computer science american university

Hoping to attend an American University? Here’s what you need to know

computer science american universityIt’s so exciting to see some of our Fire Tech campers begun to study Computer Science and Engineering at the University level.

More and more UK students, including our campers, are considering US universities – but the admissions process and the vast number of programmes can be daunting.

Lisa Gottardo, from A-List Education wrote this guest blog post to give our students and parents some tips if they are considering crossing the pond.

Thinking of going to the United States for university? Perhaps you are keen to develop your technological skills and pursue a degree in engineering?

There are over 600 specific engineering undergraduate programs in the US! There is a plethora of top-notch engineering programs at US universities and many beyond the famous ones you have heard about such as MIT and CalTech!

From Columbia in urban NYC to Cornell in rural, upstate New York to the University of Texas, there is a wide range of programs, campus settings, climates and communities to choose from.

In the US, one typically applies to the ‘college of engineering’ of a particular university. More than 25 major specialties are recognized in the fields of engineering spanning a diverse and wide range of specific areas of interest. Some of the most popular majors are computer, electrical and mechanical engineering.

Are you a keen biologist or environmentalist? You might consider majoring in biological, biomedical or environmental engineering. Excellent programs exist to match all interests such as aeronautical and astronautical engineering, to nuclear, naval architecture and marine engineering!

As in the UK, students applying to US universities submit their applications in the autumn Year 13. When application time comes, many students are undecided about which type of engineering degree they would like to major in; that is just fine!

Fortunately, many US colleges do not expect you to choose your area of specialisation in your first year and University of Michigan and Purdue University are two good examples.

The application process to a US university differs in many ways to that of the UK and most applications are made through the “Common Application”, an online application portal that over 700 universities use. There are exceptions to this, such as MIT and the University of California, who have their own online application system

In addition to GCSE results and A Level or IB predictions, (especially in maths and the sciences), most US universities require results of “standardised tests” such as the ACT, SAT and SAT Subject Tests. One personal (non-academic) essay is required of up to 650 words and many universities also have their individual ‘supplemental’ essay questions to complete with most ranging from 100-250 word responses.

How you make the most of what is offered at your school, both academically and as a part of the school community outside of the classroom, is an important part of an applicant’s admission profile and teacher recommendation letters are required.

US universities have a strong interest in the academic and the personal interests you choose to pursue outside of your required school coursework, commonly known as “extracurricular’ activities’ and listing up to ten of these from school years 10-13 is a part of the Common Application.

Summer programs and internships are great way for students at the pre-university level to explore engineering strengthen your university applications. Taking a Fire Tech course not only a great place to learn but is an example of a strong extracurricular activity which demonstrates an independent interest in technology and further learning.

What might an admitted student profile to a top engineering college from the UK look like?

US universities take a ‘holistic’ admissions approach to reviewing applications and decision-making, in other words, admission decisions are not solely based on your academic results!

Recently, two of our students successfully applied to the renowned Georgia Institute of Technology, otherwise known as ‘Georgia Tech in Atlanta, famous for its engineering programs.

You may be surprised and relieved to know that these two students both had strong SAT Maths scores but their Critical Reading SAT scores were fairly average. One student had 2A* and 1A prediction, the latter had a 41 in the IB.

However, what may have given them both an edge that appealed to Georgia Tech?

Interestingly, both exhibited kindness and a real thoughtfulness about the impact that they could make on the world through engineering, for example, one student by considering water resources in Africa and another through design development for the elderly.

They also had strong, unrelated to engineering, outside interests as one was a rugby player and musician, the other a great public speaker and also artistic.

Even though standardised tests are only one factor in an application, having strong SAT, ACT and subject test scores will certainly make you a more competitive applicant.

A-List Education helps students successfully apply to a broad selection of US universities across all academic disciplines. As a Fire Tech customer you can get a FREE 30 minute consultation with Lisa to discuss your child’s opportunities at American Universities. To claim your free consultation contact Lisa here or email her on and state that you heard about her thought this blog post.



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