Choosing Universities

Expatriate students choose to attend universities in a variety of countries. Some will return to their home country where it is likely their education will be free.

For the others, their parents are able and prepared to pay the high fees, up to US$35,000 in the US or £20,000 in the UK.

Students should plan at least two years in advance, but much earlier is better as this will help them make better informed decisions on their subject choices in school.

Schools usually have a university councilor to advise parents and students well in advance.

Both should also do their own research on the Internet as most parents have definite ideas on where they wish their children to study and they are paying the fees!

The largest groups of expatriate children in an international English speaking school tend to choose Canada, UK, USA or Australia.

The UK has a central system called UCAS in which students can list 6 universities or 4 for Medicine with two others possibly in a related field.

Some UK universities also have specific entrance exams for Law, Medicine etc.

Students applying to US Colleges especially, Ivy League will need to prepare for and sit the SAT 1 and SAT 11 tests.

In addition they are required to write essays on specific topics and this whole process can be very time consuming, whilst they are completing their own two-year Sixth form courses in A level, IB or AP.

Because of this do not set out on this application process unless you really wish to study in the USA.

Students should be realistic about their university choices and courses and take advice from their teachers and university advisors.

Top Universities

Many high achieving students will apply for the top universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Stanford, Harvard, Pennsylvania etc., but they should all remember to make sure that they have a few “insurance” universities.

Anything can happen during their public examinations and the target points may not be met in a specific subject, for example, in the IB Diploma, UK universities of their choice can then decide not to accept a student once the results are published.

It has been known for a student to get a score of 44 (Maximum 45) at the IB Diploma level, get a 6 not a 7 in Mathematics and not be accepted.

This can be quite traumatic for the student, but hopefully their second choice will be available to them.

The best advice for university placement is to plan in advance, take advice from professionals, visit the universities if at all possible, as you want to be sure you are going to be happy living in this type of environment.

Students should be aware that universities will expect a student to also have developed skills in extra curricular activities e.g. sport, music, theatre and community service.

Good time management is essential in balancing study with these activities and gives the student the best chances of achieving their dream at university and beyond.