Ross Hunter, MA (Cantab), Headmaster,
The English International School
After a short look at the UK in April, this month we look at the USA. Also, opportunities with the University of Hertfordshire, to do Art and Design here in Moscow. In July and the months to follow, we will print more detail on UK universities and the UCAS application procedure.
Some key elements are common throughout: you have far more choices than you realise; don’t think only of school subjects; some courses are vocational (lead directly to particular job sectors), most are not, and teach wider, transferable skills. Above all: it is a long process, so start early; and you need good, expert advice at every stage.
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University in the USA
by Nancy Maxwell, M.Sc., LPC College Counselor
Students and families who are considering an American university education versus a British or European one should be aware of a few key differences. In general, American universities tend to be larger than American colleges, may in fact be comprised of several colleges devoted to different areas of study, and offer more graduate degrees. American colleges tend to be smaller with greater focus on undergraduate degrees. There are over two thousand four-year institutions in the United States, and the majority of them offer a liberal arts education. Students do not matriculate (start at university) with a declared course of study, but instead take a number of courses distributed over various disciplines before declaring a major and fulfilling the requirements of that concentration. For students who are undecided about their interests and careers, the liberal arts system provides an opportunity to explore different fields, while gaining a broad education, before settling on one program completing their degree in four years.
American colleges evaluate international applicants based on their performance in secondary school, their final results on national tests such as the IBs or A-levels, and their scores on standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT. In addition evidence of English proficiency through TOEFL may be required. The admissions committees tend to look at applicants holistically; that is, they want to see the student in the context of his/her school environment, and to consider the candidates from an academic, extra-curricular, and social perspective. Admission to the most selective American colleges has become increasingly competitive over the last few years, with some accepting as little as eight per cent. On the other hand, because there are so many colleges, students who begin their college planning by casting a broad net and fully researching options can find excellent opportunities for higher education.
College costs vary according to the type of institution. The average cost of a year’s tuition and fees at a state university is $12,000; at a private college the average annual cost is $27,000. There are additional charges, around $7,000, for room, board, and books. Financial aid, based on assessed need, is sometimes available for international students, and varies from college to college.
Calendar of Events in Moscow – May
||Teaching English to adult learners - at BC Moscow
||London Metropolitan University (pre-departure briefing) at BC
||Mistakes and correction – a seminar on improving English skills at BC
||European Education Fair in Rostov-on-Don
||University of Westminster: Media Management lecture – at BC
The Other Option
Studying for a degree in Britain is getting rather expensive. Fees for overseas students at the moment are hovering around the £11,500 mark, and then there is the cost of accommodation, living and transport, not to mention books and materials. None of these are cheap in the UK, so the final bill will not leave much change from £20,000 a year. This of course is no problem for those with very good jobs, and many have saved for many long years especially for this occasion. But not everybody is in such a fortunate position. Having a British passport as such does not necessarily mean you qualify as a home student as far as studying in a university goes; not that there is now such a disparity between fees levied from home students and those from international students. To qualify, parents need to have been a British taxpayer for at least three years, and prove that a major part of their assets are in the UK. The majority of ex-pats working here full-time do not qualify. There is some hope that tuition in Scotland will remain free, or low, but that loophole will no doubt be filled in one way or the other over the next few years.
There is an alternative, and one that may prove to be surprisingly popular. Some British universities have opened courses abroad, and are offering a 100% bona fide UK degree at low prices (in comparison to fees charged in the UK), with teaching all by UK nationals. The University of Hertfordshire for example has opened an art school here in Moscow called the British Higher College of Art, which offers a whole spectrum of graphic design and fine art courses, for basically Russian university prices. This new concept is proving more and popular both for Russians and ex-pats alike. The final year of the standard Foundation Year plus a three year degree course can be taken in the UK.
The advantages are clear to see: usable English, an access to the job market here, a British education in Russia, which certainly ensures a stimulating mix of cultural and pedagogic experience. The college is located right in the middle of the Winzavod arts complex in Moscow. The disadvantages are that the foundation year is not transferrable to other art colleges in the UK. Only one year in the UK may not provide an in-depth British cultural experience, and that the University of Hertfordshire does not pretend to be one of Britain’s most prestigious High Art establishments. It certainly is practical though, and graduates will be multi-cultural and employable, both here and at home. The degree, like any UK degree, can be used to enter a postgraduate course, perhaps at one of the name places elsewhere in the outside world.