The Merits of the U.K. Admissions System

There’s a good piece in Stanford’s newspaper that compares the U.S. admissions system to the U.K. admissions system.

A Stanford University student penned a piece today for The Stanford Daily that explores the merits of the U.K. admissions system vs. the U.S. admissions system. In this piece, entitled “The Merits of the UK Admissions System,” the writer, Austin Ota, sits down with five Stanford students who applied to both American and British universities. The insights he shares are sourced from this conversation. So what did they have to say? Which system is better? Are both systems flawed? Wonder no more!

The U.K. System’s Focus on Numbers, Specialization

As Ota details, “The university system in the U.K. is designed for students to specialize in a specific subject that they choose at the age of 16…As a result of this specialization, ‘numerical performance on tests and International Baccalaureate exams are highly emphasized,’…Most interviewees agreed there was little flexibility in the U.K. model to explore multiple interests, with students proceeding down predetermined academic tracks…The U.K. university application system relies heavily on statistics, especially test scores and marked academic achievement within a specialized field of study. As a result, the majority of the application is geared toward showcasing one’s specific academic goals.”

America’s Holistic Admissions Focus

In comparison, as Ota writes, “In the U.S., high test scores on the ACT and SAT, as well one’s GPA, play a critical role in signaling the strength of an applicant to a college. However, getting the right numbers is only half the battle. In contrast to the U.K. process, the U.S. Common application ‘evaluates applicants more holistically,’…Some American colleges also require personal statements, college-specific essay supplements and activities lists, wherein students may emphasize community service, extracurricular activities and athletics.” But our loyal readers already know all about the highly selective U.S. college admissions system. We figured we’d just shine a lantern on the insights of these students because their perspective offers a nice comparison of the two unique admissions systems.

So which of the two admissions systems is better? Let’s encourage our readers to decide. Let us know your thoughts on both the U.S. and the U.K. admissions systems by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!


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