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An Evening with Mark Stacey, US College Admissions Specialist

Year 12's Adriana gives us an account of our evening with Mark Stacey, a US College Admissions Specialist, who came to share some of his knowledge as part of our Speaker Programme.

On Tuesday 19th April, a presentation was given in the library by raconteur Mark Stacey, of Cheltenham Ladies College, on the US college (university) application process.

This was an extremely informative event that imbued an increased interest for all the students and their parents who attended. Despite their supposed lassitude as we approach exam session, the enthusiastic questions flowed afterwards.

The chief differences in terms of culture, expectations, and course content between higher education in the US and the UK were decrypted in a lively manner.  It would seem the old stereotype that a good quarterback can get into a top college against all academic odds rings true – so long as the college is short of a quarterback.

The ‘fit’ of a person to a US college carries a significant weight. Although your personality is not extraneous to UK universities; we were fascinated by the extent of its germaneness for success in the US.  In one instance, in answer to a supplement that may have been worded: “Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”, a girl with average grades but, who had set up her own charity to succour those with disabilities in Thailand, was offered a place at Brown University.

Another contrast is that whereas UK universities strive to select those passionate for their subject, US colleges search for those passionate about the college.  There is a wide variation in the values of different colleges, so there is always somewhere were you can fit in.  The trick is figuring out where you belong; once you’re in, you’re in for life.

For this reason, applications are not, as with UCAS, standard; but unique for each college.  The application process is tailored in such a way as to identify how an individual applicants’ personality and values match up to the other potential applicants of that year. The ethos is to create a class comprising of students with different personal strengths and weakness to work together as a team to achieve a common goal. 

For those interested in learning more, a useful website is: https://usuaa.net/

Published on 26th April 16