In today’s blog, Seren student Ben Roberts tells us why you should consider applying to study in America, just as he did.
I realised I wanted to apply to an Ivy League university pretty much the moment I considered it on a rainy November evening. But it became a possibility as I put in the research, and it was only when I booked my entrance test that I just began to realise the significance of the process that I was beginning.
A large part of my initial motivation was simply to spread the risk; my reasoning was that if I applied to every world class university I could, I had to get in somewhere (I extensively considered the University of Singapore). I also wanted the excitement. The dream really helped me keep focused on my studies by distracting me a bit.
After applying, I thought it best not to get my hopes up, but upon receiving my acceptance letter, I finally indulged myself in exploring all the amazing options in Princeton. I discovered fantastic international programs for semesters/years abroad; summer internships, research opportunities; and global seminars, which are intensive (optional) courses during the summer holidays.
Another great attraction is the strength of the extracurricular programs, which is outstanding in most top American colleges. Alongside a rigorous academic schedule, students find time to become world-class athletes through intensive training. But if that’s not your cup of tea, there are lots of political, religious, community service and performing arts groups, among others.
Yet further excitement, alongside a hard decision, came when I was accepted into Oxford to study politics, philosophy and economics (PPE). Considering PPE’s reputation, and Oxford’s recent rankings success, Princeton was perhaps the worse choice on paper, but also the choice I really wanted to make. The benefit of doing something that excites you cannot be understated, but there’s also the growth potential of getting outside your comfort zone, exactly what I feel Princeton was for me. If you are willing to put in the time, and choose the right courses, Princeton’s academics can be just as rigorous, if not more so, than Oxford’s, and the breadth they afforded was invaluable to my own ambitions. There seemed to me so much at Princeton, like many American colleges, that would be a great opportunity for me, but couldn’t be quantified by any rankings.
Ultimately, my decision was made because I believed that Princeton was an exciting place, a challenging place, and a place where I would flourish. Of course, not everyone would make that decision, because there are so many factors affecting each individual differently, but it’s definitely worth considering it.
I leave you with my advice:
- Be a realistic dreamer – unfortunately, money can be a barrier, but Princeton and other universities are really focussed on broadening access. Do your research in this area.
- Apply first, worry later.
- Have high ambitions, but no expectations.
I can honestly say that a decision I made out of winter boredom has been the best decision I have ever, and possibly will ever make.