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University in America?

(88 Posts)
PossumInAPearTree Wed 01-Feb-17 17:13:34

Or college I guess.

Dd is interested. I have no clue where to start looking at stuff. She's started looking but is focusing on the nice stuff, good looking campus, etc.

I can't get my head round finances. I can find fees, etc. But as a U.K. Student do you have to pay it all upfront? I'm guessing the English system of getting the course for free upfront and paying it back via future wages won't apply?

A lot of the courses she is looking at in the subject she wants to do talks about been able to do the major in that subject if doing well in prescribed modules in the first year. Is this standard? That you have to do a more general degree in year one and then specialise in year two?

bojorojo Wed 01-Feb-17 17:38:25

Hi. We looked into this for DD. There are two main ways of doing this.

Firstly, (about 4 years ago now) DD looked at courses where the fees were $22,000 per semester. That is $44,000 a year. You then need accommodation, other costs such as food, books, resources, possibly transport and of course flights. The university said allow $20,000 per annum plus flights. You pay up front - there are no loans for UK students. The courses are often 4 years so you may need at least $250,000 minimum for this. There are cheaper courses at less well known universities. The £/$ rate is now so crap, it is just unbelievably expensive. It is also difficult for UK students to work on campus due to work permits.

The other way is to be pretty bright and get a scholarship. DD was looking for an arts course and did get a small scholarship, but just too small! The most well known universities will fund the courses for the brightest students if the parents cannot pay. Definitely Ivy League universities do and they are very wealthy institutions. It is called a "needs blind" scholarship. There may be others that want the student enough to pay up the fees for them. However, the competition is, of course, fierce. Not impossible though.

So, consider the course, the institution, how bright she is, any added value in doing this for her career and how realisitc it really is. I know plenty of very rich who have been studied there but there are less ordinary students than you might think. It is growing, but still very, very, small in number. There is much more funding for post-grad. If you want to know more, The Fulbright Commission run seminars. Most of us left very deflated! What advantage would going to the USA confer? It is much, much cheaper to stay here unless you nail a free place. If you are mega rich, go for it!

PossumInAPearTree Wed 01-Feb-17 17:41:47

Gosh, didn't realise it was so expensive. She would have no benefit at all other than she fancies living in America for three years. She's not super bright, above average I guess. We're not super wealthy either. Think I need to put the kabosh on this asap.

bojorojo Wed 01-Feb-17 17:45:32

Just check it out. If you can show her the course costs and living costs, which are now way higher than when we looked at $1.65/£1. The Ivy League universities are expensive. I tend to think that if she can only get to a lesser university, which would be cheaper, is there really any advantage? Many courses are 4 years not 3 and they are wide ranging so less subject focused than ours, especially to begin with. What subject is she interested in?

Annebronte Wed 01-Feb-17 17:45:34

I found www.astarfuture.co.uk to have lots of useful info.

GetAHaircutCarl Wed 01-Feb-17 17:47:10

My twin DC have both made applications to colleges in the US, alongside their UCAS applications to universities in the UK.

There's also a rogue application to RADA in the mix (complicated, us? Never.)

The US is very expensive. No getting away form it. But there is a lot of financial help available, especially for sports scholars (golf, football, soccer, lacrosse are common).

bojorojo Wed 01-Feb-17 17:48:07

Also, do not forget, American parents have been saving like mad for university costs for years! All their child's life and possibly before. So have gransparents. They have always paid. It is a different mind set there and it is not cheap. You also have to factor in, do you want to be in the cities with the cheapest universities? My Dd wanted New York. No doubt other cites would be cheaper.

bojorojo Wed 01-Feb-17 17:49:43

Significant Scholarships are the only way for most. There is little financial help available to the ordinary student. You have to be extra-ordinary. I researched this like mad at the time. We qualified for nothing.

MinnowAndTheBear Wed 01-Feb-17 17:52:12

Has she thought about a course at a UK uni with a year abroad in the US?

PossumInAPearTree Wed 01-Feb-17 17:59:06

U.K. University with a year in America is a great idea. I shared uni digs with a girl who had done this and had a great time. Have broken the bad news to dd.....not gone down well.

Thanks all.

Leeds2 Wed 01-Feb-17 18:38:04

My DD is in her first year at a US uni. Do please PM me if you need any specific info - I am happy to help as much as I can!

Look at the Fulbright Commission's website. There is lots of useful info and they hold an Open Day in London in Sept/Oct every year which also provides lots of useful info.

Scholarships are available, but you have to be very bright/very sporty to stand much of a chance. They are more attainable the lower down the rankings you go!

You can apply to as many unis as you like, but you pay separately for each application (unlike UCAS).

My DD has had a very wide ranging subject spread in her first year, e.g. maths, creative writing, MFL, social sciences, science etc. This suits her, but doesn't suit everyone. Check out what, precisely, your DD would be required to study at anywhere she is considering applying to. If she is interested in a particular subject e.g. history, or physics, the US might not suit as it doesn't seem to really allow you to specialise early on.

Would second the idea of a year in the US from a UK uni. Would give her the living in the US experience without such a commitment.

Bobochic Wed 01-Feb-17 18:50:30

I know quite a few DC who have done this (we live in Paris). Be very, very careful! US degrees are not all as marketable as all that in the UK or in Europe and they are terribly expensive. I know DC who have returned from the US with no local friends and no job and have had to do another degree in order to get on with life.

PossumInAPearTree Wed 01-Feb-17 18:57:21

It's graphic design she's interested in as a subject.

Leeds2 Wed 01-Feb-17 19:15:25

If she wants to do graphic design, I think she is probably better staying in the UK.

DaphneDeLaFontaine Wed 01-Feb-17 19:20:46

DS is DS doing a course at a RG uni the third year in the US, arranged through university.

Much cheaper and a good experience.

JWIM Wed 01-Feb-17 21:33:47

DD also doing her degree in the US.

There is little to no financial aid for overseas students. Cost for this first year including all fees and catered (required for first years) shared bedroom/showerroom accommodation $70,000 and the exchange rate is not helping! At most you may be able to pay semester fees by instalment before and across the semester.

DD thoroughly researched various US universities, is very familiar with the US and knew what degree she wanted to major in and wanted the liberal arts first 2 years.

As Leeds says, you apply to each university individually, they all have a variety of application formats but most involve essays on given subjects. Chicago was probably the most challenging - I struggled to even understand the questions, let alone think about an answer. Each application has a fee $80 to $100ish.

Accommodation is very often shared bedrooms, even in the most prestigious locations.

It is a long way, although communication makes things easier.

Also happy to answer specific questions.

PossumInAPearTree Wed 01-Feb-17 21:42:33

I'm trying to put her off big time. She's googling like mad and keeps showing me photos of dorms, etc. Agggh.

bojorojo Wed 01-Feb-17 22:58:13

possum - DD got a place at Parsons New University, Manhattan, New York. This is a very well known and highly regarded private Design and Art university. Just have a G and T ready when you look at the fees and other expenses!

Lots of young people talk about going to the USA, but for many, it is just talk. You really do have to be wealthy or very talented in something. Check out whether a suitable university here offers a year abroad in the USA for graphic design. That may also present some challenges.

tissuesosoft Wed 01-Feb-17 23:06:11

How about something like Camp America when she is on summer holidays? Work experience, living in the USA for a short period of time etc

caroldecker Wed 01-Feb-17 23:32:22

Yale and Harvard offer needs blind offers to UK applicants - much cheaper than the UK if you earn less than $150k a year equivalent.
Need to do SAT tests (test centres are in the UK). Fee for SAT's in the £hundreds, application fees of c£100 per uni.
Degrees are general. 2 semesters a year and can sign up to 6 (I think) courses each semester. Courses start at 101, then 102 for higher level course. You cannot do a 102 course unless you have done the 101. You major in a subject by doing it each semester. The idea is that you may major in, say, history and do a course each semsester, but you can introduction to another course at any point in your 4 years.

Collegewise Thu 02-Feb-17 00:25:25

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Needmoresleep Thu 02-Feb-17 06:45:53

DC have know a number of students who have gone to the US to study.

Interestingly several good scientists/economists have opted for the UK for undergraduate with the intention of continuing to the US for postgraduate because of the greater specialisation the UK can offer. (Though this can cut both ways with strong mathematicians etc deciding the US offers more scope for allowing them to keep up with other interests and talents.)

The breadth offered by liberal arts certainly suits some.

The reputation of the University appears to matter, not just internationally where only a small number of names are familiar, but in the US.

Competition for top name Universities is huge. Higher than for Oxbridge. They will be looking for a load of achievements, beyond academic. Some London children appear to start building content for their personal statement very early, indeed at Primary.

Motivated kids start practicing SATS early. They can be taken repeatedly, and are, though each time costs.

Entrance requirements for each University are gruelling and it is common to apply to as many as 10 Universities. You need to be organised over the summer otherwise it will conflict with Y13 preparation for A levels.

England's early specialisation can give problems when applying to the US, you need to choose your A levels carefully. (Though design may be different.) IB is often seen as a better preparation.

There are some expensive consultants out there. American friends suggest that they do not always deliver on promises and can be very expensive. (A friend suggested that one, who spoke at an event I went to, charged in the region of £10,000, just for help with applications.) If you want to learn more about the process, American Universities themselves make recruitment visits to the UK (or at least London) and details are presumably available via the Fulbright Commission or similar.

The advice is that it is normally much better to find a sixth form with good experience of American applications, either an international school like Southbank or ASC (both offering IB), or an academic private school like Westminster (whose Early Decision hit rate is often extraordinary - even by American standards) or SPGS, or a sports school like Millfield (or Kings Taunton for soccer) if you are looking for a sports scholarship.

We are lucky in the UK that we have a number of good universities offering a range of interesting degrees. The best US Universities can offer amazing opportunities, but unless you are exceptional, in which case financial support may be available, or rich, or have strong family links with the US you want to foster, I suspect studying in the US is not worth the extra cost.

GetAHaircutCarl Thu 02-Feb-17 07:57:16

Whilst I agree that the application process is a bit tough, I think it's really important not to buy into the mythology.

A bit like Oxbridge. Yes there are extra hoops to jump through and yes it's more competitive, but nowhere near as gruelling or difficult as you think.

My DC started SAT practice in year 12. They most certainly have not been building their CVs ever as far as I'm aware. We have not engaged any consultant and we've pretty much ignored any parents talking the whole thing up. School have been very helpful, but American friends have been the most useful.

As for competition, well RADA beats them all hands down on that score grin.

Bobochic Thu 02-Feb-17 08:06:37

GetAHaircutCarl - if school helps out and you have US friends, it stands to reason that you don't need outside help (college consultant).

CQ Thu 02-Feb-17 08:13:44

DS is in the throes of applying to US unis. It has been a raft of extra admin and tests on top of UCAS stuff and general busy sixth form life, but not too difficult up to now. I am not keen to see him go that far away so I have not been very involved - if he wants it badly enough, he has to make it happen, and he has been very determined.

SAT exam centres get very booked up so get in early would be my advice, especially if you need to do a subject specific paper. A friend of DS needed to do a French paper which is fairly unusual, and had to travel to Bristol to sit it as London was full up.

All the applications are now in - 4 in all, and he's had interviews for all 4, 3 done locally by alumni who are doing postgrad work over here, 1 done via Skype. Offers (if he gets any) start coming in March, and they will be unconditional offers because they have his SAT scores. Then the angst will begin because he also has a handful of very very good UK offers, but all conditional of course.

I haven't even begun looking into scholarships yet - the verbage is so heavy that it makes me want to run and hide - so I'm not prepared to give up precious time yet until he definitely has an offer. Speaking to parents from previous year's US students, there is loads of help available to varying levels but it's a slog to access it. Also you have to do a full financial disclosure form, including the value of your home, which puts us at a disadvantage as our property prices are so much higher here than in the US (although that's one area the recent £/$ slide will have helped).

We have made it very clear to DS that if we go down this route, it will be a loan we make to him and he is expected to pay it back from his high-flying graduate job in 4 years time. He has a lot of weighing up to do.

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