School Visits Programme January – April 2020
Want to learn more about Harvard and American-style higher education? Then invite us to your school next term!
Each year the Harvard Outreach Team visits 25-30 schools across the UK to talk about Harvard and the American university system. Our presentation ‘Study in the USA – Is it for you?’ is aimed at students in Years 11 and 12, their parents, teachers and university advisers. Target institutions are state-funded schools and colleges that regularly send their students to Russell Group universities in the UK, but do not have a history of applying to US colleges. If this sounds like your school, please get in touch now as we are planning our schedule of visits for the Spring Term 2020.
To request a visit, simply send an email to school visits co-ordinator Stuart Gordon firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to seeing you, particularly if we have never been to your school or college before.
Sutton Trust US Programme 2020 – apply now!
Applications are now open for the Sutton Trust US Programme 2020. The programme is designed to support high achieving state school students to explore US study and access leading universities. It includes two residentials in the UK before all students spend a week in the US staying on campus at a leading university and visiting other US universities. An optional second year of the programme supports students to apply to US universities alongside their UCAS options.
Successful applicants will have a unique opportunity to get a taste of US culture and higher education first hand and receive support from expert advisers 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 travel, residential events, accommodation and food.
The programme includes:
- A week-long visit to the States in late July/early August 2020 where students will get a taste of US higher education and culture
- UK-based residentials in April and June 2020 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:
- Currently be in Year 12 in England or Wales, S5 in Scotland or Year 13 in Northern Ireland
- Attend, and have always attended, a state-funded school or college in the UK (i.e. non-fee paying)
- Not hold US citizenship
- Be from a low income family (generally, this will mean a household earning £45,000 per year or less)
- Be interested in US culture and higher education
In addition, the Sutton Trust are looking for students who:
- Would be the first generation of their family to attend university
- Have been eligible for free school meals
- Attend a school or college with a below average A Level or Higher point score and/or a low rate of progression into higher education
- Live in a neighbourhood with a low rate of progression into higher education and/or a high level of socio-economic deprivation
- Have excellent GCSE or S4 qualifications. This means you have achieved at or close to the grades below. In England and Northern Ireland: at least eight GCSEs at grade A or 7 or above, or near this level. In Wales: at least eight GCSEs at grade A or above, or near this level. In Scotland: at least six B passes at National 5 or above, or near this level
The more of these you meet, the more likely you are to get a place on the programme
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, sports and music performance, volunteering, caring responsibilities and other interests
- Character: leadership, service, work ethic, enthusiasm, drive to succeed
- Demonstrated interest in US higher education
Applications: Students should apply online here:
Student Application Deadline:11.59pm, Sunday 19 January 2020
School Reference Deadline:11.59pm, Tuesday 21 January 2020
Teachers providing references should read the Sutton Trust’s information for school referees.
The Sutton Trust also provides information for parents.
Teachers and university 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 administration 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. Students should always inform teachers well 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 university admissions offices.
Common Application Form
The Common Application Form (or ‘Common App.’) is used by over 800 US colleges, so is the form most students and schools will need to complete. The US-UK Fulbright Commission has produced two excellent guides for students and schools respectively about how to complete the form. Both can be downloaded from this page of the Commission website.
Within the School Guide, teachers and advisers should particularly note the following:
- Students can nominate two teachers and one ‘guidance counselor’ to be their referees. Most students nominate the same three individuals for each university to which they apply. Note that the teacher and guidance counselor cannot be the same person – they will have access to different forms.
- 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 Transcript, the School Report on the student, and some other reports required by US colleges.
- The two teachers should be two of the student’s A-Level or IB teachers and will submit a more specific recommendation letter about the student’s academic and extracurricular potential than the guidance counselor, whose evaluation will provide an overall picture of the student.
- 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. The School Report supplied by the Head of Sixth Form 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.
Schools that have not previously had to produce a School Transcript or School Profile can download suggested templates from this page of the Fulbright Commission website.
Universal College Application
As an alternative to the Common App., some colleges also accept the Universal College Application (UCA). The main drawback of the UCA is that it is only accepted by 10 colleges, as opposed to the 800 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.
Three years ago, a new type of college application came online. The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, better known as ‘the Coalition’, has signed up over 140 colleges so far, 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.