Anonymous #1
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Its always been a huge dream of mine to attend NYC for college and potentially a permanent living situation. I’m thinking about Columbia, NYU and Cornell and I’m fully aware of the huge competition - but still determined to give it a go. I’ve been doing loads of research into it, but I know that the process in the USA is extremely different the UK, which immediately puts some people off the idea completely. I know the process is gruelling, but i’m super ambitious and still curious if there’s even a small possibility of success. I was wondering if anyone could advise me on anything, like literally anything would be of use. For example, I’ve heard that they are much more interested in me as a person then my grades, work experience and voluntary work. This is kind of confusing since everyone around me is used to the UK system, and so nobody knows much that could be helpful. Anything to do with the application process, what they love to see, the city of New York, and even your personal opinion on whether it would be worth it or not, would be great. Also heard about the Sutton US programme, wondering what people think of it. I still have 2-3 years before beginning the process, and this seems like enough time to really prepare. I should probably add that I’m not interested in extremely popular courses like medicine and law. (I’ve already been made aware that I would need to sit the SAT/ACT to apply) Thank you
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soupdish
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hi! US student here. Thought I'm not from the UK, I can give insight about applications stuff and what college admissions officers are looking for. So you're definitely right that admissions officers are looking at you more holistically - so grades are definitely important (they need to maintain some sort of medians, but I guess if you're taking GCSEs or something, then you don't really have a 'GPA' like we do, but still, your grades still matter!), SAT/ACTs matter, then everything else -- extracurriculars, interests, essays, volunteer work, basically anything that speaks to what you are passionate about and what makes you 'you'.

as for the schools you mentioned, I would say the order of competitiveness to get in is NYU, then Cornell, then Columbia. Keep in mind though that Cornell is in Ithaca, so not in the city at all. It's about 4 hours away from NYC.

the process is only grueling if you make it that way - as long as you focus on your grades, your specific interests (it helps if you have some sort of 'niche' thing that is unique to you, like if you have started an organization, you wrote a book of poetry, you're a badass piano player, etc.), and when the time comes, your essays and rec letters, you should be fine!

again, not sure about what extra things you'd have to keep in mind since you're technically an international student. in terms of funding, need-based awards are very minimal for international students so that's another thing to keep in mind.
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aras6262
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(Original post by soupdish)
hi! US student here. Thought I'm not from the UK, I can give insight about applications stuff and what college admissions officers are looking for. So you're definitely right that admissions officers are looking at you more holistically - so grades are definitely important (they need to maintain some sort of medians, but I guess if you're taking GCSEs or something, then you don't really have a 'GPA' like we do, but still, your grades still matter!), SAT/ACTs matter, then everything else -- extracurriculars, interests, essays, volunteer work, basically anything that speaks to what you are passionate about and what makes you 'you'.

as for the schools you mentioned, I would say the order of competitiveness to get in is NYU, then Cornell, then Columbia. Keep in mind though that Cornell is in Ithaca, so not in the city at all. It's about 4 hours away from NYC.

the process is only grueling if you make it that way - as long as you focus on your grades, your specific interests (it helps if you have some sort of 'niche' thing that is unique to you, like if you have started an organization, you wrote a book of poetry, you're a badass piano player, etc.), and when the time comes, your essays and rec letters, you should be fine!

again, not sure about what extra things you'd have to keep in mind since you're technically an international student. in terms of funding, need-based awards are very minimal for international students so that's another thing to keep in mind.
thank you so much! this was literally more useful than stuff i’ve found online lol
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Navy_Blue
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Hi, I can help with the application process in general to apply for US universities from the UK with a British curriculum as I just recently been through the process myself. If you are particularly interested in NYU please do ask specific questions as I am enrolling there as a student.

- CommonApp is the equivalent of UCAS (I would suggest making a profile there and just discovering the site)
- Apply for scholarships or federal aid (if eligible) So check out FAFSA (mostly for citizens but there are some exclusions) and CSS (Internationals are eligible for this as well)
- Make sure you know what types of supplements are required by the university itself (The extra essays or portfolios, make sure to leave at least two-three months to prepare them or more, especially if IVY and competitive unis are the goals)
- The more well-rounded the better candidate you are. Have extracurriculars or volunteering or initiatives or clubs or sports that you have been committed to for a longer period. (Volunteering is tricky however, think twice about what type you decide you go with. If you have done NCS don't mention it as it will only take up space but won't really be evaluated for its popularity and for being compulsory in many schools)
- Know the difference between Early decision application and Regular decision application. They are the same process, they only have a different deadline but have a deeper meaning to unis. (Check youtube videos that explain the different meaning)
- Very important to have competitive grades as well for the ones you mentioned above
(- NYU does not require SAT/ACT)

Hope it helps a bit, feel free to ask any further questions if you have anything specific.
Wish you the best of luck when you come around the application deadline.
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Levi.-
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As said above, cornell is far as hell from NYC (in terms of driving time its like york/leeds to london)
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username4476240
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Hi There! I applied this year so i think my advice will be really helpful.

They dont look for particular A Level grades but if your applying to the top ones A*-Bs are necessary. The reason why I stretched it to B is that they take a holistic approach. They consider your background, schooling, if you had a parent who went to uni, what your extra curriculars are like and etc. You can have amazing grades, but they might not take you if you dont fit the typical student traits the university looks for.

You can apply via the common app website and there you pick universities and you need to write the main essay which is like the uk personal statements. Then they have mini supplimental questions that question you on a variety of things trying to guess who you are as a character.

If your family makes below a certain amount they offer financial aid. It may be a loan or you wont have to pay. It may be below $65,000. I applied for financial aid.

This year SATs were optional so I didn’t have to take there exams, I just used my a level predicted grades. They changed their policies because of the current pandemic.

I think you should go for it x if you have any questions let me know xx I’m a uk student who applied this year
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LoveAmore
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Its always been a huge dream of mine to attend NYC for college and potentially a permanent living situation. I’m thinking about Columbia, NYU and Cornell and I’m fully aware of the huge competition - but still determined to give it a go. I’ve been doing loads of research into it, but I know that the process in the USA is extremely different the UK, which immediately puts some people off the idea completely. I know the process is gruelling, but i’m super ambitious and still curious if there’s even a small possibility of success. I was wondering if anyone could advise me on anything, like literally anything would be of use. For example, I’ve heard that they are much more interested in me as a person then my grades, work experience and voluntary work. This is kind of confusing since everyone around me is used to the UK system, and so nobody knows much that could be helpful. Anything to do with the application process, what they love to see, the city of New York, and even your personal opinion on whether it would be worth it or not, would be great. Also heard about the Sutton US programme, wondering what people think of it. I still have 2-3 years before beginning the process, and this seems like enough time to really prepare. I should probably add that I’m not interested in extremely popular courses like medicine and law. (I’ve already been made aware that I would need to sit the SAT/ACT to apply) Thank you
Hi, I'm in year 11 and am also looking to apply to an Ivy League. I know that most people in the US take the SATs in spring of year 12 and seeing as GCSE exams are cancelled and they haven't completely decided what they're doing instead I'm going to start preparing for SATs from now. What year are you in btw?
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by LoveAmore)
Hi, I'm in year 11 and am also looking to apply to an Ivy League. I know that most people in the US take the SATs in spring of year 12 and seeing as GCSE exams are cancelled and they haven't completely decided what they're doing instead I'm going to start preparing for SATs from now. What year are you in btw?
Hi, I’m in year 10 at the moment so it’s pretty early lol but I thought it would be good to begin to do specific work experience, research etc. Haven’t decided a course yet obviously, but I’m interested in business school. I’ve also heard that people usually sit the SAT in year 12, but it sounds good to sit earlier because i think you can sit it again to improve your first score.
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by Michelle_MX)
Hi There! I applied this year so i think my advice will be really helpful.

They dont look for particular A Level grades but if your applying to the top ones A*-Bs are necessary. The reason why I stretched it to B is that they take a holistic approach. They consider your background, schooling, if you had a parent who went to uni, what your extra curriculars are like and etc. You can have amazing grades, but they might not take you if you dont fit the typical student traits the university looks for.

You can apply via the common app website and there you pick universities and you need to write the main essay which is like the uk personal statements. Then they have mini supplimental questions that question you on a variety of things trying to guess who you are as a character.

If your family makes below a certain amount they offer financial aid. It may be a loan or you wont have to pay. It may be below $65,000. I applied for financial aid.

This year SATs were optional so I didn’t have to take there exams, I just used my a level predicted grades. They changed their policies because of the current pandemic
I think you should go for it x if you have any questions let me know xx I’m a uk student who applied this year
thank you so much this was so nice
(Original post by Michelle_MX)
Hi There! I applied this year so i think my advice will be really helpful.

They dont look for particular A Level grades but if your applying to the top ones A*-Bs are necessary. The reason why I stretched it to B is that they take a holistic approach. They consider your background, schooling, if you had a parent who went to uni, what your extra curriculars are like and etc. You can have amazing grades, but they might not take you if you dont fit the typical student traits the university looks for.

You can apply via the common app website and there you pick universities and you need to write the main essay which is like the uk personal statements. Then they have mini supplimental questions that question you on a variety of things trying to guess who you are as a character.

If your family makes below a certain amount they offer financial aid. It may be a loan or you wont have to pay. It may be below $65,000. I applied for financial aid.

This year SATs were optional so I didn’t have to take there exams, I just used my a level predicted grades. They changed their policies because of the current pandemic.

I think you should go for it x if you have any questions let me know xx I’m a uk student who applied this year
Thank you so much this was really sweet! Just curious, which course and ivy did you apply for? I think i’m more interested in NYU and they have a wayyy higher acceptance rate than actual IVYs which is perfect haha. Good luck and i hope it all goes well xx
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kamara41
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(Original post by Anonymous)
thank you so much this was so nice

Thank you so much this was really sweet! Just curious, which course and ivy did you apply for? I think i’m more interested in NYU and they have a wayyy higher acceptance rate than actual IVYs which is perfect haha. Good luck and i hope it all goes well xx
Not the poster you're referring to, just wanted to drop in and say three things:

1) in the US you don't apply for a course, you apply to the university. You generally pick a school to apply to (e.g. for Columbia, if you are coming out of secondary school, you either apply to Columbia College or Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Science - N.B. you can also apply to Barnard College in addition to CC or SEAS if you are female; it is affiliated with Columbia) but you are, most of the time, free to switch schools within your first year or two.

2) Don't worry too much about whether a school is in the Ivy League - they are simply the old colonial schools in the northeast. Membership is not like the Russell Group in which it is based on research. Ivy League membership is fixed and it is an athletic conference.

3) NYU is infamous for being notoriously bad when it comes to need-based financial aid, and they don't offer many merit scholarships. Are you able to afford the full sticker price cost of attendance?
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username4476240
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(Original post by Anonymous)
thank you so much this was so nice

Thank you so much this was really sweet! Just curious, which course and ivy did you apply for? I think i’m more interested in NYU and they have a wayyy higher acceptance rate than actual IVYs which is perfect haha. Good luck and i hope it all goes well xx
I applied to Columbia- political science, Princeton- international affairs, Northwestern- journalism, Vassar College- political science , UChicago - political science and Stanford -i don’t remember, but you don’t decide until sophomore year. NYU doesn’t have good financial aid, so if you require it in order to go to the states I would look at other unis.

I would like to stress how much your essays matter. You can have all B predicted grades and still get in to an Ivy League if your essays and extracurriculars are excellent. If you would like help with essays let me know x

Also thank you xxxx
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kamara41
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OP - You mentioned you were interested in the Sutton Trust US programme - does that mean you are low income/your parents earn less than £50k a year?
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Carm15796
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(Original post by Michelle_MX)
I applied to Columbia- political science, Princeton- international affairs, Northwestern- journalism, Vassar College- political science , UChicago - political science and Stanford -i don’t remember, but you don’t decide until sophomore year. NYU doesn’t have good financial aid, so if you require it in order to go to the states I would look at other unis.

I would like to stress how much your essays matter. You can have all B predicted grades and still get in to an Ivy League if your essays and extracurriculars are excellent. If you would like help with essays let me know x

Also thank you xxxx
Hiya - I want to apply to American unis, im currently in year 12 and I've been prepping for the SAT which seems to be in June, however I have no idea how to write essays, is it one for every application or is there just one that you submit using the common application website. Also I've heard how important extracurriculars are, but I can't say I've done much, honestly there isnt as much opportunity in the UK, or maybe I just havent developed my interests enough. Is it too late now to think about all this?
Any advice would be appreciated!
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username4476240
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(Original post by Carm15796)
Hiya - I want to apply to American unis, im currently in year 12 and I've been prepping for the SAT which seems to be in June, however I have no idea how to write essays, is it one for every application or is there just one that you submit using the common application website. Also I've heard how important extracurriculars are, but I can't say I've done much, honestly there isnt as much opportunity in the UK, or maybe I just havent developed my interests enough. Is it too late now to think about all this?
Any advice would be appreciated!
Ok so:
1) Essays
There is the main essay that gets sent to all the universities. This is the college essay. They usually provide options that you can write it about. Search up “college essay prompts” and it will show you the options. I wrote about abuse I experienced and what it taught me. You can write about hardship or successes... anything. If you like you can send it to me and I can help you shape it up when you start it. Then they have their other mini essays. They can be 650 words and under typically. They can ask “why northwestern” or “why Princeton.” You have to do extensive research into the universities. It’s super different to the UK. Search up their mission statement, their traits they value, traditions they do, subject your interested in and a professor you would like to work with during your senior thesis. The environment, is it in NYC and you want hustle and bustle or is it in Indiana where its more reserved and a close knit community. What is it about the course that attracts you in particular. YOU HAVE TO SUIT THE UNIVERSITY.

Each university has their own additional supplemental essays.

2) Extracurriculars
That doesn’t matter at all. I would like to stress they take a holistic approach. They take into consideration everything and they know that the UK doesnt care for them as much. As long as you‘ve done something like work experience or completed an online course or done a sport thats good.

Also its never too late. I decided I would apply to US Universities in September of Year 12.
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Carm15796
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(Original post by Michelle_MX)
Ok so:
1) Essays
There is the main essay that gets sent to all the universities. This is the college essay. They usually provide options that you can write it about. Search up “college essay prompts” and it will show you the options. I wrote about abuse I experienced and what it taught me. You can write about hardship or successes... anything. If you like you can send it to me and I can help you shape it up when you start it. Then they have their other mini essays. They can be 650 words and under typically. They can ask “why northwestern” or “why Princeton.” You have to do extensive research into the universities. It’s super different to the UK. Search up their mission statement, their traits they value, traditions they do, subject your interested in and a professor you would like to work with during your senior thesis. The environment, is it in NYC and you want hustle and bustle or is it in Indiana where its more reserved and a close knit community. What is it about the course that attracts you in particular. YOU HAVE TO SUIT THE UNIVERSITY.

Each university has their own additional supplemental essays.

2) Extracurriculars
That doesn’t matter at all. I would like to stress they take a holistic approach. They take into consideration everything and they know that the UK doesnt care for them as much. As long as you‘ve done something like work experience or completed an online course or done a sport thats good.

Also its never too late. I decided I would apply to US Universities in September of Year 12.
Thank you so much for the response - I might just take you up on the offer when I begin writing them - as a matter of fact, when should I start writing and preparing them? Is it too early now or perhaps its better to be ahead? I honestly have no clue. Since the main essay gets sent to all universities I guess I can start putting some rough drafts together.
I was worried about extracurriculars but thank you for clearing that up. I'm doing an online medicine work experience course right now, and also a human anatomy course, I assume that all counts. Also I'm going to be doing an EPQ in year 13 I keep hearing about 'spikes', a specific extracurricular that you have developed over years.
I wanted to ask, how did you prepare for the SATs (or the ACT), when did you start, what kind of revision did you do. I'm using Khan Academy and a SAT prep book I bought. Hopefully spaced practice covers everything until June because I've forgotten a lot of the GCSE maths material.
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username4476240
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(Original post by Carm15796)
Thank you so much for the response - I might just take you up on the offer when I begin writing them - as a matter of fact, when should I start writing and preparing them? Is it too early now or perhaps its better to be ahead? I honestly have no clue. Since the main essay gets sent to all universities I guess I can start putting some rough drafts together.
I was worried about extracurriculars but thank you for clearing that up. I'm doing an online medicine work experience course right now, and also a human anatomy course, I assume that all counts. Also I'm going to be doing an EPQ in year 13 I keep hearing about 'spikes', a specific extracurricular that you have developed over years.
I wanted to ask, how did you prepare for the SATs (or the ACT), when did you start, what kind of revision did you do. I'm using Khan Academy and a SAT prep book I bought. Hopefully spaced practice covers everything until June because I've forgotten a lot of the GCSE maths material.
The prompts change each year so I wouldn’t start them yet. I believe they are announced at the end of August. You could maybe have rough ideas for now. I started mine in September and had 8 drafts finishing October.

Yes those all count! They have a separate section in the profile where they ask for extracurriculars. I’m ngl i dont know anything about spikes. I feel as though that caters to Americans more as they are more involved with extracurriculars.

I actually didn’t do the SAT. I have no intention of applying to US Unis initially, but then I saw that they were test optional for this academic year so I managed to apply without doing them. Sorry xxx
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soupdish
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the spike is more like an interest or activity that you're really good at, are passionate about, and just something that makes you stand out. like you could be really interested in political theory and talk about how you have read a bunch of political theory works on the side, relate this back to your own life and identity, and finally tie this back into why you'd like to study political science in college - for instance.
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King_George_Weah
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Hi there.

Not undergrad but I did a Masters at an Ivy League school and in the past conducted interviews in the U.K. on behalf of the university so I am familiar about the sorts of things admissions tutors look for. Feel free to reach out to me to discuss any aspect about applying or the university itself. All the best.
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Carm15796
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(Original post by Michelle_MX)
The prompts change each year so I wouldn’t start them yet. I believe they are announced at the end of August. You could maybe have rough ideas for now. I started mine in September and had 8 drafts finishing October.

Yes those all count! They have a separate section in the profile where they ask for extracurriculars. I’m ngl i dont know anything about spikes. I feel as though that caters to Americans more as they are more involved with extracurriculars.

I actually didn’t do the SAT. I have no intention of applying to US Unis initially, but then I saw that they were test optional for this academic year so I managed to apply without doing them. Sorry xxx
Ah ok, I thought that they were going to keep the same prompts for the next academic year im not sure where I heard that though.
No worries haha! If the SAT was optional for me too I wouldn't do it either.
A spike seems to be a particular more specific extracurricular that you've developed the most over a few years, compared to other extracurriculars that you've only been doing short term, a lot of websites have mentioned it but I dont have anything like that.
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S0FT
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Hi,

I am French and I am studying A-Levels in boarding school near London. In the US, I applied to Harvard, Stanford, UPenn, Columbia, Northwestern, Duke and Georgetown - if you have any questions, don't hesitate !
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