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College Expat?

meganoccmeganocc Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
Hi everyone! I am a current high school junior from Los Angeles, California beginning my college search. I know that there are many opportunities available to me as a student int he United States, but I am also considering studying in Scotland at either St. Andrews or Edinburgh. I know a lot of you will question why I would forsake amazing American universities to go abroad, so let me tell you a little bit about myself. I have always been very global, my favorite classes at school are languages (Spanish and French), history, and international relations classes, and I travel a lot. Traveling is one of the only things that keeps me happy and I even run a growing travel blog that has already gotten a couple sponsors. Furthermore, I have always loved international relations and I am certain I want to go into international relations, law, or business when I grow up. As I am relatively certain regarding my goals for the future, I would like a streamlined college education with fewer core classes and more focus on students' individual areas of interest. That is one reason I like colleges in the UK.

My primary factors in making a college decision are as follows (not in order of preference):
1. Good academics
2. In a city
3. Good social life
4. Easy and relatively cheap to travel around region
5. Has a strong international relations program
6. Will allow me to continue studies in French (bonus if I can complete a double major)
7. Not near California
8. Very strong alumni network
9. Good living accommodations
10. Research opportunities
11. College will provide good networking and will look good to future employers
12. College has a Model UN program
13. College will allow for good internships
14. College has a good advisory program and career center

The alternative to studying abroad for my entire college experience would be to study in the States and then take my junior year abroad. Again, I am very global, independent, and I love taking risks. My primary concerns about going to college abroad are about networking and coming back to the US after college. Will I be able to compete with my peers that stayed in America to study international relations? Will American employers take me seriously? Will I be able to get into top US colleges to earn a Master's Degree? Will I be able to build a strong network in the US?

If anyone who sees this is a current foreign student or recent grad of a UK university, it would be so helpful if I could email you and hear an insider's perspective.

Thank you so much! I know this post was long and exhaustive, but this has really been on my mind lately.

Replies to: College Expat?

  • jupiter98jupiter98 Registered User Posts: 314 Member
    There is a sizable U of Edinburgh alumni club in Washington D.C. I am sure they will be happy to provide you with information.

    There could be one in LA.
  • elguapo1elguapo1 Registered User Posts: 402 Member
    Nice long post but you forgot the important bits. Which AP"s have you done, and what was the scores if you have them. Will you be taking more in your senior year, do you have ACT/SAT/SAT II's? Is finance a consideration?
  • meganoccmeganocc Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    Thanks for notifying me jupiter98!
    @elguapo1 I will have taken 12 AP/Honors classes (@ my school they count for the same) by the end of senior year. I have one 5 in AP Euro and have yet to receive results from the ones I took this year. For my ACT, I got a score in the range of 33-35 and for SAT II's, I will be taking them next week, but will most likely score highly in 2 out of 3. Finance is not a consideration
  • alcibiadealcibiade Registered User Posts: 586 Member
    You would have a problem with networking. One of the greatest assets of studying where you want to work is that you can get direct access to recruiters in your last year, particularly if you are at a good enough institution from them to come to you. If you get a degree in the UK, your network in the US will be seriously truncated. I speak from experience: I went to sciences po Paris (in IR), went to NYC to look for a job and found it simply wasn't recognized by most, at least in the sense of getting special access via an existing network. So, I was just like everyone else who was looking for a job in a city that was new to me.

    That being said, it was a great experience to study abroad, I did eventually get an interesting job (a great learning experience), and I got a better job once I did a MA in the US. So, given the difficulties, I would still recommend the experience.
  • elguapo1elguapo1 Registered User Posts: 402 Member
    Seems like admissions wont be a problem as long as you have minimum 3 group A AP's at 5, if you want to study languages 1 AP will need to be in a language you want to study, double major wont be a problem if that's what you want to study.Honors classes in high school won't count they will want to see your performance in standardized national exams rather than a GPA. Scottish universities are more popular with Americans, and Canadians for that matter, as they are a little more flexible and are more closely aligned with the US system. If you want the offer to be unconditional you will need your results when you apply. I think St A's is rolling admissions and Edi by Jan 15 th in the year you want to attend. Make sure your personal statement is relevant to what you want to study.

    Both Edi and St A's are excellent schools but very different. Edi large urban university in the centre of the city. It is a beautiful city and has a large international airport so easy to get to and easy to travel from. Edi is also a large research university but I am not entirely sure UK kids are looking for research opportunities as undergrads. Should have decent alumni network in the US as it is popular with Americans.

    St A's small more undergrad focused school in a beautiful but sleepy seaside town on Scotland's east coast. By reputation probably has the stronger IR program which is a school of its own within the university rather than a department with the school of arts and sciences for example. It has its Hogwarts type traditions if you like that sort of thing and the US alumni network is strong with chapters in NYC, DC and Chicago. To get to St A's you would fly into Edi and take a shuttle or train to St A's about 1 hr and 20 mins away. To travel in Europe, Dundee airport 20 mins away will get you some places but not as extensive or cheap as flying from Edi.

    Teaching style will be the same at both. Lectures, tutorials, reading, set essay assignments, mid terms and finals for exams. Dont expect multiple choice tests at the end of every week.... your performance in set work and mid terms with generally dictate whether you maintain honors status and your final exams will tend to be the major consideration in your final grade of degree. I can explain that a bit further if you wish. Scottish undergrad is usually 4 years.

    Check the universities career websites for internships/research opportunities. However, as with most things in the UK you will have to do the heavy lifting yourself, dont expect the university to say here are 3 opportunities for research pick one.

    If English schools are on the radar let me know which you are interested in or if you need suggestions. Good luck!
  • elguapo1elguapo1 Registered User Posts: 402 Member
    Forgot to add. I strongly recommend you visit first. Scotland is beautiful when the weather cooperates. Dont forget Scotland is on the same latitude as Labrador so it will be dark at 3.30 pm in winter. On the plus side it will still be light on the beach in St A's at 9.30 pm in summer. If you apply St A's by UCAS it will need to be in Jan 15th but you can use the common app for rolling admissions. If you meet the entry requirements you will probably have an answer within 4 weeks from both Edi and St A's.
  • jupiter98jupiter98 Registered User Posts: 314 Member
    I can totally understand your desire to study in the UK.

    My daughter is heading over there in the fall. She wanted to experience life in another country. She visited both Edinburgh and UCL, loved them. They are very strong in her prospective major. Application process was very smooth and predictable. There are tons of very positive reviews of U of Edinburgh from American students, grad school prospects in the US are solid.
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