Study Abroad - united states

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 July, 2005, 12:00am

Students wanting to further their education in the United States have two options: they can do so after completing Form Five or wait until they have completed Form Six or Seven. They should initiate the process about a year before their planned departure. If they act fast, they might be able to gain admission for the spring semester the following year.

One option for Form Five graduates is to look for a one-year high school exchange programme, doing Year 12 - the last year of high school in the US - at an American high school. This will give you the chance to improve your English, familiarise yourself with the culture, and adjust to the educational system before heading off to university.

Another option is to look for a private secondary boarding school. These schools tend to have high entrance requirements and tuition runs from US$15,000 to US$30,000 a year - roughly the same as what it would cost to attend university in the United States.

Some four-year colleges and universities in the US accept Form Five graduates if their HKCEE scores are good enough. Usually they will need at least five passes. Some institutions will also want to see their SAT scores. For most Form Five graduates, two-year community colleges are the most realistic - and affordable - option. Students who are 18 years old, have completed Form Five and have taken Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) can usually gain entrance.

An added advantage is that many community colleges have excellent programmes for students whose English is not up to scratch. Class sizes tend to be smaller than at four-year institutions, which mean more individual attention. Best of all, students who follow a prescribed course of study and maintain an acceptable grade point average can usually transfer to a four-year university in their third year. There are, of course, drawbacks. Community colleges do not generally offer housing and lack the lively campus life that can make studying in the US so rewarding.