Applying abroad

(47 Posts)
Scatter Fri 26-Feb-16 16:01:57

Just curious, as my oldest DS is only 15 so university applications are a while off. He has mentioned wanting to study in America. Can you apply to the US universities and, at the same time, apply through UCAS in the normal way for English universities?

Also does anyone have any experience of sons or daughters applying for university on the continent?

Thanks in advance.

OP’s posts: |
bojorojo Fri 26-Feb-16 16:22:48

You apply for American universities separately and the timing differs for each one. What they want differs too, so it is normal to try one or two and it can be a lot of work. Then there is the cost. My DD's course was 4 years (8 semesters) and $20,000 per semester. They suggested another $20,000 for living expenses pa and then you have the flights and other university expenses. She did get a small scholarship but it was a drop in the Ocean.

This was an expensive university and others are cheaper. Some are "needs blind". This means they take the best students and, if you cannot afford the fees, they will give you a scholarship because they want you. Needless to say, the competition for these are fierce and are mostly given by the well endowed Ivy League universities. You either have to be rich or brilliant to study in the USA. Or good at sport - they like that!

If you need money, it is a limited choice in the USA. The European universities that teach in English are few and far between too. I have no experience of these though.

Leeds2 Fri 26-Feb-16 16:51:32

My DD is in Upper Sixth, and has offers from both UK and US universities to start this autumn.

If your DS does apply to the US, he needs to be aware that he will in all probability have to do SAT exams (these are the same exams the US students do, but you can sit them in this country) - we only found one that didn't require this or the alternative to SAT (which I can't remember the name of!).

You can apply to as many universities as you want, but pay for each application. There is one common application form, a bit like a UCAS form, then each university can ask several questions of their own, so if you are applying to lots of different institutions it can be quite time consuming!

Would also say that the US approach seems to me to be more "holistic" than the UK one, and they will genuinely be interested if someone has Grade 8 clarinet, represents the school at hockey etc.

The Fulbright Commission is a good place to look for initial information. They also hold an event in the autumn at which various universities are available to answer questions, and there are a couple of lectures about how to apply, and how to finance it. We went to one at Kensington Town Hall, but I think they take place in other cities too. Kensington Town Hall was way too small, and it was well nigh impossible to speak to any of the universities, although we did get some brochures. The talks were very useful. I have a feeling that the London event has now been moved to somewhere with higher capacity!

bojorojo Fri 26-Feb-16 19:54:36

We went to the Fulbright near Holborn. How much are the fees Leeds2, or does your DC have a scholarship? My DD only applied for one, but hers was quite specialist. She submitted photos of her work. The families at the Fulbright info evening were disappointed by the lack of scholarships to cover fees and most people I spoke to were put off. My DD got a place but the cost was too high to justify it. If you can get a fully funded (or even part funded) place, then it works. If you cannot, it is far more expensive than here.

Leeds2 Fri 26-Feb-16 22:45:39

DD has has two scholarships offered. Waiting to hear from the rest at the end of March.

Eastpoint Fri 26-Feb-16 22:49:47

With the major colleges, a sports scholarship might still be means tested so would only give your child early acceptance, rather than money off. There are also scholarships which are available to certain colleges, one is at North Carolina Chapel Hill, which give free tuition etc there are others, you will just have to do your research to see are applicable.

bojorojo Fri 26-Feb-16 23:10:04

My DDs scholarship was means tested. Hence the problem.


Leeds2 Sun 28-Feb-16 17:08:21

bojorojo, did your DD firm any offers from Uk universities whilst she made her mind up whether for not to go to the US, or did she not apply? Just think my DD should keep as many options as possible open for as long as possible!

JWIM Sat 05-Mar-16 17:32:39

DD has a confirmed UK place for Sept 16 start which she would be very happy as a final outcome. Has also applied to several US universities. Took SATs last autumn - twice, but you can sit as many times as you wish. She had between 2 and 4 supplementary essays to write for each application. Some had short answer questions too. Each application has a fee charged $60 - $90 from memory. Most ask for confirmation that she/we can fund @$70,000 pa to cover fees and living costs for the year- 2 or 3 terms. One even asked for documentary proof of funds.

I would second looking at the Fulbright Commission for more info. But generally the availability of scholarships is not as realistic once you start to research the universities as an international applicant - unless very, very bright, sporty or bright but meets fairly stringent means test.

Good Luck.

Leeds2 Sat 05-Mar-16 21:12:12

Do you think your DD will go to the UK, or US, JWIM?

bojorojo Sun 06-Mar-16 22:53:52

She applied to 5 Uk universities as normal and she firmed an offer from a Uk university, which is a world leader in her field. She is currently studying there. The money we would have spent in the USA can fund other projects in the future if needed. Staying in the UK will not harm her prospects. Having done all the work to get a place, it was disappointing to find the outlay was so high we had to question whether study in the USA was worth it. We did know the cost but had hoped for a higher scholarship.

The majority of money available to study in the USA from scholarships is for Masters qualifications. $70,000 pa for an undergrad degree per annum is about right. Students from the USA may also be offered work on campus but getting the right visa for a uk student is a pain. The USA hardly needs UK students to serve in coffee shops on USA university campuses! I searched and searched for scholarships that were applicable to us but as DH is not a Vietnam Vet, we are not resident in the required State or members of an American Church etc., the list of possible scholarships was excruciatingly tiny. It was zero, except for the means tested scholarship from the university, which she was offered. Hers was an Arts College and sporty she is not. Not that they offered sports scholarships anyway.

Leeds2 Mon 07-Mar-16 10:03:36

Thanks for that, bojorojo. I misunderstood, and thought your DD was studying in the States at the moment. The whole application process is a minefield!

JWIM Mon 07-Mar-16 12:15:28

DD is awaiting results of her applications - due from late March - but has always been very/overly pessimistic as the % of overseas offers is tiny for the institutions she has applied to against applications received. It will be a challenge to decide (we have suggested she give some thought to deciding ahead of the applications results but she is loathe to think she might even get one) as she is very happy with her confirmed UK offer. If she decides to go to the US we will fund her - but I think she may only take up a place in the US if offered by her most aspirational application. We shall see.

Leeds2 Mon 07-Mar-16 13:23:26

My DD has had three offers so far, but not from her preferred choices, so it is starting to get quite nail biting here in the run up to the end of March!

Good Luck to your DD, JWIM.

BoboChic Mon 07-Mar-16 18:15:56

You can apply to university in several countries simultaneously. I know French DC who have applied to the UK, US, Canada, Switzerland, Italy and Spain (not all though) as well as France.

I am hearing good things about ESADE.

Leeds2 Mon 07-Mar-16 19:30:33

Did they accept offers from two or more different countries, Bobo? Knowing that they would probably go to country A, but accepting offers from country A and country B?

Needmoresleep Mon 07-Mar-16 20:27:52

One approach I have seen used is to apply for a deferred place in Ireland alongside a place in France. This works very well in medicine where the failure rate at the end of the first year at French Universities can be as high as 80%. It means that if you fail your first year in France you simply start again in Ireland. I don't know if this approach is needed in other subjects.

BoboChic Mon 07-Mar-16 20:52:14

Leeds2 - it's not usually possible to hold on to offers without financial penalties. The U.K. Is unusual in allowing students to hold on to offers for a long time without committing financially.

Leeds2 Mon 07-Mar-16 23:59:54

Bobo, but can you do that? That is, confirm a place in the UK but knowing that your first choice is probably elsewhere?

BoboChic Tue 08-Mar-16 10:54:08

Yes, of course you can. Why not?

Needmoresleep Tue 08-Mar-16 12:43:06

In the medicine anecdote above the French student had also applied to the UK but did not receive any offers. The mother assumed that this was because of the British system undervalues French qualifications. I wonder. British Universities have to treat all candidates equally, however I assume they allowed to factor in how interested each candidate is in their course. If they have had a few French students deferring and then not taking up places at the last moment, ie not making a decision until they have their results from their French first year University exams, I assume they look more critically at the commitment to study in the UK of future French applicants.

I wonder, taking a single anecdote further albeit one supported by Bobbo's assertions above, whether this applied to other candidates. Perhaps other very competitive courses have been stung in the same way, and through experience have started discounting statements of interest within Personal statements of very able French candidates who are likely to be using the UK as a fall back to top US colleges and to les Grandes Ecoles.

DS' school strongly discouraged parallel applications to US and UK (aside from Canada and very occassionally Dublin, these seemed to be the only options considered) mainly because the work involved in an American application is so heavy. Some applied to both anyway but as American offers are largely unconditional there was plenty of time to make a decision without inconveniencing anyone.

From observation of a number of London based US or international families who have always assumed their children will return to the US for college, there seems to be a sharp divide between humanities and STEM and varients of economics/E&M/PPE. Would be engineers often opt for three years at Cambridge/Imperial returning to the US for a masters. The UK is cheaper, faster and more specialised and top Universities have strong international reputations. In contrast the breadth of a liberal arts degree and the value afforded to graduating from an Ivy League college seems to out-trump anything the UK can offer. One or two of DS' Asian friends have made similar decisions, ending up at the LSE reading economics (and drowning in the maths) because they failed to gain a place at an Ivy, but finding their very maths orientated education and resulting good grades, qualifies them for places on sought after courses in the UK which have the advantage of being well recognised by employers in Asia.

Leeds2 Tue 08-Mar-16 16:05:34

Bobo, I simply wondered if by firming a UK choice you were then committed to that choice if you got the grades. Possibly financially, even if you didn't actually attend.

Needmoresleep Tue 08-Mar-16 16:09:43

Leeds, you are not. Plenty of UK students wobble during Yr13 and finally decide they don't want to do the course they applied for, and instead want to take a gap year and reapply.

Leeds2 Tue 08-Mar-16 18:38:24

Thank you, Needmoresleep. I was having visions of being tied to pay 4 years of US fees and three years of UK for the one degree! I have known lots of students defer for a year, but never known any actually drop out.

BoboChic Tue 08-Mar-16 19:34:54

NeedMoreSleep - the French bac isn't good preparation for a medicine degree in the UK - the biology/chemistry aspects are quite different to A-level, plus French DC don't usually have the demonstrable caring skills that English prospective medics do.

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