study abroad in England

Jan 10th, 2008, 07:51 PM
  #1  
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study abroad in England

I have an 18-year-old niece who is getting ready to graduate from high school. She's done some traveling to Europe with her family, and spent a few days in London last summer with her folks.

She will be attending college in the States this fall, but hasn't decided on one yet. I would like to see her do a brief summer school course in London first, taking one class and doing some field trips with her classmates.

She is not very academic, but her family does have the funds to send her overseas for a few weeks. While I'm biased towards England , I also feel that a summer school session in London would be an excellent introduction to exploring her options as a young college student.

Do any of my fellow Fodorites have some suggestions/personal experiences they can recommend? Thank you, all.
Merseyheart is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 01:36 AM
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I'd suggest starting with
http://www.educationuk.org

which is the official portal to all education opportunities in the UK.

The kind of programme you have in mind, though, sounds more like the kind of thing a number of American institutions organise for themselves, and I'm no expert in those. I'd imagine there's quite a commercial market there, and therefore both good and bad providers!
PatrickLondon is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 03:49 AM
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I'm not sure that I agree that a summer school course in England is going to be a very good introduction to a not very academic student about to embark on an American college education. Most programs offer pretty narrow fields of study, such as art history or a foreign language.

She'd probably be better off taking a Contiki tour and just enjoying herself before starting college. Or else she can choose a college with good foreign study programs.
Cimbrone is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 05:42 AM
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I know that this is off-topic, but why is this poor lass being made to go to college?
If she is not academic, is she not going to be unhappy and out of her depth.
What sort of vocational training is available in the US for somebody who wants to be a plumber/electrician/office worker/hairdresser etc.?
MissPrism is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 05:52 AM
  #5  
jay
 
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My daughter is a senior at Richmond University in London. She has gone there for her whole college career and graduates in May. They have summer classes that I believe are 6 weeks long.
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Jan 11th, 2008, 06:26 AM
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It sounds like a good idea on paper, probably, but it's really just a vacation due to the time frame. YOu can't really take any kind of class seriously or be an introduction to university classes by taking a summer school class for anyone (ie, no need to be enrolled in any particular school) of merely a couple weeks. That's my opinion, anyway. It might be fun, if that is their goal, and she might enjoy it, but it will have nothing to do with being an introduction to regular university classes or life.

I quite disagree with the idea that someone who is "not very academic" should jettison education at the age of 18 to do vocational training with the idea that they are hopeless and their future should be sacrificed. Nothing wrong with being a plumber if you want to be, but to decide someone's entire future at that age is a mistake, I think. They are very likely to do that in Europe, I know, decide someone's entire future at a very young age and track them that way. Besides, the OP didn't say she was being forced to go to college and wanted to be an office worker or hairdresser (which is not that great a profession for many, it can be low-paying, hard work, and bad for your health in many ways). College serves a lot of purposes, and one is to mature and to be exposed to a lot of possibilities and other kinds of people and ideas, which help you decide your future. I think anyone except those who adamantly refuse to go and have some other kinds of real plans (like really wanting to be a bricklayer and getting an apprenticeship) benefits from college in many ways. The last thing society needs is uneducated people.

I took a class once through AIFS and they do have a lot of options, including Richmond College in England. It is a decent organization from my experience, and can handle this well. I don't think they have any programs for just a couple weeks, though, that may not be realistic. They do have a 3-week program, however, and since she is admitted to college, I think that qualifies her. It is not cheap, however, but should be enjoyable. It will be classes at a university, but could be very different from where she will go in the Fall.
http://www.aifs.com/

If her family does not have a lot of money, I wouldn't do that. You do make it sound a bit like this would be a noticeable financial amount to them and if the idea is to expect some academic payout, I wouldn't.
Christina is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 07:30 AM
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Miss P.
I strongly suspect that you are a graduate of an "old" university.
I get the impression that you are of the age-group where only about 5% of the UK population went into higher education.
"College" in the US can be anything from the equivalent of one of our colleges of further education through to the equivalent of Oxbridge.
There is a "college" for everyone however non-academic.
A crabby old American friend of mine says that there are colleges where you get in if you have a discernible pulse ;-)
Mind you, even in the UK, many plumbers now go to college instead of serving an apprenticeship and I won't mention some of the courses offered in "new" universities.
I also don't dare say, "better to be a happy well-paid plumber than an unemployed media studies graduate ;-(

Josser is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 08:00 AM
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I would give the girl a chance to catch her breath after high school before more studying. She would be better off saving a study abroad course until later on.
Carolina is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 08:01 AM
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You should also bear in mind that England may not be the best place to introduce your niece to college. The US and English system can actually be pretty different. In particular, I found the English system to be more focused on writing and had far fewer assignments than in the US. Indeed, I found the hardest part about adjusting to university was the exhaustion related to the sheer volume of assignments and exams. When I studied in the UK, on the other hand, I took 4 full-year courses, with 1 exam for each class and between 2 and 4 papers (though the papers didn't count toward the grade). If I had it all to do over again, I would have just gone to school in England to start with.

And besides, why not let the poor girl take some time off? Most of these programs will just be a vacation with books anyway, so why not just dispense with the books? She will have her fill in college.
travelgourmet is online now  
Jan 11th, 2008, 08:07 AM
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I cannot recommend a specific program, but I have anecdotal evidence that even some for-credit programs are pretty loosie-goosie (which in this case is a good thing) offering only a small amount of lecture and a lot more field trip and "independent study", knowing that locking up teenagers in a foreign city is a bad use of time and money, if they're being sent there with the part aim of learning to appreciate it. Look carefully at the balance, what work is required. Some just require things like keeping a journal as a basis for assessment. Others have tests.

If she does go, I would encourage her to choose a course she's genuinely and passionately interested in -- even if it sounds like a waste to you or her family. People do make careers, some that pay very well, in fashion or music or art or gardening or what have you. She may then really get something out of the experience that makes her passionate and directed in college.

But if her family encourages her to "get economics and History of the Middle Ages out of the way" then she'll be miserable and WILL be wasting money.

In the end, she's 18. All anyone can do is suggest. She's old enough to join the Marines and serve in Iraq if she wants. And drink while she's in Europe.

Whatever she decides, she's fortunate to have a supportive family and the luxury of choice.
Bluehour is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 10:26 AM
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The US does a veru bad job of vocational training in general. Almost all kids take an academic course in high school and it is assume that most will go on to college. (I read somewhere that of Americans 25 and under almost 75% have some post high school education).

Now - if she;s not academic - but has another talent or strong area of interest - music, drawing etc - there are schools she can attend that will better fulfill her needs.

Also - "not academic" can be construed as either not very smart - or not very interested. Most parents assume it is the latter and head kids for universities no matter what. (Of my high school graduating class of about 450 over 95% went on to a 4 year university - plus some to junior college - to help them raise their grades. And there was a definite stigma against those few students who didn't take an academic course - they were sent to a neighboring school to take classes in typing/steno and "distributive education" - sales clerk.)

It's sad in a way that many other work opportunities - that need specific training/licensing are simply not thought of as options for most people. Even though many (plumbers for instance) can make a reasonably good living.

I think this is a function of the American Dream. All of our ancestors came here to find a place where they could have better lives for themselves and their children - since many of the restrictions of the old world no longer applied. And now, that's assumed to be college for all - as the only stepping stone to a higher income. And that's true even for many who would be better suited and happier doing something else.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 01:05 PM
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Oh, my, what a slew of replies! I had no idea that my niece would be regarded as a "poor lass" who needs a break from school, and shouldn't work any harder than she has been. H. is the kind of student who isn't very interested. My sister (her mother) and I would like to see her spend some of her summer realizing how much fun college will be, simply because it will expose her to new people, new experiences, and new places.

Her family can well afford a few weeks travel overseas. I myself did a summer school course in England several years ago, and some of those kids didn't strike me as real motivated, either. But they were there to see the world. That's as important as the academics. (As Christina points out and bluehour point out.)

I agree with you, ny traveler, that many people are persuaded that training for any line of work (plumber, hairdresser, etc.) is "less" than a college education. I'm supportive of any effort to train yourself to make a living, whether it's academic or not.

My sister V. and her family are well-educated and upper middle-class. They can well afford to send their daughter to college, and I suggested a brief summer school session just so H. can get a taste of some of the possibilities. As it happens, she is quite keen on theatre, so, naturally, London came to my mind.

Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions, and reflections. I will do some more research.

Merseyheart is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 01:14 PM
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"My sister (her mother) and I would like to see her spend some of her summer realizing how much fun college will be,"

Ummm... The fun I had in college is not something I would think my mother and aunt were overly interested in encouraging. And I was relatively tame.
travelgourmet is online now  
Jan 11th, 2008, 01:33 PM
  #14  
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She's gotta leave home sometime. Freedom can be a temptation no matter where she is.

Thanks, Cristina, for the link on AIFS. This is the sort of thing I was hoping to find. I will relay this information to my sister.

Oh, to be young again....
Merseyheart is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 02:42 PM
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It's a bit different from study abroad, but National Geographic offers Student Expeditions program for the students completing 9-12th grades. They offer 2-3 weeks trips to Peru, China, Ireland, India, Iceland, Spain and more:
www.ngstudentexpeditions.com
travfirst is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 05:04 PM
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Merseyheart, I would also suggest you check into the study abroad programs offered by Arcadia University in Pennsylvania.

A quick check of the website and they do offer summer programs and they are available to students from other universities.

http://www.arcadia.edu/abroad/default.aspx?id=6799
5alive is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 07:32 PM
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You might consider whether you are making things worse for you niece. If she is not interested in going to college, she really shouldn't. I've seen a lot of parents waste money on this kind of thing. A job for a year or two might do a lot more for her. In any event, good luck.
Jack is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 03:25 PM
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www.bestsummerever.com offer 3 & 5 weeks summer programs in Paris (The Sorbonne, instruction in English)
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Jan 23rd, 2008, 05:03 PM
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Yes - but college ISN'T fun for some people. Not that they're not bright enough - although some aren't. It's just that they have different interests.

To assume that everyone must go - just because the parents can afford it, or everyone else in the family has gone, or you can find a college that will take the student - doesn;t mean it;s the right answer.

Some people just need to explore other things - whether it's music or art or merchandising - or diving a cab while writing the great american novel.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 06:18 PM
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For what it's worth, my daughter will be taking two courses for 4-5 weeks this summer at Westminster University in London, which came highly recommended by her academic advisors at Berkeley. That said, she's doing this so she can graduate a semester early from college, she's 3 years older than your niece, and she's one of the most driven people I've ever known. Might be totally inappropriate for your niece, but something to look into perhaps.

(Also might turn out to be a way to laze away a few weeks in England for my daughter...who knows?)
StCirq is offline  
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