What better way to immerse yourself in another culture and way of life than to experience it yourself? Why not use your years of study as an opportunity to live differently and enrich yourself by going to study in the United States? Every year, no less than 8,000 French students set off on this adventure. Let’s see together how to proceed so that you, in turn, can be part of the trip.
While in France Parcoursup and its complexities determine university entrance, access to American institutions is a much more difficult task.
Going to study in America is not a decision to be taken lightly. Indeed, this possibility must be part of a well-developed project, taking into account the desire for study and possibly career guidance.
What is the case for American universities?
First of all, it is necessary to know that, just like in France, it is necessary to apply to several universities. American students in undergraduate studies (Bachelor’s degree) apply to an average of 7 universities. The limit is 20 applications. The future student will therefore have several chances to receive a letter of acceptance. However, preparing applications for American universities is complex and requires a number of elements.
Logically, the high school student must of course include his or her report cards in his or her application. The report cards should include the best possible results and comments. The selection process is tough, and the best students have a real chance of being accepted to the top universities. American universities also require letters of recommendation written by the student’s professors. Similarly, although not mandatory, it is preferable to include letters of recommendation from the sports and cultural associations or clubs in which the student participates. American universities particularly appreciate students who are involved in projects and activities that multiply and diversify their skills and demonstrate their motivation. Last but not least, the essays, or dissertations, are essential to this dossier and are undoubtedly the most important. Each university imposes its own subjects – on average 3 but this figure can rise to 5 or even 7 – as well as a long essay common to all universities.
Why use a coach?
It is important to know that in the United States, the use of a private coach in addition to the advice of the specialist attached to the educational institution is almost systematic.
In France, whether for financial or personal reasons, some high school students prepare their application for American universities on their own. The other solution is to prepare with a personal coach. In the end, these services prove to be invaluable in preparing a solid and compliant application. This represents an additional cost of about 3% – 5% of the total cost of studies.
After having taught at a university in the USA as a federally funded associate professor, Michel Azaria, a graduate of ESCP Europe and doctor of the University Paris-III-Sorbonne Nouvelle, decided to create his own coaching agency SUP in USA. His goal: to help promising young French high school students prepare for their studies in the United States in the best possible way.
What are the missions of a coach? First of all, the coach offers a very personalized accompaniment. Michel Azaria always accompanies only a few young people at the same time in order to really personalize his mission. His priority as a coach with a fresh and experienced eye is to identify and then to highlight all the qualities and specificities of the student throughout the process.
The coach first avoids making bad choices and helps in the elaboration of a file which corresponds first of all to the expectations of the students but also to the expectations of the American universities. He or she will begin coaching in the sophomore class whenever possible or at the beginning of the first year at the latest, which allows for work in time and to have all the time necessary for preparation with the best experts of the different exams, the famous Tests such as the SAT, the ACT, the Toefl (English level test). If the student is taken very early on, the coach will be able to recommend extra-curricular activities during the year or during the holidays that will enrich the student’s course. In this way, the student is helped in all aspects of his or her application: file, preliminary exams, choice of universities and the necessary steps to take.
The application file must therefore include certain essential elements. First of all, a certified translation of the school report cards must be provided. The motivation must be evident in all written material, it must be carefully expressed in relation to each university, and written in flawless English. Indeed, the coach will then advise the student on the positive points to be highlighted so that they are in perfect correlation with the type of university targeted. It must be demonstrated that the candidate’s unique personality will allow for an original and interesting contribution to the target university.
The coach will also be a great help when writing the essays. This is a very specific exercise that follows specific rules. The coach will provide the student with precious advice and recommendations that will allow him/her to perfect the writing of this essay, which often proves to be the determining element in the decision of acceptance.
The future student will be supported in the selection of universities. The name is not everything. It should be remembered that this is not only an academic training but also a slice of life that contributes strongly to personal development at a decisive moment in the young adult’s life. Even though many high school students dream when they hear the names Harvard or Stanford mentioned, they do not necessarily correspond to their real expectations or realistic plans for their studies.
The coach also helps the student to meet deadlines and make the most of his or her time. Finally, if the student receives acceptances from several American universities (almost all of them), he or she will help the student choose the one that suits him or her best. They will also assist them in all the steps they need to take to finally follow the long awaited studies across the Atlantic.
Finally, families often ask the coach to follow the high school student once he or she has been admitted to university during his or her studies, particularly in the choice of elective courses and internships in preparation for a future master’s degree.
Main photo : Going to study in the USA - ©Chris Barbalis, Unsplash Creative Commons