How competitive is it to get into the ‘top’ US colleges from the UK?

Guides / USA

As you’ll see elsewhere on this site (for example here, here and here), I’m a firm believer that too many students apply only to universities they’ve heard of in the USA, and ignore excellent colleges out of their own ignorance. Though this is disappointing to me, it also has an issue for the applicants as well.

With so many students – all incredible, with amazing grades and achievements – applying to such a narrow selection of US universities, it can actually be more competitive applying to these already crazily competitive universities from the UK than it is from school in the US. With some of the best known US universities only having spots for between 1500 and 2000 students a year, there’s not a lot of room there for huge numbers of students educated at UK schools to get in.

Given this, the competition at the most-selective end of the US university system for UK students has become really, really tough. Using available data from each university, I’ve done some ‘best guess’ figures of the sorts of numbers some of the brand-name US universities will admit from the UK, and then the sort of profile that makes a student competitive:

As you’ll see, we’re not talking huge numbers here – certainly not enough to ensure that every ‘top’ student from a ‘good’ UK school will get a place.

Students reading this should not despair, however, as there are many, many excellent US universities – even those you haven’t heard of – where the numbers are less crazily competitive. If you skipped over those links at the top then why not head back at investigate further, as your dream US university may still be out there for you.