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United Kingdom Universities for Americans

I made a post about the top universities in other nations besides America. But the question is, are any of these universities a realistic opportunity for an American student?

The UK has a system called UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, an independent charity, and the UK’s shared admissions service for higher education. So if you are going to be applying to a UK school, you will do so through the UCAS. They have a page to help international students.

There is an October 15th deadline for the following year, meaning you need to be on the ball if you want to apply to a prestige university.

Entry Requirements

You then need to look into the entry requirements, which start with Tariff Points. Unfortunately, most Americans cannot match their coursework to UK “Levels.” Your best options are the SAT and Advanced Placement tests.

The University of Oxford, The University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, The University College London (UCL), and The University of Edinburgh are the top five schools in the UK. Here is a quick overview of their requirements for American students.

UniversitySATAP TestsApprox. Annual Overseas Tuition
The University of Oxford14803+ 5s$35,000 – $53,500
The University of Cambridge1500 / 14605+ 5s$29,500 – $45,000 ($77,500 Med.)
Imperial College LondonN/A3+ 5s$41,000 – $44,000 ($56,500 Med.)
The University College London (UCL)1440 / 12802-4 5s$27,000 – $42,500
The University of Edinburgh12902+ 4s$28,000 – $39,000

On a unique note, you can only apply to Oxford or Cambridge, not both.

Selecting a Major

In the UK, the last two years of high school age are spent going deeper into the study area they would like to pursue at their university. Since American high schools are geared towards breadth instead of depth, it puts students at a disadvantage.

Instead of selecting a “major,” you will choose a “course.” UCAS offers content to help your decision process but also emphasizes that most courses will specialize. Comparatively, most American universities have “general electives” to encourage students to experience new things and broaden their knowledge.

Other Tips

  • You may have to pay a healthcare surcharge as part of your visa application (~$500).
  • With your student visa, you’ll be able to work up to 20 hours per week while studying.
  • Most dormitories are single occupancy. Don’t expect a roommate.
  • You will be responsible for your own tuition financing as you cannot receive UK Financial Aid
  • UK Universities may place up to 100% of their course grade on the final exam
  • 70-100% is the highest grade level (First Degree)

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