Why Study in the USA?

Posted on 4th April 2023

UK students are applying to the US in record numbers, and getting a place at the very top US colleges is hypercompetitive. From 2020 to 2023, the number of applications submitted via the Common Application (the main application portal for US colleges) surged 30%. But this year’s application class is a similar size to 2020’s! How could this be? Well, let’s explore a few areas on everyone’s mind. 

Global experience

International education is a highly sought-after quality in graduates. Employers see a lot of graduates with the same universities on their CVs, and just having a degree is not particularly exciting. But a degree from an international college? That pricks the ears. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that employers are worried about universities they haven’t heard of – it’s not true. In fact, in many cases the name of the university is redacted in applications so as to stop prejudice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t talk in your interview about the international experience you have! 

Flexibility of subjects

The idea of studying lots of subjects, often referred to as Liberal Arts, is fundamental to education in the USA. At almost all colleges, you will take credits in lots of different fields, and get lots of choice over what modules you take, before you specialise. This is in contrast to most other university systems in the world, where you decide the subject you want to major in before you go. But who really knows what they want to study? And how many adults say they wish they’d studied this or that at uni? Well, in the US you get the freedom to choose and make your mind up later – and indeed to choose your mind. 

More than just academics

When you apply to university in America, you’re judged not just on how great you are at school and on tests, but also on your whole personality and background. Things like your hobbies and interests, your passions and your community involvement, are all highly important. Isn’t it nice for someone to care about that? Furthermore, once you get to college, you’re surrounded by people who are also like that – people who take part in things and seek out new opportunities to enrich themselves and others. This makes campus life fun, interesting and just as important a part of the university experience as lectures. 

Top Colleges

People often just think about the names they’ve heard of (the Ivy League, for example), and mistakenly think that means the best. They also may look to college ranking tables to determine the ‘best’ colleges. But that’s misguided–the Ivy League is a grouping of colleges that compete against one another at sport, and rankings are often based upon factors completely unrelated to student experience, such as the size of a university’s endowment, and peer reviews from university leadership that are often not based on firsthand experience. Even if you do consider the rankings tables, out of the recent top 100 colleges in the world rankings, half of them were in America! How many do you think you could name? This means that there are dozens (probably hundreds) of highly-ranked colleges that you’ve never heard of.  

A much better way to determine top colleges for you is to think through what you want from the university experience, and evaluate colleges based on whether or not they can offer that. Finding fit is the most important factor in choosing a US college; students and parents are starting to realise this, and that’s why so many international students now apply all over the USA. 


Yes, US colleges are expensive. But there is an astonishing amount of financial support available to international students across US colleges. This comes in the form of academic scholarships, sports scholarships, and mean-tested aid; in all cases the better student you are, the more likely you are to get access to support. In some cases these might even be “full-rides”, whereby you pay no tuition fees and your expenses are also paid for! This reward makes the US attractive to the very best students (and sports players!) 


The UK’s exit from the EU has created a lot of uncertainty for UK students who might have been thinking about studying in Europe. Before, they would (in most cases) have been entitled to the lower tuition fees paid by Europeans, but that is not the norm now. If you have to pay fees, why not look elsewhere? What else can you get for your money? The US represents good value, and as per above there are a lot of opportunities to reduce those fees, so more people from the UK started applying to America, even when international applications had dropped as a whole. 

Test-optional Admissions

You wouldn’t have thought that the pandemic would drive up applications, would you? But this has occurred in America, and that’s because of a major change: many colleges have gone test-optional, which means you don’t have to submit SAT or ACT scores anymore. This has allowed students to put in speculative applications to top colleges they might not have considered before. This has driven up the diversity of the applicant pool, but also the competition. 

By the way, just because you don’t have to submit scores, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Good scores may well help your application at very selective universities, so you should go into the process assuming that you will need to prepare for them. (We can help with that!) 

The US remains, more than ever, very popular with international students. Sound attractive to you? Then let us help you apply! We offer ACT and Digital SAT prep, and college counselling services. To find out more and go through your questions about the process, book a free call with a UES Founder now at www.ueseducation.com/free-call

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