Why ISSH students should consider college in the USA

San Jose State University Campus in 2013.  Photo Credit: Pixabay
San Jose State University Campus in 2013. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Every year, as application season rolls around, seniors ponder which universities they should apply to. Last fall, both seniors and juniors had the opportunity to attend an international university fair at ASIJ, consisting of some of the world’s finest universities from all around the world, including the US and the UK. Recently, the University of Chicago, Dartmouth, and Johns Hopkins have also held information sessions for Kanto students in order to increase interest in their institutions. 

As an ISSH student with diverse cultural identities and unique experiences, it is especially difficult to choose where to attend university. However, universities in the US may be a better fit for many students graduating from ISSH, due to advantages in choosing and changing majors, constructing applications, and finding a sense of community.

Although the US is home to most of the world’s top universities, one of the biggest reasons why students tend to steer away from it is because of gun violence. Without a doubt, this is an immense concern in the country, and despite the government trying to enforce police on places such as schools and campuses, unfortunately, the issue isn’t resolving at the speed it should. However, the Campus Safety Magazine states that most universities have “policies and procedures that have proven to reduce the chances of gun violence on college campuses.” 

We can also note that some states are safer than others. The CDC, for example, states such as Texas, California, and Florida have higher gun violence mortality rates ranging from 3,000 to 4,000 deaths per 100,000 people, while other states such as Rhode Island, Hawaii, and Vermont have lower mortality rates, ranging from 60 to 80 deaths per 100,000 people. More urban states with higher populations have higher mortality rates as compared to more suburban states. Therefore, students might benefit from choosing a university in a more suburban location as the risk of gun violence is drastically lower compared to more urban states. 

American students graduating in 2021. Image Credit: Pexels.

Ridiculously high tuition rates also steer students away from universities in the US. However, the unmatched merit universities in the US have to offer is arguably worth the tuition; as American universities spend billions of dollars annually in research and development. Another element to consider is that university tuition varies from school to school. As highlighted previously, urban universities tend to have higher tuition solely based on location, compared to suburban universities, where the price is often lower. Similarly, private universities also have higher tuition fees than public universities, and some institutions offer financial aid that can significantly lower tuition.

US universities also offer unmatched flexibility when it comes to deciding or changing majors. In the UK, beginning university as an undecided major is not possible. It is extremely challenging for a 17-year-old who hasn’t even received a high school diploma yet to map out their whole life and choose what they want to study for the next four years. Applying to a university in the US as an undecided major can be a solution to this issue. In fact, it’s actually very common for students to begin university with an undecided major. With the help of countless holistic programs offered, students can be absolutely certain about their choices before committing to their major. According to the U.S News, “It is not worth choosing a concentration before you have fully researched your potential field in order to avoid regretting your decision later.” 

As an undeclared major, students have the opportunity to compare different majors to find their perfect match, assess all the requirements for each major, and evaluate which specific degrees lead them to certain career options. According to U.S. News, “Your college or university will not require you to declare a major as a high school senior. You may even be encouraged to wait until the end of your sophomore year of college to choose an academic concentration.” 

It is also very normal for students to change their major in the US, while quite unusual and complicated in the UK. Moreover, while changing your major in the US is quick and straightforward, the same cannot be said for universities in the UK. To change majors in the UK, you need to meet a very specific and demanding set of requirements, along with finding a good reason to change majors. For certain majors as well, credits may not be transferred, meaning you may have to redo a whole year of university again, along with paying an extra year of tuition fees and delaying your entrance into the workforce. US universities are much more flexible when it comes to changing majors. 

As an ISSH student following the AP curriculum, AP credits from certain courses can be applied to university and shorten the duration of your degree if you pass the requirements. The College Board states: “If you pass an AP exam, many colleges recognize AP test results and award you credit that’s equivalent to an introductory-level college course. You start college with credits towards your degree, may graduate faster, and save on tuition fees.” However, all universities weigh credits differently based on AP test scores. While some grant college credit, others let you skip prerequisite courses and take more demanding ones.

While both the US and the UK generally look for good grades, the UK puts all its emphasis on them. Meanwhile, according to the Prepory, the US takes a more holistic approach to university, meaning that they “Try their best to evaluate each applicant as a complex individual.” A holistic approach also more closely focuses on extracurricular activities, such as leadership, part-time jobs, sports, clubs, artistic, creative, and musical pursuits, volunteering and community service, and internships. Since ISSH offers our students many ways to excel in every category, applications for US universities offer a chance for students to showcase extracurricular excellence. 

Texas Longhorns football team in 2016. Image Credit: Pixabay

Lastly and potentially most importantly, a student must consider the student life and community of the university they are applying to. Students graduating from the closely-knit environment of ISSH might feel a stronger sense of belonging and community in the US than in the UK. This can include anything from sports events and games to Greek life, consisting of sororities and fraternities, parties and social events, opportunities for alumni networking, and an array of extracurriculars.  According to Forbes, “Students who learn how to network in college can graduate with a wealth of connections to boost their professional careers. Think about networking as setting yourself up for future success. The larger the network that US universities provide can help you find your ideal job after graduation.”

As high school students start to explore potential universities, the choice of where to attend university involves thorough consideration. However, despite concerns regarding gun violence and high tuition rates, going to university in the US may be beneficial for many ISSH students because of degree flexibility, application requirements, and the opportunity to enjoy a strong sense of belonging. 


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