Essential tips for studying in the United States

 

Once your mind has been opened to the idea of studying in the United States you'll find the Fulbright Commission is your best source of information if you are applying from the UK. Their website will guide you through the steps. They can also tell you about financial awards they offer British students who study in the US at postgraduate level. 

Making the right choice

The USA has 4,000 universities and colleges and there are many different types. Beyond the prestigious Ivy League group, which includes Princeton and Yale, they range from small private liberal arts colleges with their focus on undergraduate teaching to the large public research universities with a greater student population and breadth of courses.

The Fulbright website directs you to www.petersons.com and bigfuture.collegeboard.org which are good places to begin searching for a university or college that has strong expertise in the subject area you plan to study. You’ll want to think about the kind of environment you’d be spending up to four years in, be it a large city or a college town. Wherever you choose, you are likely to find that student life in the US revolves around a close-knit campus experience.

Narrowing down the choices

Once you’ve prioritised the factors important to you when choosing a university, draw up a list of 20. Narrow it down to six or so by checking prospectuses, reading student blogs, talking to UK students who have returned from the USA and, ideally, visiting the campuses themselves. If you can’t get to the US, there are online tours and virtual open house days. You could also attend Fulbright’s annual USA College Day, which will give you the chance to talk to admissions staff and alumni from 150 American universities offering undergraduate degrees. It runs from 28-29 September at Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street London W8 7NX.  You can register online via their website.

What qualifications are available?

At undergraduate level in the US, there are four-year Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Sciences (BSc) degrees. There are also two-year Associate degrees available at community colleges, which could lead into a full university degree course. The BA aims to give students a well-rounded academic experience. You’ll start by taking a wide range of courses in the arts, humanities, languages and the social and physical sciences. At the end of the first year, or some way into the second, students can decide on the subject in which they want to major. From that point, 50 per cent of your classes will be in your specialist area. As in the UK, a BA or BSc can lead on to study at graduate level.

What exam results will I need?

According to the Fulbright Commission, American universities will expect to see a similar qualifications and results as British universities of a similar level within the rankings.

At the top end, Yale looks for three or more As and A*s at A-level or the equivalent, but many universities with a good reputation will be flexible in their approach to UK exam results. Community colleges may accept the equivalent of NVQs.

Do US universities have their own entry tests?

Most American universities will expect you to take SAT or ACT admission tests. Samples of these tests can be found at www.collegeboard.org or www.actstudent.org so you can practice in advance. The most competitive universities will ask you to take SAT subject tests or the ACT with the optional writing section as well.

Will I need a visa?

Yes. Once you have received your offers by April, you will need to start the visa application process, which will include paperwork plus an interview at the US Embassy in London.

How much will it cost to study in the US?

There are wide variations in the cost of studying at different universities and colleges in the US. The annual average cost at a private university can exceed £37,000 including food and accommodation, but will be considerably less at a public university or community college. The Fulbright Commission recommends looking closely at funding options when you are applying to avoid the disappointment of having to turn a place down if funding doesn’t materialise. The good news is that every year, students from the UK get a significant amount of assistance with paying for their studies at American colleges and universities. In fact, nearly 200 US universities offered international students full scholarships last year on the basis of academic merit, financial need or talent. To find out which universities offer funding to overseas students check bigfuture.collegeboard.org.

Timescales

Once you’ve completed your initial research into the course that will work best for you, the key message is – don’t delay. You’ll need to set the ball rolling 12-18 months ahead. Check the Fulbright website for a full timeline of the process of applying to American universities

Profile: Sophia Johnston

Sophia Johnston, 19, from London, is in her second year of a four year undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College New Hampshire.

“I chose to study in the US as I was attracted by the liberal arts degree programme. I also felt that the experience of studying abroad for four years would really broaden my outlook. I visited Dartmouth during the autumn of my AS-level year. The leaves were changing colour and I fell in love with what seemed the quintessential American campus.

“The academic resources here are phenomenal and I’m really pleased I’ve had the chance to pursue different subjects. During my freshman year I took a wide range of courses from Dante’s Divine Comedy to a comparative literature course on the Holocaust. I now plan to major in history. Roughly seven per cent of students are from outside the US and there’s a great support network for us on campus. American colleges really emphasise pastoral care. I’ve met an incredible mix of passionate, driven people and see this as a tremendous opportunity to immerse myself in American culture and learn about its history.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Marketing & Social Media Executive

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a Marketing Graduate or...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer (Trainee) - City, London

£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Services Graduate Training Scheme

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a successful and establ...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£20 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer is nee...

SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future