Frequently Asked Questions regarding University Applications
How many universities can I apply for in the UK?
How many countries can I apply to?
Try to keep your applications to 2 countries. You should be aiming for one in particular with a second as a back-up, not just applying everywhere!
Can I apply to both Oxford and Cambridge?
No. You have to choose between the 2. You also have to choose a specific college to apply to.
What exactly is a college at Oxford, Cambridge or Durham?
It is your hall of residence and your social base as well as the place you will probably have tutorials. Choose according to the college's particular atmosphere and attributes: does it have an orchestra, a theatre, the best rubgy team? Is it an ancient college on the river or a modern building with en suite facilities? If you can, go and visit!
What is the difference between a college and a university in the United States?
Americans often use the word 'college' for both institutions, but colleges offer undergraduate courses leading to Bachelor degrees, whereas universities offer postgraduate courses too, leading to Masters or Doctorates. Some community colleges offer 2 year courses and guarantee transfer to certain universities after successful completion of the 2 years.
What things should I do to add value to my application?
Universities appreciate students who read widely around their subject. They also value participation in MUN, theatre, music, sport. They are interested in what you have gleaned from your travels and what you personally value and enjoy. Work experience or holiday courses are also of interest to them.
Do I need TOEFL or IELTS?
Normally you should not need to take extra tests of English because you are an OIB student. Some universities do insist on it, however, such as Concordia in Canada. Let us know if universities request it, as we may be able to get you exempted.
Do I need to take SATS?
For the US, the top schools do require SATS in both reasoning and specific subjects. Take these tests at ISN in Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan, May or June. You can take them more than once if necessary.
You do not need to take SATS for Canada or for the UK.
What other tests might I have to take?
High ranking unis in the UK ask you to take aptitude tests for subjects such as Law, Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science. Oxford and Cambridge also ask for subject tests in History, English Literature, Maths, and there is a Thinking Skills test required for other subjects. You register for these tests as soon as you return to school in September.
How do I write a personal statement or motivation letter?
For the US, look carefully at what each university is asking for specifically. For the UK, look on ucas.com under Students. Draft your statement and send it to us for any comments!
When should I ask teachers for recommendation letters?
In May or June of Première. Choose teachers in the subjects you are applying for and either a History or English teacher, 3 in all.
When should I apply?
Applications for Oxford or Cambridge, for Law or Medicine or Veterinary Medicine all have to be completed by 15 October of your Terminale year. Early applications to the US are also due at this time. Most other applications should be completed before the Christmas break.
When should I ask for an individual appointment?
The autumn term is reserved for Terminale students doing their applications, but from January onwards, priority is given to Premières and after the Easter break, to Secondes.
What should I bring to the appointment?
Your bulletins from Seconde and Première, and if you are thinking of the US, from Troisième too.
What do I do when results come out?
Bring your relevé des notes to the guidance office so that we can keep a copy here for you. We need to send a copy to your chosen universities immediately so that you can claim your place! Results do not go automatically.
What if I do not get the grades I need for the UK?
Talk to us in guidance immediately. If you have enough points for your second choice university, they will accept you. If not, you become eligible for Clearing, which starts mid August. If you are going to use this service, it is important to be ready to make a number of phone calls to the UK on the date Clearing begins. If you are going to be abroad, make sure you have all your details with you so that you can phone from there. Thousands of students pick up places through Clearing, and it happens fast.
Where can I find university rankings?
For the UK, look at timesonline.co.uk/education/good university guide. For the US, look at www.USnews.com/worldcolleges and for world rankings look at the Shanghai list on www.arwu.org Be careful not to choose unis only because of their ranking. This can change from year to year and from department to department. It is also based on things that do not necessarily affect you as an undergraduate.
What is an undergraduate?
When you have got your OIB and go to university to study for your first degree, the Bachelor degree, you are an undergraduate. Once you have graduated from that course, you become a Postgraduate student.
Am I obliged to accept a university offer?
It is normal that students might be holding offers for different universities, but you must meet deadlines for choosing your preferred place. Even then, if you accept an offer in the UK, you can still withdraw by writing directly to the university. For the US, once you have chosen your institution, you normally pay a fee to reserve your place and this is not refundable.
How should I prepare for a university interview?
Look at the information on their website: there is often a video of an interview or particular points that they want you to cover. If not, be prepared to enthuse about the subjects you have chosen; expect to be asked questions and remember to take a copy of your personal statement as interviewers often ask you to expand on what you have already said. Tell us when you have your interview and we will try to give you a mock interview in advance. Always make sure you know what you will be studying on the course you have chosen and what you hope to achieve by studying it.
When should I apply for university residences?
As soon as the university invites you to do so. They normally send you forms to fill in as soon as you have firmly accepted their offer.
Why are some courses offered as either 3 or 4 year courses?
Usually the 4 year course will include a year abroad or a year of work experience. Scotland traditionally offers 4 year courses for most subjects, with a broad based first year of study.
Is there a real advantage in doing a work experience year?
Yes. Employers often ask for work experience as well as a degree. You also get the chance to see if the job will suit you and whether or not you like it.
How can I find out what scholarships are available?
Look on university websites and on ucas.com for the UK. For the U.S., American citizens should complete the FAFSA application in February. All applicants, regardless of nationality, should look for private scholarships on petersons.com and collegeboard.com. Look at the applicant criteria to see if a particular scholarships applies to you.
Can I visit universities?
Yes. They publish their Open Days on their websites but will usually give you a guided tour if you phone in advance. You can also walk around universities and just get a feel for the atmosphere unless it is exam time, usually May in the UK.
What help can I get to choose courses and universities?
Look on the guidance section of the aseica website! Come and see us in the office and pick up booklets or websites. Make an indiviual appointment when you are ready.
How do I know what grades are required for different universities?
US universities state whether they are 'most demanding', 'demanding' and so on, and the scores they ask for in the SATs are an indicator, too. For the UK, grades are expressed as A Level grades or IB grades, so you should ask in the office how these 'translate' into OIB scores.
What should I do if I change my mind after accepting an offer?
Let the university know in writing. If you want to defer the offer for a year, ask if this is possible. If you want to change course, ask if you can do so. If you want to reject your place, say so, but don't forget to thank them for the offer.
Are summer schools useful?
Yes, but they tend to be expensive. They can be specifically aimed at improving SAT scores; an introduction to specific subjects such as Global Medicine or Engineering; Leadership oriented, or an ideal time to get a portfolio together. There is usually work to do in the mornings and sports and fun activities later in the day, together with visits to places of interest.
Can I apply for Medicine straight after the OIB?
Yes in the UK. No in the US and Canada. For all countries, entry is highly competitive and you need to look very carefully at the websites to see that you meet all the entry criteria. These often include work experience in a medical environment before you apply.
If I study Law abroad, can I practise law in France later?
Law is a subject specific to the country in which it is practised. There are very interesting dual diplomas combining French and English Law, for example, where you study two years in the UK and two in France and attain an English Bachelor of Law degree and the French Maîtrise en Droit.
You can also choose modules such as European Law or International Law within your Bachelor of Law degree.
Which is best for me: a public or a private university in the US?
Both public and private universities offer high-quality education, so focus on which universities offer the undergraduate programme you prefer. Regarding financial aid, if you do not have US citizenship, you will not be eligible for government grants or loans at any university, but the more prestigious the university, the more scholarship money they will offer international students. Your grades are an important factor in their decision to grant you a scholarship. Private universities charge much higher fees but often offer considerable help towards costs. Parents are always expected to contribute a certain percentage of their income. See a list of public and private universities that offer financial aid at the following website: internationalstudent.com/schools_awarding_aid/.
Where can I find information on loans and finance for the UK?
What are the most useful sites for beginning the search process?
www.ucas.com for the UK
www.collegeboard.com and www.acuinfo.com for the US
www.mcgill.ca and www.concordia.ca for Canada, as most of our students want to be in Quebec and take advantage of the very cheap fees offered to French citizens.