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Ask a graduating student from California

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Got a question about Student Finance? Ask the experts this week on TSR! 14-09-2014
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    So I don't want to start studying for finals, and the other thread regarding asking a Junior about the UC system was very interesting. Thus I decided to start my own thread so I wouldn't threadjack the other user.

    I am originally from the bay area, (went to High School 40 minutes from San Francisco) and have applied to the UC system and have a bunch of friends in pretty much every UC school (from UCLA to Cal to UCSB to UCSC).

    I go to, and am graduating from the University of Southern California as a Mechanical Engineer. I have lived in Los Angeles for the past four years and feel like I have a pretty good knowledge about the university system, both private and public (UC and CSUs) as well as life either up in NorCal or down in SoCal (maybe not so much San Diego).

    Feel free to ask whatever you would want to know, and I'll try to respond in an unbiased manner.
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    Is there any chance of students with undergraduate degrees from the UK getting in for postgraduate masters courses at really good US universities? Students with undergraduate degrees from pretty good UK universities (eg Oxbridge, Imperial, Edinburgh) ? How common is it...
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    (Original post by MartinMorrison)
    Is there any chance of students with undergraduate degrees from the UK getting in for postgraduate masters courses at really good US universities? Students with undergraduate degrees from pretty good UK universities (eg Oxbridge, Imperial, Edinburgh) ? How common is it...
    It really all depends on how "successful" you were during your undergraduate career. If you received good grades and graduate higher up in your class and can prove that you have interest in what you want to study in your postgraduate career (i.e. have had prior relevant internships, have an idea and plan on what you want to research) then it wouldn't be that difficult to get into a postgraduate course in the US. The one thing that is a major factor with applying to US schools for grad schools versus other international schools is that the GRE (or MCAT, LSAT...) is mandatory in essentially every graduate program. Therefore, if you don't do well on your GRE your chances of getting into a school may be slim.

    As for how common it is, it really depends on the masters program that you're interested in applying to. There are a significant amount of international students in postgraduate study. In my opinion that is for three reasons. 1) Universities are trying to become more international, whether it is through building relationships with foreign universities and having exchange programs or joint research programs. 2) it seems like many American students (again depending on the program) choose to enter the workforce after graduating college and possibly return to school if their job assists in paying for a graduate degree. 3) International students pay more if they get into a California Public school (i.e. UCLA or Cal). At USC, the majority of postgraduate students in engineering are international students, while it's more split down the middle for MBA students.
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    What was your:

    ACT Score:

    OR

    SAT Reasoning test:
    SAT Subject test 1:
    SAT Subject test 2:

    Thanks.
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    (Original post by Stano123)
    What was your:

    ACT Score:

    OR

    SAT Reasoning test:
    SAT Subject test 1:
    SAT Subject test 2:

    Thanks.
    I didn't take the ACT. I got a 2250 on the SAT, got a 710 for Math 2, and I think low 700s for Chemistry. I don't really remember, it was a while ago.
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    Do they offer soccer scholarships in your school? And if so, are they hard to obtain at your uni?

    Thanks.
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    (Original post by Stano123)
    Do they offer soccer scholarships in your school? And if so, are they hard to obtain at your uni?

    Thanks.
    We don't have a division 1 men's soccer team but only club soccer. In other words, SC doesn't have a competitive men's soccer team that plays against other universities but only a less formal soccer team that plays friendlies against other unis. (Which is rather odd, because we pretty much have every other sport and are very good at pretty much every other sport aside from basketball). Because there's no NCAA appointed soccer team there are unfortunately no soccer scholarships for men at SC.

    The "other" school in LA, UCLA, does have a mens soccer team and seems to be pretty good in soccer. They lost in the semifinals of the NCAA championship last year. I don't know how difficult it is to obtain a soccer scholarship at UCLA but here's a link to their website if you would be interested in applying. http://www.uclabruins.com/genrel/121797aae.html
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    (Original post by FightOn)
    So I don't want to start studying for finals, and the other thread regarding asking a Junior about the UC system was very interesting. Thus I decided to start my own thread so I wouldn't threadjack the other user.

    I am originally from the bay area, (went to High School 40 minutes from San Francisco) and have applied to the UC system and have a bunch of friends in pretty much every UC school (from UCLA to Cal to UCSB to UCSC).

    I go to, and am graduating from the University of Southern California as a Mechanical Engineer. I have lived in Los Angeles for the past four years and feel like I have a pretty good knowledge about the university system, both private and public (UC and CSUs) as well as life either up in NorCal or down in SoCal (maybe not so much San Diego).

    Feel free to ask whatever you would want to know, and I'll try to respond in an unbiased manner.
    Hey, I'm seriously considering applying to American universities for a Masters in Political Science for next year (2013). I've done quite a lot of research and out of the good schools that are affordable I especially like Mizzou, U of Kansas and Texas at Austin. I know that all grad schools require GRE. How hard is it? My friend who studied at Mizzou told me that it's pretty easy and the fact that I did a dissertation this year should significantly increase my chances to get into a grad school. What do you think?
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    (Original post by RabbitCFH)
    Hey, I'm seriously considering applying to American universities for a Masters in Political Science for next year (2013). I've done quite a lot of research and out of the good schools that are affordable I especially like Mizzou, U of Kansas and Texas at Austin. I know that all grad schools require GRE. How hard is it? My friend who studied at Mizzou told me that it's pretty easy and the fact that I did a dissertation this year should significantly increase my chances to get into a grad school. What do you think?
    Sorry, but I won't be of much help with regards to your question. Lack of interest in taking the GRE and poor timing made me not be able to take the GRE and apply for domestic grad schools on time. Furthermore, USC has a progressive degree program, so those students currently enrolled can apply and get admitted to an accelerated masters program without having to take the GRE. So I applied for that program; I also applied to schools in the UK and canada which didn't require the GRE and as a result I'm going to Imperial College next year for grad school.

    However, I have a bunch of friends who have taken the GRE and the general consensus is that it's not that difficult. It's pretty much like taking the SAT again. The most difficult part of the test is the length of the test and staying focused for several hours. If you purchase a GRE review book or review the main concepts on the GRE you should be fine. Unless you're trying to get into Stanford or Harvard or MIT, then you won't need a perfect or near perfect GRE score. As long as you do relatively well, have a convincing statement of purpose and related extracurriculars (whether it's a job, or volunteering or club involvement) you shouldn't have that much difficulty getting into the schools you want to. Good luck!!
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    (Original post by FightOn)
    Sorry, but I won't be of much help with regards to your question. Lack of interest in taking the GRE and poor timing made me not be able to take the GRE and apply for domestic grad schools on time. Furthermore, USC has a progressive degree program, so those students currently enrolled can apply and get admitted to an accelerated masters program without having to take the GRE. So I applied for that program; I also applied to schools in the UK and canada which didn't require the GRE and as a result I'm going to Imperial College next year for grad school.

    However, I have a bunch of friends who have taken the GRE and the general consensus is that it's not that difficult. It's pretty much like taking the SAT again. The most difficult part of the test is the length of the test and staying focused for several hours. If you purchase a GRE review book or review the main concepts on the GRE you should be fine. Unless you're trying to get into Stanford or Harvard or MIT, then you won't need a perfect or near perfect GRE score. As long as you do relatively well, have a convincing statement of purpose and related extracurriculars (whether it's a job, or volunteering or club involvement) you shouldn't have that much difficulty getting into the schools you want to. Good luck!!
    Thanks man. Before coming to uni in the UK I took IELTS (because English was not my native language) which is prepared by the same institution as GRE, so I guess it is similar to some degree. I'd probably have to do some math revision but hopefully I'll do fine.
    Thanks again.
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    (Original post by RabbitCFH)
    Hey, I'm seriously considering applying to American universities for a Masters in Political Science for next year (2013). I've done quite a lot of research and out of the good schools that are affordable I especially like Mizzou, U of Kansas and Texas at Austin. I know that all grad schools require GRE. How hard is it? My friend who studied at Mizzou told me that it's pretty easy and the fact that I did a dissertation this year should significantly increase my chances to get into a grad school. What do you think?
    ETS made drastic changes to the GRE only a few months ago, and therefore most information you'll hear is outdated. Don't trust any advice or practice exams that deal with the old exam (prior to late 2011).
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    (Original post by devil09)
    ETS made drastic changes to the GRE only a few months ago, and therefore most information you'll hear is outdated. Don't trust any advice or practice exams that deal with the old exam (prior to late 2011).
    Did they make it harder?
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    (Original post by RabbitCFH)
    Did they make it harder?
    I forgot about the change. Most of the people I know took the older version, as there was a discounted price associated with the old test before they switched to the new one. However, a couple people I know took the new one and it seems like the changes were similar to that of the old SAT vs the new SAT (well, it's not new anymore. When the changed it 7 years ago). It's not that the questions got harder, but the way they ask the question as well as how the questions are graded were changed. Looking at the changes they made, it seems like it would be an "easier" test as there is less of a time constraint. Eitherway, the questions aren't that difficult to begin with, so even with a change the grade of a new GRE score should correlate to that of an old GRE score

    http://redbus2us.com/gre-old-vs-new-...t-awa-samples/
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    Do universities in California offer alot of financial aid for international students?
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    I'm going to UCSB in the fall.

    Whats the party/drinking scene like? Im 19/20
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    (Original post by LondonSwimmer)
    Do universities in California offer alot of financial aid for international students?
    It depends on the university. I'm pretty sure that most public schools (i.e. UCs and CSUs) in California only have financial aid for American citizens as most of them come in the form of federal or state grants. However, some private universities do have forms of financial aid. At USC for instance there are merit-based scholarships, which don't have to be repaid. I would suggest going to the websites of the universities you're planning to apply to and see if financial aid exists for an international student.
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    (Original post by Caldeep)
    I'm going to UCSB in the fall.

    Whats the party/drinking scene like? Im 19/20
    Since you're "underage" you obviously won't be able to buy alcohol yourself or go to a bar to drink (there may be some exceptions since Isla Vista is a college town and students make up essentially the whole population). However, UCSB is one of the BIGGEST party schools in the country. (Doesn't mean it's not a good school academically, as I have a bunch of friends who went to UCSB). Like any university you'll always be able to find a party going on somewhere in which you can definitely get some drinks. The main party at UCSB probably would have to be Halloween when the whole school goes crazy. I haven't experienced it first hand, but have heard many stories. Google it!

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