Applying to the US – How to Choose Universities

Advice from an independent counsellor, Kathy Compagnon, at kathy@compagnon.biz:

We may dream of Princeton, Harvard and Yale, but the reality is that less than 8% of applicants succeeds. More importantly, those schools are not necessarily the right ones for you.

If you are considering US universities, think hard about why you want to go there. If the Ivy League is your only choice, make sure you have created options in British or French schools (considerably less expensive and often less demanding in terms of grades) as a back up. It will be hard to get in, and bottom line is that it is a bit of a lottery with many excellent candidates rejected. You do not want to find yourself in September with no options.

If you are determined to go to the US, select a range of schools: dream schools with low acceptance rates, target schools that you are very likely to get into, and safety schools where you are more or less assured admission. You can research all schools on the web, and resource material is available from Mr Lally, including The Top 345 Universities, which offers intelligent school profiles and statistics.

The Ivy League includes: Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and Penn.

The top engineering schools are MIT and Cal Tech

Other top schools include Duke, UC Berkeley, University of Chicago, Georgetown, Stanford, Tufts, Amherst, Williams, Johns Hopkins and Swarthmore.

These are some names to start with; there are hundreds, thousands of possibilities, so find the best school for YOU.

IB, Bac & Matu Equivalences

While you are researching courses and institutions on UCAS, for example, you will find entry requirements (e.g. 24 in the IB, IELTS exam etc).  This table should help you understand whether the course is aimed at people below, at or above your current moyenne level…

U.S

French Baccalaureate

International Baccalaureate

Swiss Maturite

20

45

6

19

45

6

18

43-44

6

17

41-42

5.5

A++

16

39-40

5.5

A+

15

35-38

5

A

14

35-38

5

A-

13

30-34

4.5

B+

12

30-34

4.5

B

11

25-29

4

B-

10

24

4

C+

9

9 to 24

3.5

C

8

9 to 24

3.5

C-

7

9 to 24

3

D+

6

9 to 24

3

D

5

9 to 24

2

D-

4

9 to 24

1

E/F

3

9 to 24

1 to 0