What should a U.S. high school student do to boost the likelihood of a London university acceptance?

<p>Being a self-proclaimed anglophile since I learned the meaning of the word, and a lover of British culture since I visited London for the first time at the age of 5, I've known I've wanted to attend a London university for a while. I always knew a semester abroad would never be enough. Now that I'm in my freshman year of high school, and can start making a difference towards my college acceptance, I'm wondering if there is anything specific that universities in the U.K. look for. I've heard that it's very exam-based, and that a high GPA is a must (as for some background, I just received a 4.0 GPA for the first semester of the year and have finished in the top percentile for PSAT practice tests). As well, I've heard that extra curriculars and sports do not hold weight like at American colleges (I participate in quite a few and will most likely continue either way, but it would still be nice to know!). Also, I've heard that you must declare your major as an incoming freshman, which doesn't bother me, but I'd like to know if it's true. Thank you! </p>

<p>Yes, you need to apply to study one specific subject (or occasionally two related ones). You don’t have any gen ed type courses in the UK. So you really need to be sure what you want to study before you start. You’ll need to take AP classes in subjects related to what you intend to study. Test results (APs, SAT etc) matter more than GPA.</p>

<p>Does it have to be London, btw?</p>

<p>Hi, </p>

<p>Firstly, there’s life outside London, lots of it in fact, and it’s far cheaper too. </p>

<p>Secondly, the most important thing on your application will be your AP / SAT scores, and any other standardised tests you do. You’ll need to have several at grade 4/5. Your GPA will have relatively little importance, though some will state a minimum standard. </p>

<p>Thirdly, extra curriculars play little importance in admissions decisions, unless they’re directly related to your course of study. They don’t care that you were the quarterback unless you’re applying for a sport course. </p>

<p>Which brings me onto the final point, and possibly the most important thing you could know about going to a UK university: there’s focus. As in, you apply for a specific subject (or sometimes joint honours - two (usually) related subjects) and that’s all you study for the next three years. No gen ed requirements, just focus on your subject, though there may be the possibility of doing an outside module that’s relevant (e.g. if you were doing geography you may be able to do a politics module). Switching courses is difficult, not the norm, and if the change is too great you’ll have to start your degree from scratch. So, you need to be sure before you apply. </p>

<p>You’ll have to write a personal statement as part of your application, and that needs to be focussed on why you want to study the course (i.e. 75% of it needs to be about why you are utterly passionate about biology or business studies or whatever) and relevant extra curriculars will comprise the rest. </p>

<p>In short, excellent standardised test grades are far and away the most important thing. </p>

<p>PS The Student Room is a wealth of information </p>

<p>@boomting Wow, that was very comprehensive! I really appreciate someone taking their time to answer my question, and I’ll definitely take what you said into consideration. Thank you so much, have a lovely day!</p>

<p>Wow, that was very comprehensive! I really appreciate someone taking their time to answer my question, and I’ll definitely take what you said into consideration. Thank you so much, have a lovely day!</p>

<p>@conformist1688 Thank you as well! Essentially, you answered everything I had to ask, but in case you have more to say, or were simply wondering (doubtful, as people aren’t usually too curious about a 9th grader’s crazy plans for the future); I have always had my heart set on London for university, but I’ve heard some pretty compelling arguments for schooling elsewhere, so who knows? </p>

<p>A high GPA is not a must: most UK unis won’t care if you put it on your application (main exception: St Andrews, which is almost as far from London as you can get in the UK). You are correct, however, that it is exam based.</p>

<p>What you will need (for the top unis- Oxbridge/LSE level) is a 2100+ SAT; scores of 5 on a minimum of 3-5 category “A” APs, in areas related to the subject you are applying to study (see here for a list of A and B category APs: <a href=“http://www.ucas.com/how-it-all-works/explore-your-options/entry-requirements/tariff-tables/app”>http://www.ucas.com/how-it-all-works/explore-your-options/entry-requirements/tariff-tables/app&lt;/a&gt;); a good case for why you want to study that subject (evidenced by things you have done beyond the classroom) in your Personal Statement; and a decent rec. I know you said London, but if you go the Oxbridge route you may also need to take an aptitude test, submit graded school work and/or write a separate essay (depending on the university, the college within the university and/or the subject); there is also an interview.</p>

<p>In the UK you don’t declare a major, you study one (or, as conformist noted, occasionally 2 linked subjects) subject for your entire time. So if you apply for mathmatics you will <strong>only</strong> ever take math classes. Hence the importance of being sure that the subject is something in which you have a genuine interest. Some of the common joint subjects involve a language (eg, History + German); others are related (History + Politics); a few are just different (Philosophy + Physics). Extremely detailed course descriptions are available online for every course in every uni- down to what you study each year of the course. You can apply to 5 courses through UCAS, which can be the same course at 5 unis, or several courses at several unis, but all of them see exactly the same application, so your essay has to cover all of the courses you apply to. </p>

<p>I will second conformists question about London. Aside from being a lot more expensive, urban colleges are a very different experience. Many students will be living at home or in ‘digs’ and going home a lot on the weekends, and even students in college provided housing are spread out (LSE has accommodation in 20 different locations). Be aware that unis in the UK do a lot less hand-holding than US colleges do- you will have to manage much of your own experience You might consider some other options in places. Edinburgh, for example, is a very highly rated urban college, but the city is obviously much smaller than London, and becomes a de facto campus. Oxford, Cambridge and Durham are all collegiate universities, so that you have a built in community in your college, before you expand into your subject and activity groups. </p>

<p>Anyway, at this stage the main thing is to figure out what you want to study, and work on lining up the APs you will need. You will certainly need some APs (or at least SATIIs) by the end of Junior year, but if you have enough you could get an unconditional offer, which is much, much nicer than a conditional offer! (most UK students get offers that are conditional on the grades that they get on the exams they take at the end of secondary school; for US students that means your senior year scores. It is no fun sitting APs that will determine whether or not you go to your first choice uni when all your classmates have theirs sorted!</p>

<p>@boomting As well, thank you very much for leading me to the Student Room, a wealth of information is right!</p>

<p>@collegemom3717 Again, wow, I’m floored. CC users sure have this answering business down pat (If I had tried this on Yahoo Answers, I would have gotten a response with the grammar and temperament of an angry toddler). I can’t believe that you took the time to complete that answer, truly, it has everything I’ve been wondering. I don’t mean to intrude, but do have experience in this area of admissions (International by an American, I mean)? You seem extremely knowledgable! Thank you so much, have a nice evening! </p>

<p>@boomting got it all in, much more succinctly! and, he remembered to put in student room as well, which is really all you need.
@fairwordplay, I have had some experience helping American students interested in going to the UK and Ireland, and have direct experience with several of the universities. </p>

<p>also, the UK thread on CC is - in my experience - unusually helpful. There are some very knowledgable and helpful regular posters (including boomting). We throw the occasional tantrum when provoked, but with anybody who is serious and trying people are very helpful. Good luck!</p>

<p>Helpful is the understatement of the century, all my questions were completely answered! I doubt that an experienced college counselor would have even given such a detailed and thorough answer to my question. It’s so lovely when people are kind on forums like these, I’ve had friends whose use of CC led me to believe that it was a mix of pretentious “chance-me” enthusiasts and crazy helicopter parents, but obviously I had spoken too soon! Obviously there is something about the UK that brings out the good in everything (including the occasional cesspool we call the internet). Again, thank you @boomting, @collegemom3717, & @conformist1688 again for taking the time to answer my questions today, it’s very much appreciated! </p>

<p>You might want to ask for the “prospectus” (college viewbook/catalog) at several universities, some in London, some in other cities. Suggestions: UCL, King’s, Bath, Cardiff, Durham, Edimburgh, York, Cambridge, Oxford, Brighton, Queen’s (Belfast), Queen Mary (London), NCH.</p>

<p>I wouldn’t touch New College of the Humanities (NCH) with a bargepole. It’s one man’s vanity project and it literally just teachers the Uni of London International Programmes with a very large price tag. </p>

<p>Sussex is much better than Brighton (and is in the same city) </p>

<p>Apart from that, I would second the suggestion of getting prospectuses for all those unis - they’re free, and a useful starting point, though of course they are very much a marketing document. Others to add to the list - Leeds, Liverpool, Glasgow, St Andrews, Newcastle, Manchester, Bristol, Bath, Exeter, Southampton, Imperial, LSE, Nottingham, Leicester, Kent and Cardiff. </p>

<p>PS @fairwordplay - thank you for saying thank you! It’s always nice to feel appreciated :smiley: </p>

<p>“I wouldn’t touch New College of the Humanities (NCH) with a bargepole. It’s one man’s vanity project and it literally just teachers the Uni of London International Programmes with a very large price tag.”</p>

<p>Agree with this, but in any case they haven’t been given sponsor status yet so international students can’t get a visa to study there.</p>

<p>Focus more in academics rather than ECs. Unis like Oxbridge and LSE and UCL etc r as competitive as the Ivies but they don’t want to know about ur ECs. There is a lot more focus on ur intended area of study- focus on what u want to study and maybe take some extra classes at a community college rather than run the anime society or something just to show leadership! :smiley: </p>

<p>I haven’t read through this entire thread yet - but for context’s sake, I’m doing law at UCL come this fall and they didn’t even know my GPA. I’d be surprised if they even looked at any of the classes I took.</p>

<p>Test scores, personal statements, and predicted grades. That’s all that matters.</p>

<p>@comformist1688 Thanks for the information. I’ll be sure to stay far away! </p>

<p>I listed universities with very different standards so that OP had a wide array of choices, but I didn’t realize NCH had such a bad reputation (although I did realize it is living off its UCL affiliation and London location). The extra contact hours seemed good, though, and don’t they have scholarships so that the full cost isn’t anywhere near sticker price?</p>

<p>OP: you can type “Times Leagues Table” or “Guardian Leagues Table” and search according to the “course” (major) you’d pursue.</p>