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How a Ukrainian entered 10 US universities and now studies at Harvard on the same course as Obama’s daughter

George Solodko. Photo: Facebook

The 2017 year became a landmark for a student of the Kiev Financial and Legal Lyceum Georgy Solodko: the guy entered immediately in 10 US universities. Choosing between several top overseas universities, the guy decided to study in one of the universities of the Ivy League - Harvard. Solodko is the only Ukrainian in the entire bachelor’s course at the university, and shares the student’s bench with former US President Malia Obama’s daughter, the newspaper writes Proman. ForumDaily publishes a shortened version of the material.

Even at school age, George firmly decided that he wanted to study abroad. The guy was engaged in volunteer projects, extracurricular activities, showed excellent results in school and was sure that nothing is impossible, and America is not as far as it seems at first glance. The efforts have justified themselves - in the spring of last year, Solodko received offers directly from 10 of American universities and became the record holder of the entrance campaign in the USA. Harvard, Stanford, Dartmouth, Northeastern, Columbia, Colgate, Boston universities, Vanderbilt and Tufts universities, as well as Vassar College - all of these schools wanted to see Ukrainians among their students. George chose Harvard and received a grant from the university in the amount of $ 300 thousand. This amount will cover the costs of all 4 years of study, accommodation and meals.

In September, a young Kyivan 2017 began a full overseas student life - with nightly visits to libraries, parties and a crazy schedule of life. Proman Ukraine contacted George and found out what needs to be done in order to enroll in top American universities and how to facilitate this path. George spoke about the intricacies of the application process, life and study in the United States, and also dispelled the myths about the inaccessibility of American education. But first things first.


When I was a seventh grade student, I came to understand that I wanted to see the world, learn new cultures, learn new languages, get an education abroad and live in another country. Initially thought about England. I like the style and format of education in this country. But I soon realized that it was problematic to enroll in an English university - you need to complete special courses and take exams not remotely, but only in English schools.

Then I started thinking about the United States, collecting all the necessary information. The first thing that caught my eye was the price of tuition: the cheapest education in the States costs a student and his family at least S40 thousand per year. The amount is definitely impressive.

But after meeting with the center EducationUSA I realized that studying in America is much more accessible than it seems at first glance.

This center provides all the necessary information about studying in the States, talks about the intricacies of the application process and how foreigners can get grants for training.


The first thing you need for admission to top American universities - is a high average grade point of an applicant. It must be at least 11,7-11,8 points on an 12-point scale.

In addition to good performance, you need to have extracurricular activities. You can be a volunteer, participate in a debate club or, for example, a club of foreign languages. If there are no such school-based clubs, they can be easily created.

Also, it is necessary to provide academic advice from teachers, in which they tell about the success of their ward, his hobbies, life position, academic performance, friendliness, leadership qualities. Moreover, a dry theory will not be enough: it is necessary to reveal the identity of the student with specific examples.


After the applicant has received letters of recommendation, he needs to move on to the next stage of the introductory campaign. it passing the SAT - the main exam, which is mandatory for each applicant entering the US university. This exam is complex: it contains diverse tasks - from reading in English to math problems and writing an essay. The higher the score obtained for this exam, the correspondingly, the greater the chance of admission.

Also, all applicants pass SAT Subject tests. These tests are a kind of addition to the main exam, but they contain tasks for only one specific subject. A peculiar prototype of our VNO (External independent evaluation, - Note auth.).

Foreigners additionally pass TOEFL - a test to confirm knowledge of the English language, the results of which are independently sent to selected American universities.

Both tests and exam can be passed in Kiev. In the Ukrainian capital there are several locations that allow you to do this. This possibility is also in Kharkov and Lviv.

Passing the exam costs the applicant and his family about 100 dollars. In addition, you must pay for sending your results to universities. Each such shipment costs about 15-20 dollars.

This the task can be greatly facilitated by a special College Board platform - This is the portal on which the applicant is registered to register for the SAT and send the necessary financial documents with the results of the exam to the university.


For applicants for whom the university has doubts, an interview is scheduled. During the conversation, it is important to observe certain dress code. No need to sit in a T-shirt on the couch and drink coffee, you need to look neat and be positive.

It is important that the interview was long in time and interesting. For example, my "interview" with Harvard lasted for 1 an hour for 40 minutes. I was interviewed by skype a very nice girl who, at the end of the conversation, introduced me to her cat.

In general, the interview was easy and relaxed: we talked about my volunteering and life position, discussed political events in Ukraine and the nuances of the Ukrainian education system.

University representatives, as it turned out, know very little about Ukraine. It was a discovery for me to know that I am the only Ukrainian in the whole bachelor's course.


The whole procedure of the admission campaign - starting with preparation and ending with passing the exam and tests - took about a year. About three months I was preparing for the tests. They are quite complex, especially for those applicants who are not native speakers.

A feature of admission to American universities is the need to write an introductory essay.. Here to help applicants will come a special site. Common Application. This is the main web page on which each applicant must create an account, fill out the necessary forms and, in fact, write an essay. Considering that the topics of essays for each university are different, the time spent on writing an essay was significant.

But The most difficult thing in the application campaign was finding a balance between basic study, entrance exam preparation and personal life.. When everyone - school work with her tests, control tests and upcoming VNO, introductory training - go on in parallel, it is very difficult not to go crazy. Many people break down on this path, cannot plan their time properly, withstand psychological stress and fatigue.


The received grant from Harvard University covers the cost of 4 year of study, accommodation and meals. I buy books on my own. The purchase of air tickets and the cost of participation in conferences is also paid by myself.

Each year, the student and his family must complete certain financial forms. These documents indicate how much money the family spends on food and clothing, how much of the income goes to pay taxes and so on. In addition, a kind of financial monitoring is carried out in dynamics: the university looks in which direction the family income has changed over the year. If he has grown substantially and the family can cover part of the cost of education independently, the university can “cut back” the amount of funding.

Changing financial conditions is possible in the opposite direction: on the website College Board each applicant who needs financial assistance from the university can fill out a profile CSS profile and send this information to the university.

There is no connection between the financial situation of the applicant's family and his ability to become a student at a top-level American university. In any case, this concerns Harvard and several other well-known US universities.

Any graduate from the Ukrainian hinterland, if he shows good performance, is persistent and has an active life position, can join the ranks of students at the same Harvard or Yale University. These universities cover 100% of the cost of training, but only if the annual income of the applicant's family is less than $ 65 thousand.


All students live in hostels, which Americans call campuses. Before a student enters the campus, he must fill out a certain form and indicate how careful he is in everyday life, what kind of music he loves, than he prefers to do in his free time. This is done to ensure that the student receives the neighbors corresponding to his interests.

On campuses, students usually live in a group of four. At the same time, three people are selected in accordance with their everyday habits and vital interests, and the fourth is placed in this “environment” to see if he is able to adapt in stressful situations. This approach, in my opinion, is very interesting and useful, it makes students smarter, develops resilience.

By the way, living on campus is a mandatory requirement for everyone, even for the richest and most powerful people. For example, my classmate Malia Obama (the daughter of an ex-president of the United States - Note. Auth.) also lives on campus.

In general, Harvard is extremely interesting to live: here you can meet any famous person - from Bernie Sanders to Rihanna.

In general, life in the USA can be described in one word - “quickly”. Everyone is late, they are running somewhere, drinking coffee on the go, everyone has a crazy rhythm of life, but everyone is optimistic and happy.

US law allows you to combine the educational process and work. But the weekly working hours of foreign students are strictly limited.. During the first academic semester, I did not work, but I plan to start with the next one. I will work as an assistant research professor and get about 12-15 dollars per hour for this.

Harvard Photo: Depositphotos


The educational system at Harvard is built in such a way that there is only one chance for everything. There are no retakes and no teacher will believe that you have not completed the task because your dog has eaten a textbook.

Emotions are possible only in exceptional cases when a student, for example, had health problems.

Most of the responsibility for obtaining knowledge is left to the students: 80% of the entire material is reserved for independent preparation, and only 20% for attending lectures and classes.

All coursework students write themselves. For plagiarism can be removed from school or even excluded from the university. Roughly speaking, to write an essay on 10 pages, you need to study 28 books. Simply pressing the buttons on the keyboard “copy - paste”, as Ukrainian students often do, will not work.

Given this approach, one of the most popular places in our town is the student library. Once I went to the library on 4 in the morning (due to the time difference between Kiev and Cambridge, at first it was not easy to build a day routine and to establish a dream) and saw that there were no empty seats. This really surprised me. But later I realized that the phenomenon, when at night in the student library there is no place for an apple to fall, is quite normal.


It was regrettable and disappointing to find out that I am the only Ukrainian in the entire bachelor course at Harvard. I would like more Ukrainians to discover new countries and new horizons, and then return to the country and work on its development. For Ukraine to be an example, not an anti-example for other states.

I would advise future applicants, first, to start the whole process by visiting the office EducationUSA. Secondly, to study the necessary information on the official English-language resources. Third, create an account on the site Common Application, choose several universities, find out what type of essay is required to write upon admission. Fourth, to build a kind of personal schedule so that you don’t have to do everything at the last moment.

In no case should applicants from Ukraine be afraid to try their hand and listen to people who do not believe in success and say that nothing will come of it. For your own purposes, you should always be a maximalist, but never lose touch with reality.. Many people think that America is unreal ... But it is not as far as it seems at first glance!

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