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Yale through the eyes of a Russian student: as a girl from Voronezh entered for free in one of the best universities in the USA

Nadezhda Stryuk graduated from 2017 with a bachelor's degree from Yale University, where she entered independently after the most common Voronezh school. After studying at one of the best universities in the US, she got a job at an architectural firm in New York. Now she in his Instagram и Learn talks about entering and studying at Yale University, and also gives advice to those who, like her, are planning to get a higher education in America. ForumDaily with the permission of the author publishes her posts in LJ.

Nadezhda Stryuk. Photos from the personal archive

To begin, briefly talk about myself and how I managed to get to Yale University. I lived all my life in Voronezh, and when I was in the 8 class, my mother's colleague told me that she was engaged in a center that helps schoolchildren and students enroll in US universities. At that time I wanted to become a fashion designer, for this I in the seventh grade even went to study at an art school. But in my city there was no faculty where future designers would be trained, so I began to look closely (or, rather, dream) to study at a foreign university. Before that, I rather looked at Europe, but once I had the opportunity to go to the USA, I thought: why not? Thus, I decided to go to this center and find out in more detail what they are doing.

The center was called the Voronezh Regional Council for International Education, it was one of the centers of the American company EducationUSA, which attracts foreign students to the United States, helps and advises them at all stages of admission. Education USA oversees hundreds of centers in 170 countries of the world, and it so happened that one of the centers opened in Voronezh about 20 years ago. A couple of times a week, the center hosted classes on memorizing new English words, developing conversational speech, as well as meetings with US university students and lectures by the center's advisers. But basically, all the students studied independently. In the center there was a large library with books and other materials for preparing for exams, and the guys came there almost every day, took the necessary book and studied using it. After graduating from one, they took up another - and so about two years: this is how much the process of preparing for admission to American universities takes on average.

Photos from personal archive

When I came to the center, his head, Alexey Andreevich, told me that with a great desire and effort it is quite possible to enroll in top US universities, like Harvard or Yale, and, most importantly, you can study there for free! Of course, at first I was skeptical of such promises, but the real stories of successful graduates of the center who went to study in America and a couple of Voronezh students who were studying at Yale and Harvard at that time convinced me that they could enter the USA by forces.

So, towards the end of the 8 class, that is, in the 2010 year, I began to go to BREAC and prepare for admission. I was very lucky that I learned about the Voronezh Center quite early, and I had enough time to thoroughly prepare for admission and at the same time not to experience too large loads. Although the last half of the year before filing the documents was still crazy, and then I spent the whole of January and February moving away from stress ...

The first year and a half after I started going to VREAC, I basically pulled up English, focusing on the level of TOEFL, the main exam in English, which I need to pass for admission. At the same time I learned all the details of the admission process, because admission to American universities and Russian ones differs radically.

And from the beginning of the 10th grade, I have already started preparing for the SAT - this is something like our USE, only for Americans. In the summer after grade 10, I passed the first exam according to American standards. In the fall of 11th grade, I already collected letters of recommendation, wrote essays in English and certified a statement of all my quarter marks from grade 8. Unlike Russia, in America, the selection committee looks not only at the test results, but also at the average grade of the certificate, recommendations from teachers, extracurricular activities and the achievements of the applicant.

I was engaged in collecting documents (and this is a thick folder for each university) in the fall of grade 11, because the deadline for submitting documents to most US universities is January 1. That is, if you want to go to study immediately after leaving school, you need to prepare documents for universities in the first half of grade 11. There were quite a lot of folders with documents, since in the USA you can submit documents to an unlimited number of universities at a time, and usually the guys from the Voronezh center send documents to 12-20 universities. I applied at 10, which seems like a huge number in Russia, but is a fairly average number for America. The decision of the selection committee, as a rule, comes in early April. So since January there have been three months of intense waiting. But then you can no longer worry about the Unified State Exam and calmly wait for the prom while classmates study the latest materials for the Unified State Exam!

29 March I found out that I was accepted at Yale !!! 18 August I flew to the USA to study, the first classes began on August 28.

Arriving in the USA and first meeting with Yale

I met the first Yale students at JFK Airport, immediately upon arrival in the USA. A foreign student support organization at Yale, OISS, ordered a bus for arriving foreign students, which went straight from the airport to New Haven.

Since the orientation for foreign freshmen began on 19 in August, most of the students, including myself, flew in on 18, and it was convenient for everyone to ride the same bus that was leaving 18 in August on 9 evenings. But I arrived at two o'clock in the afternoon, and I had to hang out at the airport 7 hours, after I had already spent 10 hours on the plane ... It's good that the students flew all day, and I waited all 7 hours not one, but companies of other foreign students.

When the bus finally arrived, I was literally dropping to the ground. By that time, I had already met and chatted with at least 50 students from all over the world, but I didn’t want to talk to anyone else, because I hadn’t slept around 24 hours. The only desire was to quickly go to bed. I don’t remember my move from New York because I slept all 2 hours on the bus.

And finally, I was at Yale. It was already dark, but the outlines of Gothic buildings could be seen around. At the bus we were met by many undergraduates, we were handed the keys to the rooms, Yale IDs and packages with small gifts and a schedule of orientation.

Photos from personal archive

There I was met by Anya, a girl from Voronezh, who graduated from Yale this spring and is now working in New Haven. She handed me a set of bed linen, a pillow and other things necessary for the first time, since in the rooms we are provided only with a bed, a wardrobe and a mattress. By that time I was so tired that I only had the strength to take a shower and fall into bed.

The first three days we all lived in the same building of dormitories, and only then settled in our rooms in our buildings. The room I lived in for the first three days was frighteningly small - it's good that my regular room is bigger now.

Living room in the suite in which I lived the first three days. Photos from the personal archive

What and how do you study at Yale?

The education system at Yale, as in many American universities (including other universities of the famous "Ivy League"), is called Liberal Arts. The name is translated into Russian as "free" or "free arts". The meaning of the Liberal Arts system is that a student in 4 years - and that is how long the training lasts - gain knowledge in a wide range of disciplines. This circle includes foreign languages, the art of writing, social studies, exact and social sciences. The emphasis in such an education system is on teaching students to think critically, analyze, write, and have a general understanding of a range of disciplines, rather than on the supply of skills.

Cross Campus is the central meeting place for students. The building on the far right is the entrance to the library below ground level. In the middle is the building of one of the hostels. Photo from personal archive

In practice, this is done as follows. Each semester, the student chooses his own courses - academic subjects. One course costs one "credit". To earn a bachelor's degree, you need to earn 36 credits. Thus, you need to take 9 courses a year. For example, one semester has four and the other five. You can take five times twice, and then next year you can take four, or graduate with a large number of earned credits.

Courses can be chosen from all available disciplines, from physics with chemistry to Egyptian studies and medieval literature. But there are some limitations. The first two years, you can choose anything, but by the third you need to decide on a specialty that is called major, and take courses on your topic.

Students studying at the Law School library. Photo from personal archive

Let me explain with an example. Let's take one of the most popular majors at Yale - economics. To get a degree in economics, you need to take 4 courses in economics in 12 years. 8 of them have already been precisely defined (introduction to microeconomics, mathematical analysis, econometrics, etc.), the student has the right to choose when and in what order to take these courses. The remaining 4 subjects can be chosen independently from the courses offered at the Faculty of Economics. Thus, in your specialty you need to take, as a rule, about 12-14 courses, and the remaining 22-24 - from any other disciplines, such as art history, drawing or pedagogy.

During the presentation of the project. Photos from the personal archive

But in order for education to be diversified, students are obliged to comply with the so-called distribution requirements. Everyone should take 3 foreign language semesters, two written courses, two math courses, two exact sciences courses, two liberal arts courses and two social sciences courses. The description of each course indicates which science it belongs to. For example, the course "international economics" will be counted for social science, and "Roman architecture" for humanitarian.

The complexity of the courses also imposes restrictions on the choice. That is, you can take complex courses only if you have completed more simple ones on this topic. For example, you can begin to study "financial theory" only by first taking an "introduction to microeconomics", and quantum physics - after the basics of physics and advanced mathematics.

It may seem to a Russian student that 4-5 courses per semester is very little, because in Russia there are 16 subjects at the same time ... But the fact that we have few courses does not mean that we are not doing anything here! It's just that the amount of time spent on one item is much more. And in general, this is not the time spent in the classroom, but the time spent in the library at homework.

Library of Law. Photos from the personal archive

There is a general principle that on an independent mastering of a single subject a week, on average, it takes twice as long as you spend in the classroom itself. That is, if a class meets 2 once a week for an hour and a half, then it will take about 6 hours to do homework a week. If the course is very difficult, then “homework” can take even 20 hours a week. Last semester, I had weekly 14 class hours, and my homework took about 30 hours!

How much does it cost to study at Yale

Let's figure it out. To start, go to the Yale website and look for information about the cost of education. You can find her here... The total cost of tuition and living at Yale for the 2014-2015 academic year was $ 63,250. This amount includes tuition fees $ 45,800, dorms $ 7,800 and meals $ 6,200, as well as the cost of books and personal expenses - $ 3,450. Of course, no one pays directly for personal expenses and books to Yale: this is the average amount that was included in the total bill to help the student and his family plan their tuition costs. The first 2 years (freshman and sophomore years) of training are mandatory to live on campus and eat in the student canteen, thus creating a close-knit atmosphere at Yale and helping newcomers to make friends.

The courtyard of my college residence, Pierson. Photos from the personal archive

Having named the exorbitant - for both Russian and American families - the cost of 60 thousand dollars, Yale is in a hurry to announce that half of the students receive financial assistance, which depends not on awards and achievements, but only on insufficient family income. Yale prides itself (which it tirelessly mentions in every other booklet) that it covers 100% of the demonstrated lack of funds to pay for every student, regardless of citizenship. He is also included in a modest number of universities with need-blind admission. This means that the student's ability to pay in full does not play a role in the decision of the admissions committee. To paraphrase into the language of Russian universities, the "paid employees" and "state employees" go to the same competition.

Usually, American universities ask for a bank statement of their parents or other evidence of their ability to pay for tuition before accepting a student. Financial assistance in such universities is very limited, and the competition among students who count on it is much higher. Many applicants are offered a loan for education, which will need to be paid after graduation. On the one hand, this is convenient and correct; therefore, higher education is available to more people. On the other hand, after graduation, a person will be severely limited, because after him there will be several tens of thousands of dollars of debt. At Yale, the applicant is considered regardless of his financial capabilities. And if he or she is accepted, then they already look at the family income and determine the amount of financial assistance. Loans to take the university is not obliged. In the US, these universities of all 9, Wikipedia gives a complete list:

• Amherst College

• Dartmouth College

• Harvard University

• Massachusetts Institute of Technology

• Princeton University

• Yale University

• Stanford University

• University of California, Berkeley

• California Institute of Technology

In determining the amount of financial aid (financial aid), Yale relies on many factors. As a rule, families whose income is less than $ 65,000 per year should not pay anything. Given that the price includes food and accommodation, studying at Yale will be cheaper than living at home! Read more here.

An important clarification: financial assistance at Yale is free of charge, you do not need to return it later.

Typical study room. Photos from the personal archive

Scholarships and part-time jobs

Having examined the principles of paying tuition and living at Yale, let's talk about smaller things: personal expenses, just $ 3450 from the last budget item.

There are no scholarships that come monthly to the card, as in Russian universities, at Yale. Students are responsible for toothpaste and coffee at Starbucks. Of course, there are a lot of offspring of rich and famous families: children of senators, big businessmen, famous lawyers who are sponsored by parents for all their expenses ... But also many less wealthy or more independent students. They earn their own scholarship themselves.

Advantageous to work on campus. And foreign students only work on campus and can. On average, students earn $ 12-15 per hour, which is very good, given that the minimum wage in Connecticut is $ 8,70. There are a lot of types of work - you can help a professor, work in a library, help in the IT department, be a foreign language or math tutor, a graphic designer, a master’s assistant in your college, a photographer, a campus guide, a lab assistant or just a clerk in one from numerous Yale departments. Work schedule can be very flexible, it all depends on the position. You can work from 1 to 19 hours per week. Usually working on 4-10 hours per week.

Students picnic in the hostel courtyard. Photos from the personal archive

Assume that on average a student will work on 7 hours per week at a rate of 13 dollars per hour, that is, $ 71 or $ 364 per month will be received per week.

It seems to me that working more than 12 hours a week and fully learning is almost impossible. I worked on 7-10, and it was very stressful ... The choice of work is always great, especially at the beginning of the school year. Finding something very interesting or getting a paid place in a team of researchers will be much more difficult than getting a job.

Last year I worked as an assistant organizer of exhibitions in libraries. I have worked on exhibitions for four libraries (there are twenty of them at Yale) - The Sterling Memorial Library, The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, The Haas Family Arts Library, The Lewis Walpole Library. Note that libraries, like most buildings at Yale, bear either the names of prominent people associated with Yale, or the names of families who have donated a lot of money to the development of the university.

So, libraries store a huge number of archives, which they occasionally expose. In the reading rooms of these libraries there are museum glass windows, where archives are exhibited. Curators selected exhibits and planned how to exhibit them, and my boss and I were responsible for labels and design. It is obvious that for the most part in the libraries exhibit books, documents, letters, photographs. We prepared different coasters, pads, frames, attached objects to them, and then placed them on the shop windows. They made everything mostly from cardboard and plastic.

The result of the work. Photos from the personal archive

I was in the position of assistant organizer of exhibitions from September until the end of the school year. I worked 10 hours a week - 2,5 hours after class from Monday to Thursday. Here 10 hours is quite a lot. There was very little time left for various extracurricular activities. But the work itself was not stressful - you could listen to music or even watch TV shows from the phone, if I did something monotonous.

How to feed future presidents of the United States

Many people ask me how I ate at Yale. I ate three times a day, in university canteens, which are 15 here. Usually, three meals a day cost about 3000 $ per semester, but this cost was covered by a scholarship. Ask how are fed in canteens?

The short answer is good, more detailed is below.

Each of the 12 college residences has its own canteen, plus there is a huge common canteen at 1000 people - Commons, a canteen in the building of graduate students and a kosher cafeteria. You can eat in any of them. At the beginning of the school year freshmen led the test, who in how many dining rooms have already managed to go. Buffet system works in all canteens.

Photos from personal archive

At the entrance to each dining room there is a verifier who needs to present his ID. He conducts it through an electronic device, which confirms that the student bought a subscription to canteens this semester. You can bring guests without a subscription, but they will have to pay for themselves with a credit card. Breakfast costs about 5 $, and dinner is already 12 $.

Photos from personal archive

For breakfast, 8-10 types of cereal, porridge, toast, bagels, eggs, 2-3 types of fruit, yoghurts, pastries are served. Waffle irons are still standing, where you can bake yourself a huge wafer with the letter Y in the middle.

I baked it myself - I ate it myself! 🙂 Photo from personal archive

For lunch, a salad bar with chopped vegetables appears, from which you can make yourself a salad. There are also sliced ​​ham, cheese, tuna for sandwiches. There are always grilled hamburger patties (hamburger buns are also included) from beef, and sometimes from turkey, pork or vegetables. There is always a chicken in one form or another - most often the breast (each time in a different sauce), and sometimes the wings or legs.

Everyone loves chicken tenders - pieces of chicken in breading, they are called “strips” in KFC. Sometimes salmon is also served, but they do not always get it tasty, white fish is cooked better. There are days of the Mesikan cuisine when they cook a quesadilla and a burrito. Hot dishes are served with a side dish of rice, stewed vegetables, mashed potatoes or french fries. And there are always a lot of desserts - cupcakes, cakes, cookies, brownies, strudels and ice cream.

Photos from personal archive

Dinner differs from dinner in that there are more. For example, 3-4 hot meals are served for dinner, while 1-2 is served for lunch. Dinner dishes are becoming more difficult - if at lunch they can offer tuna sandwiches, then dinner will be chicken in Thai sauce or squids in batter.

Of the drinks, there is always 2-3 of the type of coffee, tea, juice, soda machines like Coke, Fanta and milk. Moreover, the choice of milk is very wide - there is the usual, skim, rice, almond, soy and soy with chocolate ...

I like the power system very much - there is always a huge choice and it cooks generally well. My friends jokingly complain that there are too many delicious sweets that you cannot resist. But, of course, there are drawbacks: ready-made salads are rarely tasty, and the quality of meat, except for chicken, is not necessary every time.

How to enter Yale

First of all, you need to realize that the process of entering the US is fundamentally different from the order of admission to Russian universities. Therefore, before embarking on training, you need to carefully study and understand (at least approximately) what documents to collect, how and where to take exams, and how to send an application.

Here are links to resources, where everything is detailed in detail, how to proceed.

1) http://www.educationusa.info - a site that needs to be bookmarked by all applicants. Here they tell why to enter the United States, what to do for foreigners, how to find funding, and more.

http://www.educationusa.info/centers.php?region=3 - here you can find the nearest information center (like VREAC, where I contacted) in Europe.

http://www.educationusa.info/5_steps_to_study/undergraduate_step_1_research_your_options.php - all stages of admission are described here, I highly recommend studying.

2) http://admissions.yale.edu/applying-yale-international-student - Requirements for admission to Yale. The lists of required documents for all universities are very similar, so you can focus on Yale to understand how and what you need to cook. But be sure to then study the sites of all other universities to which you apply, because some key components (the number of letters of recommendation, deadlines (!)) Can vary greatly.

3) http://sat.collegeboard.org/home - site for SAT and SAT Subjects exams. Here you can learn more about exams, take mock tests, see where the exams are held, and register for them.

4) https://www.ets.org/toefl - TOEFL website.

5) https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/college-search?navid=gh-cs - A search engine for universities according to all sorts of criteria: faculties, "passing points", the availability of financial assistance for foreign students, etc.

6) To enter an American university, you need to know what the Americans themselves advise. Here are some helpful articles:

http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2012/09/25/focus-on-7-strategies-to-get-into-college

http://www.wikihow.com/Get-into-College

http://international.collegeboard.org/study-in-the-us/apply

http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/college-admissions-experts/2011/09/14/what-are-some-tips-for-international-students-applying-to-us-colleges

7) https://www.commonapp.org/Login - Most applications to universities are submitted through this system. It makes sense to register in advance and study the questions and fields to fill out. Each university also asks to fill out an additional questionnaire with its own questions and essay topics. Pay special attention to the essay, you need to start thinking about it in advance!

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