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Applying to US University after a gap year as a British student

Hi everyone,

I am looking to apply to an American university but as a burnt out Alevel student I want to take a gap year.
For context I have just taken by AS exams (French, English and History) and am finishing year 12. I feel like this is gonna get complicated so just humour me pls lol.

If I get good grades this year (as in for my AS I get B or A) then I will apply to UK universities only (as they don't have fees for application like the US, so I might as well try and get a feel for the process). This is mainly because my goal universities are Oxford, LSE and Kings. They're all very competitive and prestigious and if I get bad grades (Es and Ds) then I won't bother and will consider retaking my alevels.
Now, if I get good grades, apply and get in, I will most certainly skip a gap year and take a four year course involving French so I have the option to study abroad.

If I get good grades but don't get in, that's where I need advice. I will then take a year off to build my extracurriculars and either au pair in France or find an internship or program. Then I plan to apply to both UK and US universities.

My problem is, is this considered weird? I'm pretty sure this is a really niche situation, but I'm really concerned as gap years are not big things in the US. They require stuff like mid-year reports, references from 3 of your tutors who should be familiar with the US system etc etc. I feel like I'm at a huge disadvantage for being a British student wanting to apply to a US university already, not even considering if I take a gap year and then need all of this stuff specific to my tutors and college.

Not to mention how much it costs just to apply to 10 US universities (visa application costs, flights etc), which is something I would be saving up for in my gap year. I really need some reassurance that this isn't stupid or unattainable, as literally everyone around me knows nothing about the American system or have their hearts set on a specific university course in the UK already.

Thanks so much, I hope this isn't too ranty.
Hi! No, this seems attainable. Although gap years are not popular in the US, I don't think it will put your application at a disadvantage. Just make sure your gap year activities/internships/programs are relevant to what you want to study. Have you looked into US applications much yet?
Original post by penguingirl18
Hi! No, this seems attainable. Although gap years are not popular in the US, I don't think it will put your application at a disadvantage. Just make sure your gap year activities/internships/programs are relevant to what you want to study. Have you looked into US applications much yet?


Thanks for the response! have looked into US applications so far as to know the essay style and number, what my application needs, then transcripts, sats etc etc. I have also shortlisted about 12 universities I would love to do more research on, its just the number always ends up overwhelming me. I have an American tutor I have a meeting with soon so will definitely be speaking to him. Do you think there's anything I could be doing right now except extracurriculars to prepare for applying?
Also, I have tended to focus on supercurricular activities and have quite a long list of them. Is this sort of what American universities see as a spike + do you think they're worth adding into the application?
Thanks!!
Original post by Anonymous
Thanks for the response! have looked into US applications so far as to know the essay style and number, what my application needs, then transcripts, sats etc etc. I have also shortlisted about 12 universities I would love to do more research on, its just the number always ends up overwhelming me. I have an American tutor I have a meeting with soon so will definitely be speaking to him. Do you think there's anything I could be doing right now except extracurriculars to prepare for applying?
Also, I have tended to focus on supercurricular activities and have quite a long list of them. Is this sort of what American universities see as a spike + do you think they're worth adding into the application?
Thanks!!

Yes, supercurriculars are important! It's best if you can show that your activities fall in a few main areas of interest. It sounds like you're pretty well prepared. It would be helpful to read successful essays since those are important in the admissions process. Have you looked into tuition costs? Some universities are need-blind, but many take whether you need financial aid into account when making admissions decisions ("need-aware").

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