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FAQs Undergraduate USA

Q: How many years is an American undergraduate degree?


A: Typically, US undergraduate degrees require four years of full-time study. The academic year normally runs for nine months, with two semesters per year. 

In America, the first year of a degree is known as the Freshman year, the second as the Sophomore year, the third as the Junior year and the final as the Senior year.

Graduate degrees in America usually take one or two years to complete.

Q: What’s the difference between a college and university?


A: In many countries, a college is of lower ranking than a university, and offers only vocational courses, but this is not the case in the US. In fact, many of the best private universities in the country are called colleges. Traditionally, it was only universities that offered graduate programs, but today this is no longer true.

Q: What’s the difference between a public and private university?


A: In America, there are both public and private universities, and at Kings, you have access to both.

Private universities tend to offer more facilities and greater levels of personalised student/faculty interaction, but are normally more expensive.

Public universities and community colleges are state-run. They are usually larger and offer more study options. They also tend to be less expensive.

Q: What is a Liberal Arts university?


A: At Liberal Arts universities, the first two years are spent studying a broad range of subjects before you specialise in your Major. This means you have plenty of time to make your decision.

Q: What are the requirements for admission to US colleges and universities?


A: Each university has its own requirements for admission. To apply for an undergraduate degree, you need to have completed high school, and achieved a particular Grade Point Average (GPA). The GPA required varies from university to university, although will generally be a minimum of 2.5. Generally speaking, the more prestigious the university, the higher the GPA required.

For international students, there is also an English language requirement, which must be proved by submitting a TOEFL or IELTS score.

Those applying for graduate programs may also be required to take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) for business Masters program, or the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) for other Masters programs.

Q: How many credits do I need to gain each year at university?


A: Each course you study will earn academic credits. There are usually 3-4 credits per course. You will normally be expected to complete 120”130 credit hours to complete an undergraduate degree.

To progress from one year to the next you need to be considered in academic good standing. This is usually measured as a Grade Point Average (GPA). You will usually need to maintain a GPA of at least 2.0 to progress to the next academic year. 

Q: How will I be assessed during my degree?


A: Unlike university study in other countries, evaluation of students occurs frequently, often several times in a single academic course. Assessment can be based on a range of things, including examinations and essays.

Class attendance and participation can also form part of the evaluation. It’s important to understand your tutors' expectations and assessment processes at the beginning of the term.

Q: What are the benefits of transferring after year 1?


A: One of the main benefits is that it’s much less competitive to enter university as a transfer student. Also, many highly-ranked universities have large classes (sometimes with over 100 students), so starting out at a university with smaller classes can be better for those international students who want time to acclimatise to the US study system.

Q: I haven’t finished high school yet, can I still apply?


A: Yes, we encourage you to still apply.  When you request your transcripts they must indicate the expected date of graduation.  In a case where this information is not available on the transcripts, please request an additional letter confirming your date of graduation.  If you have not finished High School and are interested in completing your secondary education in the United States, you may take our Undergraduate Preparation Program + High School Completion Program.  Please contact an advisor for more information. 

Q: Do I need a TOEFL score?


A: No, if you are planning to enroll in the University Preparation Program at Kings prior to beginning your pathway program, we can admit you after completing the Kings Pre-arrival Exam. 

If however, you would like to start the pathway program immediately, then an official TOEFL score is required for admission.


Q: Is my transfer into a progression school guaranteed?


A: No progression to any university is guaranteed. However, if you give us your best effort, maintain good grades and take your required exams based on the specific progression university, you will be in the best possible position to receive an acceptance from a variety of quality and reputable universities after your first or second year of the pathway program. 

Q: Will I need to take the SAT?


A: No, you do not need the SAT to apply to Kings Pathways.  However, if you are planning to go to the best schools in the United States, the SAT may be required.  Your Kings Counselor will work with you to determine the best plan for you.  As a Kings Pathways student you will have access to free TOEFL and SAT Preparation resources.

Q: What are the differences between a Kings pathway program and a community college course?


A: There are many differences between the experience in a Kings pathway program and the community college route. 

Kings Pathways classes are much smaller than a general community college class, averaging less than 25. 

Kings Pathways students have access to a wider variety of classes and a greater ease taking the core requirements needed for progression.  As a result, whereas community college students often spend extra time completing their programs, Kings Pathways students remain on track to graduate in only four years. 

When it comes to faculty, you’ll find a greater number of full-time professors with doctorate degrees than at a typical community college. 

Pathway students are guaranteed accommodation on campus, whereas most community colleges do not provide housing. 

Lastly, Kings Pathways include support throughout the program which will help you get into the school of your choice.

Q: What if my visa is denied?


A: If your visa is denied, we can help you prepare to apply again.  If you decide not to apply again or are rejected the second time, we will refund your deposit in full after the receipt of your rejection letter.

Q: What kind of classes will I be taking during my Kings Pathways program?


A: The first two years of the bachelor's degree are very general in study; these are often referred to as the "general education" or "core" requirements, and they are designed to give students as many options as possible. The American education system is very flexible so students are able to decide on their main subject after studying for a considerable duration.

Q: Will I be able to get a job after my bachelor's degree?


A: Just like progression to a university, career opportunities after graduation cannot be guaranteed.  However, a quality US education is a great predictor of your ability to obtain quality employment. Students gain valuable career experience, independence and social networking skills during their US education that help them to market themselves effectively to a potential employer. 

Q: Can I work during and after my bachelor's degree?


A: During the bachelor's degree, students are given multiple opportunities to seek internships both before and after their study.

Once on campus, the pathway staff will support you in this quest.

In addition, a student visa in the USA allows students to partake in up to 20 hours/week of on-campus employment.

Q: Why is it good to be a transfer student in order to be accepted to a university?


A: Three out of four international students who were accepted to the University of California last year were transfer students.

The positive rationale behind being a transfer student is that universities are able to meet with you and understand your profile in a much more profound way so you are no longer simply a piece of application paper on their desk. In a competitive arena of thousands of applicants to the top universities, having studied in the USA with the ability to showcase yourself in person for a university gives you an edge over other students.

Q: How can I know which type of school is right for me?


A: This is a valid concern as there are many different types of universities and colleges in the United States. Some students prefer a large public university with 50,000 students while other students prefer a much smaller setting where they can get to know their classmates and professors. 

The counseling staff at Kings will help you explore these options and more to make the right choice for you for your second year.

Q: What are reach schools and safety schools?


A: Reach schools are your dream schools, those that are highly selective, but that you have a chance of getting into.  Safety schools are those that also interest you, but may have lower requirements therefore giving you more assurance that you will be accepted.

Q: How important are extracurricular activities in my application?


A: Many universities employ a subjective admissions process which means they look beyond your grades and scores to understand if you would be a good addition to the student body, and eventually the alumni. Extraculrricular activities are therefore one of the things that they take into consideration.

Q: What benefits does the Academic Preparation Program offer that General English classes don't?


A: General English classes are wonderful for students looking to improve their general fluency.  However, students who want to go to college in the United States will benefit from the focus the Academic Preparation Program places not just on English fluency, but also study skills and learning in a college environment. 

The modules have all been carefully chosen to ensure your success when you transition to college.  In addition, students who successfully complete the Academic Preparation Program are not required to submit a TOEFL score for entry into the Pathway program. Students in a general English program would need to submit a TOEFL score in order to be eligible for admission.

Q: What benefits are there for me to apply to partner universities?


A: Many partner universities have worked closely with Kings to ensure the courses offered by Kings Pathways prepare you for a seamless transition to your next school.  In addition, some partners will waive the TOEFL and SAT requirements for students successfully transitioning from the pathway program. This is not guaranteed and partner universities can change requirements at anytime so please check with your Pathway Counselor. 

Q: How can I learn more about universities in the US?


A: You will find a wealth of information about universities in the USA on this website.

If you want to know more, your Pathway Counselor will have information about partner universities and non-partner universities which he/she will be glad to share to help you find the perfect match for you!

Q: How can I make my applications to universities stronger?


A: Universities place a lot of importance on extracurricular activities and interests. On top of good grades, in a highly competitive situation, university admissions will need to see a personal statement that makes you stand out from the crowd. During your time with us on the pathway programs, we organise volunteer opportunities and workshops to help you enrich your experience and understand how to write the best personal statement.

Be sure to check the schedule for the next Academic Success Series Workshop!

Q: Will I get to practice for the TOEFL or IELTS?


A: Your entire English for Academic Studies curriculum includes TOEFL preparation. Even when you're not using your TOEFL book, you are still learning valuable skills that will ensure your score on TOEFL increases as you move up in EAS.  Included in your tuition, you will also take TOEFL three times a term AND have skills trainer tutorials designed to target your needs!

Q: What is a land-grant university?


A: A land-grant university is an institution of higher education in the United States designated by a state to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. These two federal laws aimed to encourage the teaching of agriculture, science, engineering, and all those subjects up to then neglected in higher education in favour of the liberal arts. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is an example of a land-grant institution. Most land-grant colleges became large public universities which today offer a full range of subjects. There are some land-grant colleges which are private, including Cornell University and MIT.

Q: What is an AP course and what is an Honours course?


A: AP stands for Advanced Placement. AP courses and exams can be taken by students in the last two years of high school and they are called Advanced Placement because if students do well enough (with a score of at least 3 out of 5), they can gain credits towards a degree course at a US University. In reality this is still at the discretion of each university but the AP courses are recognised as the curriculum taken by the more able students and are commonly used as an admission tool by universities.

An Honours course also refers to higher-level classes that proceed at faster pace and cover more than regular classes but, while the Honours curriculum can be determined by state officials, school district administrators and even the honours teachers themselves, the AP curriculum is determined by the academic authority CollegeBoard.

Q: What is the SLEP?


A: SLEP stands for Secondary Level English Proficiency test which was created by ETS and given by US middle and high schools to applicants whose first language isn't English. It was discontinued in June 2012 but some private schools continue to use it.