Why Apply to the UK / Oxbridge?

10 Reasons Your Child Should Consider Attending College in the UK

Is the United Kingdom the right option for your college-bound teenager? There are about 400 universities across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, many of which are among the world's top schools. For example, The University of Oxford is ranked #5 in Best Global Universities, and The University of Cambridge holds the 8th spot in Best Global Universities.

How can you help your child decide if studying in the United Kingdom may be their best option? Read the following reasons your child should attend college in the UK and discover if this is a viable option for your student.

1. Your Child May Have Better Odds of Receiving a World-Class Education

If your child has dreamed of attending Harvard, Princeton, or Yale, they will be excited to learn that the UK is home to the universities that inspired the founding of the Ivy League. Cambridge and Oxford are two of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world, offering a plethora of robust academic and extracurricular options. The University of Oxford is one of the world's highest-ranking institutions. In addition to consistently being named the top university in the UK, it is ranked fifth in both Best Global Universities by US News and Global 2000 by the Center for World University Rankings.

In addition, the selection process at UK schools may increase your child’s odds of earning acceptance to one of the best schools in the world. In 2019, According to CNN, Ivy League acceptance rates were, on average, 6% across the eight universities, with early admission acceptance rates at Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia ranging between 5-8%. In that same year, acceptance rates at Oxford and Cambridge were around 18% and 21%, respectively.

While this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easier to get accepted into Oxford than Harvard, it does mean that the most elite schools in the US receive more applications than the top schools in the UK. Because of the different factors that determine acceptance into UK schools (discussed in the next section), students with top grades and scores are likely to get into at least one of their top five UK universities.

2. The UK Admissions Process is Straightforward

The college application process in the US is extremely difficult to navigate. Because students apply to each school directly, they must make sure they meet each school’s individual requirements and gather the necessary documents, which differ from school to school. This could mean gathering references, personal statements, supplemental essays, transcripts, and test scores for a dozen different schools.

If this process seems overwhelming, then you will be relieved to know that the UK system is much more straightforward. In the UK, for almost all universities, students have a relatively “easier” process of applying through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

In fact, because the UK system only allows students to apply to 5 universities, the process of selecting schools is even more streamlined. To go even one step further, a UK student must decide to apply to either Oxford or Cambridge in one application cycle. So instead of watching your child apply to all eight Ivy League Schools and a host of match and safety schools, they can more narrowly focus their application process on 5 specific schools.

Furthermore, because students apply via the UCAS, which has only four main sections to complete and is entirely self-reporting, students do not need to upload supporting documents. Students provide details of their high school records and write a personal statement outlining why they want to study the subject they have chosen. There is also a section for their teacher or counselor to provide a reference letter.

After applications are submitted, the strongest students will be invited to interview. This interview is not informative; it is academic and designed to show the school how the applicant responds to new ideas and intellectual topics. It is important to note that Oxford and Cambridge weigh their interview very heavily, and it can make or break your child’s application.

If your child has a demonstrated deep passion for a particular academic area, earned excellent grades and test scores, and is already burdened by the thought of applying to dozens of colleges in the US, they may be better suited for the straightforward admissions process in the UK.

3. Academics Weigh Heavier Than Extracurriculars in Admissions

If your child lacks a robust list of extracurricular activities but has earned stellar grades and top scores, they may benefit from the UK admissions process. While colleges and universities in the US tend to approach admissions from a more holistic approach, more heavily weighing students’ extracurricular and volunteer activities, the UK system is far more focused on your child’s demonstrated academic achievements.

Because your child will declare their major during the admissions process, it is much more important that they are able to clearly show their academic capabilities, especially if they are interested in attending one of the most rigorous UK universities.

For example, Cambridge is renowned for the excellence of its Mathematics course. According to Cambridge’s entry requirements, the typical score required for this program include: A Level: A*A*A + STEP and IB: 40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level + STEP.

Oxford University’s entrance requirements state that for courses requiring A*A*A, students must either earn a grade 5 on four AP Exams or a grade 5 on three AP Exams AND a score of 33 or above in the ACT or 1480 or above (out of 1600) in the SAT.

As you can see, the academic requirements are rigorous, but if your child meets or exceeds these requirements but did not participate in sports or clubs during their high school career, the UK admissions process might be a better match for your scholar.

4. Your Child Will Jump Right Into Their Major

In the US, students generally do not have to declare their major until the end of their second year in school. As a result, they usually spend that time exploring many different interests and often change their mind about their area of focus. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, it is estimated that 80% of US undergraduates change their major at least once while at US colleges.

However, in the UK system, students are required to choose their course of study (major) and almost all of their collegiate education will focus on that specialty. If your child is sure about what they want to study, they will love diving right into their concentration area as a first-year student at a UK university.

5. Your Child Will Earn Their Degree in Three Years

Because of the UK’s focus on depth, not breadth, students typically earn their bachelor’s degree in three years. As you and your child explore international college options, you will see that the four-year bachelor’s degree is primarily an American idea.

In 1999, The Bologna Declaration was signed by 29 European countries, including the UK, and made the three-year bachelor’s degree a standard practice across the entire European Union (except Scotland, where most degrees are earned over the course of four years).

A three-year degree may appeal to students interested in exploring a gap year after high school. In addition, finishing school in three years can also have tremendous financial advantages.

6. Your Child Can Earn a Professional Degree as an Undergraduate

If your child is interested in pursuing professions like medicine, dentistry, or law, you both will be excited to learn that UK universities offer undergraduate degrees such as a Bachelor of Laws or Bachelor of Medicine. Yes, that does mean your child could earn a degree in law or medicine in as little as three years. So instead of waiting until the postgraduate level to explore these interests, your student can save time and money by studying these majors as an undergraduate.

7. Paying for Your Child’s Education in the UK May Cost You Less

While completing a bachelor’s degree in three years can save you a year of college tuition, room, and board, you may also find that the yearly cost of tuition is lower in the UK.

According to the British Council, schools in the four countries that comprise the UK charge around £13,500-£17,500 per year for overseas students. That comes to £40,500-£53,500 total or about $62,000-$82,000.

According to a CNBC report, the University of Oxford estimates it will cost overseas students around $65,000 to attend the school if you factor in tuition and expenses.

Compare that to one year at Harvard, which will run you over $75,000, or Duke, which just raised their tuition, and the university reports the total cost of attendance for undergraduates during the 2023-24 year will be over $80,000.

Depending on your particular situation, you may be shocked to discover that a degree in the UK will cost your family less than a degree at an elite private school in the US.

8. Your Child’s Degree and Coursework will be their Foundation for an Incredible Career

When your college graduate returns for graduate school or employment, their coursework and degree will be respected in the US and across the globe. It is well known that Oxford and other elite UK colleges create a rigorous academic experience that prepares students for graduate school, professional schools, postgraduate fellowships, and employment.

“The employability of Cambridge graduates proved resilient in the downturn in last year’s graduate job market,” according to newly released statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Last year, graduates from the University of Cambridge achieved a 95.2% employability rating in HESA’s performance indicators for the number of graduates who successfully found work or went on to further study following graduation.

In addition, according to Oxford University, their student employment rate stands at 91%, meaning that 91% of the students were either employed or were pursuing higher education. In addition, more than 90% of international students earned a placement after graduating.

A degree from any of the UK’s elite institutions will be respected globally, and employers and graduate schools will value your child’s unique and impressive British college experience.

9. Your Child Can Work During and After Their Studies in the UK

In addition to the excellent education your child will receive, one advantage to studying in the UK is that your child’s student visa will allow them to work up to 20 hours per week during the school term. Because London is a global capital of business, finance, and culture, there are many high-paying work opportunities for jobs and internships. Not only does this provide your child with excellent opportunities to network and gain experience, but it also helps you reduce the amount of money coming out of your pocket each month.

According to the UK government, once your child graduates, because of the UK’s new post-study work visa, international graduates of UK universities can stay in the country for two additional years after graduation for longer-term employment. This is extremely helpful for students who can convert their internships into full-time careers.

10. Your Child Easily Explore UK and Europe

With a population of over 65 million, your child can take full advantage of the UK’s rich cultural diversity. With London being the hub for many international students, your student will have easy access to world-famous art galleries (The National Gallery), museums (Natural History Museum), festivals (Glastonbury Festival), theatres (Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre), markets (Greenwich Market), and parks (Pembrokeshire National Park) to explore.

While studying in the UK, your child can also easily travel across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In addition, Paris and Amsterdam are only a few hours away by train, and with a short plane ride, they can experience Geneva, Barcelona, Prague, Sicily, or Berlin.

Your child can explore much of the world, learn about many different cultures, and travel extensively while receiving an excellent education.

In Conclusion

If your high schooler is adventurous and absolutely sure about their area of study, they should definitely explore the possibility of spending three years earning a bachelor’s degree in the United Kingdom. With a straightforward application process, a direct style of education that benefits many learners, and tuition costs lower than you may have imagined, attending college in the UK might be an excellent option for your graduating senior.

If your child is interested in applying to a university in the UK, applications are generally due by the last week of January. However, the Oxbridge application deadline is earlier than the standard UCAS deadline at 6pm (GMT) on 15 October each year, regardless of whether it falls on a weekend. The strongest students will be invited to interview in December and will know if they were accepted by the end of January. For further details on the application process, please see www.ox.ac.uk/apply

Finally, even if your child doesn’t want to pursue an entire degree in the UK, they should consider a study abroad program that will allow them to study at one of these top-ranked universities, and maybe they will decide that earning a master’s or Ph.D. in the UK is right for them.

To learn more about the possibilities offered by the UK, come to ivyO for a Free Consult.

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