alices05
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So I’m currently in year 11 and am very interested in applying to US colleges when the time comes. But I was wondering if anyone who has applied or is looking at applying can tell me their EC’s because the UK school extra curricular system is very different to US high school and I feel as though I don’t have much. My GCSE predicted are 9988887A*AA (I sat maths a year early and got a 9 and am now doing ad maths which I’m predicted an A in), I’m also 5/120 (ish) in my year
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ry7xsfa
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(Original post by alices05)
So I’m currently in year 11 and am very interested in applying to US colleges when the time comes. But I was wondering if anyone who has applied or is looking at applying can tell me their EC’s because the UK school extra curricular system is very different to US high school and I feel as though I don’t have much. My GCSE predicted are 9988887A*AA (I sat maths a year early and got a 9 and am now doing ad maths which I’m predicted an A in), I’m also 5/120 (ish) in my year
Hey! I applied in 2019/2020. Alongside my grades, I had ECs both in and out of school. An EC is just anything you do outside of class.

For example, my ECs were:

Part of school's robotics club (roles including team captain, programmer, designer, driver, and more). Was very successful with this (at a national level, also competed internationally) and was easily my main EC.
I play guitar (I had lessons and took grades, but you definitely don't need to to be able to put it as an EC)
I did an internship at the music school where I took guitar lessons (responsibilities including graphic design, web development, graded exam syllabus writing, and sound engineering at live events)
I was on the Sutton Trust US Programme (definitely check it out! They're really helpful with applying to the US)
I volunteered at USA College Day 2019 (a big event in London where representatives from US colleges come to give information to prospective applicants)
I volunteered at several robotics competitions for both primary and secondary school students as a judge and referee
I was a part of a team from my school that went to a local primary school to run a small "science fair" kind of thing.
I continued to keep up German after stopping studying in school (it wasn't offered at A-Level), just using Duolingo or something similar for an hour a day or so. Even something as simple as this counts and is great to put down.
When I was in Year 12, I helped the Year 11 GCSE students prepare for their German speaking exam.

My school didn't offer many opportunities either. Obviously robotics is something I was very lucky to have, and was huge for me. But notice how on that list, most don't involve my school at all. My music, internship, and volunteering was all done on my own, and the Sutton Trust US Programme was done with the help of their amazing Programme Staff!.

If you have any other questions, feel free to let me know, either here or in PM!
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kamara41
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Yeah, sure. I'm in Y13 so just finished the application cycle. This is my stuff:
- I've done theology talks in different places around the UK, including one to an audience of about 100k alongside an Oxford theology professor. One was also broadcast internationally to 50+ countries and dubbed into multiple languages. This was my main EC
- I run a theology blog with a couple hundred followers.
- I'm really active in my church - 15+ hours a week. Teach lessons, part of some other classes, give sermons and talks at baptisms, lead prayer.
- I've competed in national chess competitions and have placed twice.
- I'm a trained babysitter/part-time carer for special needs children
- Volunteer work with my church like assisting elderly people in our congregation, counselor at a summer youth camp, international outreach to persecuted Christians missionary work so just bits here and there
- I do genealogy research; been to conferences about it; 650+ contributions on Family Search
- I'm part of my school's debate club, Christian Union, coding club, and chess club

I totally feel you with the school EC scene being nothing like it is in the US. There are a decent amount of clubs at my school but they kinda just meey and don't do much, but it's not the end of the road. It's really about taking advantages of all the opportunties you do have to get involved, especially outside of school - online and in your local community.

What are your ECs?
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alices05
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(Original post by kamara41)
Yeah, sure. I'm in Y13 so just finished the application cycle. This is my stuff:
- I've done theology talks in different places around the UK, including one to an audience of about 100k alongside an Oxford theology professor. One was also broadcast internationally to 50+ countries and dubbed into multiple languages. This was my main EC
- I run a theology blog with a couple hundred followers.
- I'm really active in my church - 15+ hours a week. Teach lessons, part of some other classes, give sermons and talks at baptisms, lead prayer.
- I've competed in national chess competitions and have placed twice.
- I'm a trained babysitter/part-time carer for special needs children
- Volunteer work with my church like assisting elderly people in our congregation, counselor at a summer youth camp, international outreach to persecuted Christians missionary work so just bits here and there
- I do genealogy research; been to conferences about it; 650+ contributions on Family Search
- I'm part of my school's debate club, Christian Union, coding club, and chess club

I totally feel you with the school EC scene being nothing like it is in the US. There are a decent amount of clubs at my school but they kinda just meey and don't do much, but it's not the end of the road. It's really about taking advantages of all the opportunties you do have to get involved, especially outside of school - online and in your local community.

What are your ECs?
Thank you so much for your reply!
Currently my EC’s are:
2 years of CCF (combined cadet force)
I play the guitar (2 years) and piano (10 years)
I have bronze and have almost finished silver dofe
I also play sports (hockey, netball, tennis) at school but not to any level other than school

But in sixth form I’m going to:
Continue with CCF and hopefully be promoted into a leadership position
Gold dofe (volunteering at brownies)
Lifeguarding qualification
Joining the schools Biology club which is sixth form only
Maybe some tutoring for GCSE science/maths
Hopefully some work experience in a lab next summer as I want to study bio/chem
I’m planning on joining a tennis club outside of school in the summer and maybe playing tournaments
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alices05
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(Original post by ry7xsfa)
Hey! I applied in 2019/2020. Alongside my grades, I had ECs both in and out of school. An EC is just anything you do outside of class.

For example, my ECs were:

Part of school's robotics club (roles including team captain, programmer, designer, driver, and more). Was very successful with this (at a national level, also competed internationally) and was easily my main EC.
I play guitar (I had lessons and took grades, but you definitely don't need to to be able to put it as an EC)
I did an internship at the music school where I took guitar lessons (responsibilities including graphic design, web development, graded exam syllabus writing, and sound engineering at live events)
I was on the Sutton Trust US Programme (definitely check it out! They're really helpful with applying to the US)
I volunteered at USA College Day 2019 (a big event in London where representatives from US colleges come to give information to prospective applicants)
I volunteered at several robotics competitions for both primary and secondary school students as a judge and referee
I was a part of a team from my school that went to a local primary school to run a small "science fair" kind of thing.
I continued to keep up German after stopping studying in school (it wasn't offered at A-Level), just using Duolingo or something similar for an hour a day or so. Even something as simple as this counts and is great to put down.
When I was in Year 12, I helped the Year 11 GCSE students prepare for their German speaking exam.

My school didn't offer many opportunities either. Obviously robotics is something I was very lucky to have, and was huge for me. But notice how on that list, most don't involve my school at all. My music, internship, and volunteering was all done on my own, and the Sutton Trust US Programme was done with the help of their amazing Programme Staff!.

If you have any other questions, feel free to let me know, either here or in PM!
Hi thanks for the reply, so I saw in your info that you’re at CalTech, did you apply anywhere else and if so where were you accepted/declined? (It’s ok if you don’t want to answer this)
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ry7xsfa
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(Original post by alices05)
Hi thanks for the reply, so I saw in your info that you’re at CalTech, did you apply anywhere else and if so where were you accepted/declined? (It’s ok if you don’t want to answer this)
I applied to 14 other schools and was rejected or waitlisted at all of them. Even though my stats were more than enough, and my letters of recommendation were good (I can't verify, but I trust my teachers - though maybe it wasn't what they were looking for in the US? Idk they hadn't done it before), I'm not the best at writing essays (especially communicating things in them) and I was asking for pretty much full financial aid so my chances of admission were low (as well as the fact that all of these schools had very low acceptance rates (<25% overall, probably lower for internationals)).

My list was:

Bowdoin, Brown, Caltech, Cornell, Duke, Georgia Tech, Harvard, Harvey Mudd, MIT, Northwestern, UPenn, URochester, Swarthmore, Tufts, and Union.
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alices05
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(Original post by ry7xsfa)
I applied to 14 other schools and was rejected or waitlisted at all of them. Even though my stats were more than enough, and my letters of recommendation were good (I can't verify, but I trust my teachers - though maybe it wasn't what they were looking for in the US? Idk they hadn't done it before), I'm not the best at writing essays (especially communicating things in them) and I was asking for pretty much full financial aid so my chances of admission were low (as well as the fact that all of these schools had very low acceptance rates (<25% overall, probably lower for internationals)).

My list was:

Bowdoin, Brown, Caltech, Cornell, Duke, Georgia Tech, Harvard, Harvey Mudd, MIT, Northwestern, UPenn, URochester, Swarthmore, Tufts, and Union.
From what I’ve seen before from other people the US college admission process seems to be so random but your EC’s seemed to be really good and I’m sure your stats were too, this is what kind of worries me because I feel like my EC’s are quite weak and that even with my stats, I’ll be rejected from the top colleges (Harvard/Stanford)
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ry7xsfa
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(Original post by alices05)
From what I’ve seen before from other people the US college admission process seems to be so random but your EC’s seemed to be really good and I’m sure your stats were too, this is what kind of worries me because I feel like my EC’s are quite weak and that even with my stats, I’ll be rejected from the top colleges (Harvard/Stanford)
The odds are always against you at those schools. Their acceptance rates are so low generally, and for international students, they're even lower. They regularly reject students with perfect test scores and great ECs. With that being said, somebody has to fill those spots, and if you can communicate in your essays and interview, along with your stats and ECs, that it's the right place for you, you have a chance.

My ACT was 35, My GCSEs were 9888777777, Distinction*Distinction* in BTEC Level 2 Engineering, and my A-Level predicted grades (at the time) were A*A*A (Maths, Physics, Further Maths) with a Distinction*Distinction*Distinction in BTEC Level 3 Engineering. So the stats were there, and the ECs were strong. It was probably due to the financial aid I was asking for, the essays, or the fact that they already had somebody like me in their class that did it better. They're looking to build a well-rounded class, so if they've already got somebody with a similar profile (ECs, subjects, grades, etc.), there's a lower chance you'll get in if you aren't a better fit and do it better than that other person. It also a bit of luck tbh. You can't guarantee anything as an international, especially looking for need-based aid. The college that will offer it to internationals have low acceptance rates and are extremely competitive to get into.
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alices05
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(Original post by ry7xsfa)
The odds are always against you at those schools. Their acceptance rates are so low generally, and for international students, they're even lower. They regularly reject students with perfect test scores and great ECs. With that being said, somebody has to fill those spots, and if you can communicate in your essays and interview, along with your stats and ECs, that it's the right place for you, you have a chance.

My ACT was 35, My GCSEs were 9888777777, Distinction*Distinction* in BTEC Level 2 Engineering, and my A-Level predicted grades (at the time) were A*A*A (Maths, Physics, Further Maths) with a Distinction*Distinction*Distinction in BTEC Level 3 Engineering. So the stats were there, and the ECs were strong. It was probably due to the financial aid I was asking for, the essays, or the fact that they already had somebody like me in their class that did it better. They're looking to build a well-rounded class, so if they've already got somebody with a similar profile (ECs, subjects, grades, etc.), there's a lower chance you'll get in if you aren't a better fit and do it better than that other person. It also a bit of luck tbh. You can't guarantee anything as an international, especially looking for need-based aid. The college that will offer it to internationals have low acceptance rates and are extremely competitive to get into.
Did you apply to UK unis as well or just the US?
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kamara41
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(Original post by ry7xsfa)
I applied to 14 other schools and was rejected or waitlisted at all of them. Even though my stats were more than enough, and my letters of recommendation were good (I can't verify, but I trust my teachers - though maybe it wasn't what they were looking for in the US? Idk they hadn't done it before), I'm not the best at writing essays (especially communicating things in them) and I was asking for pretty much full financial aid so my chances of admission were low (as well as the fact that all of these schools had very low acceptance rates (<25% overall, probably lower for internationals)).

My list was:

Bowdoin, Brown, Caltech, Cornell, Duke, Georgia Tech, Harvard, Harvey Mudd, MIT, Northwestern, UPenn, URochester, Swarthmore, Tufts, and Union
(Original post by alices05)
From what I’ve seen before from other people the US college admission process seems to be so random but your EC’s seemed to be really good and I’m sure your stats were too, this is what kind of worries me because I feel like my EC’s are quite weak and that even with my stats, I’ll be rejected from the top colleges (Harvard/Stanford)
Unfortunately yeah top US colleges are incredibly competitive. Last year, Harvard and Stanford's acceptance rates were 4%, and that will be lower for international students.
And if you're applying for financial aid, that is even lower. For example, Oberlin College, which has one of the highest general acceptance rates for colleges that meet 100% of financial need for international students at just under 40%, has an acceptance rate of just 15% for international students applying for financial aid. Occidental, which has a general acceptance rate of 35%, only accepts two international students a year who need financial aid. For schools with general acceptance rates sub-10%, I don't even want to think about what those acceptance rates for internationals applying for financial aid are.
But they have to admit someone right? As long as you make sure you have some safeties so that you'll definitely be going to uni somewhere, I think definitely shoot your shot.
I think you're under selling yourself; you're a competitive applicant. Do you you have a good chance at getting in? No, but no one save Olympic gold medalists and the children of presidents do. And you still have tons more time to develop your ECs.
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kamara41
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(Original post by ry7xsfa)
The odds are always against you at those schools. Their acceptance rates are so low generally, and for international students, they're even lower. They regularly reject students with perfect test scores and great ECs. With that being said, somebody has to fill those spots, and if you can communicate in your essays and interview, along with your stats and ECs, that it's the right place for you, you have a chance.

My ACT was 35, My GCSEs were 9888777777, Distinction*Distinction* in BTEC Level 2 Engineering, and my A-Level predicted grades (at the time) were A*A*A (Maths, Physics, Further Maths) with a Distinction*Distinction*Distinction in BTEC Level 3 Engineering. So the stats were there, and the ECs were strong. It was probably due to the financial aid I was asking for, the essays, or the fact that they already had somebody like me in their class that did it better. They're looking to build a well-rounded class, so if they've already got somebody with a similar profile (ECs, subjects, grades, etc.), there's a lower chance you'll get in if you aren't a better fit and do it better than that other person. It also a bit of luck tbh. You can't guarantee anything as an international, especially looking for need-based aid. The college that will offer it to internationals have low acceptance rates and are extremely competitive to get into.
PRSOM
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alices05
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(Original post by kamara41)
Unfortunately yeah top US colleges are incredibly competitive. Last year, Harvard and Stanford's acceptance rates were 4%, and that will be lower for international students.
And if you're applying for financial aid, that is even lower. For example, Oberlin College, which has one of the highest general acceptance rates for colleges that meet 100% of financial need for international students at just under 40%, has an acceptance rate of just 15% for international students applying for financial aid. Occidental, which has a general acceptance rate of 35%, only accepts two international students a year who need financial aid. For schools with general acceptance rates sub-10%, I don't even want to think about what those acceptance rates for internationals applying for financial aid are.
But they have to admit someone right? As long as you make sure you have some safeties so that you'll definitely be going to uni somewhere, I think definitely shoot your shot.
I think you're under selling yourself; you're a competitive applicant. Do you you have a good chance at getting in? No, but no one save Olympic gold medalists and the children of presidents do. And you still have tons more time to develop your ECs.
How could I develop my EC’s to improve my chances of getting in?
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kamara41
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You had some good ideas yourself!

Through your ECs you want to demonstrate 4 things:
- achievement
- leadership (this doesn't just mean named leadership positions, but also just taking initiative and not just being a passive follower)
- dedication/commitment

So I guess just think about which of those areas are your strongest EC wise, which is your weakest and try to build on that.

When it comes to ECs I always recommend this article. It's about admission to top colleges in general, but focuses on ECs:
https://blog.prepscholar.com/how-to-...a-harvard-alum
The author is definitely waaaay too optimistic about the chance of admission following his advice would give you - unless the advice is to have your parents donate £50 million, there is no advice that will give you a 90% chance of getting into Harvard - but the advice still stands.
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alices05
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(Original post by kamara41)
You had some good ideas yourself!

Through your ECs you want to demonstrate 4 things:
- achievement
- leadership (this doesn't just mean named leadership positions, but also just taking initiative and not just being a passive follower)
- dedication/commitment

So I guess just think about which of those areas are your strongest EC wise, which is your weakest and try to build on that.

When it comes to ECs I always recommend this article. It's about admission to top colleges in general, but focuses on ECs:
https://blog.prepscholar.com/how-to-...a-harvard-alum
The author is definitely waaaay too optimistic about the chance of admission following his advice would give you - unless the advice is to have your parents donate £50 million, there is no advice that will give you a 90% chance of getting into Harvard - but the advice still stands.
Hi so I just read that link and it was actually very helpful, especially since I am intending on majoring in a science and have been stuck on what EC’s you can do which are science related but it sort of helped me so thank you!!
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I went to an int'l school in HK, but it was brit based. Applied to both UK and US, and happy to chat a bit more, if I can help? Can you DM me?
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