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Study in the US

  1. Sep 4, 2014 #1
    Hello. I am graduating next year (i'll be 19) in Sweden, and I am interested in studying at a university in the US, but I am afraid I will not get accepted.

    My grades are sort of good (although I am not satisfied at all). The maximum score is 22.5 which is equal to straight A's, and I will graduate with 21.25. What other factors play a part in getting accepted into a good american university? Is there something I can do (joining some activity etc) to alter my chances for the better? What are they interested in? Should I mention in my letter that I am programming in my spare time for example? And also, how much does the SAT help me?

    I am extremely motivated and dedicated. Studying abroad has always been a dream of mine. I know I won't make the cut for the more prestigious universities like MIT, Caltech etc, but have I got a chance for the lesser esteemed universities and if so, is there anything I can do to improve my chances?

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2014 #2
    Can anyone share some knowledge on this topic? I could really use some help.

    And also, are there other countries which offer the same quality universities as the US?
  4. Sep 8, 2014 #3


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    The US uses a holistic admissions system which takes into consideration grades, extracurricular, standardized test scores etc. You haven't stated the caliber of schools you wish to attend, but I'll assume the top 35 universities.

    I'm not familiar with the grading in Sweden, but if a 22.5 is a perfect mark and you have 21.25, it seems good to me.

    They also consider standardized test scores. Commonly, this is either the SAT or ACT. You should check the requirements for certain universities (either on their websites or Common Data Sets) as they state which tests they require. The SAT's sections are scored out of 800, so you probably should be aiming for at least 700. You may also need to take an English proficiency test.

    Extracurriculars are pretty important, especially at the few top universities. Programming falls under this and you should definitely list it there. You should also try to join clubs and do regional/national contests/exams (if available) if you're interested in them. Never do these activities just for the sake of admissions.

    Many universities in the US also value essays and personal statements a lot so you should take time on it. And some may require letters of recommendation, which aren't really a lot important at the undergrad level (speaking from anecdotes).

    Also, don't rule out universities like MIT and CalTech just yet. If your standardized tests are good, you can easily be a competitive applicant there. Contradictorily, you shouldn't put all your hopes on the top universities too. Always apply to some lower tier schools which you likely will be accepted to and will enjoy going there.

    The US isn't the only country with good universities. There are fine universities in other places, like Canada (U of T, McGill, Waterloo, UBC etc) and Europe. Good luck in your applications. :)
  5. Sep 13, 2014 #4
    Thank you for this very informative reply!

    Is there any way I can prove I am good at programming, I guess they won't take my word for it. And also, what kind of extracurricular activies look good? I am into politics and I've been thinking of joining a political youth movement, would this look good?

    And also, do you know if it would be possible for me to study at the undergrad level here in Sweden (and get my grades up, have time to join extracurricular activies etc), and then study at the grad level in the US?

    Sorry if I am asking a lot of questions, if you do not have time to answer you do not have to, but you should know it's greatly appreciated :)
  6. Sep 13, 2014 #5


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    No problem. :)

    For something like programming, they should take your word for it. However, if you have some project (like a smartphone app or a game), that will be nice to add on to your application.

    There is no way to compare extracurricular activities (unless it is something like getting gold at IPhO vs being leader of a 1-man physics club). If you enjoy it and are committed to it, it is good enough. If you like politics, then joining the movement would be very good!

    It is definitely possible to do your undergraduate degree in Sweden and go to US for graduate school.

    Just as an aside, you mentioned "keep grades up and do extracurricular activities" in undergrad. Well, for grad school applications, no one really cares much about extracurricular activities unless they're directly related to your major.
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