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Study in America

10 reasons to study at an American university

While we're pretty spoilt for universities in the UK, ones across the Atlantic also have a lot of selling points. Tempted? Here are the 10 best perks of studying at an American uni.

Graduation cap and American flag background

Credit: Pasko Maksim, rosarioscalia – Shutterstock

After Sixth Form, you don't necessarily have to choose between travelling or starting uni. Heading abroad for your degree is the perfect opportunity to see the world while cracking on with your studies.

It's a pretty big leap to set off to another continent, but if an American university has caught your eye, applying there could be the best decision you'll ever make.

We've narrowed down the (many) reasons why you might want to study in America, talking you through our top 10.

Worried about the cost of studying in the USA? Check out our guide to funding study at American unis.

Reasons to go to university in the USA

Wondering why you should apply to universities in America? Here are the top benefits:

  1. American unis have world-leading tech and academia

    Simon Cowell thumbs up

    Credit: NBC

    While Oxford and Cambridge consistently do well in the world university rankings, some of the top ones in America give them a run for their money.

    If you're aiming for a super prestigious degree, we'd recommend checking out the Ivy League unis (listed below) and have a read of our guide to applying to American unis.

    Top universities in America can offer high standards of technology and academia, as well as amazing research opportunities for students.

    Ivy League universities in America

    •  Brown University

    •  Columbia University

    •  Cornell University

    •  Dartmouth College

    •  Harvard University

    •  University of Pennsylvania

    •  Yale University.

  2. Degrees are longer in the USA

    We're sure you've already heard this more times than you can count, but uni honestly goes by so, so quickly. For a slightly longer degree, it's worth having a think about applying for ones in America.

    The university system in America is quite similar to Scotland's. Unlike the majority of undergraduate degrees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, American degrees (like many Scottish ones) are generally four-years long, giving you one extra year of student life before the uni bubble bursts.

  3. American degrees can improve job prospects in the UK

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    Credit: BBC

    Depending on your chosen industry, it could be a huge advantage for you to have a degree from an American university if you start looking for a graduate job in the UK.

    If a British company does business with US firms, they'll likely want someone on the team who really understands American culture and has got experience of living there.

    Plus, if you do any internships or part-time jobs while living in America, your overseas connections could be very valuable to UK employers.

    Studying abroad would also show that you're driven, willing to take risks and able to adapt to a new culture – this can immediately set you apart from other applicants who took a more conventional route for uni.

  4. You can study a variety of subjects

    Again, in a similar way to how it's done in Scotland, American unis give you the chance to study a range of subjects before majoring in one.

    If you're interested in multiple subjects, you'll know how hard it is to write a personal statement which covers them all for UK universities. But, in America, you're not limited to just studying one.

    You could study everything from literature to science to the arts in one degree. Not only will this make you more rounded as a graduate, but it'll also give you a big, varied skillset which UK grads might struggle to compete with.

  5. It's the perfect opportunity to travel

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    Credit: oneinchpunch – Shutterstock

    Studying in America is a pretty unbeatable chance to explore a new continent. Imagine spending your weekends and uni holidays exploring towns and cities across your state and beyond – could be worse, right? 😉

    Bear in mind that living that far away from home might make it harder to tackle homesickness. But, if you've got a burning desire to go out and see as much of the world as you can, this could be the ideal time for you to do so.

    Plus, it could help massively in the long run as travelling can make you more employable.

  6. You'll be independent and out of your comfort zone

    Moving anywhere for uni can feel like a big leap – let alone America. However, it's such a good time to push yourself out of your comfort zone and take on as many exciting opportunities as you can.

    Living away from home for university is like a nice middle ground between living with your parents and complete independence. By staying in dorms on campus, surrounded by other freshmen, you can feel a sense of security while adjusting to life away from the family home.

    So, even though you may be living in an unfamiliar country, you'll be doing so with heaps of support to help you get out of your comfort zone... comfortably.

  7. American employers recruit straight from university

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    Credit: Andrey_Popov – Shutterstock

    There are some really strong alumni networks within American colleges, helping you to meet potential employers both during and after your degree.

    California Institute of Technology was named as the top US uni for graduate employability in the Global University Employability Ranking 2020. Harvard were third and a particularly handy networking tool for their grads is the 'HarvardKey' which opens up an alumni directory.

    There are also big career fairs at a lot of unis in America which are attended by top employers, all competing for the best students and graduates (a.k.a. you).

  8. Campus life is different in American universities

    It's definitely worth looking into the main differences between UK and US universities – you might find that American uni life is actually perfect for you.

    For starters, there's quite a different drinking culture in the US. As their legal drinking age is 21, you can expect freshers' week (or orientation week, as it's known there) to be pretty different from how it's done in the UK. Think less freshers' club nights, and more alcohol-free team building events.

    Plus, you'll likely have to share a room with another student. While this can be a great way of making friends, it could also be quite difficult for people who prefer their own space. But if this appeals to you more than the thought of individual rooms (as is more common in the UK), then it may well be ideal for you.

  9. There are great university societies

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    Credit: Melinda Nagy – Shutterstock

    Whether you're interested in the super competitive sports teams, the fraternities/sororities or the very mysterious "secret societies" of some American colleges, clubs are a massive part of uni life in the US.

    Of course, UK universities also have some pretty great societies so this really comes down to what exactly you're looking for. Have a look online at the kinds of clubs on offer at different unis you're interested in, both here and in America, as they could sway your choice.

  10. You will have lifelong friends across America

    One huge perk of studying in the USA is the chance to meet people from across the country, as well as other international students from different parts of the world.

    This is the perfect excuse to keep travelling and returning to the States after you graduate – you can stay with different uni friends and keep exploring new areas long after your student days are over.

    As lovely as it'd be to visit your uni friends across the UK, it's not quite the same as experiencing a whole new city and culture across the pond each time you have a little reunion. In this way, unis close to home will always struggle to compete.

For more tips on choosing the right university and degree, check out our handy guide.


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