The United States and the United Kingdom have always been known for having the world’s top high-quality higher education resources, and they have always been popular study abroad countries for higher education, with considerable academic influence in the world.
The most famous of these are Oxbridge (the collective name of the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge) in the UK and the Ivy League in the US (including Harvard, Yale, Princeton and several other universities on the East Coast). These two types of prestigious schools are the representatives of the world’s top high-quality educational resources, making countless outstanding students yearn for it. In the 2022 U.S. News and other world university rankings, the TOP10 are all British or American institutions.
There is no doubt that these schools are very difficult to apply for, but is it more difficult to apply to the universities in the UK, or the US? Below, we will analyze them from their application pathways, application requirements and admissions focus.
01 Different application methods
The application process differs between the Ivy League schools and Oxbridge.
Undergraduate applicants of American universities mainly choose to enter the fall and spring semesters. American college admissions are divided into different admissions processes such as Early Decision, Regular Decision and Rolling Basis. Most students apply to American universities through the Common Application, and some institutions also have other application systems.
UK university applications are usually completed through the UK UCAS service system. Students fill out the form and upload relevant documents such as personal statement and recommendation letters. Applicants can apply for up to 5 majors. These 5 majors can be offered by five different universities, or you can apply for 2 or more majors in the same university.
02 Application requirements vary
Admission requirements for Ivy League schools vary. Most U.S. colleges and universities require the SAT for undergraduate applicants to assess applicants’ reading, writing, and numerical skills. Affected by the COVID-19 in recent years, American colleges and universities have adjusted their admission policies, and the requirements for standardized scores have been changed to Test-Optional, Test-Blind or Test-Flexible examination policies.
The Oxbridge application has relatively high requirements on the overall quality of students. Not only the grades, but also the admissions test, PS, interview and other aspects of the applicant need to be perfect in order to be able to get the offer. This means that applicants who are interested in Oxbridge should pay attention to enriching their academic background at the GCSE and A-Level stages! Most Oxbridge courses require a specific entrance exam or aptitude test. If a university is interested in you, you will be invited to an interview to learn more.
One of the main differences in American education is that general education is carried out in the first two years of college. Students only need to apply for one major, and can be divided into different directions in the third year.
By contrast, the Oxbridge application is more straightforward. Oxbridge will usually require applicants to choose a specific major. Oxbridge are collegiate universities, which means that if an applicant is set on studying a particular subject, Oxbridge is more likely to offer students education in their chosen field.
03 University acceptance rate/focus varies greatly
Oxbridge and Ivy League schools have very different acceptance rates and priorities.
The University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge place a high value on academic performance, and they will require applicants to demonstrate specific professional interests, but give relatively low weight to soft skills such as leadership, extracurricular activities, sports/arts, and personal traits such as ethnicity and socioeconomic background.
The Ivy League schools in the United States are on the contrary. In addition to examining students’ usual grades and standardized test scores, their personal characteristics, extracurricular achievements, talents, socioeconomic backgrounds, and ethnic origin are all considered in the admissions process.
In terms of acceptance rate, the average success rate for Oxbridge applicants is much higher. The average acceptance rate for Oxford and Cambridge is about 20%.
Taking Oxford as an example, more than 3,600 students at Oxford University received undergraduate offers in 2022, and an average of 7 people apply at the same time for each admissions place. In 2022, the proportion of admissions to Oxford has increased by 2.6% compared with last year, which means that 38% of applicants have received an offer from the University of Oxford.
The acceptance rate at the Ivy League schools in the United States is much lower. In the 2022 admissions season, the average Ivy League acceptance rate is less than 7 percent. However, despite the relatively low acceptance rate of Ivy League schools, some Ivy League applicants may choose to apply to colleges early through the Early Application Program, which sometimes has an average application success rate two to three times higher than regular applications.
In fact, whether it is Oxbridge in the UK or the Ivy League schools in the United States, as well-known top institutions, they are naturally high-level institutions that are not easy to enter. Regardless of entering any world-renowned institution of higher learning, excellent academic ability, high standards, active thinking and advanced systematic planning are essential. Likewise, graduates from top universities are also occupying pivotal positions around the world, which is an important platform for you to achieve your dreams on a level playing field!