Why study in the USA?

Posted on 18th October 2016

American university is becoming a more and more popular place to study for British students. There are now some 10,000 students studying in the US, and around 5000 UK students apply for undergraduate in the USA each year. Compare this to 10 years ago, when very few were studying in the USA! But why the trend?

The reasons come down to a several factors, revolving around two main things: money and opportunity.

Cost of study
The first tangible reason that students are choosing to study in the US is the cost. Most people still assume – with good reason – that the cost of studying in America is prohibitively expensive. However, with the introduction and rapid increase of tuition fees in the UK, families are beginning to look around and see what they can get for their money. If we have to spend money on education, they ask, what is the best we can get? It also turns out that US universities aren’t always as expensive as you might think. BYU, for example, only costs $17k per year, which is roughly the same as the UK, and is still a top-ranked college. The living costs are likely to be lower too.

Availability of scholarships and aid
Also related to money is the fact that there are lots of scholarships available to foreign students in the US. In fact, in 2013-14, 880,000 scholarships were given to foreign students, with a total value of about $10 billion! These are available for all kinds of skills and backgrounds, and some universities (such as Harvard) even offer what’s known as need-blind aid. This means they don’t ask whether you can afford the fees when you apply, and if you get in they make sure you can go. This might mean they end up paying for everything, including flights and books! You can read more about funding here.

Freedom of choice
If you study in the UK, you will likely have applied for a specific course, and will not get too much flexibility ad to what subjects you study during that course. In America, however, most people do not choose what they will study at the beginning. Instead, they choose from a range of core subjects, and then have a vast number of optional modules to choose from. After the first year or two they begin to specialise, and eventually ‘major’ in a subject of their choice. The result is that you get an excellent education, whilst trying your hand at subjects you might never have had the opportunity to experience. The statistics speak for themselves: 80% of undergraduates change their major during university, which raises the question: do you really know what you want to study for the rest of university and perhaps your life?

International education
In these globally connected times, an international outlook and experience is very important. One recent survey of employers rated international experience as a leading desirable quality in their employees. Students and families are starting to realise that there is a world of opportunities outside of the UK, and that an education overseas can open many doors. Not only that, it can be an exhilarating, fulfilling and challenging experience for students as they learn to live in a different culture and climate.

First class education
The UK has some excellent universities. However, just by virtue of its size, the US has a lot more universities, ranked equally highly. In fact, the US has some 2500 4-year colleges to choose from! In the Times top 100 universities of 2016, 39 of them were American. And if you look at the rankings of the top 25 UK universities, you’re looking at around the top 50 US universities. Even colleges that you might never have heard of might actually be some of the very best in the world!

There are also universities with an outlook very different to that of the UK. Liberal Arts colleges, for example, tend to be small, undergraduate-focused colleges that offer some of the best-rated teaching in the world. Places like Vassar, Wesleyan and Bowdoin are highly regarded, but largely unheard of in the UK.

For these reasons and more, the university in the US is an option that students across the UK are now looking into. We encourage you to at least keep your options open and have a look too. Don't miss out on an amazing opportunity.
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