Researching US Colleges
To those Year 13 students who have now submitted applications to US colleges by the Regular Action deadline, we wish you every success. You will receive the results of your applications at the end of March, and will have until 1st May to accept or reject any offers that you receive.
Year 12 students who are applying next year should by now have got into a weekly practice routine for the SAT or ACT tests. But don’t forget the other essential task during this academic year: researching the US college system so that by the summer, you will have identified a shortlist of colleges to which you would like to apply. To help you, Vicky Leung (Harvard Class of 1991) has written an article on Tips for Researching US Colleges, which includes comments on her own experiences when she was faced with the same task. The main criteria that may influence your college choices are:
- Admissions requirements – how do your achievements compare with typical students who gain admission?
- Courses – what is your most likely major, and your desired balance between optional and required courses?
- Cost – which colleges provide financial aid for international students?
- Location – which part of the US do you wish to be based, and do you want to be in a city, suburban or rural environment?
- Size – do you prefer to be in a setting with just a few hundred students or a large campus with many thousands?
- Diversity – What is the proportion of women to men? International to American students? Black and minority ethnic students to white students?
- Extracurricular interests – do you have an extracurricular interest that you cannot possibly do without?
Click here to read the full article, which includes links to some of the main search engines you can use to find colleges which fit your particular preferences.
Is there a US equivalent to the Russell Group universities in the UK?
The short answer is ‘no’, but if you want a rough comparison between the Russell Group (the top 24 UK research universities) and other world universities, then you should find out where they sit in the world university rankings. Universities that appear in the same area of the tables are likely to be of a similar calibre – but you should be cautious about reading too much into this, because (1) the organisations that produce world rankings use different assessment criteria, so the ranking of a particular university can vary wildly between different tables; and (2) there are many other criteria besides world ranking (see above) that you should use to determine where you apply. If a particular college satisfies all your requirements then you should still apply regardless of its world ranking. Nevertheless, if you want to check where your US college shortlist sits in comparison to other universities both within and outside the UK, the main ranking sites are:
Most, but not all, Russell Group universities come within the top 150 in the world rankings, so a very rough rule of thumb is that any university that comes within that range will be on a par with the Russell Group. But do bear in mind that there are still many excellent colleges outside the top 150.
Last chance to apply for the Sutton Trust US Programme 2017
If you are in Year 12 and gained 8 or more As or A*s at GCSE, are from a low or middle income family, or would be the first in your family to attend university, then you should definitely apply for this excellent programme. If you are accepted, you will receive (among other things) a week long summer school in the US and four UK-based residentials to receive comprehensive admissions advice. All costs are covered by the Sutton Trust. But hurry! There are only a few days left. The deadline is 11.59pm, Sunday 22 January 2017, so apply online now on the Sutton Trust website.
If you have already submitted your application, please remind your Head of Sixth Form that the school reference deadline is 11.59pm, Tuesday 24 January 2017