How is Applying to a University in the USA Different to Applying to a University in South Africa?

by Aug 21, 20200 comments

As we move through the Covid-19 lockdown, there are many Matrics who will be concerned about achieving the highest marks possible in order to maximize their chances of getting into the University of their choice, whether that’s UCT, Wits, Tuks, or Stellenbosch.

But what about Universities and Colleges outside of South Africa? How does the application process differ? What do American Universities value, and what do they deem less important?

Here are a couple of key differences that will set you on the right path when thinking about applications to Universities in the USA:

The Breadth of Opportunity

Where South Africa has a total of 26 institutions of tertiary education, the US is home to over 4,000. This mix of locations, focuses, specializations, and experiences means you are guaranteed to find a perfect fit – and that’s what Aspire Atlantic strives to help you do. In South Africa, you might feel like you are simply following the crowd, but we believe that in America, there is a perfect fit for everybody – we want to give you the opportunity to study what you want, where you want.

A Holistic Application

In South Africa, Universities will generally only consider your marks – how well you’ve done in school – when looking at your application. When it comes to US Universities, however, there are things that are more important than your marks. Yes, doing as well as you can on the SAT is important, but you also need to make sure you have a well-rounded application by participating in extracurriculars and being able to reflect your impact at school positively through teacher and peer recommendations.

The Essay

A further difference in the process is the personal essay. This is a statement attached to your application that tells the Universities you are applying to about YOU, and helps them choose between otherwise equally promising candidates. It’s important to write about something that reflects well who you are, and allows your personality to shine through! You can write about an experience, a point of view, or even your favourite band or singer – as long as it properly reflects the kind of person you are to the University.

Emphasis on Diversity

It is true that South African Universities do sometimes have institutional systems in place to promote diversity on campus, American Universities take this to a different level. Many Universities in the USA have large parts of their student body made up of local students. As diversity of thought, and therefore of experience, is highly valued at the tertiary education level in the States, the Universities work to attract international students, as having a more diverse student body is a sign of prestige. Foreign students are valued and desired by Universities in the USA.

To all students who are interested in studying in the USA, and who plan to use sport to make that a reality: there is no better time to start planning for your future than RIGHT NOW. Sign up for an evaluation to see if Aspire Atlantic can help you achieve your academic and sporting dreams today!


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