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King’s College London in the US

RanzeRanze 0 replies5 threads New Member
My friend has been accepted to study social sciences at King’s College London (KCL) as an undergraduate student.

I understood KCL is one of the oldest and prestigious universities in England grouped as “Golden Triangle”, but I am not still grasping which US universities are comparable to KCL in terms of “name prestige”, “graduates careers’, and so on.

Of course, I know entire comparison is impossible due to the difference of systems and majors, but please could you roughly share me the reputation and impression about KCL in order to comprehend this school.
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Replies to: King’s College London in the US

  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13628 replies32 threads Senior Member
    edited March 6
    Maybe UNC/UW-Madison/NYU. Other than NYU being private and all UK unis of note being public, NYU probably is the best analogue. Both are big city universities in a global and very diverse city with no real campus and seen as pretty good but (outside of a few fields they are famous for like law and a few others), not seen as extremely difficult to get in to or at the Ivy/equivalent/Oxbridge level.
    edited March 6
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  • LutherVanLutherVan 206 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited March 7
    As you rightly stated, it is pretty much very hard to make direct comparison between UK and US universities because of their different ownership structure, funding styles, entry requirements and learning systems.

    But if you want to look at it from the perspective of “name prestige”, “graduates careers" etc. KCL is comparable to Cornell, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins and UCLA.

    It is as popular and as respected internationally as those universities.

    There is no direct equivalent of Ivy League in the UK, but one can equate Ivy Plus to the Golden Triangle plus Edinburgh. Where (ignoring field expertise here, just using global name prestige equivalent):

    Oxford is ~Harvard
    Cambridge is ~MIT
    LSE is ~Caltech
    Imperial is ~Columbia
    UCL is ~UPenn
    KCL is ~Cornell
    Edinburgh is ~Duke

    Both Cornell and KCL are seen as “lower elites” because they have some easy courses to get into due to their history. Hence they are sometimes judged as not being highly selective as other elites and then consequently seen as the easy targets to challenge amongst the elites by the next tier of pretender universities (i.e. Near Ivies and Near Golden League universities).
    edited March 7
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 2151 replies21 threads Senior Member
    You have to take into account the relative size of the population vs the number of places. Oxford and Cambridge combined admit over 6000 freshmen per year. Pro rata to the UK population (one fifth of the US) that’s more places than the top 10-15 US colleges combined.

    Now you can certainly argue that by raw intelligence, the typical student at Oxbridge is smarter than the typical student at a top 15 US school. But that just reflects the nature of admissions in the US, with schools looking for something other than pure academic achievement (ECs, hooks, sports, etc.), and the fact that costs to attend vary enormously between public and private universities (in both directions depending on parent income). So unlike in the UK many (perhaps most) of the smartest students in the country don’t attend the highest ranking schools.

    KCL is a couple of steps down from Oxbridge, with the first step down being places like Imperial, UCL and Durham. The equivalent of the first step down in the US would be Berkeley, UCLA, Georgetown etc. Then the second step down is NYU and similar as @PurpleTitan suggested.
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13628 replies32 threads Senior Member
    "“name prestige”, “graduates careers" etc. KCL is comparable to Cornell, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins and UCLA"

    That's simply not true, at least when you are talking about Northwestern and Cornell compared to KCL. Look at the number of grads of NU, Cornell, and KCL at MBB, for instance, compared to student body size.
    JHU sends most of its best and brightest in to biomedical or other STEM fields (and it's most renown non-STEM field is writing), so there it's a true analogue in the UK.
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  • LutherVanLutherVan 206 replies0 threads Junior Member
    "That's simply not true, at least when you are talking about Northwestern and Cornell compared to KCL. Look at the number of grads of NU, Cornell, and KCL at MBB, for instance, compared to student body size."

    This is what happens when you are comparing apples to oranges.

    The UK is a very different place from the US.

    The UK has embedded classism which leads to old boys network hoarding positions for themselves (certain private schools and Oxbridge graduates) irrespective of other's abilities. This does not happen in a more expansive USA because of its decentralised system (it has many states with their own governance and educational institution elites). In the UK, almost everything is centralised ...... in the hands of the aristocracy.

    In the UK, if you look at the last 30 Prime Ministers, at least 24 of them would be Oxford graduates, extend this to 27 or so when you add Cambridge.

    Over 70% of top posts like Justices are Oxbridge graduates.

    Over 60% of cabinet members are Oxbridge graduates.

    Over 55% of permanent secretaries are Oxbridge graduates.

    Over 50% of diplomats are Oxbridge graduates.

    Same happens at MBBs.

    The system is deliberately set up to favour the aristocracy! They strictly appoint themselves and people are supposed to "know their place".

    This does not happen in the US or any other country. No university was allowed in England until 1820s (i.e. when KCL, UCL and Durham were founded) to establish this continuing aristocractic system and advantage.

    There is hardly any industry the the Ivy League or HYPSM dominate overwhelmingly like that in the US. Tops all those universities combined would account for about 25%.

    So your basis of comparison is faulty!
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 43229 replies471 threads Senior Member
    However, King's doesn't have as much cachet at the undergrad level as many other universities listed. It's not Oxbridge, it's not Edinburgh, it's not Imperial, UCL, Durham, Warwick, st Andrews, Exeter, LSE....
    I think NYU is a good comparison also because part of its attraction comes from being located in a desirable city while being less selective than its rival(s) located there but still selective and prestigious both at home and abroad.

    Note @purpletitan:
    What would you say are King's easiest "courses"?

    @ranze: where else did you get into?
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  • LutherVanLutherVan 206 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited March 8
    @MYOS1634

    "However, King's doesn't have as much cachet at the undergrad level as many other universities listed. It's not Oxbridge, it's not Edinburgh, it's not Imperial, UCL, Durham, Warwick, st Andrews, Exeter, LSE...."



    The only universities that can clearly claim to have more "cachet" than KCL at undergrad level are its fellow members on the Golden Triangle and maybe Durham (which is basically quite famous LOCALLY for being a Oxbridge imitation, the basis of its popularity). When it comes to people applying from outside the UK, Durham has no "cachet" anywhere close to KCL's.

    And in the UK, local applicants don't find London "desirable". It is seen as an expensive money-sucker. If one is not going to the Top 4 universities there, then it is best to go to the next tier of universities in far cheaper cities and save some money.

    London can be more than 30% more expensive to live in than most other cities/towns. That is not "desirable"!

    One can study in and around Birmingham, have a relatively cheaper life and still be close enough to come to London frequently and when needed (to fill any "gaps" they are not getting in Birmingham/Coventry) at still way cheaper overall cost than staying full-time in London.

    KCL's easiest courses are Nursing and Sport & Exercise Medical Sciences.

    KCL has similar criticism as Cornell which many debate "is not a real Ivy and so-and-so Near Ivy university is more prestigious" but when you compare the academic achievement, brand name and alumni quality, you find that Cornell and KCL are better than these so-and-sos. And this is repeated in all rankings looking at these 3 things.
    edited March 8
    Post edited by MaineLonghorn on
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13628 replies32 threads Senior Member
    "The only universities that can clearly claim to have more "cachet" than KCL at undergrad level are its fellow members on the Golden Triangle and maybe Durham"

    If you ignore Warwick (unlike KCL, it is a top feeder to the City on par with Oxbridge and LSE) and the Scottish unis.

    "but when you compare the academic achievement, brand name and alumni quality, you find that Cornell and KCL are better than these so-and-sos"

    Again, not true in the case of KCL when you look at alumni acheivments and recruiting placements. You can blame "classsicm" if you want, but that somehow hasn't stopped Warwick from being one of the top target schools for placement in the City.
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13628 replies32 threads Senior Member
    @MYOS1634, I have some idea as to which courses at KCL have the most renown but it's tough to say which courses are "easiest" (which would really depends on the skillset of a particular student as well; Maths may be easy for one person and English impossible while it would be the reverse for someone else).
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13628 replies32 threads Senior Member
    @MYOS1634, more pertinent to the OP (perhaps), the KCL SS degree seems to be a sociology/children development sociology degree with a somewhat radical (or an English uni) setup where marks aren't going to be determined mostly by big tests at the end of the year but by a variety of ways. Like many English uni courses, it looks to be good preparation for graduate programs. Possibly also jobs that require a sociologist or sociology training in the UK, especially London (assuming you can work there). I wouldn't try to find a job in the US with just this degree.
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  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal 3486 replies34 threads Senior Member
    We have zero information on what the OP's friend wants to do after graduation so it is extremely difficult to say how valuable/prestigious their degree will be.
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 43229 replies471 threads Senior Member
    edited March 8
    It's a good degree for students who want a relatively interdisciplinary degree and want to study in London. It requires considerable autonomy compared to a US degree.
    (Expect a maximum of 10 hours of class a week.)

    As to Exeter, which an above poster zeroed in on, it's no slouch (Russell group) and yes some students will absolutely consider it as prestigious as King's (or prefer it to KCL).
    To some ears both sound "prestigious" in the same way "Rutgers" may. Older CC members know the concept of "prestigiosity" ;)
    Overall, King's is prestigious, it's not the most prestigious in London, and it's better than Queen Mary and Royal Holloway. I wouldn't worry about prestige but rather think of ability to live independently in a foreign country, in a huge city, without any of the usual/expected support systems in place at US colleges, with a very different approach to learning.

    @ranze: does your friend plan on grad school? It'd be excellent preparation for grad school in the US.
    edited March 8
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  • LutherVanLutherVan 206 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited March 8
    @MYOS1634

    "As to Exeter, which an above poster zeroed in on, it's no slouch (Russell group) and yes some students will absolutely consider it as prestigious as King's (or prefer it to KCL)."

    Of course "some" students will absolutely consider it more prestigious, just as "some" students will consider Carnegie Mellon or NYU as more prestigious than Caltech or Chicago, and will prefer Carnegie Mellon/NYU.

    This would not be the basis of stating Carnegie Mellon or NYU are more prestigious because one has to look at which university "most students", or better still "most knowledgeable people", consider as more prestigious.

    I have actually provided more insight with a response to @PurpleTitan's last post, but it unfortunately has to pass through moderation as I inputted a number of external links to make a point.

    When moderation is concluded and you read that post, you will have full live and factual insight into how Exeter and Warwick do not have as much "cachet" and are not as prestigious as KCL amongst undergrad applicants.

    It will show the Golden Triangle dominate in "cachet" amongst UK undergrad applicants.

    I don't know how long moderation takes. It has already been over 30 minutes now.

    After reading it, if you still want more information to convince you, please ask.
    edited March 8
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  • LutherVanLutherVan 206 replies0 threads Junior Member
    *** The moderation is taking too long, so I have decided to repost and just remove the external links and reference them instead for anyone to Google ***



    "If you ignore Warwick (unlike KCL, it is a top feeder to the City on par with Oxbridge and LSE) and the Scottish unis."

    "Again, not true in the case of KCL when you look at alumni acheivments and recruiting placements. You can blame "classsicm" if you want, but that somehow hasn't stopped Warwick from being one of the top target schools for placement in the City."



    Sticking to "getting into the City, City, City" is quite a narrow argument. It is also a change in tangent and disconnect from your original MBB argument line.

    If getting into the city is the singular measure of "cachet", then we can as well all agree that LSE is the most prestigious university in the UK and has more "cachet" than Oxford and Cambridge,

    That would not be true and would not be a logical argument to make.

    If we applied that singular measure in the US, NYU would have more "cachet" than half of the Ivy Leagues including Yale.

    So the angle you have been using to analyse prestige and "cachet" of UK universities have been faulty.

    Warwick does not produce much Prime Ministers, MPs/Cabinet members, Members of the House of Lords, Judges, QCs, CEOs, Top Civil servants, Diplomats, Public appointees, University VCs etc.

    It even produces far less of these than KCL does, so it is definitely affected by the Oxbridge classism as well, if not far more so.

    Now, apart from the numerous professionally conducted prestige surveys of industry leaders showing that KCL has more "cachet" than Exeter, Warwick, St Andrews and Durham:

    [Removed Links]

    Link: Times Higher Education Employability Rankings
    Link: CEO World Magazine Best Universities in The World
    Link: Times Higher Education Reputation Rankings
    Link: Round University Rankings Reputation Rankings

    I suggest you also go on TSR and do a crude and simple analysis of the universities people are chatting and buzzing to get offers for. You will find that the order of the universities with most activities .......... and anxieties ........... by counting number of pages of discussion threads about 2020 offers are:

    Removed Source Link: The Student Room's website "Home > Forums > Universities and HE colleges"

    1. Oxford 501
    2. Cambridge 393
    3. LSE 225
    4. Durham 160
    5. Imperial 122
    6. UCL 118
    7. KCL 107
    8. St Andrews 84
    9. Edinburgh 67
    10. Warwick 52
    11. Bristol 44
    12. Manchester 36
    13. Nottingham 33
    14. Glasgow 23
    15. Lancaster 22
    16. Leeds 20
    17. York 19
    18. Birmingham 16
    19. Sheffield 14
    20. Exeter 13

    Note: Only Durham broke the "Golden Triangle" dominance.

    Compare KCL to Exeter and Warwick above and see the gap please.

    Exeter's pages are almost DEAD; only 13 pages of discussions after 6 months and no discussions in the last 3 days, despite its "cachet"?

    How can universities which undergraduate applicants are not buzzing much to go to have more "cachet"? I don't understand.

    That is just a simple and crude measure, I can give you more that will further reveal more to you if you want. Your measures of prestige are just too narrow and does not work.

    There is no way anyone can argue logically that Exeter or Warwick (especially) are more prestigious and have more "cachet" than KCL.

    I excluded Durham and St Andrews in that statement because someone could try and argue those in the UK context, but the person would still be wrong though. I am afraid Exeter and Warwick will not fly at all; seeing that argument really shocked me.

    If you want more insights, please ask. I am available to give you more.
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  • LutherVanLutherVan 206 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited March 8
    If you Googled: "The universities which produce the UK’s wealthiest and most influential grads", you will find a league table that shows the UK universities with the highest percentages of their graduattes falling into the "Elite" category.

    It was part of the "Great British Class Survey", check Wikipedia for details.

    1. Oxford
    2. LSE
    3. Cambridge
    4. KCL
    5. Imperial
    6. Bristol
    7. UCL
    8. Queen Mary
    9. Exeter
    10. Durham
    11. Manchester
    12. Reading
    13. Sussex
    14. Southampton
    15. Birmingham
    16. Nottingham
    17. Edinburgh
    18. St Andrews
    19. Royal Holloway
    20. Newcastle

    Note: Again, only Bristol broke the "Golden Triangle" dominance. Warwick was at position number 24.

    Just as I said earlier "when you compare the academic achievement, brand name and alumni quality, you find that Cornell and KCL are better than these so-and-sos."
    edited March 8
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  • LutherVanLutherVan 206 replies0 threads Junior Member
    To emphasise the UK Classism, one can google "Who's who in Who's Who?" to get an article on UK's Guardian datablog, where the newspaper criticises the classism I referred to and listed the educational establishment (including universities and secondary schools) the people listed in UK's Who's Who attended.

    The ranking for this would be:

    1. Cambridge 5758
    2. Oxford 5517
    3. UCL* 947
    4. Edinburgh 913
    5. KCL* 757
    6. LSE 742
    7. Manchester 642
    8. Glasgow 621
    9. Bristol 617
    10. Birmingham 592
    11. Leeds 463
    12. Durham 404
    13. Liverpool 380
    14. Nottingham 337
    15. Imperial 321
    16. Queen Mary* 321
    17. Sheffield 294
    18. St Andrews 286
    19. QU Belfast 276
    20. City London* 269


    *Note: UCL, KCL, Queen Mary and City London numbers include the addition of institutions that have subsequently merged with them.

    Edinburgh is the breaker university this time around and Imperial is the only outlier of Golden Triangle dominance at position number 15.

    The overwhelming volume of Oxbridge and certain well-known private secondary schools supports my statement that "The UK has embedded classism which leads to old boys network hoarding positions for themselves (certain private schools and Oxbridge graduates) ................"

    Warwick was only in position number 30 with 161 people. Behind City London, Sussex and York that were all established around the same time as it was.

    Exeter is in position number 24 with 225. They both just cannot compare with KCL.

    As I said earlier, some might try to argue speciously that Durham and St Andrews are more prestigious than KCL, but they will end up being wrong as I outline numerous, independent and BROAD set of metrics for "academic achievement, brand name and alumni quality". These will mostly and consistently show Golden Triangle dominance with a few breakers and outliers.

    Even engaging in injustice and refusing to add above the institutions that have subsequently merged with KCL, it would still have 561 people. This is still comfortably well above all 4 so-and-so universities.

    The only universities that can claim higher prestige than KCL are its fellow Golden Triangle members.
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 2151 replies21 threads Senior Member
    edited March 9
    LutherVan wrote: »
    The overwhelming volume of Oxbridge and certain well-known private secondary schools supports my statement that "The UK has embedded classism which leads to old boys network hoarding positions for themselves (certain private schools and Oxbridge graduates) ................"

    Your original quote was that those positions were “hoarded” “irrespective of other's [sic] abilities”. You went on to suggest that “This does not happen in a more expansive USA”.

    In reality, the UK has an embedded intellectual snobbery. It isn’t “classism” that means a disproportionate share of opportunities accrue to Oxbridge graduates, but a perception that the most intellectually brilliant students go to Oxbridge. While like all generalizations this is far from universally true, it is much more explicitly the aim of the British university system which looks only at academic performance in awarding places and charges the same tuition wherever you attend. Although it is certainly the case that some poor kids are deterred and/or intimidated by the interview process, it is just silly to suggest that the allocation of Oxbridge places is “irrespective of others’ abilities”.

    Conversely the American system provides many routes to get into top colleges that are not based purely on academic merit: legacy, sports, donations, VIP lists, etc. That’s what a system designed to entrench an “old boys network” really looks like. A good example of the difference is Tony Blair’s kid getting turned down by Oxford while he was PM. That would never happen in the US.
    edited March 9
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13628 replies32 threads Senior Member
    edited March 9
    @LutherVan:

    "If getting into the city is the singular measure of "cachet", then we can as well all agree that LSE is the most prestigious university in the UK and has more "cachet" than Oxford and Cambridge"


    Not if you look at facts. The numbers show that Oxbridge are as strong target schools for the City as LSE.



    "If we applied that singular measure in the US, NYU would have more "cachet" than half of the Ivy Leagues including Yale."


    Not true. On a per capita basis, Yale places in to the Street better than NYU.

    edited March 9
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  • LutherVanLutherVan 206 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Twoin18 wrote: »
    In reality, the UK has an embedded intellectual snobbery. It isn’t “classism” that means a disproportionate share of opportunities accrue to Oxbridge graduates, but a perception that the most intellectually brilliant students go to Oxbridge. While like all generalizations this is far from universally true, it is much more explicitly the aim of the British university system which looks only at academic performance in awarding places and charges the same tuition wherever you attend.

    I think you are wrong, @Twoin18.

    It is not intellectual snobbery.

    Surely it cannot be logically argued that "most intellectually brilliant UK students" go to Eton and then Oxbridge.

    If it is not Eton, then it is St Pauls, Winchester, Harrow etc.

    That is just "most aristocratic and well-taught UK students". That has been the aim of the British education system for more 600 years.

    One cannot argue logically that nature just somehow or accidentally ensures all or the most "intellectually brilliant UK students" be born into families that can pay £40,000 per year in schools fees.

    And when one does these people's genealogy, one finds they are decendants of some British monarch or knight of the court. That is not accidental.

    It is classism, not intellectual snobbery!

    Oxbridge is just the gloss used to justify it and deceive people.
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  • LutherVanLutherVan 206 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @LutherVan:

    Not if you look at facts. The numbers show that Oxbridge are as strong target schools for the City as LSE.


    Not true. On a per capita basis, Yale places in to the Street better than NYU.

    It is still a narrow and selective singular tool to measure prestige.

    If one should then go on "per capital basis", then we can as well conclude based on this narrow tool that LSE is by far the most prestigious university in the UK. More prestigious than Oxbridge.

    That would be a wrong conclusion, just as much as wrongly concluding because Warwick is good at sending students to IB it is more prestigious than KCL.

    In Italy, Bocconi is also very good at sending people to IB than any other university but it is yet still not seen as the most prestigious Italian university.

    IB is not the singular measure of prestige. The important point is to be able to define prestige and use broad assessment to measure it.
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