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What is the "top US schools"?


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What is the "top US schools"?


Most of you have heard about the famous, top American universities - Harvard, Stanford, Yale, the most advanced ones will remember MIT or Caltech, Columbia University. Yes, undoubtedly, this is a forge of the world elite, a pass into the world of the rich, successful and famous, a dream of a good half of students in the world.

But American schools we see a maximum in the movies (and then in youth comedies), and no one will remember their names. But when the question arises of education a students abroad, everyone certainly wants to "only the very best that you have for us". In this short article, SMAPSE experts outline the reasons why the US school can be called the top one and its differences from the rest of the "mere mortals."

What do top schools and universities have in common?

It is not surprising, in general, that there are a lot of schools with such a “title” in America - they generally like to measure what they can and beat their neighbor so that the grass is greener. The Internet is replete with lists of “TOP, the best schools in America,” and the common denominator of all these rankings is the very high requirements for both applicants and students.

The best schools and universities are very selective and strictly approach the selection of their future students. The more talented, smarter, more promising an applicant, the brighter he can glorify his alma mater: his portraits will hang in the corridors, and teachers will wipe away a nostalgic tear and proudly say “Yes, he did not miss any of my lectures!”. A well-known outstanding graduate gives the university the opportunity to proudly be called "The University where such-and-such made its first steps in science / sports" - and the rest of the applicants with burning eyes will carry papers to the selection committee, wishing to repeat the success of the illustrious graduate. And the bigger the competition for the place and the more prestigious the institution - the higher the threshold for enrollment can be made, including financial. Yes, investing in a scholarship or grant for a talented but poor student, a university or school seeks to earn on it later, raising its own tuition prices. Therefore, mastodons like Harvard or Columbia University need only the best of the best - they will accept mere mortals, so be it, but for space money.

What should be the ideal student for a prestigious US school?

Entering an elite school or university in America, you should seem perfect on all sides.

  • Excellent academic performance (best student in class / school, high GPA)
  • Excellent level of English (including academic): foreign students will have to achieve knowledge at the native level
  • Purposefulness, perseverance, strong motivation (a bit further experts will tell how to demonstrate it)
  • Participation in the life of the team - both in education and in extracurricular, elective classes.

The last point usually does not deserve close attention among foreign students and parents - and in vain. This is our additional circles - so, for fun, and in the States it is a direct indicator of the development and empathy of the child. If you haven’t done anything except studying, and are applying for a place in an elite school / university - believe me, your academic performance should be at the level of a genius, no less, to justify the absence of extracurricular activities. Best of all, when there are several such lessons, albeit few, but you have achieved certain successes in them, for example:

  • I went to a literary circle - became the editor of a school newspaper
  • He played football - 3 years played for the school team at regional competitions
  • He played the piano - entered the collective of the concert orchestra, went on tour with the school choir
  • He was fond of the Historical Club - he created a mini-film with friends about an important historical event.

Experts especially note the importance of participating in volunteer and charity programs - the selection commissions of top US schools are very, very appreciated. In many schools, volunteering is a mandatory point of the program: the number of hours worked is indicated on the school report card to impress already university admissions.

Traditionally, students who have achieved success in sports (the number of sports scholarships in the USA will amaze you, believe me) and in music have a lot of “weight”.

If you have hobbies that you do on your own, without “attracting” clubs - also expose this as a strong point: usually US schools are very pleased to open new sections and communities, new extra-curricular areas, so you can become a leader in a new school.

Acquaintance with the selection committee: rules and requirements

You can have an innumerable list of advantages, but if you incorrectly submit them to the admissions committee or do not meet the deadlines, the top US schools will be left without you. Do not miss important points:

  1. It’s best to apply to elite American schools as early as possible. Sometimes the September set ends in January, and sometimes you have to stay on the waiting list for a year or two.
  2. Very carefully collect the requested package of documents, do not miss a single one! Typically, a package includes:
  • Application forms / application for admission
  • Excerpts and grade cards from the previous school
  • Recommendations from the teacher, class teacher, director. Sometimes they even ask for a testimonial from one of the parents.
  • Academic / language test results (TOEFL, SAT).

Be prepared for the fact that filling out an application form for enrollment is a small quest in itself. There can be both standard questions (“Why do you choose our school?”), And intricate ones like “If you could turn into another person for just a day - who would you choose and why?”. Sometimes, in addition to the questionnaire, they ask to write a small essay on a given topic. Questionnaires are usually filled online, by e-mail and documents are sent.

As a fairly costly (both in time and money), but reliable and effective option, you can call a transfer to a US school, but not to the top-end, less selective than your dream school. So the student will be able to quickly get used to the new rules and realities, pull up English, master subjects already in a foreign language - and after that it will be much easier to enter the top US school. An additional bonus: many even elite private US schools do not require TOEFL certification if the child has been studying in English for the last 3 years.

Yes, this is time, money and effort. But entering and studying at one of the best schools in the United States is not only a high level of knowledge: it is also a sea of additional entertainment and activities, the comprehensive development of the child (including sports and creativity), excellent knowledge of the English language, the prospect of entering the best world universities. Entering a close community of students from elite American schools, your child will see his “yellow brick path” leading directly to success.

Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Kuban State University, Russia (World Economics); Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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