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(n00b poster is noob, so forgive any glaring idiocy or posting errors)

I am interested in the general field of law and politics, with a dash of economics and an international emphasis - though admittedly I'm still looking into a career as a politician \o/ *sells soul to the dark side* in America. I would like to study abroad, at least for my undergraduate, both perhaps attending university somewhere besides the US (UK in this case), and hopefully in a program that further allows me to study in other countries or travel to gain a truly global perspective on all things we care about even though they give us headaches to think about. I'd had whimsical fancies of it earlier in the year but gave it up due to personal reasons - as well as the fact that now it's well past all the application deadlines I originally saw for applying. That said I've recently learned some schools will consider applications up until June 30, especially for international students.

So, question time!

1.) Would I stand a serious chance of entrance/acceptance if I were to apply by the end of April (which is likely when I will be able to complete and turn in my applications)? Or is this system of "up to June 30th" a token thing which will only gain me consideration from universities desperately trying to get any students at all and aren't actually all that good? (If it helps, my highest SAT score is 2040, and I have some volunteer and ECA history, and I have a lot of Honors and AP classes on my transcript, but my GPA was a dismal 2.6 last year, and will probably end with an equally dismal 3.0 this year). Basically: in general, can/will I get in? Is it worth the effort to try at this stage/this late in the game?

2.) What universities would you recommend for my fields? (International Politics, International Relations, Politics/Political Theory, all of these fields with perhaps courses or emphasis in Law and/or Economics...?) I've poked around UCAS a bit, and based on similar courses offers, it appears Aberystwyth University and the Universities of Aberdeen, Buckingham, East Anglia, Kint, and Exeter have good Political/Social Sciences departments. True, not true? Any other unis good for these sorts of things? The Universities of Nottingham and Sussex, in particular, as they also offer American studies, and while I want an international perspective I still intend to work in America.

2a.) In particular/along with those fields, are any of them noted for travel abroad programs? I would like to study, even if it's just for a few-week type programs, all over the world (Europe, Asia, Africa, both Americas, Australia...Antarctica? :P) if I can.

3.) What are my chances in these schools I've mentioned? In any other good International Studies/Politics schools? Again, high SAT, higher classes, high extracirricular record, low GPA.

3a.) Based on these records, what schools would be more likely to accept me?

4.) How much do academic factors (GPA, SAT scores, AP/Honors courses, Extra-Cirricular Activities, ect.) matter? How about social ones (i.e. gender, race, sexuality)? I'm in my school's Gay-Straight Alliance, and in the Human Rights Watch: Student Task Force, and I'm female, bisexual, and Indian. Will any of these factors help? Hinder?

5.) Out of any schools you can recommend to me, are there any that are in particularly cheap/inexpensive/financially-depleted-peoples-friendly areas? :)

6.) While I have been accepted to some universities here in America (specifically California, where I live), for financial reasons I may still end up going to community college. Here, I can go to community college for two years, transfer to university and attend for the last two years of the major and get a full 4-year degree by the end of it - any way to do that with the UK system? If I defer (can I defer?), would any community college courses here amount to anything over there?

Additional info:

I live in Los Angeles, CA. I think I can cover ~$25,000/£15,000 of tuition, rest I assume I would have to cover with loans. Grad and post-grad I'll definitely do in the U.S., though still with traveling abroad or global emphasis for study if possible.

Please and thank you for all your help! :D


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 2nd, 2011 09:56 am (UTC)
I don't know most of these answers, though looking at the academic requirements for US American undergrads at my postgrad university (Birmingham), you...could really go either way. They really do focus on grades, perhaps moreso than US schools do. I would say that you should narrow down your list and contact the International Students Office at some of the universities you really like. They'd be able to help you a bit more specifically with what they're looking for from someone from the US, or point you to an admissions officer who's specifically focused on international students.

I do know a few things regarding the political and economic situation here at the moment. Here are a few points you might want to consider:
- Applying this late in the game could be an issue if you're accepted and need to get your visa in time. If I recall correctly, the California consulate always is particularly swamped, though going in person would make that much easier.
- With regards to cost, many UK universities are raising UK/EU student fees here going forward in a year or two. That likely means that non-EU foreign student fees will likely skyrocket from their already appalling levels. While the pound isn't super-strong against the dollar at the moment, it could very well go up in the future, so that adds to your cost.
- Visa costs are also going up, seemingly by the day. They've gone up twice in the last six months.
- Avoid London/the Home Counties if you'd like somewhere where your cost of living will be relatively low. Looking at your list, both Abers (Aberystwyth and Aberdeen) are okay; as someone in Scotland, I know COL in Aberdeen isn't bad, and someone on here's studying in Aberystwyth, so she might be more helpful there.
- Be aware that undergraduate degrees in Scotland take four years, and elsewhere three.

I'm really sorry I can't give you more specific yes or no answers. I do know that someone I knew on Study Abroad in Glasgow liked it so well that she transferred from her US liberal arts college to finish there, so transferring in is a possibility if you do well as an undergraduate!
Apr. 2nd, 2011 09:59 am (UTC)
ETA: And I need to do my research....I see you're located in LA, which would be beneficial towards going to the consulate for a visa in person. It's on the northeast end of Wilshire Boulevard in Brentwood.
Apr. 2nd, 2011 10:22 am (UTC)
Transferring from anywhere in the US mid-undergraduate, community college or not, is problematic. At best, you're going to repeat those years, and since what you generally do at a CC is your gen eds and introductory coursework, they're not going to care about that anyhow. If you think you might end up going to community college and then to a four-year university, I'd recommend picking a US university that has a good exchange program, rather than trying to transfer to a UK school directly.

For admissions, grades really are important,and you'll be applying late. One thing you might consider is working your butt off during undergrad in the US, and then going to the UK for grad school. Some universities like LSE have joint programs with international universities, so you do half your program in the UK and half abroad.
Apr. 2nd, 2011 04:08 pm (UTC)
That's what I was going to suggest. As a parent, too. Do your undergrad in the US, many of them have good study abroad programs. And then you can do a Masters somewhere else. That's what I did.
Apr. 2nd, 2011 05:47 pm (UTC)
That's what I'm doing - it's cheaper!
Apr. 2nd, 2011 12:14 pm (UTC)
I'm at Aberystwyth, and we do have a phenemonally huge InterPol department. In general Aber and St Andrews seem to be the places for that; for IR there are some others but I can't remember them. (It's not my field at all, but seriously InterPol is SO BIG here, it is impossible to escape. *g*)

Would you not maybe be better off doing your undergrad in the US, maybe with a study abroad year, and coming to the UK for a master's? It's only one year, so much, much cheaper. You won't be able to transfer from an American CC just because the degree structures are quite different--since the UK doesn't really do general ed, you'll still have to take the whole degree once you get here.

Having said that, I'll try to answer your other questions specifically for Aberystwyth since that's what I know. :)

1) Yeah, you'll probably get in. The entrance requirements for undergrads here are not terribly rigourous, and they need the money brought in by international students. April is early enough as long as you don't need funding. Don't wait till the end of June, though, because it won't be enough time to get the visa.

2a) I'm not sure about this, sorry--in my department (Celtic Studies) all the undergrads spend a year in Ireland or the Netherlands but I'm not sure on InterPol. I had a friend who did his in it and spent some time in Jordan, but I don't know if everyone does that.

4) Social things aren't really going to affect your acceptance one way or the other as they're not counted. The academic and ECs can; just built yourself up on paper as much as possible, but they can't really take you on the basis of gender/race/sexuality since it's not actual legal to (officially) take those things into account. (I'm not saying it can't happen, of course, just not out loud.)

5) We're pretty cheap. Avoid London if you want to keep your cost of living down. Wales in general is a bit economically depressed (we live on art and culture, or something). As always, living costs are as high or low as you make them--people who go out to the pub all night every night or eat out all the time will go through a lot more money than those who cook at home and limit their nights out. If you end up deciding to head this way, I can give you some tips on where to find the deals. :)

A couple other things I'll say about Aber--it's always at the top of the student experience survey for a reason. People love being here. If you're from LA, it might be a bit of a small-town culture shock, because thise place is really small, and it takes about a month tops before everybody in town will know everything about you. It's also a bit isolated--the nearest big city is Birmingham and that's a 3-hour train ride away--so we're kind of in our own universe, and don't have the selection of shopping/restaurants/etc that you'd get in a major metropolis. So if that's going to be a problem, know it ahead of time! But it means that everything's within walking distance (and man do you get in good shape) and that if you get bored or lonely, you can actually just kind of go outside and wander around until you run into someone you know. We were also named in the top LGBT-friendly universities in the UK by Stonewall last year. Because of the 'isolated and university' thing, it's fairly racially diverse, especially compard to a lot of Wales. Take the time to learn a little Welsh and everyone will adore you; the locals love when foreigners are interested in thei culture and the language is a big connector here. :)
Apr. 2nd, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
in my department (Celtic Studies) all the undergrads spend a year in Ireland or the Netherlands

This is completely unrelated, but...the Netherlands? Really? I will admit that the closest I've come to Celtic Studies was the time I got accidentally enrolled in a lit class taught solely in Irish on my undergrad semester abroad, so I'm hardly familiar with the area, but I didn't realise that any uni in the Netherlands would teach that subject. That's kinda cool.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 2nd, 2011 05:48 pm (UTC)
International fees are already unregulated and pretty high, I don't think there's going to be much shift in them.
Apr. 2nd, 2011 11:32 pm (UTC)
My guess is that UK/EU students will lose it if they're paying the same amount as international students. Likely that will go up, because it's unregulated.
Apr. 2nd, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
"Don't worry, international students still pay a lot more than home/EU students," she says, eying the international-tuition and fee-sized hole in her bank account.

(Even at top proposed rates, mine's still two thirds again and then a bit more than home tuition.)
Apr. 2nd, 2011 11:46 pm (UTC)
My postgrad last year was twice the home/EU rate, which is why I'm thinking it'll likely continue to go up.
Apr. 2nd, 2011 10:51 pm (UTC)
1. I'm not sure about other universities, but in my secondary school our deadlines for UK applications was around October the year before and most of us would get offers by December, so to be honest I think most of the places will have filled up by now. Of course this is only for the really popular universities (eg the London unis) so I'm not sure if it's the same around the whole country.

2. Generically I would say LSE, but it is based in London (hence v. expensive) and I think it's more famous for Economics and Law than International Politics.

4. UK universities place a much higher emphasis on grades than US universities, but they do look for good ECs. I don't think social factors are factored in, as I don't really remember being asked about it.

5. London is definitely expensive, along with any major city. I'm not sure about other places as I've only been to London...

6. Transferring seems improbable, and you would possibly need to start from first year anyway. Deferring entry into university is possible, as long as you have a valid reason.

In regards with fees, since the government has started to cut funding (arts and humanities in particular) personally I think international student fees will increase at a faster rate than before, even with the UK/EEA fee cap increased. As the increased cap is starting in 2012, the applications for 2011 entry in both undergrad and postgrad have increased massively and so will definitely affect chances of getting accepted.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


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