Saturday, March 17, 2012

Further Education in the USA... Translating Degrees, Passing Exams and Saving $$

Continuing your education tends to be a costly and time consuming endeavour nowadays, no matter where you shop around for courses. Over here in the USA though, the fact that each school can charge tuition rates as whatever value they deem suitable can be a bit of a shock. This is especially true for those of us who gained our undergrad or even our A-Levels in the UK, where one standard rate applies regardless of subject or school choice. Bid so long to the free/flat rate education system and say hello to shopping around, not only for the best course outlines but also for the best prices!

For me, the hope of gaining my Masters degree marks my next educational goal. After completing my undergrad at a Drama School in London, I am faced with translating those credentials, succeeding with the new and far more complex procedure of applying to individual schools (I miss UCAS already!) and passing the GRE (Revised General Test for Grad School applicants) to gain acceptance. So here are my own questions, from back when I started this process:
  • What about Higher Education and University qualifications? Do you get them translated before, after or during the application process? How much does that cost? Where do you start?
  • How do I start the application procedures? Who do I speak to? Am I in-state or out-of-state?
  • What's the GRE and how do I pass it?

Image: peerprograms.ubc

TRANSLATING When is comes to translating your existing credentials my advice to you would be to contact all the schools that you have attended and graduated from (including secondary school!) and request full, notarised transcripts, or a term by term breakdown, for the courses that you took. These are useful for both further education and potential employers alike and are usually free. Some US schools will require these transcripts to be mailed directly to them in a sealed envelope from your old educational institutions, so be sure to verify each school's needs through their admissions office. Below are some TN-State recommended evaluation companies, that I think are worth a look if you plan to get your degree translated (the costs tend to fluctuate from between $150-$300 depending on the depth of the translation that you need!)

INDIVIDUAL APPLICATIONS Each US school has different needs and wants from it's applicants. Even 'State' schools have requirements unique to them that you must meet in order to be considered. From my experience (especially when coming from the land of one-stop-Uni-shop UCAS) these applications be a little overwhelming and a lot time consuming. I have come across requests such as subject relevant entrance essays, sealed transcripts, GRE passes at specific grades (for grad students), online quizzes, work experience criteria and many more, all ever changing depending on where you apply. 

My breakthrough came when I realised that rather than being bogged down by all these requirements, I could use them to let my individuality shine through. Specifically, choosing to contact admissions, prospective student services AND the head professor of each course I was considering over the phone was a massive help! Each subject area in a school tends to have it's own 'sub' requirements (ahhh the plot thickens!) so defining those details and working out what your own circumstances dictatebecomes much easier when the course leader is clarifying it for you! Also worth noting is the concept of 'in-state' status - for example, if you have married someone from your new home state who has been living there for over a year then (depending on schools) you can qualify for the same status with your Green Card App. NOA. This means MASSIVE drops in tuition costs! I would recommend that you get in touch with the Financial Office at each prospective school for quotes and guidelines before you apply. Remember you are not an international student anymore, so don't pay like one!

THE GRE This is a 'generalised' exam, taken by those who wish to enter into a taught post-grad course such as a Masters degree. It hits the basics of what students here in the US learn in high school and can be taken as either a computer-based or paper-based test within a local testing facility. There are 3 main sections to the GRE; Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing. Each measures your ability to comprehend and make use of English, Mathematical and Analytical skills and each section was miles away from anything that I had done in a long time (well except for the Analytical Writing section which was pretty much covered in my undergrad essay requirements). 

Image: library.wheelock

There are plenty of revision resources out there which are extremely helpful. Oh and get ready to meet old friends like fractions, decimal points, analogies and quadratic equations - I know you've probably missed them dearly. Expect to pay $160 for the test itself and to fork over a little more for the results to be administered to the schools of your choice. 

What About Student Loans?

Glad you asked! When I left the UK I also left behind a mass of unpaid student loans. There are folks out there that will point out how hard it is for the Student Loans Company in the UK to find you now that you have relocated, and for the most part they are right (although never underestimate their tracking abilities!). I personally (and I know I am far from alone is this) could never walk away from a responsibility as large as that, so here is what I did to carry my legal repayment obligations over to the USA:

1. I contacted the SLC (Student Loans Company) BEFORE I left the UK, letting them know of my plans, my new address in the USA and how long approximately it would take me to qualify for and find work. I did this by letter and kept a copy of all responses for my records. There is an online form for moving abroad on their website - include a completed copy and save one for yourself! 

2. SLC were very gracious and gave me a full year to establish myself in the States and to find steady work before they would even contact me again, let alone pursue repayment. See, nothing to be scared of! As soon as I have all my ducks in a row I will contact them and set up a direct debit from the USA. Easy peasy! Sadly I may lose a little with the exchange rate but compromises like that come with the territory! 

Image: blogofasia

If you have any more in-depth questions about UK student loan repayment or anything else mentioned in this article, please don't hesitate to pop it in the comment box below and I will answer it as best I can! 


  1. helpful post about Examination in USA while How to Pass the GRE Exam is a great task for students

  2. Its a informative post , examination in USA....Its really very tough to clear GRE exam.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. hey. thanks for sharing such a concerning post. it was really helpful and informative. do keep up posting more such updates.

    Education in USA

  5. A large number of people have never had a possibility to attend a traditional college or university yet seek the raised earning potential and a better job that a Bachelor Degree provides.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. It is known to everyone that GRE is the most important test to be undertaken if one want to leave abroad countries for studies. So without any doubt it has been started pursuing by almost every students regarding abroad studies. Thanks for sharing this.

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