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American students applying to British colleges?


Gwen in VA
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Does anyone have experience with an American student applying to a British university? I do NOT mean doing a junior year abroad; I mean studying the entire three years at a British university.

 

The A-levels look scary.

 

My dd is interested in music. The A-levels in music seem to cover not only reasonably advanced music theory (fine), but also composition (??) and music history (okay). In the US, composition is usually a class taken by sophomores or juniors in college! It would be an EXTREMELY rare American student who could do much on the composition section. And since the A-level music exam is so advanced, it seems reasonable that American students would have problems succeeding at a British university.

 

Apparently the same is true of the history A-levels -- according to a friend who has researched the issue, even taking multiple AP history classes does not remotely prepare a student to take the A-levels in history. So.....

 

I know that it is theoretically possible to get into a British university without taking the A-levels through SAT, AP, and SAT-2 scores, but the material covered on the A-levels is advanced enough that I wonder if any American actually get accepted! Do any American students go to British universities for all three years, or are the admissions standards high enough that essentially Americans can't get in? Or do American students apply after doing a year or two at an American college?

 

I would appreciate any advice, comments, or been-there-done-that stories!

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Could your dd do the International Baccalaureate (IB) ? I'm fairly sure that some universities accept the IB.I think it may be possible to take A levels in other parts of the world. I know that there are international O levels but not sure about A levels. Hope someone can tell you. Some schools in New Zealand and parts of Africa take British courses and exams.

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Hopefully Laura will chime in tomorrow morning with her links. She is so good at it and truly understands which I do not.

 

Because Dd's best friend is a gifted musician I do know a bit about music education in the UK. My dc's are not musical so this is simply from observation. The students test at levels from a young age. The levels are 1 to 8. These levels all include theory etc. I hear a great deal about composition and it appears to be very intense. When you pass a level you really want to pass with distinction. At level 5 you receive points for University acceptance just like GCSE exams. Level 8 is something very few people achieve especially with distinction. Very few teachers are qualified to teach a level 8 student -- big deal. Figure 18 to 19 year olds normally take their grade 8. I know professional sucessful musicians without that level thanks to dd's friend. I do know you do not have to take every levels exam. The ones that should not be skipped are 5 and 8 for a professional career. That is all I can think of right now.

 

I hope this gives you an idea of where to start. Ballet can also have similar levels. As for more general A levels think math and chemistry I do know home ed students who self study and do very well. So it is possible. I think they were on the IGCSE path.

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I think it may be possible to take A levels in other parts of the world. I know that there are international O levels but not sure about A levels.

 

 

There are international A and AS levels and the exams are usually hosted at British Council.

 

The students test at levels from a young age. The levels are 1 to 8. These levels all include theory etc. I hear a great deal about composition and it appears to be very intense. When you pass a level you really want to pass with distinction. At level 5 you receive points for University acceptance just like GCSE exams. Level 8 is something very few people achieve especially with distinction. Very few teachers are qualified to teach a level 8 student -- big deal. Figure 18 to 19 year olds normally take their grade 8. I know professional sucessful musicians without that level thanks to dd's friend. I do know you do not have to take every levels exam. The ones that should not be skipped are 5 and 8 for a professional career.

 

 

You might be thinking of the ABRSM exams. Grade 5 theory exam pass is needed to proceed with practical exams for all higher grades. Grade 8 theory and practical exam has to be done well to proceed to Diploma in Music. The ABRSM has two paths. One is the normal playing path, and one is the young musicianship path with has music composition as part of the practical exam.

 

Nottingham Trent University accepts SAT and AP scores for entry requirements (http://www.ntu.ac.uk/future_students/international_students/Entry_requirements/Americas/119840.html) just to give an example

University of Bath as well http://www.bath.ac.uk/study/international/country/united-states/

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Does anyone have experience with an American student applying to a British university? I do NOT mean doing a junior year abroad; I mean studying the entire three years at a British university.

 

The A-levels look scary.

 

My dd is interested in music. The A-levels in music seem to cover not only reasonably advanced music theory (fine), but also composition (??) and music history (okay). In the US, composition is usually a class taken by sophomores or juniors in college! It would be an EXTREMELY rare American student who could do much on the composition section. And since the A-level music exam is so advanced, it seems reasonable that American students would have problems succeeding at a British university.

 

Apparently the same is true of the history A-levels -- according to a friend who has researched the issue, even taking multiple AP history classes does not remotely prepare a student to take the A-levels in history. So.....

 

I know that it is theoretically possible to get into a British university without taking the A-levels through SAT, AP, and SAT-2 scores, but the material covered on the A-levels is advanced enough that I wonder if any American actually get accepted! Do any American students go to British universities for all three years, or are the admissions standards high enough that essentially Americans can't get in? Or do American students apply after doing a year or two at an American college?

 

I would appreciate any advice, comments, or been-there-done-that stories!

 

 

These are legitimate concerns. The English/Welsh degrees are only three years long, as a rule, so the entry level is often higher than for most US degrees.

 

I wouldn't recommend trying to take A levels without some help: the syllabus is very strict and exam-taking has been honed to an art by the pushiest schools. Instead, if you want to get into a good English/Welsh university, take APs (at least three and at least one that is directly relevant to the chosen major). The university will want to take you because they make more money out of you (higher fees) than they will out of domestic students. I have heard that it is harder for US students wanting to enter science degrees. It was suggested on this board that this is because it would be hard, in most American high schools, to timetable three science APs (three science A levels would be a normal entrance requirement for a science degree). Here's a link to that thread.

 

As far as being able to do the work: I would apply and if accepted ask the university for advice as to what study to do over the summer to be able to keep pace with ease.

 

An alternative is to look at Scottish universities, which mostly have four year degrees, as the entrance requirements may be more lenient. St Andrews University is near us, and there are plenty of American students taking full degrees there.

 

Each university will have a page about entrance requirements for overseas students. This is a relatively easy entry university. This one is hard.

 

Hope that helps,

 

Laura

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Could your dd do the International Baccalaureate (IB) ? I'm fairly sure that some universities accept the IB.I think it may be possible to take A levels in other parts of the world. I know that there are international O levels but not sure about A levels. Hope someone can tell you. Some schools in New Zealand and parts of Africa take British courses and exams.

 

 

The IB is only available to students studying full time at an IB school (as my boys are). It is not available to home educators.

 

Laura

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Thanks.

 

I know that dd can take the A-levels -- there is a location not too far from us where they are given -- but they look far too challenging for her, even though she will have taken two semesters of 200-level music theory at a 4-year college!

 

I am concerned that her background is weak enough (relative to British students -- her background is plenty strong enough for most American music schools) that even if she got accepted through SAT, SAT-2, and AP scores, she would not be able to do well at the college.

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Thanks.

 

I know that dd can take the A-levels -- there is a location not too far from us where they are given -- but they look far too challenging for her, even though she will have taken two semesters of 200-level music theory at a 4-year college!

 

I am concerned that her background is weak enough (relative to British students -- her background is plenty strong enough for most American music schools) that even if she got accepted through SAT, SAT-2, and AP scores, she would not be able to do well at the college.

 

If you are trying to work out whether to bother applying, I would contact a few universities and ask their advice. They may have had US students before and be able to talk you through the options. This is a table of music degrees with clickable links to the universities.

 

FWIW, British schools tend to have a 39-week year. An extra three weeks a year adds up to a whole extra year by the time pupils leave school. The discrepancy might be as simple as that.

 

Best wishes

 

Laura

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We have a couple schools in my city that offer Cambridge Exams (i.e. the British system) rather than the NZ system. What was surprising for me is that the IGCSE & A-level exams are each the result of TWO years of study. Here in schools that are using the Cambridge exams students study for IGCSEs in Years 10-11 (ages 14-15) & they study for their A-Levels in Years 12-13 (ages 16-17). AS-levels are taken after one year of study and are equal to aprox. half an A-Level exam, I believe, but Laura would know better exactly how they all work.

 

So comparing the British Ed. System (or most other ed. systems)& the American Ed. System is like comparing apples & oranges. They are both fruit, but are not anything similar to each other. I have heard that the British A-Levels are so far advanced that some American Universities credit students who have passed their A-levels with university credits. That is probably why university is only 3 years, along with the fact that students only take courses in their area of study, not general education courses that American Universities require.

 

JMHO,

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Here in schools that are using the Cambridge exams students study for IGCSEs in Years 10-11 (ages 14-15) & they study for their A-Levels in Years 12-13 (ages 16-17). AS-levels are taken after one year of study and are equal to aprox. half an A-Level exam...

 

In Singapore, O levels are taken at Grade 10, A and AS levels are taken at Grade 12. The AS level papers are used for scholarship application purposes.

 

We "specialise" at grade 9 so a STEM student can take english, 2nd language, math, additional math, pure biology, pure physics and pure chemistry for O levels. And not take any humanities subject. Literature, history and geography are optional from grade 9.

 

Grade 11 and 12 is when we mugged for our A level subjects which for a STEM student could be two math, two science or one math, three science. We also take General Paper and 2nd language as AO subjects.

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We have a couple schools in my city that offer Cambridge Exams (i.e. the British system) rather than the NZ system. What was surprising for me is that the IGCSE & A-level exams are each the result of TWO years of study. Here in schools that are using the Cambridge exams students study for IGCSEs in Years 10-11 (ages 14-15) & they study for their A-Levels in Years 12-13 (ages 16-17). AS-levels are taken after one year of study and are equal to aprox. half an A-Level exam, I believe, but Laura would know better exactly how they all work.

 

So comparing the British Ed. System (or most other ed. systems)& the American Ed. System is like comparing apples & oranges. They are both fruit, but are not anything similar to each other. I have heard that the British A-Levels are so far advanced that some American Universities credit students who have passed their A-levels with university credits. That is probably why university is only 3 years, along with the fact that students only take courses in their area of study, not general education courses that American Universities require.

 

JMHO,

 

The English exam structure is indeed two years of study (typically aged 14-16) before taking GCSEs, then two years of study (typically ages 16-18) with AS levels taken after one year and A levels after two. The two years before A levels certainly gives more time for study than in a single year course, but probably more significant is that people in the England specialise at age 16. GCSEs are taken in a full range of subjects (typically 8 or more). This completes the general education (they are very roughly equivalent to SAT subject tests in level).

 

After that one takes three subjects to A level and usually two subjects to AS level. That means that from age 16-17 they are studying five subjects; from 17-18 only three.

 

So a typical course of study for a university-bound pupil interested in the arts might be: age 14-16 study a full range of subjects, including two-three sciences, a foreign language (begun at about age 11), maths, English, history and geography, etc. Then from age 16-17 three subjects studied at higher (A-level) standard - maybe English, French and History; two subjects at lower (AS-level) standard - maybe biology and geography. From age 17-18 just English, French and History.

 

So, a more complete picture might be: longer school years allow for GCSEs to be taken at 16, completing general education. The last two years of school are an opportunity to dive deeply into areas of interest, allowing entry to a three-year university degree.

 

My boys are at an IB school, which requires six subjects from age 16-18, including maths, English, one science, one humanities, one foreign language and one option. Calvin is studying maths, English, biology, history, Latin and French.

 

Laura

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So a typical course of study for a university-bound pupil interested in the arts might be: age 14-16 study a full range of subjects, including two-three sciences, a foreign language (begun at about age 11), maths, English, history and geography, etc. Then from age 16-17 three subjects studied at higher (A-level) standard - maybe English, French and History; two subjects at lower (AS-level) standard - maybe biology and geography. From age 17-18 just English, French and History.

 

Laura,

 

Thanks for that incredibly clear explanation of the AS's and A-levels. That explains --

 

1) How English students can be so incredibly much more advanced in specific subjects than American students

 

2) and at the same time English students can have a less strong general background. When my son was at Oxford a few years ago for his junior year, he was surprised that some of his fellow students, obviously all quite intelligent, knew surprisingly little about many "standard" subjects that weren't in their area of expertise. But if the students specialize years earlier than American students do, that would explain it.

 

The lack of specialization in American studies can be a problem, but the early specialization of British schools poses issues too!

 

At least now I better understand why attending a British college is a challenge for students coming from the American educational system.

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Laura,

 

Thanks for that incredibly clear explanation of the AS's and A-levels. That explains --

 

1) How English students can be so incredibly much more advanced in specific subjects than American students

 

2) and at the same time English students can have a less strong general background. When my son was at Oxford a few years ago for his junior year, he was surprised that some of his fellow students, obviously all quite intelligent, knew surprisingly little about many "standard" subjects that weren't in their area of expertise. But if the students specialize years earlier than American students do, that would explain it.

 

The lack of specialization in American studies can be a problem, but the early specialization of British schools poses issues too!

 

At least now I better understand why attending a British college is a challenge for students coming from the American educational system.

 

Yes, both systems have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, the maths GCSE covers everything in the US SAT, but because it is taken at 16 (bright kids often take it at 15) it's all pretty easy to forget, I think. I did O level (the exam that preceded GCSE) maths at 15 then didn't use any high level maths until my MBA at age 28-ish. The latter was a bit of a shock.

 

Laura

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1) How English students can be so incredibly much more advanced in specific subjects than American students

 

2) and at the same time English students can have a less strong general background. When my son was at Oxford a few years ago for his junior year, he was surprised that some of his fellow students, obviously all quite intelligent, knew surprisingly little about many "standard" subjects that weren't in their area of expertise. But if the students specialize years earlier than American students do, that would explain it.

 

 

The specialization continues at the university level as well. Students apply directly to their major, and once accepted they only take the required courses for that major; there are no "Gen Ed" requirements like there are in most US colleges. So UK students enter university with more advanced level knowledge in their major subject, and then they study only that subject for three years.

 

That's one reason why many consider a UK Bachelor's degree equivalent to a Master's degree in the US. (E.g., my husband was awarded a prestigious Research Fellowship in the US immediately after he received his BS in the UK, even though the program required an MS from candidates in the US; his degree was seen as equivalent.) In fact, both Oxford and Cambridge will award retroactive MA degrees to students who have completed BAs, without further coursework or examinations.

 

Jackie

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My son is at the University of Durham where he is ridiculously happy. He is majoring in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He had taken 13 AP tests by the time he graduated. He also took the TSA test which was specific to his major. The only other test that he took was the SAT.

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  • 6 months later...

Interesting. So I should use my MA (Oxon) without guilt here in the US! I remember the universal groans when we were told in a workshop in UK that to do post-grad work in US we'd need to hit the math books we hadn't touched since age 15!

 

I do think that both options should be available - to specialize or not. I see kids and young adults suffer by being forced to do courses that they are clearly not cut out to succeed in, and put their passions on the back burner in the mean time. By age 16 you either have a good sense of which parts of your brain work better than others. At the same time, all rounders and undecided people can benefit from holding multiple doors open for a bit while longer.

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Interesting. So I should use my MA (Oxon) without guilt here in the US! I remember the universal groans when we were told in a workshop in UK that to do post-grad work in US we'd need to hit the math books we hadn't touched since age 15!

 

There are more courses in Britain that offer variety than there were in the previous generation.  Scottish universities have always offered a more general first year (because it's a four year degree and people traditionally went to university at 17) but other universities do too now: Durham has an arts degree which allows more breadth, for example.

 

The four year degree/general first year is one reason that you get a fair number of US students applying to Scotland - it feels more familiar.  Someone told me that the US university system derived from the Scottish one, but I haven't looked into that.

 

L

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Much of that resonates with my own uni experience, even though outside of Scotland, with much narrower focus. It is *very* self-directed. We chose which lectures to attend - attending none was fine in my subject (English).  However, you also have the opportunity to work intimately and deeply with experts in the field. In my case, that meant seeing unpublished excerpts from a a major author that were hugely significant to understanding his work, but unavailable to the public (I could only quote it within university essays). 

 

Outside of the lectures, we had small group meetings (Princeton seems to function similarly), and weekly tutorials - usually with just one other tutorial partner. This is where we would work with the professor, almost one on one. For medical students, there was no pre-med. You were thrown into the thick of it with day one of college (where they introduced you to the cadaver you'd be working with for the rest of your time there). Same for Law. After your law degree, you could go straight into to a paid articled clerk position at a law firm before becoming a 'solicitor'. I can't remember how you became a barrister(trial attorney) but I believe through a similar process via the Inns of Court.

 

The other thing I had a really difficult time adjusting to personally when I came here was the scorn leveled at the English Major or other liberal arts degree recipient! At the time in the UK (although I hear things have changed and followed the US system more, now?) there was much wider range of occupations that someone with a degree in history, English, Music etc could go into out of college. My flautist friend joined an accountancy firm. I could have even become an attorney (but it would require a few more hoops/training than the articled clerk with a law degree referenced above). The irony is, there's more academic specialization in the UK, earlier, but more career specialization in this country - at least, that's how it was when I first arrived in the US. As the girl in this article suggested, there is something to be said of learning how to go deeply, and masterfully into a subject than to superficially cover a multitude of topics. And for those of you who read TWTM, that was the whole reasoning behind classical education - not how broadly things were covered, but how passionately and deeply. You learn how to learn. Then that transfers to any field you enter into. Even though I'm "just an English Major", I have had employers here who are amazed at how many hats I can wear, and wear well. I can do a lot of things better than those who have learned how to do only one thing superficially.

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This is the site I had mentioned earlier in this thread. (I finally found it!) I was told that it is like a UK central clearinghouse where universities receive all their applications through this site, and they send their decisions back to it as well rather than deal directly with students.  The site also helps walk students through everything involved in applying to a school in the UK. I haven't used it myself, but a good friend has.

 

http://www.ucas.com/

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This is the site I had mentioned earlier in this thread. (I finally found it!) I was told that it is like a UK central clearinghouse where universities receive all their applications through this site, and they send their decisions back to it as well rather than deal directly with students.  The site also helps walk students through everything involved in applying to a school in the UK. I haven't used it myself, but a good friend has.

 

http://www.ucas.com/

 

 

Yes - all British students have to use the UCAS common application system.  I believe most universities require overseas students to use it too.

 

L

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I do think that both options should be available - to specialize or not. I see kids and young adults suffer by being forced to do courses that they are clearly not cut out to succeed in, and put their passions on the back burner in the mean time. By age 16 you either have a good sense of which parts of your brain work better than others. At the same time, all rounders and undecided people can benefit from holding multiple doors open for a bit while longer.

 

About this I would totally agree, especially during university. I wish students who wanted to study, say, only Chemistry, could skip (most of, I'd still include writing) the gen eds and get a Bachelor of Chemistry (of course, they'd also need to take mathematics and physics, possibly other science courses), maybe in 3 years. Then other students who wanted to do a more rounded education and less emphasis on a specific subject could continue to do what we do now, and get a 4-year Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry.

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[Caveat: my experience is with Scottish Universities]

 

My son is at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, as a GeoPhysics major.  This is obviously STEM.  Unlike the young lady in the article that Laura posted (who is attending U of Glasgow), his experience is nothing like an American Uni set-up.  He has no electives, nor will he ever during his program.  Students in programs such as that young lady do have electives.  In fact, all of the students in the liberal arts programs do (sorta).  It is a system of take A or B then, take 3 of the following 12 classes (for example), then take something else of interest to you that may or may not be in relation to your actual program.  Kid's program is completely laid out, without deviation.  The only "exception" in his program is if a person starts as a "first year" or a "second year" student, and starting as a second year is discouraged, as the program is integrated (this is pretty much exactly like serious STEM programs in the US).

 

Applying as an American was both simple and a complete pain in the @ss.  It was simple in that Scottish universities (with the exception of St. Andrews, anyway) didn't want to see anything other than his American standardized test scores and a diploma of all things (I bought one from HS diploma dot com).  Their rationale was that, since there are no "National Standards" for teaching or grading in the US, grades and transcripts are useless indicators for evaluating potential candidates.  

 

The UCAS (common app) allows students to initially apply to 5 schools, but the student must winnow that down to 2 - a primary selection and a "safety" once the offers come in (full acceptance, conditional acceptance [you need to sit an exam again for a higher score, for example], or full out denial).  Obviously, that "winnowing" is sometimes done for them simply by what offers they receive!

 

The UCAS asks for an essay (which has VERY strict length parameters), a letter of recommendation (there is a convoluted system for the person to submit it to them blindly), SAT or ACT test scores (broken out, but no writing score for either), and then, depending on the uni and the program, SAT2s a combination of SAT2s and APs, or just APs.  The number and type of each varies by program.  For instance: my kid had to submit science and math (duh).

 

Here is the interesting thing (I thought, anyway): it isn't like entrance requirements are going to be significantly "lower" at a well respected university vs a less respected university.  The ones at the bottom are constantly trying to claw their way up the rankings, and they can't do that unless they are pretty much as selective (or appear to be) as their "higher" counterparts.  So a "safety" school almost has to be a slightly different program; a program that has lower entrance requirements (entrance requirements vary by program - this is why everyone says to call the department itself to get entrance requirements, not just the university admission office).  Why is this so important?  The dang UCAS essay.

 

When a student is writing their UCAS essay, they not only have to sell themselves and their accomplishments (there is actually a page that tells them what they need to include and what to leave out), they also need to show why they belong in that particular program.  They need to, without sounding like a pompous @ss, slide in things showing how they are a good candidate: experiences, knowledge, etc.  Easy enough to do - until you're trying to do it for two different programs and you're really trying to sell yourself to the first one.

 

Then the person who is recommending you has to manage something similar.  It is a real dance.

 

The last bit is the freaking College Board.  Don't. Ever. Trust. Them.  EVER.  To send your kid's scores.  They'll lie to you in an email.  They'll lie to you in a letter.  Hell, they'll lie to you over the phone - even the big kahunas.  Worse, they'll lie to the Admissions officers at the Universities.  Why?  I have no idea.  And just when you're starting to feel as if you are an individual case that is simply unlucky in CB love, the Admissions Office will tell you "Oh, no - CB is the biggest pain in our @ss - we don't know why, considering how many American students we have come through the British & Scottish system for both full and exchange programs."  

 

The good thing?  Save those stupid reports you receive in the mail and the FIRST one you get by email outlining your student's scores (it will magically disappear off of the CB site, leaving only their numerical score, not the entire readout), because Admissions officers tend to take pity and accept those print outs when push comes to shove and CB is dragging their butt - even though they aren't "officially official".

 

Next: Visas.

 

 

A

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In the land of Visas (Tier 4 - Student Visa), Americans are in the "Trusted" category.  This means that they are considered low risk in the "they are likely to disappear into the countryside and never go home" department. As such, the application will state that many items are not required to be submitted but "should be available in case the officer asks for them."

 

Make sure you have all of those stupid documents.  Especially the ones that prove you can pay the bill for the schooling.

 

And if your kid is planning on attending a UK university for a full 4 years, make sure they have a brand, spanking new passport - not one that is due to expire in a couple of years.  A Tier 4 Visa is ridiculously expensive, and they will NOT transfer it to a new passport when you have to get one without you paying the fee all over again.  Make sure you have enough time to get a new American passport AND enough time to get a UK visa.  They both take longer than you expect.  We live in Europe.  The Visa arrived Thurday morning.  We flew to Edinburgh Friday morning.  Yeah - no stress there. (full disclosure: we had been given misinformation about his passport - from the university)

 

When they are at the University, there is something called "International Day" where tons of free stuff is given out to International students.  Have them take ALL of it - even if they don't think they will use it.  They may find out later that yes, that is something they needed.  Only now, it will cost them, because the companies and groups aren't trying to suck them in.

 

They will have to get a UK bank account.  This is not difficult and the University will help them.  They shouldn't go for the first place they see, or "just because it is where everyone else is going".  They should investigate them.  Some of them have wire transfer receiving fees that are really harsh, and since you'll be sending them money, this is very important.

 

Cell Phones:  Pay and go chips are MUCH less expensive than contracts.  They have great rates to the US, even.  Students can "top them up" at ATMs and at all sorts of little stores.

 

Eating & Drinking:  Direct quote from my kid - "I don't know how these kids can afford to go out drinking every night - a beer is 4-6 quid and the mixed drinks are even more!" In dollars, that is +/- $6-$9.  My kid is in accommodation, and it includes breakfast and dinner, but not lunch.  He quickly discovered that lunch is expensive.  He also belongs to the Catholic Student Union, however, and they have a 1 quid sandwich everyday.  They put out bread, cheese and a meat.  Since it is centrally located, it is a good option.  I suspect other groups have similar things.  Also, many grocery stores cut the price of their packaged sandwiches & microwave meals the day before they will go out of date.  I mention this because Catered accommodation students aren't allowed to keep food in their rooms or have refrigerators.

 

There are many student discounts for bus and train travel in the UK and websites to help them take advantage of the best times to book fares.

 

Finally, check and see if the school your kid will be going to accepts credit cards when you go to pay tuition/housing.  Most do, and most will run the charge in dollars rather than Sterling.  If you have a "rewards" card and a high enough limit, you can get some pretty significant benefits just by paying something you'd have to pay anyway.

 

 

Asta 

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So glad we didn't have ucas essays when I was a high school student!

 

Calvin has been working on his for the last month.  Not an easy task.  And yes, you just have to sell yourself to your first choice of university and then hope it fits the others too.  Calvin's course choices are not too different at each university, so that helps a bit: It's mostly classics and English, with one straight English and one straight classics.

 

L

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Here is the interesting thing (I thought, anyway): it isn't like entrance requirements are going to be significantly "lower" at a well respected university vs a less respected university.  The ones at the bottom are constantly trying to claw their way up the rankings, and they can't do that unless they are pretty much as selective (or appear to be) as their "higher" counterparts.  

 

 

 

I think that this one might depend on how many universities there are offering courses in a particular field.  For something like English, for example, there are so many universities that offer it that there is a much wider range of offers.  At Stirling you would need A levels at BBC grades, whereas at Oxford it would be AAA.

 

L

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I think that this one might depend on how many universities there are offering courses in a particular field.  For something like English, for example, there are so many universities that offer it that there is a much wider range of offers.  At Stirling you would need A levels at BBC grades, whereas at Oxford it would be AAA.

 

L

 

Yes, definitely.

 

I was thinking more along the lines of a kid who is thinking "well, if I can't get in for music/art performance, maybe I can get in for music/art history."  Two completely different programs, but the same genre.  

 

Although I know jack about either one of them in the UK, I knew someone in the US who was technically an art history major, but had splintered off somehow into a sculpture program wherein he won all of these prestigious awards (but still graduated with an Art History degree).  That "performance"aspect, had he applied to it initially, would have been much harder to enter.  Needless to say, he didn't have many friends in the performance realm... (he is REALLY good).

 

 

a

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I'd say AAA needed for just about any subject in Oxford. Although, when I was there a couple of decades ago, they also had different ways of getting in without them. My conditional offer was that I obtain two E's at A Level. This also varied from college to college within the university. A professor there told me that although they extend the EE offer, the expectation is that every acceptance will actually get AAA or AAAA.

 

My friend majored in Chinese at Oxford. Her professors told her that quite a few students apply for the more obscure majors, such as Chinese, then suddenly discover their calling was English all along (implying that English is more competitive to be accepted for, since so many apply to that department). It is probably much harder to switch there, however, than in a typical US university, and not guaranteed to be sanctioned by the College.

 

When I applied, there was this whole unspoken, unwritten political code about where you could put a chosen college on your UCCA form. Most schools were savvy about this at the time, but I was working completely by myself (no parents etc.) at the equivalent to a community college here in the states - so I was a bit clueless. So, if you listed one college that was a particular rival of another, higher on your list, you would receive an automatic rejection, since you had basically insulted it. Oxford was on the top of my list and I received an acceptance. I receive 4 very fast rejections from the other colleges I had listed, well before I'd heard back from Oxford. I have no idea if it still works like that today. I'm from the era of GCE O Levels and A Levels (or "Owls" and "Newts" as I explain to my Harry Potter devotee kids!).

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When I applied, there was this whole unspoken, unwritten political code about where you could put a chosen college on your UCCA form. Most schools were savvy about this at the time, but I was working completely by myself (no parents etc.) at the equivalent to a community college here in the states - so I was a bit clueless. So, if you listed one college that was a particular rival of another, higher on your list, you would receive an automatic rejection, since you had basically insulted it. Oxford was on the top of my list and I received an acceptance. I receive 4 very fast rejections from the other colleges I had listed, well before I'd heard back from Oxford. I have no idea if it still works like that today. I'm from the era of GCE O Levels and A Levels (or "Owls" and "Newts" as I explain to my Harry Potter devotee kids!).

 

You no longer list universities 'in order' - you just put down five names.  No university sees the full form, so they don't know what other institutions are listed.

 

L

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