Sutton Trust US Programme 2017 – apply now!
Applications are now open for the Sutton Trust US Programme 2017, provided in partnership with the US-UK Fulbright Commission. The programme provides talented Year 12 students at state-funded schools with a taste of life at an American university. The initiative is centred on a one-week summer school in the US (in previous years at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale or Harvard) with introductory events and application support in the UK before and after.
Successful applicants will have a unique opportunity to get a taste of US culture and higher education first hand and receive personalised support if they decide to apply for their undergraduate studies at an American university. Better still, it’s free!! The Sutton Trust will cover all programme costs, including residential events, accommodation and travel.
The programme includes:
- A week-long visit to the States where students will get a taste of US higher education and culture
- Four UK based residentials to receive comprehensive admissions advice from experts
- Support from a dedicated team of knowledgeable advisers throughout the process of applying for admissions and financial aid at American universities
- In-depth admissions test preparation
- Guidance for parents and teachers
- A chance to meet other UK students interested in studying in the US
To be eligible to apply, you must:
- Be in Year 12 or equivalent (e.g. S5 in Scotland)
- Attend a state school or college
- Not hold US citizenship
- Be from a low or middle income family (generally, this will mean a household earning £45,000 per year or less)
Applicants should meet all (or most) of these criteria:
- Have earned 8 or more As or A*s at GCSE or the equivalent (e.g. for Scottish applicants, have earned 6 or more As or Bs in their S4 qualifications)
- Show commitment to the programme and interest in US culture and higher education
- Have a strong school reference
Applications are welcomed from all areas of the UK, and individuals from a broad range of ethnic, religious and socio-economic backgrounds are encouraged to apply.
Students will be selected based on similar criteria to those used by US universities:
- Academic performance and potential
- Extracurricular involvement, including school and community activities, work experience, paid work and other interests
- Character: leadership, service, work ethic, enthusiasm, drive to succeed
- Commitment to the programme through demonstrated interest in US higher education and culture
If you are not yet in Year 12, you are a little ahead of the game for this year’s programme – but you may register your interest for the 2018 programme by completing the Sutton Trust’s online survey.
Applications: Students should apply online.
Student Application Deadline: 11.59pm, Sunday 22 January 2017
School Reference Deadline: 11.59pm, Tuesday 24 January 2017
Teachers providing references should read the Sutton Trust’s information for school referees.
The Sutton Trust also provides information for parents.
Teachers and advisers – what you need to know
If you are a teacher with responsibility for supporting students with their UCAS applications, but are unfamiliar with the US college application system, this section will provide you with information about what your school needs to provide in terms of reports, student transcripts and references, and guidance about how to fill out the Common Application School Forms.
The deadline for students applying ‘Early Action’ to Harvard (and many other US Colleges) is 1st November, and the deadline for ‘Regular Action’ is usually 1st January, so if any of your students are applying to the US this year you will shortly start to receive requests from the Common Application for teacher references and other information.
If your students do not tell you they are applying to study in the USA, then the request for teacher references will arrive out of the blue because students submit their applications through the Common Application (or other applications – see below) directly to their chosen colleges rather than via their schools as in the UCAS system. Only when a student adds a teacher’s email address to the application form will the teacher receive an email requesting supporting information. So students should always inform teachers in advance if they will be nominating them as referees to support their applications. Students are advised to waive their right to access all recommendations and supporting documents as this will maintain the credibility of the references in the eyes of the universities to which they apply.
Common Application Form
The Common Application Form (or ‘Common App.’) is used by around 600 US colleges, so is the form most students and schools will need to complete. The US-UK Fulbright Commission has produced an excellent step-by-step guide for UK teachers and advisers about how to complete the school section of the form.
Within the guidance, teachers/advisers should particularly note the following:
- The student can nominate two teachers and one ‘guidance counselor’ on the Common App.
- The nearest UK equivalent to a ‘guidance counselor’ is the Head of Sixth Form, University Adviser or Careers Adviser. This person is responsible for producing the school profile, school report, transcript, and some other reports required by US colleges.
- The two teachers should be two of the student’s A-Level or IB teachers and are responsible for producing the academic references.
- US college admissions officers are looking for well rounded individuals and hence are just as interested in extracurricular achievements and personal attributes as they are in exam grades: teacher references should reflect this.
- It is acceptable to leave the answers to some questions blank if they do not apply to UK schools, for example Class Rank or Grade Point Average.
The Harvard Admissions Office has provided some sample teacher recommendations to enable you to get an idea of the structure and content of a good teacher report.
We have also produced a sample School Transcript and School Profile to help schools who are compiling them for the first time.
Universal College Application
As an alternative to the Common App., some colleges accept the Universal College Application (UCA). The main drawback of the UCA is that it is only accepted by 34 colleges, as opposed to the 600 or so that accept the Common App. The rule of thumb is that if all the colleges to which a student is applying accept the UCA, it is worth considering as an alternative; if not, it is probably better to stick with the Common App. For a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of both application forms, see this blog provided by PrepScholar.
If one of your students has applied to an American college using the UCA, the various forms that need to be completed by the school, including the School Report, Final Report and Instructor Recommendation, can be downloaded here.
Starting this year, a new type of college application has come on-stream. The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, better known as ‘the Coalition’, currently has 93 colleges signed up, including all eight Ivy League schools, Stanford and the University of Chicago. One of its innovations is that the online platform contains a ‘Coalition Locker’ and ‘Collaboration Space’.
The Coalition Locker is a private area where students from the 9th Grade onwards (UK Year 10 onwards) may collect and store examples of their work to gradually build up their US college application portfolio for submission in Year 13. The Locker provides unlimited online storage space for resources and materials relevant to the student’s application, such as essays, artwork, videos, class projects, extracurricular activities, awards and letters of support from instructors, coaches, or supervisors. The contents of the Locker are confidential and can only be accessed by the student.
The Collaboration Space enables students to privately share or discuss items from their Lockers with teachers or mentors of their choosing.
A Counselor Manual and other resources for teachers and advisers who are working with students using the Coalition platform is available here.
A major difference between the Coalition and the other two application methods is that students may still use the Locker to store their work even if they will be applying via the Common App or UCA. Hence the Coalition may be used alongside other methods, as well as an application platform in its own right. Its purpose is to make the US college application system more accessible to students with modest means, particularly those whose schools are unfamiliar with the application process.
The Coalition platform and tools are free to use for students, parents and teachers, as the colleges and universities who are members provide the necessary resources to support its operation.
While the range of documents that US colleges require from schools can seem daunting at first, the burden is somewhat reduced in subsequent years as the process becomes more familiar and can run in parallel with the UCAS application cycle. As more and more British students head across the Atlantic for higher education, it is becoming ever more important that schools know the requirements of US colleges and provide their students with the greatest chance of success.