Welcome to the first newsletter of the new school year, and the 6th 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, and your specific tasks for the next few months 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, then you may wish to attend USA College Day, the largest US university fair in Europe that takes place on 28/29 September. See below for details.
USA College Day, 28/29 September
Organised by the US-UK Fulbright Commission, this free event provides prospective undergraduates, parents and teachers the opportunity to meet representatives from over 150 American universities and education service providers.
Dates: Friday 28 September (4:30 pm – 7:30 pm) and Saturday 29 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 a map.
Cost: Free to attend if you register in advance. Tickets are required for entry.
Register here for USA College Day.
On the registration page, you will see that you must book for a particular time slot: 4.30pm or 5.30pm on Friday; 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm or 1.30pm on Saturday.
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, Harvard Club UK President Yuko Thomas, and Harvard alumnae Vicky Sanders, Libby Engstrom, Hannah Philips, Erin Petri and Gemma Collins. Hannah, Erin and Gemma are all recent graduates so are well placed to tell you everything you need to know about life on campus. We would love to see you!
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 officers, 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 to free practice material are at the end of this paragraph). A good time to take the tests is in the spring of Year 12, as the standard is similar to the old AS Level exams that used to be taken at that time. 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 and 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.
Here are the links to the free online practice material, and the free online coaching:
For the SAT, there are also free online practice tools provided by the Khan Academy.
Additional free online practice tests for the ACT are provided by Union Test Prep
If you need additional practice material, books of SAT and ACT practice tests are available from online publishers at around £18 each.
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 2018 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 last month’s newsletter (August 2018) 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.
New Harvard program for students from under-represented backgrounds
Librarian Elizabeth Berndt-Morris welcomes incoming students at Widener Library.
A new 4-day program of activities and events aimed at first year students from under-represented backgrounds has started at Harvard College. Named the First Year Retreat and Experience, or FYRE, the aim is to help incoming students who are the first in their families to go to university, or are from modest economic means, to feel they belong at Harvard. This year’s 95 FYRE participants were greeted at the doorway of the Widener Library by Harvard President Larry Bacow, who introduced himself as Larry.
The first in her family to go to college, Asa Coleman was impressed by Bacow’s welcome. “That was amazing. I actually was so surprised to have him shake my hand, and it kind of told me that I am just as valuable as any other student to him, and that I’m not here by accident.”
Click here to read the full article in the Harvard Gazette.