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    Sallams! I live in the UK and I've just finished sitting my ALevels. I'm giving some serious thought to taking the SAT's & applying to American universities. So, a few questions

    1) Will I need to sit an IELTS/TOEFL even with a GCSE in English?
    2) I'll be applying for Politics/IR degrees...when do I begin the process of registering and studying for the American exams for entry in 2008?
    3) What's all this SAt I & II busines?
    4) What scores will I need to get into GTown SFS or other top undergrad IR programmes? What else do I need to increase my chances of admission?
    5) Do international students pay higher fees as in the UK?
    6) What's the deal with liberal arts colleges?
    7) Is there somebody on here who can offer me a comparison between A2's and SAT's..ie how is it similar/different?

    Rather an exhaustive list of queries, I know! But, please humour me and answer as many as you can...

    :suitd:
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    hello. i don't know much about the SATs anymore (i took them 4 or 5 years ago and i know they've made some changes since then) so i won't try to answer those questions. but would really doubt you would have to show IELTS/TOEFL scores. and yes, you do have to pay higher fees b/c you're from overseas. in california you even have to pay higher fees if you're from another state within the US. i'm not sure if it is the same for every state.
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    (Original post by morningwood)
    1) Will I need to sit an IELTS/TOEFL even with a GCSE in English?
    If you're attending a school in a non-English-speaking country right now, you might have to take it. Better ask the university you're applying to to be sure.

    2) I'll be applying for Politics/IR degrees...when do I begin the process of registering and studying for the American exams for entry in 2008?
    You should take the SATs September at the latest.

    3) What's all this SAt I & II busines?
    Standardized tests that are required by almost all US universities. SATI is a general math/English test. There are subject-specific SATII tests. You have to take the main SAT test, and it would help a lot if you took a few SATIIs.

    4) What scores will I need to get into GTown SFS or other top undergrad IR programmes? What else do I need to increase my chances of admission?
    Admission to US universities isn't really based on scores. Yes you do need to be near the top to get in, but being in the 99% instead of the 95% won't really make a difference. The universities are looking not only at your grades, but also your references, statement of purpose, extracurricular activities, leadership, work experience, involvement in a political campaign, etc.

    5) Do international students pay higher fees as in the UK?
    No. But if you apply to a public university, you'll pay out-of-state fees, like any American who doesn't regularly reside in the state in which they're attending the public university. Georgetown is a private university, so it costs the same for everyone. Some forms of financial assistance are limited to Americans however.

    6) What's the deal with liberal arts colleges?
    They're small universities (usually a few thousand people) that focus more on the education experience. They're not as famous as the main universities, since prestige is usually based on the research of the faculty, but they're a good place to go if you want a really good education. Places like Columbia and Harvard have a great reputation, but the undergrad teaching is awful.

    7) Is there somebody on here who can offer me a comparison between A2's and SAT's..ie how is it similar/different?
    Can't really answer this one. They're different tests, but if you could do well in A2s, you could probably do well in SATIIs, given enough preparation.
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    Well, you just apply to the school, let's pick Georgetown (who last year had a PAPER application which made me not apply, but let's move past that). First of, the school/college/university could potentially be on the common application, which means you can use the same app for a bunch of schools (minus supplements + extra fees), but most likely, you'll have to apply directly to the school. I'm not sure on Georgetown's policy, but I know what a college has "schools" within it, they do admit to the school rather than just the university.

    They recognize A Levels so you don't to take anything besides the SAT I & the SAT II. Register & Info here. Okay, well, the SAT is like a less specific version of the LSAT, and the LSAT is a longer version of the LNAT (UK law admissions exam) with very similar questions, so its more like that then A levels.

    Liberal Arts Colleges are smaller, will most likely offer less majors & courses then really large colleges or the big name universities, but they are still worth looking into. Reed is my personal favorite.

    p.s. a lot of the answers will be college specific, and for the most part it is "name of college" + ".edu" when it comes to websites. Or there's always google.
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    Bismarck where did you hear that Columbia's undergrad education is awful? They have quite a low professor to student ratio and many of the Core classes at least are taught by professors.
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    morningwood - here are Georgetown's stats to get some idea of SAT range:

    http://www12.georgetown.edu/undergra..._sdprofile.cfm

    Looks like quite a nice acceptance rate for SFS.
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    (Original post by Champagne Breakfast)
    Bismarck where did you hear that Columbia's undergrad education is awful? They have quite a low professor to student ratio and many of the Core classes at least are taught by professors.
    I don't know about the low professor/student ratio, but I do know about the large amount of classes that are taught by grad students.

    As for core classes, "“In the Core Curriculum, a majority of the courses is taught by graduate instructors...” he said."

    Source

    Then you add the large lecture halls, and you don't get a very pretty picture. It's also quite clear that tenure and hiring decisions are based almost entirely on research. The same is true of virtually all top colleges.
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    If I remember right the ratio is around 7:1.

    I'm still unsure about the grad students. The Columbia website seems to suggest otherwise but I guess they could be hiding the truth:

    For Frontiers of Science only 2/15 sections are led by graduate students - "This year, seven senior faculty, three post-doctoral fellows (two sections each), and two graduate students lead 15 seminar sections."

    Literature humanities - "Taught by members of the Departments of Classics, English and Comparative Literature, French, German, Italian, Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, Philosophy, Religion, Slavic Languages, and Spanish; and members of the Society of Fellows."

    Contemporary Civilization - "Taught by members of the Departments of Anthropology, Classics, English and Comparative Literature, French, German, History, Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, Slavic Languages, and Sociology; and members of the Society of Fellows."

    Then this website which reviews instructors/TAs only mentions PhD students as an afterthought:

    http://www.culpa.info/?root=text&process=corescreed
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    I don't know if Columbia is massively different from the other Ivies, but you're getting a bit confused, Bismarck.

    Yes, sections (that is, seminars) of lecture classes will usually be taught by graduate students. But once you're done with those--mostly in the first year--you'll be in smaller seminar classes of 12-20 students, taught by a proper professor.
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    Totally agree: private liberal arts colleges - no TAs, everywhere else undergraduates are taught largely by TAs, no point looking into stats, it's just a fact of life. This is the reason lib arts are so popular.
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    Thanks for all the prompt replies everybody. I'm guessing I'm probably a little late for entry in 2007..but is it still concievable to enter for 2008?

    To Bismarck, September 2007 really?! That's alarmingly close..Is it not possible to sit the exams in the same year as entry? I was hoping to sit the exams sometime in early 2008..

    Also, what are the reputed colleges/universities to read IR? Is it advisable to go for a general Political science degree rather than single-honors IR?

    :suitd:
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    Bismarck is correct: you should take the SATs in September, although I might even push it to October at the latest. The scores need to be sent in as part of your overall application package, which is typically due at the end of December, early January.

    And in the U.S., IR is typically considered a subset of political science. Good schools? Well, most of the best schools also have good poli sci departments - Ivy, liberal arts, or state. The disadvantage of the U.S. system is that the program lasts four years. Of course, this is also an advantage in that you only need to pick your major after you've been in school for two years (usually - I picked my major after freshman year because it was a three year selective program). This allows you to try out different things and, more importantly, change your major if you find that you want to go down a different path.

    You should probably also be considering things like: what kind of environment do you want to live in? Competitive, non-competitive, large school, small school, city, suburban, rural? It is four years, so quality of life matters more.
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    Dang! Oh well, then that's just the way it's going to have to be. I'll probably pick about 7 or 8 colleges and it can be a mix of Ivy, Liberal arts and UC's.

    To Champagne, thanks for the link..a little hunting on their website gave me the impression that GTown require you to sit three different SATII's. Is this true...or have I got the wrong end of the stick?
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    (Original post by morningwood)
    Dang! Oh well, then that's just the way it's going to have to be. I'll probably pick about 7 or 8 colleges and it can be a mix of Ivy, Liberal arts and UC's.

    To Champagne, thanks for the link..a little hunting on their website gave me the impression that GTown require you to sit three different SATII's. Is this true...or have I got the wrong end of the stick?
    http://www.politicalstudies.org/pdf/psr/hix.pdf

    Go to page 12. Ignore the departments with a small amount of students (you'll have few very choices about what to take), which is probably anything under 20-25.

    And as already stated, you have to apply in Dec. '07 or Jan '08. You'd have to take the tests at least several months beforehand for the results to be ready when you apply.
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    (Original post by shady lane)
    I don't know if Columbia is massively different from the other Ivies, but you're getting a bit confused, Bismarck.

    Yes, sections (that is, seminars) of lecture classes will usually be taught by graduate students. But once you're done with those--mostly in the first year--you'll be in smaller seminar classes of 12-20 students, taught by a proper professor.
    The constant strikes by grad students seems to suggest otherwise. And I'm not aware of any Ivy whose basic prerequisites can be finished in one year (unless you have a load of APs).

    (Original post by Champagne Breakfast)
    If I remember right the ratio is around 7:1.

    I'm still unsure about the grad students. The Columbia website seems to suggest otherwise but I guess they could be hiding the truth:

    For Frontiers of Science only 2/15 sections are led by graduate students - "This year, seven senior faculty, three post-doctoral fellows (two sections each), and two graduate students lead 15 seminar sections."

    Literature humanities - "Taught by members of the Departments of Classics, English and Comparative Literature, French, German, Italian, Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, Philosophy, Religion, Slavic Languages, and Spanish; and members of the Society of Fellows."

    Contemporary Civilization - "Taught by members of the Departments of Anthropology, Classics, English and Comparative Literature, French, German, History, Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, Slavic Languages, and Sociology; and members of the Society of Fellows."

    Then this website which reviews instructors/TAs only mentions PhD students as an afterthought:

    http://www.culpa.info/?root=text&process=corescreed
    Post-doctoral fellows aren't professors. They're just researchers who happened to recently finish their Ph.D. So 8 out of 15 of those sections are being taught by people who likely have no experience teaching.
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    Post-doctoral fellows aren't professors. They're just researchers who happened to recently finish their Ph.D. So 8 out of 15 of those sections are being taught by people who likely have no experience teaching.
    Well, truth be told, most post-docs probably have SOME level of teaching experience, as the probably have to teach courses as part of their financial assistance package for the Ph.D. True, there is a general question about whether they are "tested" enough to be teaching students on a regular basis. Of course, not all professors are good teachers, nor are all post-docs worse than some profs at conveying the material. Sometimes they're better.

    I think what is most galling about the situation is not that non-profs are teaching you. It's that you pay a crapload of money for a non-prof to teach you.
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    (Original post by Bismarck)
    The constant strikes by grad students seems to suggest otherwise. And I'm not aware of any Ivy whose basic prerequisites can be finished in one year (unless you have a load of APs).
    I should have said the first year of your major. I took hardly any lecture classes after I finished my core requirements for the major. Most of my classes were seminars of around 14 people, with a professor, for 3 hours. And at the higher levels, there were a mix of undergraduate and graduate students, with a professor as a teacher. In fact, I took one class where the TA from a previous course was a classmate of mine in the following term! I think that's kind of cool
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    (Original post by shady lane)
    I should have said the first year of your major. I took hardly any lecture classes after I finished my core requirements for the major. Most of my classes were seminars of around 14 people, with a professor, for 3 hours. And at the higher levels, there were a mix of undergraduate and graduate students, with a professor as a teacher. In fact, I took one class where the TA from a previous course was a classmate of mine in the following term! I think that's kind of cool
    So you have the core requirements of your major and a large chunk of general requirements being taught by grad students/post-docs or in huge lecture halls. Not exactly the best way to learn. Anyone who goes to an Ivy realizes this; they go mainly for the reputation and employability. Heck, I'd do the same if I thought I'd get rejected. But let's be honest here: the large research colleges aren't good at teaching.

    (Original post by Chengora)
    Well, truth be told, most post-docs probably have SOME level of teaching experience, as the probably have to teach courses as part of their financial assistance package for the Ph.D. True, there is a general question about whether they are "tested" enough to be teaching students on a regular basis. Of course, not all professors are good teachers, nor are all post-docs worse than some profs at conveying the material. Sometimes they're better.

    I think what is most galling about the situation is not that non-profs are teaching you. It's that you pay a crapload of money for a non-prof to teach you.
    But once again, these post-docs would be hired based on their research, not based on their teaching ability.

    Not only that, but the people teaching you are making pennies. You're paying $40k a year just so some poor grad student/post-doc can have his tuition waived.
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    Umm...well I disagree. The vast majority of my education was in small classes. Whether or not you believe me, I don't really care. My teaching was WAY better than Oxford and LSE.
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    (Original post by shady lane)
    Umm...well I disagree. The vast majority of my education was in small classes. Whether or not you believe me, I don't really care. My teaching was WAY better than Oxford and LSE.
    Was it better than comparable Liberal Arts college?
 
 
 
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