Choosing Between USA and UK For University

Wentworth can help you choose between applying to university in the UK, USA, or internationally. Our advice will center around your primary objectives and expectations from university. Goals vary from pure academic excellence, through to all-rounder interest in supports and charity work.

Choosing Between USA and UK For University

Wentworth can help you choose between applying to university in the UK, USA, or internationally. Our advice will center around your primary objectives and expectations from university. Goals vary from pure academic excellence, through to all-rounder interest in supports and charity work.

Choosing Between USA & UK For University

The decision to apply to the US or the UK for university depends on a student's forward looking goals as well as achievements to date. Here we outline some of the goals we have seen from students and how to think through the considerations around each goal.

Goal 1: Achieve admission to the highest ranking school possible

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As university systems, the US and UK look for fundamentally different characteristics. In the UK, Oxford and Cambridge select students with a passion for their subject and little else. A top student may have a gold medal at the IMO, be the strongest mathematician in their class, and have not studied English since the age of 15. By contrast, in the US, a renaissance man or woman profile is as equally interesting as the aforementioned "spikey" profile. Moreover, a "spikey" profile need not purely academic. A world champion rhythmic gymnast with strong grades can gain admission to an Ivy League school (a profile we once saw).

In that case, a choice of the US or UK depends primarily on past accomplishments. A straight A or A* student with few extracurriculars may be a perfect candidate for Oxbridge but would struggle to gain admission to Ivy league schools. Therefore, for the student who wants to gain admission to a high ranking university, a critical evaluation of past achievements is important consideration. For the academically inclined or for school systems such as the French one, we often find that the UK is a more natural fit. As with all admissions, poor grades will preclude students from most schools.

Goal 2: Develop as an individual.

For some students, high school has been a rigorous but controlled environment. Stretching one's wings is a part of the university experience and one often highlighted as a difference between the UK and the US. However, the freedom afforded by the two systems is fundamentally different.

Attending a college in the US will provide many opportunities to try new activities - dance society, debate club, political movements, poetry slams. The list is truly endless. However, in many senses, the environment is more restricted. Campuses resemble boarding schools with similar levels of support and infrastructure e.g., on campus nurses and doctors, residential advisors, 24/7 libraries that form a social nexus, etc.

By contrast, attending a university in the UK will be necessarily more of an adult environment. Most students will independently rent their accommodation from their second year. However, the range and breadth of activities is usually less, and students are expected to independently find friends, activities, and study habits.

Goal 3: Study everything or become a master at the subject I enjoy

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Academically, the contrast is even starker between the two systems. In the UK, students apply to specific subjects which they cannot change (as with all things, this is not a hard rule but is true for more students). In the US, most colleges operate a liberal arts programme whereby students can learn everything from ancient hieroglyphics to modern farming techniques. For the well rounded student, the Columbia core allows for 2 years of wide exploration of many subjects. Yale's first year humanities course is a tour of humanities subjects. Liberal arts colleges such as Williams and Amherst are famous for their wide-ranging programme.

There are always exceptions. For the well rounded student looking at courses in the UK, natural sciences at Cambridge provides the breadth of the sciences, land economy the breadth of economics and history, and ancient civilisations, classics, and PPE at Oxford the breadth of humantiies. For the "spikey" student in the US, MIT and Caltech allow a focused pursuit of STEM.

Goal 4: Pursue non-academic activities e.g., entrepreneurship, sports, charity, etc.

In the UK, while extracurriculars abound, there will be less rich university support for these activities. Sports can be enjoyed but not at the semi-professional level of a D1 US school. If extracurricular passions are a big part of a student's life, the US is often the preferred option.

Selected UK and US University Consultants Testimonials

Please see below some example UK and US University Consultants Testimonials that we have received. If you would like to hear more, you may be interested to read about our tutor guarantee or to read about Wentworth Tutors' philosophy and approach in a letter to parents from Dr Katherine Wiles, our Founder. Alternatively, some more UK and US University Consultants Testimonials can be found on our dedicated testimonials page, where you can filter by subject.

US University Admissions Test | Wentworth Education Private Tutoring

"It was good working with [Harry] ... we went through good approaches and methods to tackle the questions."

First year university algebrea | Laura Caune

"Laura is an exceptionally able mathematician with the rare quality of understanding intuitively what students require. She provides great advice, and she gives confidence to her students." ... See Laura Caune's tutoring profile.

GCSE Mathematics | Jessica F

"Jessica is very patient with our daughter and is teaching her well. Our daughter is actually starting to like maths! We are happy with the progress our daughter is making with Jessica. We will be continuing lessons for the coming GCSE." ... See Jessica F's tutoring profile.

Engineering Tripos at Cambridge Application | Mathew Smith

"We are very grateful for the job that Mathew has done for [our son], especially the diagnostic part of it, as we didn't know that he had significant gaps in his knowledge. We found Mathew very helpful managing the time pressure problem (and that was a main weakness for our son!)" ... See Mathew Smith's tutoring profile.

Oxford University Mentoring | William Bennett

"This student applied to Human Sciences at Oxford University on her gap year. We met for a series of sessions to work on her personal statement and prepare for interview, discussing topical reading material and how to write about her work experience in a thoughtful and interesting way. She has since received an offer from her first-choice college at Oxford. " ... See William Bennett's tutoring profile.

Oxbridge student | Dr Karis Riley

"I have known Karis for nearly a decade. Karis is highly intelligent and academically gifted. She has a passion for learning and love of education like no one else I know. She is widely read, questioning and intellectually curious by nature - all skills I think an excellent tutor should have and pass on to their students. I would highly recommend Karis' abilities to anyone looking for additional academic support." ... See Dr Karis Riley's tutoring profile.

University Mechanical Engineering | Dr Benjamin Hardy

"I had Ben for three sessions over the course of a week on a topic that I didn't know much about and needed some quick fire revision for an upcoming exam. He made example questions and walked through them with me. He also found textbooks online relating to my studies and was able to show different methods towards my studies and help me understand the easiest and most efficient way. " ... See Dr Benjamin Hardy's tutoring profile.

French all levels Spanish beginner | Katherine Smith

"Katherine is an exceptional teacher and tutor. She is incredibly knowledgeable about approaches for teaching Modern Foreign Languages to learners of all ages and goes above and beyond to support her learners in developing their language skills. She has in depth knowledge of the MFL assessments and examinations and knows how to best prepare learners for these. Dr. E Weavers Cambridge Assessment " ... See Katherine Smith's tutoring profile.

KS2 | Fenella Chesterfield

"“We are grateful for all the help and encouragement you have given our son, and much of his success is to your credit. You should feel proud too for what you have done for your students. Our son really enjoyed studying and learning with you. You are a good and very responsible teacher who prepares all the lessons very well in advance, and has the interest and wellbeing of the students first and foremost. You genuinely care very much about them and work hard with them.”" ... See Fenella Chesterfield's tutoring profile.

SAT & University Admissions Counselling | Talal Al-Nawab

"Talal and I first started working together at the end of my Freshman year (Year 9) to support me in my high school Math classes as I was taking the most advanced course that my school offered. This continued into Sophomore year (Year 10), and he also then worked with me on my SAT test preparation from the beginning of Junior year (Year 11). Always patient and encouraging, Talal's tutoring and test preparation help was invaluable to allow me to excel in my school studies and prepare me for university. He challenged me to think on my feet and push my academic abilities. My confidence in Math continued to grow along with my GPA, and I am very grateful for his support. In the SAT, I was able to improve my score significantly through our work together which put me in a fantastic position for my university applications. Towards the end of Junior year (Year 11), Talal also began supporting me as a US university admissions counsellor. He helped me finalise a strong list of my best-fit universities and ensured that I began the essay drafting process in good time ahead of my Early applications. He guided me through the crucial essay process through careful and well thought-through iterations of my essay drafts to end up with highly personalised and impactful essays. He also ensured that I always stuck to my deadlines. I truly valued Talal's support and academic mentorship along the way, and I highly recommend him as a tutor, test prep coach and university admissions counsellor." ... See Talal Al-Nawab's tutoring profile.