U.S. university counseling

We have been in and around US university admissions for over 20 years and offer a bespoke service to a limited number of families.  Our comprehensive service often lasts over years and starts with GCSE and A-level decisions, summer programs, sports and extracurricular choices. We then guide families through the entire university application process: schools selection, SAT/ACT tutoring, application essays and final matriculation decisions.

We answer the most frequent questions below:

Why should my child study in the U.S.?   

This is the beginning point of your decision making process.  The most common reason a young Brit wants to study in the US is that students are not limited to one course of study.  Indeed, at many schools they don’t even have to tell them what their major course of study is until three years into the program.  So if your child is unsure, or wishes to study a wide range of fields, the US may be the right choice.  

It’s so expensive!

Indeed.  The bottom line for many UK families is that a realistic expense budget, including travel, buying a new set of everything and so on in addition to university fees could push six figures per year (in dollars).  Is it worth £60,000-£70,000 a year for four years?  I often turn this question around and point out that if Harvard doubled its fees it would still have many more qualified applicants than it has seats.  A top US university education is expensive for many reasons: facilities, professor pay, administration, research.  The surprising fact is that every single one of the elite US universities would lose money if they only relied on tuition.  To an extent, you needn’t worry about the four years of over the top tuition: you should worry about them hounding your child for alumni dollars for decades (they’re good at it)!

Everyone talks about “college.”  Is this different to a university?

In a word: no.  However it is a word Americans use to describe a different type of school.  A college in the US (think: Amherst or Swarthmore) is often a much smaller school, with much more limited academic options and few if any graduate schools.  The benefits are smaller class sizes, deep interaction with professors and a more tight-knit, “collegiate” experience.  A university (think: Columbia or Penn) is a large institution, often with several thousand students in a year, with many undergraduate and graduate schools, research centres, hospitals and degree programs.  The costs are a less personal experience and the risk of getting lost in the crowd.

Why does my child have to take so many tests?

There are over 3,000 institutions of higher learning in the United States and tens of thousands of high schools.  US colleges and universities feel the need to level the playing field between a 30 person high school in Wyoming and a 8,000 student high school in California.  The grades from each are impossible to compare.  The SAT, the ACT and other standardized tests attempt to give the same evaluation to hundreds of thousands of students.  Does this work?  Not in my view (but no one is asking me!).  The greatest predictor of SAT scores is family income.  The correlation between SAT scores and university performance?  Close to zero.  And yet here we are.

College Hall, The University of Pennsylvania

How can we help?

We are Americans, having gone to school there but raised children exclusively in UK primary and secondary schools.  We know both systems from personal and professional experiences, having attended the Ivy League and other top 20 US schools, interviewed for the schools as alumni or worked for the Ivy League (we have former Princeton application readers on staff).  The author once said that we are “two people separated by a common language”, and we are able to speak both!  An initial consultation can help determine whether we can help you.