Possibility of studying in the USA (Hopefully Harvard)

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troubadour.
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#61
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#61
(Original post by Student403)
Stanford sucks if you're intl
Haha, that's one to avoid then.
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username738914
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(Original post by Hydeman)
Is the financial aid as generous at those universities? :3 I was kind of using the term Ivy League a little loosely to include universities that aren't actually in the Ivy League, such as MIT and Stanford.
Yeah, they all match your need but some aren't need blind (i.e. the requirement of financial aid will be considered as a component in your application) - Williams and Amherst are EXTREMELY generous (as with other 'liberal arts colleges') towards international students.

Ignore the above user, Stanford's average FA award is like $55k but they aren't need blind though.
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troubadour.
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(Original post by Princepieman)
Yeah, they all match your need but some aren't need blind (i.e. the requirement of financial aid will be considered as a component in your application) - Williams and Amherst are EXTREMELY generous (as with other 'liberal arts colleges') towards international students.

Ignore the above user, Stanford's average FA award is like $55k but they aren't need blind though.
Oh, that's bad news (about not being need blind). :/ Looks like I'll need to do some research on need-blind universities.

Thanks for your help though.
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Student403
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(Original post by Princepieman)
Yeah, they all match your need but some aren't need blind (i.e. the requirement of financial aid will be considered as a component in your application) - Williams and Amherst are EXTREMELY generous (as with other 'liberal arts colleges' towards international students.

Ignore the above user, Stanford's average FA award is like $55k but they aren't need blind though.
I never said anything about financial aid. I just said it sucks. It sucks because if you need FA, they consider that in making a decision of whether to even admit you
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username738914
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(Original post by Student403)
I never said anything about financial aid. I just said it sucks. It sucks because if you need FA, they consider that in making a decision of whether to even admit you
Fair, but it shouldn't matter if you're a worthy enough candidate - plenty of international students recieve aid.
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canuck59
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(Original post by Hydeman)
Is the financial aid as generous at those universities? :3 I was kind of using the term Ivy League a little loosely to include universities that aren't actually in the Ivy League, such as MIT and Stanford.
Admission to Stanford is insanely competitive. Harvard, Princeton and Yale claim to admit international students without regarding to their financial aid, but the percentage of candidates admitted is vanishingly small (4%). At other Ivies and equivalent universities, no more than 15-20 international students a year get financial aid. It's dramatically different if you are a US citizen or permanent resident.

In truth, you need to just about walk on water to get in if you need a full ride.
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canuck59
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(Original post by Student403)
I never said anything about financial aid. I just said it sucks. It sucks because if you need FA, they consider that in making a decision of whether to even admit you
Admission is need aware only for international students. It is need blind for Americans. It's even worse here: international students usually get zero financial aid. Indeed, British universities treat international students as cash cows.

If you exceptionally clever and get into an Ivy League, you are set. Zero loans.
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Gridiron-Gangster
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How closely would they look at the actual A-Level subects? Media Studies and Applied Business Studies don't sound particularly rigorous and if they're frowned upon by the top UK schools, not sure the top US schools would be any different.
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Student403
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(Original post by Gridiron-Gangster)
How closely would they look at the actual A-Level subects? Media Studies and Applied Business Studies don't sound particularly rigorous and if they're frowned upon by the top UK schools, not sure the top US schools would be any different.
Well the only reason I think they'd be frowned upon by UK schools would be if they aren't related to your course
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Gridiron-Gangster
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(Original post by Student403)
Well the only reason I think they'd be frowned upon by UK schools would be if they aren't related to your course
Well my understanding is that those two A-Levels, especially Media Studies are seen as far too "soft", practically not even worth the paper they're printed on.
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Student403
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(Original post by Gridiron-Gangster)
Well my understanding is that those two A-Levels, especially Media Studies are seen as far too "soft", practically not even worth the paper they're printed on.
Perhaps, but if you're applying for a business course or media course at a top UK university, why would they have any reason to look down on the A levels if they're directly relevant to your course?
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Gridiron-Gangster
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(Original post by GB1999)
Hey.

I'm only in my first year in my sixth-form college but I'm seriously interested in going to study abroad once I finish my A-Levels, hopefully America. The main college I've been looking at is Harvard and the main thing what got me was that, on their website, they needed their GCSE results to be on average of an A.

My GCSE results are terrible in my opinion due to me picking the wrong subjects and also me slacking off (Art and Music specifically). I believe I average on a mid-C. However, I'm currently re-doing my GCSE Maths since during the exams I was unable to attend it. I'm on the right track to get an A in my maths.

GCSE Results:
Maths: X (Hopefully an A after I take them in November)
English Language: C
English Lit: C
Core Science: C
Additional Science: B
Graphic Design: D
Art and Music: E

I also took the Cambridge Nationals for Computer Science, where I got a P2 in. I believe that's an equivalent to a C but I'm not entirely sure.

For my A-Levels, I've taken Applied Business, Media Studies and Religious Studies. I've also taken BTEC Applied Law. (Something I really couldn't find what the grades in this would be worth in UCAS points)

I've also looked at a few resources in my college's site about studying in the USA and checked a few SAT example questions on the PDF document. Am I right that the English portion of the SATs are mainly grammar checking based?

The main point of this thread is to answer this question: Is there any hope in hell I would be able to get into a good college in America?
Note: My heart is set on the USA in general, not specifically Harvard. I just want to know if it's possible at all for me to get in this.
OK to give a very frank and honest opinion and as you are already aware, your chances of getting into a decent US college (i.e. one with recognition both in the US and abroad) is nil never mind Harvard, the Ivies, Stanford etc. Your GCSE grades are far below the average applicant and perhaps even further than successful applicants who may well have straight A*s at GCSE and A-level, not even taking into account ECs. The Harvard UK website states the average applicant offers A*/As at GCSE and "at least" three A*/A A-levels. Your GCSEs are nowhere near that standard. Also I'm a little concerned you cite "slacking off" as a reason for your poor GCSE grades and if you did that at GCSE, do you think you could engage with the broad/liberal arts curriculum of an Ivy League education?

I always say to people considering the Ivies or other top schools in the US, "If you think you'd be a strong candidate for Oxbridge, the go for it". I also question your choice of A-levels as with the exception of Religious Studies, they aren't particularly rigorous or academic and I would question your capability of jumping from (With all due respect) poor GCSEs to A*A*A* which is what you would realistically need to compensate.

That's not say you would never be good enough to go to a top US school, there are other routes in at the undergrad level as I discussed in another thread but these are usually for students slightly older/mature students I think, but might be worth exploring. You end up doing the same classes as the udnergrads etc but the process of admission is a bit more holistic given so many people from unconventional backgrounds are applying. However, the opportunity for internationals on those courses might be limited as would be financial aid.

I would also ask you to consider if you don't feel you would be making a strong application to similarly reputable UK colleges e.g. Oxbridge, Russell Group, St Andrew's etc. then it would be difficult to make a case for even "average" colleges which are still quite competitive like say Penn State, ASU, Notre Dame.

I would not suggest going to a US college for the sake of going to the US unless it was a reputable university given the costs in terms of finance and being away from home etc for 3-4 years.
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Gridiron-Gangster
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#73
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(Original post by Student403)
Perhaps, but if you're applying for a business course or media course at a top UK university, why would they have any reason to look down on the A levels if they're directly relevant to your course?
Yes, but the OP is discussing applying for places like Harvard whom I am pretty sure would not consider Media Studies a particularly strong subject. I can't think of any "top universities" in the UK that offer media courses and anyone going into media from traditional universities i.e. Oxbridge, will normally have studied English or an Arts subject.
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Gridiron-Gangster
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(Original post by Student403)
Perhaps, but if you're applying for a business course or media course at a top UK university, why would they have any reason to look down on the A levels if they're directly relevant to your course?
And for a Business course they would look more closely for Mathematical ability i.e. Maths, Further Maths, possibly Econ A-Level.
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troubadour.
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(Original post by Gridiron-Gangster)
How closely would they look at the actual A-Level subects? Media Studies and Applied Business Studies don't sound particularly rigorous and if they're frowned upon by the top UK schools, not sure the top US schools would be any different.
I don't think it's fair to say that the top U.S. schools would have the same attitude to those subjects as top UK universities -- British higher education is very much about specialising early and academics, which is why a lot of UK universities prefer 'traditional' subjects that they see as more challenging than 'soft' subjects which are seen as less challenging.

American universities, on the other hand, might prefer a slightly broader range of subjects. Whereas taking physics, maths, further maths and chemistry at A Level would get you brownie points for dedication from Cambridge (if you were applying for Natural Sciences), it would likely be seen as a narrow subject combination at American universities (although, again, possibly not), who offer a broader education than that in the early years.

Not to mention that academics aren't the only factor for admission to top U.S. schools as is mostly the case with top UK universities -- I don't think good grades in A Levels seen as 'soft' here, combined with excellent SAT scores and extracurriculars, would be any great disadvantage although I'm no expert. Oxbridge, on the other hand, would never see extracurriculars or performance in entrance exams as suitable replacements for the required grades in required subjects in A Levels/Scottish Highers/IB/other equivalent qualification.

Emailing the respective admissions offices would be best, although I do agree the OP's GCSE grades are more or less fatal to any application he/she makes to top U.S. schools.
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Gridiron-Gangster
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(Original post by Hydeman)
I don't think it's fair to say that the top U.S. schools would have the same attitude to those subjects as top UK universities -- British higher education is very much about specialising early and academics, which is why a lot of UK universities prefer 'traditional' subjects that they see as more challenging than 'soft' subjects which are seen as less challenging.

American universities, on the other hand, might prefer a slightly broader range of subjects. Whereas taking physics, maths, further maths and chemistry at A Level would get you brownie points for dedication from Cambridge (if you were applying for Natural Sciences), it would likely be seen as a narrow subject combination at American universities (although, again, possibly not), who offer a broader education than that in the early years. Not to mention that academics aren't the only factor for admission to top U.S. schools -- I don't think good grades in A Levels seen as 'soft' here, combined with excellent SAT scores and extracurriculars, would be any great disadvantage although I'm no expert.

Emailing the respective admissions offices would be best, although I do agree the OP's GCSE grades are more or less fatal to any application he/she makes to top U.S. schools.
Of course every college is different and yes I agree the US like to see a broad range. But with regards to Harvard and Ivies (picking on the title of the thread and my own experience of the Ivies being an Ivy league grad), even those A-level combinations don't portray a "broad/liberal education" and GCSEs, where many different subjects have been studied, sadly the OP has completely tripped up there with poor grades in an array of subjects not to mention core subjects like English, Maths, Science etc. The top American universities will be very much aware of education systems internationally including the UK and will no doubt be aware of what constitutes strong subjects at A-Level.

This is without taking into account the pool of applicants the OP would be up against and he/she would most likely be compared to their UK peers in that respective pool, most of whom will have stellar grades and may well be applying to Oxbridge. However the US tutors would be aware of the "specialised nature" of UK education and I am not sure they would penalise a talented UK applicant on the basis of doing Sciences and Maths at A-level particularly if they were keen on Engineering in the UK.
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troubadour.
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(Original post by Gridiron-Gangster)
Of course every college is different and yes I agree the US like to see a broad range. But with regards to Harvard and Ivies (picking on the title of the thread and my own experience of the Ivies being an Ivy league grad), even those A-level combinations don't portray a "broad/liberal education" and GCSEs, where many different subjects have been studied, sadly the OP has completely tripped up there with poor grades in an array of subjects not to mention core subjects like English, Maths, Science etc. The top American universities will be very much aware of education systems internationally including the UK and will no doubt be aware of what constitutes strong subjects at A-Level.

This is without taking into account the pool of applicants the OP would be up against and he/she would most likely be compared to their UK peers in that respective pool, most of whom will have stellar grades and may well be applying to Oxbridge. However the US tutors would be aware of the "specialised nature" of UK education and I am not sure they would penalise a talented UK applicant on the basis of doing Sciences and Maths at A-level particularly if they were keen on Engineering in the UK.
I'm in agreement that the OP's GCSE grades just aren't up to it -- my point was rather generally about subject combinations.

Fair point about GCSEs being one's chance to show excellence in a wider range of subjects. They probably wouldn't penalise applicants studying exclusively science subjects at A Level but they might look favourably upon somebody taking, say, three science subjects and one humanities subject without discriminating against people whose subjects complement each other. :dontknow:

It's kind of like UCL's preference for people who don't do all sciences or all humanities -- they don't subtract points from people for not having a slightly different subject but they still make a point about saying that they like it when people do have it. I'm actually tempted to email the admissions offices for various schools now...

On a separate note, you say you're an Ivy League graduate -- can I ask whether you're British, American or some other nationality? And what were your grades, SAT scores and extracurriculars like, if that's not too intrusive?
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Gridiron-Gangster
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(Original post by Hydeman)
I'm in agreement that the OP's GCSE grades just aren't up to it -- my point was rather generally about subject combinations.

Fair point about GCSEs being one's chance to show excellence in a wider range of subjects. They probably wouldn't penalise applicants studying exclusively science subjects at A Level but they might look favourably upon somebody taking, say, three science subjects and one humanities subject without discriminating against people whose subjects complement each other. :dontknow:

It's kind of like UCL's preference for people who don't do all sciences or all humanities -- they don't subtract points from people for not having a slightly different subject but they still make a point about saying that they like it when people do have it. I'm actually tempted to email the admissions offices for various schools now...

On a separate note, you say you're an Ivy League graduate -- can I ask whether you're British, American or some other nationality? And what were your grades, SAT scores and extracurriculars like, if that's not too intrusive?
UCL are a bit bonkers to be fair hehe.

British but I was a graduate student at an Ivy so didn't take SATs and my background was incredibly unconventional though I had strong GCSEs (7A*s and As) and A-Levels (AAA, before the A* was introduced), I had vast work experience and voluntary and played regional/national level sport (American Football and Volleyball) but as I said my background was hampered by virtue of health reasons. But went onto both Cambridge and UPenn and now working full time in The City and doing a part-time DPhil at Oxford.

I am not "the best placed" individual re: undergrad Ivy admissions but from working alongside outreach programmes when at UPenn and from what I knew from friends and tutors, you need to be a good all-rounder. The interviews (with alum) are not really academic in the Oxbridge sense so the vast majority of an admissions decision is based on what's on paper hence the need for strong academics and ECs.

Whilst of course I would never want to deter anyone from applying if their heart is set on it, there needs to be awareness of the limitations of the current application but rather than be put off, ask what can be done to strengthen and if it won't happen "this time", maybe "next time" i.e. postgrad.

Way too early to be thinking of postgrad but even if Harvard didn't happen now at undergrad, the door isn't closed forever.
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Gridiron-Gangster
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(Original post by Hydeman)
I'm in agreement that the OP's GCSE grades just aren't up to it -- my point was rather generally about subject combinations.

Fair point about GCSEs being one's chance to show excellence in a wider range of subjects. They probably wouldn't penalise applicants studying exclusively science subjects at A Level but they might look favourably upon somebody taking, say, three science subjects and one humanities subject without discriminating against people whose subjects complement each other. :dontknow:

It's kind of like UCL's preference for people who don't do all sciences or all humanities -- they don't subtract points from people for not having a slightly different subject but they still make a point about saying that they like it when people do have it. I'm actually tempted to email the admissions offices for various schools now...

On a separate note, you say you're an Ivy League graduate -- can I ask whether you're British, American or some other nationality? And what were your grades, SAT scores and extracurriculars like, if that's not too intrusive?
Of course it shows diversity and a flair for a broad curriculum but as you said they wouldn't penalise or favour someone with that profile over a pure science/maths candidate. That's kind of where GCSEs come into play in that it's a chance to show off an ability to excel in subjects beyond your comfort zone and are perhaps a better indicator of success at university level than A-Levels.

It does sound unfair to really penalise someone on something they did at 15/16 when they probably had a vague idea of what they wanted to do in life but it is what it is and sadly for every person with a weak/average profile, Harvard, the Ivies, MIT, Chicago even UCLA and UVA will have plenty of exceptional candidates to choose from. Of course they may look at the profile holistically but it's very much like a business "they want to recruit the best candidates".
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troubadour.
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(Original post by Gridiron-Gangster)
It does sound unfair to really penalise someone on something they did at 15/16 when they probably had a vague idea of what they wanted to do in life but it is what it is and sadly for every person with a weak/average profile, Harvard, the Ivies, MIT, Chicago even UCLA and UVA will have plenty of exceptional candidates to choose from. Of course they may look at the profile holistically but it's very much like a business "they want to recruit the best candidates".
You can still get turned down if there are too many of you in the applicant pool though, brilliant or otherwise. What I mean by that is that at least Harvard, whose website for international applicants I've had a look at, makes admissions decisions with the overall composition and diversity (in terms of background) of the class being recruited for in mind.

So even if somebody did play national-level sport in addition to having high grades, SAT scores and other extracurriculars, if the applicant pool that year had an unusually high number of such people, most of those people, despite technically being among the best, would be rejected simply because the admissions people are trying to structure a class in a way they like as the first priority rather than reward individuals just for being brilliant.

That's one reason why I think admission to top U.S. schools is more difficult than admission to, say, Oxbridge. With Oxbridge, it's very much about the individual and, as far as I know, they don't really care about making the 'class' fit together -- they just want the most academically able people rather than (in addition to academics) having X percent of people who play national level sport or Y percent of people who've started and successfully run a charity/business.

We're agreed on the main point though -- top U.S. schools are a long shot for OP (OP: I'm not trying to be mean but I have to be honest) unless he or she is related to some foreign head of state or finds a cure for cancer that costs less than $50 or something of that sort.
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