What you need to know to study in the US and how to tighten up your English before entering
American universities are not just legendary educational institutions. These are elite clubs, belonging to which often becomes the guiding star in the life of many graduates. We asked the experts of the largest online English language school. Skyeng, is it so difficult to get into American universities, are “ours” taken to Princeton and Harvard, and also - how long do you need to study English before entering.
Choosing a University
Among US universities, there are a number of particularly prestigious universities, which belong to the so-called Ivy League (the Ivy League). It includes eight private American universities: Brown, Dartmouth, Columbia, Cornell, Pennsylvania, Yale, Princeton and Harvard. In Russia, the last three are better known - mainly due to the Hollywood movie.
It is curious that independent ratings (for example, Quacquarelli Symonds Ranking) put private universities in the neighborhood of ordinary state ones. That is, the level of education in them is quite comparable. Tuition is also almost no different. State universities are usually a bit cheaper, but in private it is easier to get a scholarship.
So what then to navigate? Compare the cost of living and studying in different universities, and be sure to pay attention to what the university is famous for. Sometimes the institution, which hangs somewhere in the middle of the ranking, is leading in the desired area. For example, the University of Central Florida and Auburn University are not widely known, but they are considered among the best in the training of IT specialists. A diploma from the University of Dayton is a good start for an engineering career. And those interested in economics should consider Louisiana State University. But if you want to learn by all means in a legendary private university with history and traditions - do not be afraid and dare. And we will tell you how to prepare.
Selecting a program
The American education system is very flexible. In most universities, the student himself forms the program, choosing interesting subjects within the framework of specialization. There are usually two specializations - major and minor. Major - this is the main specialty, minor - additional, indirectly related to the main. For example, management is beautifully completed with urbanism or logistics, and sociology with demography or psychology.
A student in the United States also chooses how many years to spend on education and what degree to get in the end. The most common 4 program.
Associate degree - diploma of vocational or secondary special education. You need to study 2 year in a biennial or any other college or even at university.
Bachelor's Degree - bachelor degree. You need to study 4 of the year, but the bill goes to the so-called credit hours - credit hours. One credit hour is roughly an 16 academic. Bachelor need to dial 120 – 150 credit hours. Calculations show that you can handle in less than 4 of the year.
Master’s Degree - magistracy. Such a diploma can be obtained after studying a year after receiving Bachelor's Degree. Holders of this diploma receive the right to teach.
PhD - doctorate. You need to learn more 2 – 3 year after receiving Master's Degree. During this time, you need to have time to write a dissertation.
Having chosen the university, specialty and program, you need to register on the university website. After that, you will receive an accurate list of the necessary documents and, having collected them, you will be able to submit an application.
What international tests need to pass and how many points is required for admission?
Regardless of the university and specialty chosen, you will have to pass an international English proficiency test. It is desirable that this was TOEFL - it was developed in the USA. Its British counterpart IELTS is also suitable, but according to an unwritten rule in the States, TOEFL is preferred. To enter the university, you need to pass a variety of TOEFL iBT - this test is taken at an accredited center.
The maximum score for this test is 120, but 80 – 100 points are enough to enter most universities. The TOEFL certificate is valid for 2 years.
TOEFL is hard. Even if you have excellent English, preparation is necessary - you will need to study English quite actively. The thing is that TOEFL, as emphasized in Skyeng, checks not only knowledge of the language, but also the ability to quickly operate with knowledge, search for non-standard solutions, allocate time and think strategically. Without preparation, even a native speaker can take the exam.
TOEFL preparation on average takes 2 – 3 a month, provided that the teacher knows his stuff, the student is not lazy, and classes are held at least three times a week. Maintaining such a pace is difficult, especially if you study or work. Sometimes the only way to actively and fairly quickly learn English is to prepare online. Can be engaged in the school of English Skyeng - Thousands of certified teachers from all over the world work there, which means that English teachers will be selected in the appropriate time zone. Teaching in Skyeng is tech: everything happens on a specialized online platformincluding modern materials and tools. It is important that the Methodists identify their goal in learning English - and then you will be trained directly for exams.
In addition to the TOEFL, the university will necessarily request the results of the SAT - an English-language exam for the main school subjects, in many respects resembling the Russian EGE. SAT tests are of two types. SAT Reasoning determines the ability to think consistently and includes tasks in mathematics, reading analysis and writing. The second type, SAT Subjects, is a test of knowledge in individual subjects. There are 20 types of this test: in English, history, natural sciences, etc. As a rule, American universities require SAT Reasoning and 2 – 3 SAT Subjects applicants - the choice of subject tests depends on the faculty, although sometimes universities leave the choice to the student. The main thing - to pass a few tests, and what it will be tests - it does not matter. SAT is rented in English at certified centers. It is necessary to take into account that the processing of results is not fast: the results will be ready only in 1,5 of the month.
When to start preparing?
For 12 – 18 months before the start of classes. At first glance, this period may seem very long, but in fact the applicant has a lot to do.
In addition to preparing for the TOEFL and passing the test itself, the future student will have to collect a lot of papers.
- Transcript This document is a translated into English and notarized report card, which lists all annual assessments starting from the 9 class. The translation must be made in a special translation agency.
- A letter of recommendation. This is a student’s characteristic given to him by a teacher, a school principal or an employer. It contains not only information about academic performance, but also information about personal qualities, character, merit and achievements. Ideally, you should collect 2 – 3 recommendations from teachers who know the student well, because the selection committee will look not so much at the author’s position, but at his personal approach. The letter must also be translated into English.
- Essay. One of the most important documents. A motivational essay is an applicant's story about how he sees his future career, why he wants to study in this university and on this program. Do not treat the essay as a formality - believe me, it will be read, and very carefully. When writing such an essay, your task is to “sell” yourself to a university, to prove that in your person they will receive a student that they can be proud of. Of course, the essay should also be in English.
- Summary. In this document, you can collect all the achievements that are not included in the rest of the paper. Its structure resembles a regular resume for admission to work: at the beginning, the name, gender, age of the applicant, and then all the data on education - the names of educational institutions and the degrees received, information on additional courses and seminars. Yesterday's schoolchildren may mention their victories in olympiads. Experience and research activities, participation in relevant conferences, cooperation with volunteer organizations, sports and creative achievements - all this will also be taken into account.
- Portfolio. This item is required for almost all creative specialties: design, architecture, directing, and so on. No one expects you to have received the Cannes Lion before graduation, or to show your film on Sundance, but it is assumed that you have already taken some steps in the chosen direction. If you do not have a portfolio, then we strongly advise you to form it for the 18 months.
The process of collecting documents may seem very complicated, but nothing is impossible here. If you begin to prepare in advance and treat it responsibly, for a year or one and a half you will cope with this task.
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