Students submit separate application forms to each college. Each school has an applicationprocessing fee (usually upwards of USD 50). You can save time by using the Common Application (a standardized form accepted by hundreds of colleges), but students should first check whether their target colleges accept it and if any supplements are required.
*In the US, college is a term commonlyused to encompass post-secondary education (both colleges and universities). In British terminology, it denotes a high school, training institute, or a constituentschool within a university.
Basic Components (US)
SAT Score Percentile Chart
SAT Subject Tests: Required by most colleges. Typically, exam scores from at least two subjects are requested. Subjects range from physics to Chinese language. Should be taken no sooner than Grade 11 and no later than December of Grade 12. Students can also send supplemental academic achievements, such as Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) scores. Students should check beforehand if their score can qualify for college credit.
GPA: A student’s cumulative high school grade point average.
Extracurricular Activities: A student’s non-curricular achievements and volunteer and work experience.
Personal statement: An essay written by the student on the general topic of personal history and academic goals or on designated topics.
Recommendations: Generally, one or two letters of recommendationare required; they are usually written by a teacher or college advisor.TOEFL: Non-native English speakers must submit a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score. A common alternative to the TOEFL testing system is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
Creating a Strong Application (US)
Good grades and solid SAT scores aside, students should make the most of the creative control they have over their extracurricular activitiesand personal statement – and indirectly through their letters of recommendation. Extracurricular activities should display "consistency, dedication and taking on a leadership role," advises Gordon. Colleges want to see an individual, a "difference maker."
The British University Application
UCAS, short for Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is the central application process for the UK. Students choose up to five universities and send one electronic application via UCAS. The cost is GBP 21. Applications may be submitted as early as September; the final deadline is in early December.
Basic Components (UK)
Qualifications: A student’s achievements, including Advanced Level General Certificate of Education (A-Level) scores, and if applicable, IB, SAT and TOEFL scores.
Predicted A-Levels: Typically predicted by teachers based on the student’s Advanced Subsidiary (AS) grades, homework and class work. A discrepancy between predicted and actual grades can affect the student’s chances of attending their chosen university.
Personal statement: A maximum of 4,000 characters
References: Typically written by a form tutor, teacher or university counselor.
UK University Application Timeline
Years 10 and 11 (ages 14-16): A two-year course of GCSE, which is an academic qualification in a specific subject. On average, students take around eight subjects, including math, English and a foreign language. Students are required to perform well in GCSEs before advancing to A-Levels in Years 12 and 13. International students are expected to fulfill the equivalent subjects; for example, TOEFL can be an English subject equivalent.
Year 12: Students begin subject-specific A-Levels (one A-Level is composed of an AS Level and an A2 Level). In Year 12, students take four AS (Advanced Subsidiary) Levels, at least three of which will be continued through Year 13.
Year 13: Complete at least three A2 Levels. Generally, students finish Year 13 with three A Levels and one AS Level. Most universities require three A-Levels, but students are advised to check each university and course for specific entrance requirements.
Both GCSEs and A-Levels are written and graded by external examination boards.
Creating a Strong Application (UK)
Grades for A-Levels range from A* (A star), A, B, C, D to E. The minimum(predicted) A-Levels required for admission to each university, such as ABB or AAB, are listed on the UCAS website. Students should not apply for courses whose entry requirements exceed their predicted A-Levels.
Applicants to American colleges should have a healthy mix of "safety," "reach" and "target" schools; experts generally advise applying to no more than ten. For a ten-school model, Gordon suggests applying to four or five target schools (where a student’s GPA and exam scores fall within the average range) and one to three safety schools (where the student’s academic scores exceeds the average).
Admission Treks offers "treks" to colleges in the US (both East and West Coast) as well as mentoring services. Each trek involves 15-20 students, which are each assigned a mentor – a carefully selected student or graduate with a solid academic background. A maximum of four students will share one mentor; one-on-one mentoring can be arranged at an extra cost. Activities include meeting special guests such as lawyers and MBA graduates, attending lectures given by professors at either Harvard or UCLA, workshops on writing a personal statement and preparing the extracurricular section, as well as a fun excursion to either a Broadway show or Disneyland. Post-trek, mentors will continue to assist students with the application process. "If someone does the trek and the mentoring, there is no question that they will put their best foot forward," notes Gordon.
Strong Personal Ties
"If someone made a difference in your life as a teacher, keep them as a mentor," advises Gordon. "Even if you got an A in their class, they’re not going to be as impressed as if you checked in with them every now and then."
Harrow International School Beijing 北京哈罗英国学校
5 Anzhen Xili, Block 4, Chaoyang District (6444 8900, email@example.com) www.harrowbeijing.cn
West Coast trek RMB 35,000, East Coast Trek RMB 40,000, combined trek (both East and West Coasts) RMB 65,000. Mentoring program package RMB 15,000 for 6 months, RMB 30,000 for a year.
21 Everett Road Ext, Albany, NY 12205, USA (+001 518 469 9959, info@AdmissionTreks.com)
The College Board
The ACT Exam
U.S. News & World Report
Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS)
Tips from Past Applicants:
"Apply early. Do the time – don’t let the time do you."
– Zhang Shizhuo, Beijing World Youth Academy (BWYA) graduateNew York University, Tisch School of Arts, Class of 2013
"Get more than one person to review your personal statement."- Li Fen Foh, Beijing BISS International School graduate
Newcastle University, Class of 2013
"Demonstrate that you have the potential to contribute and enrich the college society. Being an international student is not enough; you need to present yourself as a unique individual."
– Yeiyoung Choo, BWYA graduate
University of California at Berkeley, Class of 2014
"An institution is providing you [with]an opportunity, which comes at the cost of denying someone else the same chance. So let them know how badly you want that opportunity."
– Frank Tarimo, BWYA graduate
Boston University (College of Engineering), Class of 2014
"Universities are looking for influential people – future leaders."- Michal Csonga, BWYA graduate
University of Manchester, Class of 2011