From education to employment

Why the U.S. is a Magnet for Postgrad Students

Today, there is plenty of talk about flexible education, hybrid study and the like. But for many students, the ultimate dream is to undertake their postgraduate studies overseas.

By far the most popular choice is the USA, where there are more than a million international students. With international travel back on the agenda, this could be the perfect time to make your American dream a reality.

Why go to America?

There are great universities in wonderful countries all over the world. But America ticks all the right boxes. Students from the UK will, of course, have no language barrier to overcome and the US culture, while quite different to the UK in many respects, is sufficiently similar to make it easy to settle in, whether you are travelling alone or accompanied by family.

America also has a wider choice of universities than you will find anywhere in the world. Yes, there are the famous Ivy League establishments like Princeton, Yale and Harvard – these are the US equivalents of Oxford and Cambridge. But most students are better advised to think more pragmatically, as there are so many other options for postgrad students that offer courses just as stimulating but with tuition fees that are a little less eye-watering.

Admission requirements

Another box checked by US universities is that their admissions processes are broadly similar to those in the UK. Each course will have so many spaces available every year, so it’s a case of applying and demonstrating that you deserve to occupy one of them. Exact requirements vary depending on what you want to study and where, but typically, you’ll need to provide the following:

  • Admissions Essay – this is essentially your “sales pitch” on why you want to take the course. It should be between 500 and 1,000 words in length and it’s worth taking time over it and getting advice from peers and, ideally, academics, before you submit it.
  • Exam results – transcripts of your UK results should be sufficient, but some US colleges might ask you to “translate” your UK grades into US GPAs.
  • References – these carry significant weight. You will typically need three, and all should be from academic sources unless you are specifically told otherwise.
  • Test results – there’s a lot of information and misinformation about America’s famous GRE test. Yes, you can study for it and sit it in the UK, but be clear about whether you really need to first, as not all universities demand it. It’s not that it is terribly difficult, but it will cost you plenty in time and money, so don’t do it needlessly.
  • An application fee – it’s typically between $50 – $100 and non-refundable.

Eyes wide open

Finally, don’t underestimate the costs, so go into the application process with your eyes wide open. Tuition fees vary enormously depending on the university and the course, and could be anything from $5,000 to $50,000. Then you need to pay for flights, accommodation and living expenses.

The US is famous for its scholarships. These fall beyond the scope of our discussions here, but they are available to overseas students and are well worth researching. Even partial funding could spell the difference between a life-changing experience and staying at home. Good luck!

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