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Princeton University, New JErseyThere’s no better way to experience the big wide world than attending an overseas university. But why the States? 

Breadth of learning  

US universities do not simply encourage students to explore a wide range of subjects — for the most part they require it. The vaguely named ‘liberal arts education’ aims to produce an educated person, in the fullest sense, not a narrow specialist. Even if you know what you want to major in, you will likely start out taking an assortment of classes, from writing and maths to science and a humanity. There is also a focus on skills like research, critical thinking, leadership, team work, writing, and communication — all seen as important for future employment and for life. 

For some students, the thought of having to take a subject which they may have gratefully left behind at GCSE level will be galling, but the US system believes in urging students to have a fresh look at subjects they may once have rejected in exuberant youth. If you feel that nothing but three years of physics or music or Norse is right for you, then stay at home.

High standards of teaching

Fifty-eight of the world’s top 200 universities are in the US according to Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023. Perhaps more importantly, the number of contact hours and teaching time is generally higher in the US. It’s not unusual in the UK for (non-science) students to have as little as 7 hours (or less) contact time per week, with self study providing the lion’s share of the course. In the US, time spent in lectures or small group teaching may be double this, or more. Assessment is often done on a continuous basis which sees exams (usually at least two per term), tests (sometimes unannounced), essays or written assignments, problem sets, laboratory reports, laboratory practicals, class attendance and discussion participation –  all being used to determine your final grade. A US university can also help to set you apart when it comes to the job search.

Unlimited applications

Not only is there a cornucopia of world class unis in the States, there is no limit on number to which you can apply. In the UK, UCAS forms cap applicants at five unis. In the US, the sky’s the limit. There are, conservatively, around 1500 American universities and colleges — all accredited and offering four-year undergraduate degree programs and at least 200 students. Not all of these will be the creme de la creme, but the sheer number and diversity of offerings means that almost everyone will find their niche.

They like Brits

As a British student your application stands out from the crowd, in a good way. British education is well thought of, and admissions offices love GCSEs, A levels and the IB because they present standardised, easily digestible grading (unlike US marks which are awarded by teachers internally). And for those of you attending a private school, US university admissions departments do not treat differently those international applicants who have attended fee-paying schools as may happen back home (but they love state school applicants too!) That said, bear in mind that it’s not easier to get into a top college in the States than it is into a top British university. We see Oxbridge rejects turning to Harvard and Yale and, usually, it’s a waste of time.

Of course, a US degree will not be for everyone. The cost and four-year commitment can both be off-putting (though many US unis accept A levels or an IB diploma as equivalent to a year of uni credit; students who plan carefully can often polish off a US degree in three years). And there’s no question that the US application process is more of a faff than UCAS, with each university having its own requirements and essay supplements. But you don’t have to do it alone. We have years of experience helping applicants polish their applications to US universities to shimmering perfection. Let us know if we can help

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