There are over 3,500 universities in the US and Eluceo understands that choosing that dream institution can be a daunting and confusing task. More than 9,000 UK students currently study in the US, and this figure is bound to grow as the benefits also increase.
Reasons why you might choose to study in the US:
- The quality of their institutions - according to the QS World Rankings 2014/15 there are 6 in the top 10 and 28 in the top 100.
- If you attend an Ivy League or a world top 100 university, it is a vastly better bargain than the UK. Although the "sticker price" is spectacularly high, financial aid packages are generous with someone whose family earns less than £50,000 a year getting just about everything for free. At Harvard, Yale and Princeton, more than 60 per cent of the students get something from the financial aid programme – including families that make more than $200,000 a year if they happen to have two (or more) children attending university. If your family makes the equivalent of £100,000 a year, you are eligible for a grant of more than three-quarters of the $40,000 tuition fee.
- US liberal arts degrees take 4 years to complete with the first two years offering you the chance to study a range of courses. This gives you the room to make mistakes, try new disciplines, and keep up an interest in something besides your main academic interests. As you only have to decide at the end of your second year what you are going to major in, hopefully by this time you understand the subjects you enjoy and excel in the most.
Why you might not choose to study in the US:
- The US doesn't offer undergraduate medical degrees, so if you wish to study medicine or a subject allied to medicine, such as nursing or physiotherapy the UK would be a better option
- In the same way, if you know exactly what course you want to undertake and are interested in the strict discipline of the UK curriculum then the US may not be for you.
How to choose a university
Listed on the right under 'find an American University', we've listed the websites that are useful in your search. They offer insights into US universities through league tables, student reviews, graphics, stats and pictures, and they are much more interesting and insightful (and even fun) compared to our UK versions.
We've divided the sections on US universities into: initial research, whereby you might work out a number of universities (approximately 15) which suit your requirements in its size, setting, degree type, entrance requirements; in-depth research, whereby you whittle down your choice to those you are applying to (approximately 6, although you may just want to apply to one or two on top of your UK applications) with considerations such as reputation, university "personality", class sizes and acceptance rates; information on admissions tests; and information on the application form.
Location & Setting
As well as by location, if you have one in mind, university search engines generally let you search by university campuses by:
You may also like to consider:
- Weather - coming from the UK, the weather is generally the same everywhere. However, this is different in the US - do you want somewhere with a Mediterranean climate or somewhere that has four distinct seasons?
- Distance - studying on the West Coast compared to the East coast means an extra four hours on a plane to travel home.
- Small - fewer than 2,000 students
- Medium - between 2,000 - 15,000 students
- Large - more than 15,000 students
As a comparison, the University of Manchester has an enrolment of approximately 40,000 undergraduate and postgraduates, the University of Cambridge has approximately 20,000 while the London School of Economics has approximately 10,000 students. In the UK, only specialist institutions such as the Glasgow School of Art, Royal Veterinary College, Royal Academy of Music have fewer than 2,000 students.
- Public - a university that is run by the state.
- Private - a university that is run by a private organisation. Essentially there is very little difference between these two in terms of the quality of education you will receive, and both will be of a high quality. The differences will be more apparent in the size, cost, financial aid available, intake of students (public universities might have in-state quotas) and how the university is run.
- For-profit - these are businesses which offer specialised education, however their mission is not purely educational.
- 2-year programmes - these are undertaken at what is known as a ‘community college’ and results in an Associate degree (equivalent to a Foundation degree in the UK). If you then want to obtain a Bachelor’s degree you can transfer to a four-year degree programme after your two years. This is an option you should at least consider, as it often offers lower admission criteria (you often can attend with your GCSE results), flexibility and lower costs.
- 4-year programmes - a four-year course results in a Bachelor’s degree.
US universities are expensive. Take cost into consideration, however do note that many universities offer substantial financial aid packages, so if there is somewhere you like the look of, but feel it is out of your price range, take time to look into how you might be able to afford to attend it.
(College Board lets you search by 'financial aid for international students')
We’ll come to SATs or ACTs in a second, but firstly how do you understand the equivalent grades so you know where to apply. (On your application however, report your results in their original format, the GPAs are just a guideline).
|GCSE & A Level Grades||Scottish Intermediates 1-2||Scottish Highers||US Grade Point Average|