnet Sat 01-Feb-14 08:18:39

Just a thought ... more and more students in England are opting to study across the Channel (England's fees are the highest in Europe - thanks, coalition ).angry
Maastricht is the best known option, with lots of courses in English.
I admire the kids who decide to go for this option and thus save themselves from committing to clearing a massive Coalition imposed personal debt in future years.

dotnet Sat 01-Feb-14 08:26:44

Just a thought - more and more students in England are opting to study across the channel now, thanks to the Coalition move on fees for higher education. Fees for students in England are now the highest in Europe. angry
Maastricht is the highest profile European university where UK students are choosing to study, with far more affordable fees, and lots of courses in English. But there are many others.
Students who don't want to leave the UK could defer applying for university and move to Scotland for about three years, after which I believe they could secure a Scottish university place as a mature student with little or no student debt.

LeBearPolar Sat 01-Feb-14 08:36:17

A lot of students at the school I teach at apply to American universities (we have a fairly international student body). Your DD will have to sit her SATs - both the general one (which tests a range of subjects) and subject specific ones if she wants to apply for an Ivy League university. All the papers are multiple choice except for one 25 min essay question on the general paper. However, they are NOT easy.

Applications aren't central so she will need to apply to each university individually, and will need a number of teachers prepared to act as referees testifying to her character, work ethic, etc etc. When I have been put down as a referee, I have produced a standard reference which I have then had to submit to each university individually (online) as the request comes in.

A number of our students have SATs tuition sessions (not within our school but in the UK) which they attend at weekends/holidays, so it may be worth investigating these.

Worth considering - most of our students who go for this are studying for the IB rather than A Levels - thus they have the subject breadth at sixth form level too.

CMOTDibbler Sat 01-Feb-14 08:39:54

Interesting you say that Dotnet as I was in Maastricht this week and of the research team I was meeting with, a third were english.

JodieGarberJacob Sat 01-Feb-14 08:46:29

Just been reading the Liberal Arts degree modules at Exeter and sounds amazing!

2rebecca Sat 01-Feb-14 10:00:10

Birmingham, Bristol, Lancaster, Sheffield, Strathclyde, Surrey Sussex and Swansea do Physics with a year abroad some of them specifying N America. St Andrews which is excellent for physics does all its physics degrees including astrophysics with an optional year abroad.
I'd be going down this route. If she builds up contacts in the US on her year abroad then she can maybe do her pHD there. To me a Brit interested in science going to America to do their basic degree would be going backwards academically.
Get your degree here and then go to the US to do research.

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