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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.

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