Studying in the US has always been just a fantasy for me, never did I think that I would have the opportunity to explore this further. However, on the 11th November last year I received an email from the School Careers Adviser, it was an email sent to the whole year group detailing an opportunity for year 12 students.
The Sutton Trust programme is an 18 month-long programme for Year 12 students from across the UK. The programme helps 150 scholars explore higher education in the US with two residentials in London and a week long summer school at top US universities: MIT, Princeton and Yale. The programme is for students of a low/middle household income and the costs of the programme are covered, it is free! Therefore, meaning that the cost barrier that hinders so many is eliminated, which is why I along with many others were able to apply.
After a lengthy application I was thrilled to be one of the 175 finalists chosen out of 1000 applicants to attend the first residential in London, hosted by London School of Economics. It was here that we learned more about US higher education and whether or not it was our ‘fit’. It was apparent to me that both the UK and US systems are unique, strong and have advantages but I felt I needed to explore the US system as it seemed like a good fit for me.
Leading up to the residential an incredible community was built within our cohort and we began to form strong bonds, all sharing the same desire to succeed and explore our options. What I loved most about this experience was the people, I met amazing individuals that I now call my best friends.
After the first residentials, I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the final 150 scholars to attend another residential in London and to attend a week long summer school in Boston hosted by a top university, MIT. The final 150 scholars were either chosen to go to Boston, New York or Philadelphia.
Leading up to the London residential we had excellent preparation for a US admissions test and we then took this whilst in London. For the remainder of that residential, we learnt more about what we would be doing whilst in the US and of course, this was the most exciting part!
Finally, on the 24th July, the time came to travel to the US! I travelled up by train meeting my friend at a London station before travelling by tube to Heathrow. There was a slight delay to our flight so we did a bit of airport shopping and card games. Once on the flight, the staff handed out a quiz which my friend and I completed and won! The prize was a meal in first class which was a great way to start the trip.
When we were in the US, it was an action packed week, we visited many different colleges and learnt about each one individually which helped us find our fit. We got to meet both current students and alumni, we also got a real sense of American College spirit and in my opinion it is similar to the movies.
Engaging in cultural activities was defiantly a highlight of the experience as it was a chance to experience US life, my favourite activity has to be the Red Sox game as Fenway park which was surreal! The atmosphere was something I have never experienced before and we all embraced the US spirit in our merchandise and chants! We also did the Freedom trail around Boston and we visited Quincy Market.
The week ended with a reunion of the entire cohort at Harvard where we got another chance to meet universities reps from all over the US and of course reunite with everyone, before departing for the airport to come home. Upon arrival home, there is the option for scholars to continue onto part two of the programme in which the staff at Fulbright will aid the students, the families and the schools in the application process to the US alongside UCAS options.
This programme has been life changing in so many ways, it has helped me decide what is the best fit for me, I have made the most amazing friends and I have experienced something many can only dream of and I am fully aware of how fortunate I am.
I have many memories and pictures to treasure, as well as a vlog I made of the week.
I would encourage everyone who is eligible to apply as whatever you decide, the programme will defiantly shape you in the best way possible.
‘So far in five years, we have helped more than 250 British students go to top US universities with scholarships from the universities. The programme is delivered by the Fulbright Commission, who are experts in helping students in the UK study degrees in the US.’
Article written bu Young Journalist, Olivia Drysdale