US Uni survival guide



What's so different from uni in the UK

The greatest difference between a bachelor's degree in the US and a BA in the UK is summed up by two words: ‘liberal’ and ‘arts’. If you feel that nothing but three years of physics is right for you, then stay at home. If you know what you’re good at but want to explore a hundred other things as well, then the US may be just what you need. Have no idea? Head to America more..

Understanding the terms and types

Learning how Americans define their universities is an important part of the application process. Failure to suss the semantics can land you in trouble! For example, rather than referring to the delights of your ‘uni’, you will constantly be talking about your ‘school’, causing some confusion among grandparents who thought you had already passed your A levels. Here we explain more..

Tinker, tailor, doctor, lawyer

If you are one of those noble characters who has known from the cradle that you have a vocation for mending broken bodies or diagnosing ingrown toenails, then you may regard the American medical school approach as a serious waste of time more..

Making the grades

Inevitably, an American education is hard work. Your friends back home will spend much of their first year sitting in the pub while you spend it trekking backwards and forwards from the library. The fact that most of these universities operate under the principle of continuous assessment means that goofing off for semesters at a time is not an option more..

The academic calendar

The academic year will be slightly different for each university/college but will normally run from early September to the end of May more..

Culture shock

Love America one minute? Hate it the next? For students concerned about the normality of their reaction to American life, there is an answer more..

The dating game

Does absence makes the heart grow fonder? The start of freshman year always sees a significant handful of loyal souls clinging to the relationships that have defined their teenage years. As the year progresses, however, many of these relationships fall by the wayside more..

Fraternities (or 'Greeks')

When you tell your British friends you are planning on attending an American university, you'll find at least one of them will look at you with pity and mutter something disparaging about fraternities. These "Greek" societies have been much parodied in Hollywood movies, most famously the iconic Animal House, and remain among the most notorious features of US universities, at least in the minds more..

Drinking, smoking, drugs

The majority of Brits spend their university days enveloped in a haze of alcohol that oils the wheels of their social lives, cushions their academic crises and whips up their weekends, weeks, evenings and even the odd morning.   Not so their American neighbours. In the good old US of A, you can use a shotgun almost as soon as you can carry it, drive a car from the age of 16 and kill for your more..

Work-out nation

Many Americans like to say their nation is fat in the middle and thin around the edges. The US is a certainly a country of extremes and personal health is most definitely one of them. International students are frequently shocked by the sheer volume of food people consume in the US. No one goes to the movies without buying a bucket of drink and a barrel of popcorn, and even the more..

Cold hard cash

As far as banking practicalities go, never put your faith in the effectiveness of international monetary transactions.  Although English bank cards work in most American ATMs, there is no point in draining your Lloyds account, incurring extra charges and constantly having to calculate the dollars/pounds exchange. By far the best option is to set up an American bank account more..

Hitting the road

You're in the States. An open road in the land of opportunity stretches before you. A small piece of advice: Get on it more..

Glossary for the transatlantic traveller

Chips or fries? Jelly on toast? Cheese & onion chips? Awesome fanny? We may speak the same language but do we actually mean the same thing?  Fortunately this handy British - US glossary is the ideal companion for potential freshmen hot-footing it across the channel more..

Resources, references and links

This section provides resources, books, links and consultants to help you navigate through the maze of courses, tests, essays, extracurriculars, applications and scholarships or post-graduate education more..


Contact: or 0203 286 6824


Most popular Good Schools Guide articles