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MIT, Stanford, LSE, UCL, Columbia? watch

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    (Original post by frognation22)
    Of course I'm not saying MIT students are more passionate than their British counterparts, just that I fit more into the USA university community more. And I would say the general requirements at Columbia are very much strict (i.e. Core Curriculum, and the modules you are supposed to take are very much limited-they have it set for you)

    In large public USA universities, it's often been "we require 3 modules in a science, 1 in a maths, 2 in arts/diversity credit" etc. It's very much up to the students to decide. I.e take University of Wisconsin:
    "Natural Science, 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
    • Humanities/Literature/Arts, 6 credits
    • Social Studies, 3 credits"
    As a result, I am failing to see how you think General requirements at Columbia, MIT, Stanford are much broader when most of the time, it has been argued the complete opposite.

    The "jobs oriented" is very much directed towards UCL and LSE. Especially the culture I have seen at LSE and after attending the open day!

    I'm not one of those people who believe "Oh the USA has by far the best education system of all!" (After all I am British), but I do believe it provides students like me with more opportunities, as stated above!
    I did quite extensive research on both the US and UK educational systems last year when I was applying. I've also got a ton of anecdotal and empirical evidence both from my own experiences and those of friends.

    I was in a very similar position to you last year. A rejection from my first choice Harvard meant I had to choose between offers from the LSE (Government and Economics), UCL (History, Politics and Economics), Columbia, Berkeley, Dartmouth and Cornell - I ended up choosing the LSE, with Columbia as my backup.

    I'm now 3/4 into my first year at LSE and I've honestly loved every minute of it - I haven't had a single regret about turning down Columbia. I've found the atmosphere at the LSE to be intellectually nurturing, without being stifling or prescriptive. Socially, I've found that you aren't at all limited by the lack of a campus vibe at school - London really is your oyster. As a student in a major city you meet a huge number of new people on almost a daily basis. If you're outgoing and engaging enough you'll make some cool friends who do cool things - I've been to art galleries, underground clubs and even into the House of Commons through people I've met in and around Uni. Being at an Elite uni in such a big city really, really opens a whole lot of doors - that should be a huge factor when making your decision.

    I will say however that the careerist *springweeksareallthatmatters* mentality does exist at the LSE, and it is shoved in your face at freshers fair. However, if you look for it, there is an abundance of awesome stuff to do in and around campus. There are a vast array of societies, and clubs, and a whole load of interesting, international people. This is a critical difference for me. Elite US schools typically have a 10-15% international population - the overwhelming majority of the people you deal with in the States will be American - for me this is a huge negative. At the LSE (50% international) I've had the opportunity to interact with bright, driven kids from all around the world, each of whom bring a different perspective and world view - for me this has been invaluable, and probably the highlight of uni so far.

    I personally find that British uni life is on average a lot more mature than American life. A lot of the typical 'college experience' I find contrived, and forced. I personally like that LSE students are kind of left on their own when it comes to socialising, it allows you to find your own friend circle and scene.

    In terms of education; there are VAST differences between the type of education you receive at American and British Unis. One is not normatively better than the other, they just suit different types of people.

    The American system of education is based around year-long effort, and is highly structured. Each of your classes will give you assignments which you have to do weekly, each of these will be marked by your teacher, and contribute to your GPA - this is effectively your degree classification. This means you really have to be on top of your stuff week in week out if you want a 3.7+ (1st class equivalent). However, on the flipside, this also means there is less riding on final exams. Personally, I find this system a little babyish - I much prefer exam based testing.

    The British system of education (what you'll receive at the LSE and UCL) is far less prescriptive than the American system. From what I have observed, the model is lectures give you the information, classes allow for discussion and critical engagement, and then you are examined at the end (although LSE now have Jan exams fro maths and econ courses). There is very little 'structure' to the course. This means that the Uni won't tell you when, where or how to study, they essentially leave it up to you. This suits me perfectly - I can miss deadlines and skip classes during the year because I'm busy working on my startup, playing sports or just going out, and still get a 1st overall.

    I terms of the structure this comes down to a personal decision - exams vs year long assessment.

    Additionally, possibly the most key aspect of the educational differences is liberal arts vs specialised studying. At the LSE, you study mainly what is written on your course code (you can take an average of an outside option a year from any department). In the states, you kind of 'shop' around for a while. There are advantages and disadvantages to this again. If you don't know what you want to do, you have leeway in the states. If I wanted to switch from my LSE course to something dissimilar like Physics, I would have to change unis and start again. In the states you typically have until year 2 to declare your major. However if you are set on the general field, at LSE it is quite easy to switch degrees into related courses. For example with maths and econ you can pretty much switch into any department in second year except for possibly law.

    In terms of content, I can describe the difference between the US and LSE as you get a lot more easy work in the states. LSE doesn't really give you mountains to do, but the work is far more advanced than what my friends in freshman year of elite US schools are doing. I know a Pol Sci major at Northwestern in his second year who has almost an identical reading list to my introductory course on political theory. However, you have to trade depth for breadth when comparing the US and UK.

    There is one caveat however. If you plan to do any science/engineering go to the US. If you think there is at all a possibility that you may do practical research, and require access to high tech lab equipment, the UK schools cannot compete with the US in terms of funding. If your interests are more theoretical, then the above point is moot - as there are plenty of opportunities for original undergraduate research in both systems.

    In terms of exit opportunities, it really is a wash. Neither LSE nor the US unis you mentioned have the historical 'old money' prestige of an Oxford or a Harvard, however, they are all universally known as top tier. This means that if you can't get a job a Goldman Sachs/Mckinsey/Clifford Chance or wherever else you may desire out of uni, it is completely your fault. Obviously, where you go to school will likely dictate where you start working, so geography may be a factor.

    In conclusion, all the universities you've mentioned are elite and world-renowned (UCL is probably a notch below the others), you'll likely be fine and enjoy yourself and learn a lot wherever you go. However, this really should come down to what kind of person you are, and which system suits you best.
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    (Original post by avar)

    ....
    Thank you very much for your insight!

    It was very interesting how you noted the differences in university examination structures. I wonder if the weekly assignments structure is more 'exclusive' to the USA though? I suppose it depends on the programme, but I have a friend at QMU, and she was talking about how her programme is very structured.

    Every week she has to read these certain readings, and she comes to lecture with the lecturer's expectation that she has done these readings-as these lectures and seminars are heavily based off of them. But the main examinations include 2 essays a term for each module OR perhaps, one major essay and another "in-class examination."

    It actually sounded very similar to what I've heard from my friend at Columbia SEAS (I did IB here so have been surrounded by a mixture of UK and other international students). He does engineering and receives weekly practice problems that ARE marked etc, but also has around 2-3 major examinations for his engineering modules.

    For the extra politics modules he's chosen to take though, he also receives the weekly readings, but never any assignments he has to turn in. At least in his experience, its very similar to what my friend at QMU has: a large take-home paper and around 2 in-class essay exams. Yet, despite both individuals not being forced to turn in assignments in these modules, both (year 2 students) are pretty much 'screwed' when they have to miss lecture because it touches on themes that they will not always notice in the readings. As a result, I find your experience a very different one from what I normally hear!

    However, I am not sure if I should choose which university I go to based on this assessment factor because it does not seem to be exclusive to the USA (not that I am in any way discounting your opinion-just my insight from hearing what friends have had to say!). But since I will be focusing on mathematics, I suspect both UK and USA universities would be more similarly structured in terms of examinations (such as the PSET questions at MIT and also the mid and final term examinations), so it probably will not be something I will have to worry about as much.

    EDIT: I have heard that in public USA universities, the weekly assessment kind of format is more common (especially in those very introductory classes...but this doesn't apply to my case much as I haven't applied to any of them). Interestingly enough, I don't hear about this module structure as much at top private universities. Hm regardless, I definitely wish I could see an American who attends an elite school on TSR shed insight on this as well.
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    (Original post by frognation22)
    Thank you very much for your insight!

    It was very interesting how you noted the differences in university examination structures. I wonder if the weekly assignments structure is more 'exclusive' to the USA though? I suppose it depends on the programme, but I have a friend at QMU, and she was talking about how her programme is very structured.

    Every week she has to read these certain readings, and she comes to lecture with the lecturer's expectation that she has done these readings-as these lectures and seminars are heavily based off of them. But the main examinations include 2 essays a term for each module OR perhaps, one major essay and another "in-class examination."

    It actually sounded very similar to what I've heard from my friend at Columbia SEAS (I did IB here so have been surrounded by a mixture of UK and other international students). He does engineering and receives weekly practice problems that ARE marked etc, but also has around 2-3 major examinations for his engineering modules.

    For the extra politics modules he's chosen to take though, he also receives the weekly readings, but never any assignments he has to turn in. At least in his experience, its very similar to what my friend at QMU has: a large take-home paper and around 2 in-class essay exams. Yet, despite both individuals not being forced to turn in assignments in these modules, both (year 2 students) are pretty much 'screwed' when they have to miss lecture because it touches on themes that they will not always notice in the readings. As a result, I find your experience a very different one from what I normally hear!

    However, I am not sure if I should choose which university I go to based on this assessment factor because it does not seem to be exclusive to the USA (not that I am in any way discounting your opinion-just my insight from hearing what friends have had to say!). But since I will be focusing on mathematics, I suspect both UK and USA universities would be more similarly structured in terms of examinations (such as the PSET questions at MIT and also the mid and final term examinations), so it probably will not be something I will have to worry about as much.

    EDIT: I have heard that in public USA universities, the weekly assessment kind of format is more common (especially in those very introductory classes...but this doesn't apply to my case much as I haven't applied to any of them). Interestingly enough, I don't hear about this module structure as much at top private universities. Hm regardless, I definitely wish I could see an American who attends an elite school on TSR shed insight on this as well.
    The thing is with British Universities is that EVERYTHING (except the final exam) is really optional. For example, in every single one of the courses that I take there is some kind of weekly practice (quiz, reading summary, problem set), I realised pretty quickly that the professors didn't even look at them, and they counted for nothing. I haven't done one since about week two. If I had done this in an American uni, my GPA would have been impacted negatively, however, because I used my Christmas break to cram for Jan exams, I walked away with Firsts.

    Additionally, if you're talking about maths and econ at LSE, you will be taking very similar courses to me first year. MA100 (maths) ST102(stats) EC100/102 (econ) and MA103(Abstract maths, I don't take this). The way math and stats are structured is each week there is a problem set that your class teacher marks, if you fail these (literally get 0) it has absolutely no impact on your final degree classification - whereas fail class assignments in the US and they impact your cumulative GPA. Econ has weekly multiple choice quizzes - I have literally never done one of these, again, it has not impacted my degree. Whereas if you don't turn in assignments in the states and there are repercussions.

    Lastly, for maths, and most econ there aren't reading lists at all. Those only apply to qualitative courses. From what I've seen, only the history courses have SERIOUS reading. I for example can get away with about 50 pages a week for my political science courses.

    Since you're straight out of school, an analogy might be better. Think of UK vs US as the difference between A levels and IB. A levels you can mess around all year, cram for the exam and get A* (obviously Uni work is harderd than A levels), whereas in IB your predicted grades are based on year round achievement.
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    (Original post by Princepieman)
    I echo this^ Also attended a summer programme at MIT.

    Posted from TSR Mobile
    Can you link me to more info on this summer program? never heard of it and it sounds interesting
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    (Original post by AwesomeSauce#1)
    Can you link me to more info on this summer program? never heard of it and it sounds interesting
    http://launchsummer.org/

    c.12-15% acceptance rate. There's also financial aid available for people from low income families. Definitely recommend it to any year 10-13s - applications have closed for this year though.

    Posted from TSR Mobile
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    (Original post by avar)

    ....
    Thanks for the response! In the end, it really does come down to preference (i.e. I don't think one system is better/more difficult than the other; just like you cannot really compare IB and A levels/apples and oranges). I don't think the way "GPA" is calculated will impact my decision too much (compared to say culture, research opportunities, module selection/lecture time etc) as I find myself pretty much liking both 'assessment systems.' Guess I will just have to see if I get into any of the USA universities before I make my final decision/continue to stress over this!
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    (Original post by Student403)
    Was that for me or frog?
    You.

    (Original post by avar)
    I did quite extensive research on both the US and UK educational systems last year when I was applying. I've also got a ton of anecdotal and empirical evidence both from my own experiences and those of friends.

    I was in a very similar position to you last year. A rejection from my first choice Harvard meant I had to choose between offers from the LSE (Government and Economics), UCL (History, Politics and Economics), Columbia, Berkeley, Dartmouth and Cornell - I ended up choosing the LSE, with Columbia as my backup.

    I'm now 3/4 into my first year at LSE and I've honestly loved every minute of it - I haven't had a single regret about turning down Columbia. I've found the atmosphere at the LSE to be intellectually nurturing, without being stifling or prescriptive. Socially, I've found that you aren't at all limited by the lack of a campus vibe at school - London really is your oyster. As a student in a major city you meet a huge number of new people on almost a daily basis. If you're outgoing and engaging enough you'll make some cool friends who do cool things - I've been to art galleries, underground clubs and even into the House of Commons through people I've met in and around Uni. Being at an Elite uni in such a big city really, really opens a whole lot of doors - that should be a huge factor when making your decision.

    I will say however that the careerist *springweeksareallthatmatters* mentality does exist at the LSE, and it is shoved in your face at freshers fair. However, if you look for it, there is an abundance of awesome stuff to do in and around campus. There are a vast array of societies, and clubs, and a whole load of interesting, international people. This is a critical difference for me. Elite US schools typically have a 10-15% international population - the overwhelming majority of the people you deal with in the States will be American - for me this is a huge negative. At the LSE (50% international) I've had the opportunity to interact with bright, driven kids from all around the world, each of whom bring a different perspective and world view - for me this has been invaluable, and probably the highlight of uni so far.

    I personally find that British uni life is on average a lot more mature than American life. A lot of the typical 'college experience' I find contrived, and forced. I personally like that LSE students are kind of left on their own when it comes to socialising, it allows you to find your own friend circle and scene.

    In terms of education; there are VAST differences between the type of education you receive at American and British Unis. One is not normatively better than the other, they just suit different types of people.

    The American system of education is based around year-long effort, and is highly structured. Each of your classes will give you assignments which you have to do weekly, each of these will be marked by your teacher, and contribute to your GPA - this is effectively your degree classification. This means you really have to be on top of your stuff week in week out if you want a 3.7+ (1st class equivalent). However, on the flipside, this also means there is less riding on final exams. Personally, I find this system a little babyish - I much prefer exam based testing.

    The British system of education (what you'll receive at the LSE and UCL) is far less prescriptive than the American system. From what I have observed, the model is lectures give you the information, classes allow for discussion and critical engagement, and then you are examined at the end (although LSE now have Jan exams fro maths and econ courses). There is very little 'structure' to the course. This means that the Uni won't tell you when, where or how to study, they essentially leave it up to you. This suits me perfectly - I can miss deadlines and skip classes during the year because I'm busy working on my startup, playing sports or just going out, and still get a 1st overall.

    I terms of the structure this comes down to a personal decision - exams vs year long assessment.

    Additionally, possibly the most key aspect of the educational differences is liberal arts vs specialised studying. At the LSE, you study mainly what is written on your course code (you can take an average of an outside option a year from any department). In the states, you kind of 'shop' around for a while. There are advantages and disadvantages to this again. If you don't know what you want to do, you have leeway in the states. If I wanted to switch from my LSE course to something dissimilar like Physics, I would have to change unis and start again. In the states you typically have until year 2 to declare your major. However if you are set on the general field, at LSE it is quite easy to switch degrees into related courses. For example with maths and econ you can pretty much switch into any department in second year except for possibly law.

    In terms of content, I can describe the difference between the US and LSE as you get a lot more easy work in the states. LSE doesn't really give you mountains to do, but the work is far more advanced than what my friends in freshman year of elite US schools are doing. I know a Pol Sci major at Northwestern in his second year who has almost an identical reading list to my introductory course on political theory. However, you have to trade depth for breadth when comparing the US and UK.

    There is one caveat however. If you plan to do any science/engineering go to the US. If you think there is at all a possibility that you may do practical research, and require access to high tech lab equipment, the UK schools cannot compete with the US in terms of funding. If your interests are more theoretical, then the above point is moot - as there are plenty of opportunities for original undergraduate research in both systems.

    In terms of exit opportunities, it really is a wash. Neither LSE nor the US unis you mentioned have the historical 'old money' prestige of an Oxford or a Harvard, however, they are all universally known as top tier. This means that if you can't get a job a Goldman Sachs/Mckinsey/Clifford Chance or wherever else you may desire out of uni, it is completely your fault. Obviously, where you go to school will likely dictate where you start working, so geography may be a factor.

    In conclusion, all the universities you've mentioned are elite and world-renowned (UCL is probably a notch below the others), you'll likely be fine and enjoy yourself and learn a lot wherever you go. However, this really should come down to what kind of person you are, and which system suits you best.
    I agree with everything you said apart from UCL being a notch below.
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    (Original post by Snufkin)
    You.



    I agree with everything you said apart from UCL being a notch below.
    Personally I would, over-all, say LSE=Dartmouth/Brown/Cornell, and UCL=Georgetown, if we were to compare with the U.S. counterparts. Not sure if the rest of the people on this thread would feel the same way, but yup.
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    (Original post by Snufkin)
    You.



    I agree with everything you said apart from UCL being a notch below.
    Nope. Wouldn't change
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    (Original post by frognation22)
    Personally I would, over-all, say LSE=Dartmouth/Brown/Cornell, and UCL=Georgetown, if we were to compare with the U.S. counterparts. Not sure if the rest of the people on this thread would feel the same way, but yup.
    How did you come to that conclusion? The Times, the only reliable source for rankings, puts UCL at #14 in the world overall (beating Columbia and the LSE) and #5 in the world for Humanities.
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    (Original post by Snufkin)
    How did you come to that conclusion? The Times, the only reliable source for rankings, puts UCL at #14 in the world overall (beating Columbia and the LSE) and #5 in the world for Humanities.
    Hm I really do not know if we can say THE is the most "reliable" source out there. For one, these world league tables are heavily based off of academic research and the international outlook of the universities/academic reputation, not so much on academic teaching and more.

    Look at Edinburgh (2015 rankings)- it's ranked 24- LSE is 23. But will we really say Edinburgh is better than LSE? Not to dismiss Edinburgh in any way of course, but it is rather well known that LSE, overall academically, knocks Edinburgh off its feet.

    Yet Edinburgh is just a notch below LSE? I quite highly doubt it. In terms of research and international name, yes I could see it being right below LSE.

    In terms of research, yes perhaps UCL's research is nearly as strong as i.e. UChicago, but in other terms? Not so much. It's not very comparable to HYPSM Caltech, Columbia, Chicago, Penn.
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    (Original post by frognation22)
    I have not explored the Liberal arts schools in Europe (as of yet), and I believe they are probably too late to apply to for Fall 2016 entry!

    I attended a summer programme at MIT not too long ago in the summer, and I had an absolutely blast. Everything was absolutely wonderful. The passion for the subjects, community with those in the programme...

    1) Boston is incredible to me, and it's quite amazing as I see so many students who return to MIT for the remaining half of their December/January breaks to explore the city with other fellow students, and their school. (especially first years)

    2) There is such a sense of community and passion for the STEM fields. I.e. the students allow their creativity and passion for engineering to shine through when they build the handmade wooden roller coasters for the incoming freshers.

    3) I know some people think the resulting degrees might be a bit more broad because the students have to take general classes, but for the private universities I've applied to- they tend to have much stricter "general" curriculums than i.e. public USA universities. And also the university length is four years- I love that extra bonus year, and I think it is fairly nice to do both a "major" and "minor." I know mental health tends to be a huge problem in the 'elite' schools such as UChicago so it sounds crazy to say this, but I also find myself liking how the term weeks are lengthier, and there is more chance to have more lecture time for each module

    4) I also think the mentality of USA and UK university students at the "top" universities are very different. The cultures are very different, and in the UK it often seems like university is just a means to receive a job, and there is a huge job-oriented focus in places like LSE and UCL. Of course, it is emphasised like that too in the USA, but going to university carries so much more symbolism there (i.e. the students really emphasise on making life-long connections/building relationships with the faculty and students)

    The list could go on and on, but I don't feel comfortable to share the specifics as it does get more personal to me!
    Do u live in the UK? If so, how did u go to MIT?
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    (Original post by bant_bus)
    Do u live in the UK? If so, how did u go to MIT?
    I'm confused. What do you mean go to MIT? The summer programme? Because I was not accepted to the university for undergraduate studies lol! If you are talking about the summer programme....yes, I live here in the UK--when I was accepted to the summer programme I travelled to the USA and stayed there during the duration. They provide accommodation!
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    (Original post by frognation22)
    I'm confused. What do you mean go to MIT? The summer programme? Because I was not accepted to the university for undergraduate studies lol! If you are talking about the summer programme....yes, I live here in the UK--when I was accepted to the summer programme I travelled to the USA and stayed there during the duration. They provide accommodation!
    Hi, what's the name of the summer program??
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    (Original post by bant_bus)
    Hi, what's the name of the summer program??
    Hmm, so you've taken over a year to reply to their post and it looks like Frognation is now no longer on TSR.

    Anyway... http://mitadmissions.org/apply/prepare/summer
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Hmm, so you've taken over a year to reply to their post and it looks like Frognation is now no longer on TSR.

    Anyway... http://mitadmissions.org/apply/prepare/summer
    got into mit
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    (Original post by bant_bus)
    got into mit
    So why reply to an 18 month old post asking the name of the program?
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    (Original post by bant_bus)
    got into mit
    where are you from?
    Posted on the TSR App. Download from Apple or Google Play
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    (Original post by cpocha1)
    where are you from?
    London
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    So why reply to an 18 month old post asking the name of the program?
    According to his post history he applied for early action at MIT in September, although I thought EA results didn't come out in December.... feeling confident, bant_bus?
 
 
 
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