How to make a successful US College Application

How to make a successful US College Application

July 31st 2018

Every year thousands of British students apply to go to an American college or university and continue their education Stateside. Want to join them? Here’s what you need to know about the US admissions system:


Qualifications aren’t everything

The US system works differently from the UK. American colleges take a more holistic approach, which means academic achievements only go so far. US college admission tutors talk about ‘the match’ and finding a student who will fit in with a college’s ethos, embrace the learning experience in and outside the classroom and make a valuable contribution to the institution. Our US college advisors know what makes the different places tick and which ones will suit you.

Ivy League can be within your reach

While world-renowned universities such as Harvard and Yale are fiercely competitive and excellent qualifications are welcomed, they don’t want to fill their classrooms with identikit students. They’re looking for something special. So, Harvard, with its focus on a liberal arts education, welcomes applicants with a ‘strength of character’ and an ‘ability to overcome adversity’. Our US college advisors can help you identify your extraordinary personal achievements and include them in your application so you can stand out from the crowd.  

Cast your net wide

The best way of improving your chance of getting in to the American system is to apply for a range of colleges and universities. It’s advised you have ‘match schools’ (where your credentials and experience fit the college perfectly) ‘safety schools’ (where your grades exceed their requirement and it’s a safe bet you’ll be accepted) and ‘reach schools’ (where your predicted grades fall short of what they’re looking for but you may have a unique quality that appeals to them). We can help steer you in the right direction to ensure you get a number of offers.

Prepare for a pre-entry test

Because British qualifications differ from American, Most US colleges will ask you to take a standardised test, either the SAT (originally called the Scholastic Aptitude Test) or ACT (originally called American College Testing) and sometimes, SAT subject tests as well. Our university consultants are familiar with these tests, know what kind of questions to expect and how to answer them. American students will be tutored on how to pass these and we can offer you the same guidance so that you’re on an equal footing.

Expect to write an essay

As part of the application process, US colleges tend to favour an essay over an interview. Whereas a UCAS personal statement explains why you want to study in and your interests in the subject, the essay should convey more about you as a person. Admissions tutors will want to hear about your extra-curricular interests, influences, personal passions, and any in-depth interests or curiosities. Writing such a personal account can be tricky for British students but we’re on hand to help you let go of your stiff upper lip and think like an American. 

Have more than two referees

Admission tutors want to see three references from educational, extra-curricular, professional or personal settings and these do form an important part of your application. Friends and family aren’t suitable so if you have your heart set on studying in America, it’s worth embarking on voluntary work or taking up a sport or hobby a year or so before you apply so you have supervisors, mentors or coaches that you can lean on when you’re looking for a referee.

William Clarence Education's dedicated US College Admissions Consultancy is on hand to help you develop and stick to a bespoke blueprint to maximise your chance of a successful US College Application. Contact us today for support and advice on all aspects of your application.