Welcome to the first newsletter of the new school year, and the 4th year the newsletter has been published. If you are interested in applying to American universities, either this year, next year or the year after, the newsletter will guide you through each stage of the application process, and will arrive in your email box around the middle of each month. Links to relevant websites and documents will be provided in every issue of the newsletter, and your specific tasks for the new academic year are detailed in the Application Timeline further down this page.
If you live near London, and would like more information about undergraduate study in the US, there are two events coming up shortly that will be interest: USA College Day, the largest US college fair in the UK that takes place on 23/24 September; and an evening presentation about the application process to Harvard College on 29 September. Here are the details:
USA College Day, 23/24 September
Organised by the US-UK Fulbright Commission, this free event provides students, parents and advisers the opportunity to meet representatives from over 150 American universities and education service providers.
Dates: Friday 23 September (4:30 pm – 7:30 pm) and Saturday 24 September (10:30 am – 3:00 pm)
Venue: ILEC Conference Centre, 47 Lillie Road, London SW6 1UD. Nearest tube: West Brompton (District Line). Click here for map.
Cost: Free to attend if you register in advance. Tickets are required for entry.
Register here for USA College Day (scroll down the page until you reach ‘Fair Entry only,’ where you can register for free on different days and times).
Come and see us at the Harvard stand! You will get the chance to meet Harvard Senior Admissions Officer Janet Irons, newsletter editors Stuart Gordon and Vicky Leung, together with Harvard alumni/ae Yuko Thomas, Vicky Sanders, Libby Engstrom, Pascal Onillon and Vadim Nikitin. We would love to see you!
Talk by Harvard Senior Admissions Officer Janet Irons, 29 September
Janet deals with all the applications submitted to Harvard College by students from UK schools and colleges. She will be giving a public talk about what Harvard looks for in potential undergraduates, and the application process generally, at the City of London School for Girls, St Giles’ Terrace, Barbican, London EC2Y 8BB on Thursday 29 September from 6.00 – 7.30pm. Nearest tubes: Moorgate or Barbican. Click here for a map.
The talk is aimed at students who are considering applying to Harvard or other top US colleges, together with their parents, teachers and university advisers. It will cover the following topics:
What are US universities looking for?
What application materials and testing are required?
What is the recommended timeline for application?
What financial aid is available?
Where do I find out more to help me apply?
Admission is free, but you must register and print your ticket in order to attend. Click here to register.
It is never too early to start planning your application. A summary of what you should be doing in Years 11, 12 and 13 appears below: all topics will be covered in more detail in future newsletters at the appropriate point in the application cycle.
Year 11. The most important task this year is to work hard and get good grades for your GCSEs next summer. Work consistently throughout the year and don’t ‘coast’ – good GCSE grades will open the gateway to whatever you want to do afterwards. Other than that, do some general research during the year to see if the broad curriculum offered at American colleges interests you, or if you would prefer the more specialist courses offered at UK universities. Either way, your decision is likely to affect the subjects you choose to study at A Level. Look through the Fulbright Commission website and search through one or two of the US college search engines.
Summer holiday between Years 11 and 12. Try to arrange some work experience or community service during the summer. This will enhance your CV and make you more attractive to US college admissions tutors, who will assess all aspects of your ability and achievements, not only your academic grades.
Year 12. If you have just started Year 12, there are two important tasks you should complete this year. Firstly, register for the standardised tests required by most American colleges (either the SAT or ACT – links are at the bottom of this page). A good time to take the tests is in the spring of Year 12, as the standard is similar to AS Level. But you should book a place at one of the UK tests centres well in advance as places get filled up very quickly. Early booking will also ensure you get plenty of time to practise the tests to help maximise your score. Secondly, do some further research into your college choices and make a short list of between 6 and 10 colleges where you intend to make firm applications.
Summer holiday between Years 12 and 13. Utilise your summer holiday to complete as much of your application as possible. Most students use the Common Application Form, but there are now two other options – see the July 2016 newsletter for details. The more you can do before the start of Year 13, the better, because the autumn term will be very busy. Also do some more work experience or community service if you can, to further enhance your profile.
Year 13. Hopefully you will already have compiled most of your application by the start of the autumn term. If you are still working on your student essay (equivalent of the UCAS Personal Statement) see the August 2016 edition of this newsletter for essay titles and writing tips. Inform your Head of Sixth Form or University Adviser that you are applying to the States, as once you submit your application, it will generate a communication to your school asking for transcripts of your exam results and teacher recommendations.