The Complete Guide To US College Application
The US has some of the best universities in the world. If you were to look up any ranking, you would probably see more American colleges on the list of top 20 or 30 than of any other country. The private nature and funding resources of some of colleges there means that the investment they can pour into one student is immense.
Beyond academics, US colleges allow for a more personalized approach to education. When you apply to the UK, Singapore or even Canada, you have to apply to a specific major course. In the US, you can choose whether you will do Math, Literature, Economics or Political Science much later in your undergraduate career.
US universities are also known to prioritize student culture over some others. Alumni of US colleges maintain and feel a strong bond with the university and their classmates, even if they were not from the same major. This contrasts with stories about some UK universities, where students lead less integrated and more independent lives.
The strong campus culture also means you will learn a lot not just from the classroom, but from a great range of campus clubs, extra-curricular activities, internships. Universities encourage students to take their learning outside of class, and usually provide a immense amount of career guidance, research and job opportunities.
At Prep Zone, we hope to provide you with the basics of US College applications so that you are more prepared even if you are in Grade 10 or 11.
Part #1: The Application Process
Most students are understandably most concerned about the application process. Indeed, applications to the US can be confusing, time consuming, and require a great amount of preparation much before your final year of high school.
At Prep Zone, the average student joins our consulting service early in Year 11, but some begin even at Year 10 to maximise chances.
Here’s how the application process looks like:
Part #2: Choosing A Major
There is a staggering 5,300 universities in the US. Naturally, students can get overwhelmed with choice.
With so many in one place, rankings alone won’t be the best metric of choice for students. At Prep Zone, we employ a multifaceted approach to school shortlisting for our students with a few key components.
The first thing to know about US Colleges is that you do not need to know your degree/major before you apply.
While it can help narrow down the list – some universities like Georgia Tech are great at Engineering but not arts, while Yale can be the opposite – you can even apply undecided.
That is because in the US, universities encourage students to explore their academic interests. College students usually declare majors officially only in their 2nd year of university.
Part #3: Building A School List
Universities in the USA are among the most popular college destinations for high-school students all around the world. Institutions like Harvard, Yale, Princeton and MIT have become household names recognizable to everyone, but as a country with one of the highest concentrations of universities, any type of student would be spoiled for choice when applying.
Unclear of what you want to study? You can pick a college like Columbia that has the Common Curriculum that gives you a diverse range of courses.
Excited about entrepreneurship and tech? Stanford might the best fit for you. Or perhaps you would like to go to a college whose motto is Where fun goes to die? University of Chicago would be your best bet. (Just kidding! University of Chicago is amazing).
Other things to look into could be whether universities are private or public, and how large the student population is. The largest universities may have bigger classes or lectures where you get less individual attention. At the same time, big universities have high concentrations of opportunities for research, internships, and resources.
From top Ivy League or California universities like UC Berkeley, mid-range universities like Northeastern or UT Austin, to liberal arts colleges like Swarthmore, Amherst or Pomona, students can have more than a hundred potential colleges on their list.
How can you narrow it down? What are some things to look out for?