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Since university fees in England have sky-rocketed, there’s been an increase in the number of British students applying to U.S. colleges. In some cases parents feel that if they’re going to shell out nine grand a year (pounds sterling) they might as well go the whole way and pay the U.S. fees. For others, perhaps not able to come up with the unanticipated fee increase, they look across the pond in the hope of earning a merit or need-based scholarship, much more common here than in the U.K.
So why should Brits even think of studying in the States?
1. Financial aid
Although international students don’t qualify for U.S. government financial aid, there are many funding options available. American colleges have always been fee-paying, and have always had to come up with ways to boost their coffers. The older colleges in particular, have huge endowment funds and can therefore give out scholarships (bursaries) to many students. Harvard has around $30 billion (yes, billion) stashed away, while Yale reportedly has almost $20 billion. The University of Texas (a public university) has approximately $17 billion, as does Princeton. Get the picture? Although British universities have recently cottoned onto the idea of bleeding dry tapping alumni for money, it’ll be years before most can meet the financial needs of their applicants.
2. Athletic scholarships
If your student is a gifted athlete, there’s very often money available, although it’s a competitive field. The college sports scene here is huge; many sports are televised and bring in big revenues. Athletes that attract the crowds therefore, are literally like gold. A warning though, most athletic scholarships are for one year and are usually, but not always, renewed. I know of one British student however, who’s still on his team this year, but his scholarship wasn’t renewed.
3. No burnt bridges
Americans are often aghast to hear that from age 16 to 18 (back when only two or three A levels were required), I only studied English, French and History. Even worse, I studied only one subject for my entire three years at university. Here, undergraduate degrees take four years, and you don’t have to declare a major (main subject) till the third year. In fact, at most colleges, you are required to take classes in a wide range of subjects in order to graduate. The downside is that if you know your intended major, it’s a pain to have to take a lab science or a foreign language when either not interested or just plain rubbish at it. (As a parent it’s even more painful to be paying for such hated classes.) Many international students, however, appreciate the chance to continue a broader array of studies.
4. Experience something new
Although they barely have to learn a new language, British students in the States still experience quite the culture change. The college scene here is much more “intense” than at British colleges, with students fiercely proud of their college and all 300 of its sports teams. There are also a million and one clubs to join so kids can live their passion, be it Quidditch, karate or quilting. Yes, they’ll have some culture shock, but most colleges now have an International Students Officer (or team) to support overseas students and hey, their accent makes them very popular!
5. A CV boost
British students graduating from a U.S. college will not only have an undergraduate bachelor’s degree but will earn major employment brownie points for gumption, get-up-and-go and all-round personal drive. Can’t go wrong there.
Are you considering sending your son or daughter to a U.S. school?