Many students in the United Kingdom are eschewing applying to Oxford and Cambridge (a.k.a. Oxbridge). And why? Well, they’re instead choosing to apply to elite universities in the United States, particular as both Oxford and Cambridge are raising the bar for students from the UK’s elite private schools. Hey, did you think they were eschewing the UK’s most prestigious universities to work at ice cream parlors instead? Come on now! So how exactly are these students navigating the churning waters of elite college admissions in America? They’re turning to consultants admissions consultants…of course.
As Sian Griffiths and Shanti Das report for The Times of London in a piece entitled “Forget Oxbridge. For today’s gilded youth, Ivy League is the goal — and parents will spend a fortune to get them there” in which Ivy Coach’s managing partner is cited extensively, “US-based tutoring firms are also seeing growing numbers of families making inquiries about their services from Britain…For the best chance of getting in, most college counselling companies recommend families get in touch when the child is 12 or 13, or even younger. ‘We prefer they come to us around eighth or ninth grade so that we can map out what they should be doing through the rest of school,’ says Brian Taylor, the owner of Ivy Coach…This year, applications to the Ivy League surged, while admission rates plummeted. Harvard saw applications rise by 42 per cent compared with 2020, while its acceptance rate fell from 4.9 per cent to 3.4 per cent — a pattern repeated at many of the other top colleges…As a result, when it comes to beating the competition, it’s what you do outside the classroom that is most important, says Taylor from Ivy Coach. ‘The student’s story plays a huge part,’ he says. ‘There’s a reason that Harvard, for instance, prides itself on rejecting five classes worth of kids with perfect grades, perfect scores. It’s a very human process. The aim is to sway human beings to root for you.’…’The highly selective universities are looking for singularly talented students who excel in one specific area,’ he says. ‘If you’re the biology kid, I want to see the research you’re doing. I want to know what specific kind of bio research you’re interested in. And I hope you’re not a cancer researcher, because they’re a dime a dozen. When it’s another cancer researcher, they yawn.'”
Griffiths and Das go on, “Each student must list ten extracurriculars on their common application. But make no mistake: for the most competitive US universities, being a member of the school rounders team or playing the flute simply won’t cut it. Instead, teenagers need to do something amazing: write a book, launch a business, write an academic paper, start a charity, build an app — in other words, convince admissions officers that ‘this is someone who’s going to change the world in one super-specific way’. They must typically do this, Taylor says, on top of taking online courses on their subject of interest. As a rough rule of thumb, he recommends students spend 25 hours a week on extra-curricular pursuits during the school year, from the age of 14 or 15 onwards — and 40 hours a week over the summer holidays — to have the best chance. ‘If you suddenly have all these new interests before you apply, it’s transparent to the admissions officers that you’re doing these activities to try and get into college,’ he says. Private school pupils from the UK that come to him ‘don’t necessarily have the greatest grades and the greatest scores,’ says Taylor. Part of his job is managing these parents’ at times unrealistic expectations of success in the competitive US system. ‘We help them get into the best school possible for them,’ he says. ‘But you know, if someone has no chance of getting into Harvard or Yale, or Princeton, we’re going to tell them. A lot of people strategise wrong; they shoot the impossible dream. That’s a mistake.'”
In any case, take a gander at the piece on UK-based students eschewing the likes of Oxford and Cambridge for elite universities in America in The Times of London. See what we have to say about donations to elite American universities, the slimy world of admissions agents at non-elite universities in America, and much more. The article is on point and the trend in recent years of UK students coming in droves to America to attend the top schools over here is very real.
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