As a prospective international student, before starting the applications journey, the prospect of attending a school in the States always felt inaccessible. Coming from the UK, it is fairly standard to attend a university quite close to home; studying abroad for all four years of your higher education is unusual and somewhat unique.
Yet over the past few months as I enter my final year of high school, this dream of attending a US institution has become ever more real and very much possible. I always knew the difficulties involved when applying to universities in two separate countries however, the depth needed for American applications in comparison to that of the UK’s is astonishing. As an aid to all those international students dreaming of studying in the States, I have collated a list of the biggest differences between the two to assist you in your college decisions.
1.The emphasis on YOU!
Every college in America wants to get to know you as a person. This is something that really struck me when first researching into the admissions process, everything seemed so personal, each institution wants to know how you will fit as an individual onto their campus.
2. The focus on extracurriculars
When applying to an institution in the UK, the applications process will consist of your school grades, one Personal Statement and one school reference; these two components are sent to each University you apply to and that’s it! Of course they care about what you are doing outside of the classroom however be prepared to tell American institutions in full everything you decide to do with your spare time, it is a big focus in the States and very ordinary for your American counterparts.
3. You are applying to the WHOLE school
When applying to a US University, if admitted, you are admitted to the whole school. There is no need to apply to a specific course or major; you can decide once you’re in or when applying if you know for certain. For me, this was one of the strangest elements, as UK institutions require an application to one specific course for four years. Personally, I think the US system is much more freeing and if you do decide you have changed your mind on what you want to study, it’s no big deal.
Applying to university can be a scary time for anyone but with the prospect of moving thousands of miles away from home, it is important to know your stuff and do your research before committing to studying abroad. I hope this article has cleared up any confusions prospective international students have on US institutions. With admissions tests, references, school grades and extracurriculars it can be daunting, but with your organisation and dedication who knows where it could take you.