Record number of graduates plan to attend universities abroad next fall

Sarah Novicoff

A record seven members of the class of 2014 will attend college abroad next year, five in the United Kingdom and two in Canada.

The previous record occurred in 2004 and 2005 when five students each year chose undergraduate education abroad. Since then, the numbers have been significantly lower.

Dean Jim Patterson, who handles interaction with UK institutions, said that applications to such schools have increased reliably over the last few years, but that the number who choose to attend had not been increasing accordingly until this year. When the interest first started to rise four years ago, the school registered with the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, the UK’s version of the Common Application.

“We did that because we had started to see an increase in interest in the UK, and not just Oxford and Cambridge we’ve always had a certain amount of interest in Oxford and Cambridge but beyond that, adding schools like St. Andrews, Edinburgh, the London School of Economics, Imperial College and a number of different outstanding universities in the UK,” Patterson said.

Attending school in the UK or in Canada is often cheaper than in the U.S. especially than at private institutions where the cost can be near $60,000 a year. Additionally, applications abroad are more driven by test scores, a factor which often benefits Harvard-Westlake students, Patterson said.

“We have a significant number of students whose test scores are really strong and so that positions Harvard-Westlake students well in applying to schools outside of the US,” Patterson said. “Now that students are beginning to understand how well they’re positioned and we’re seeing that increased interest, I think there’s just become more of an opportunity for students to seriously consider studying abroad.”

Canadian schools, such as McGill University where two students will attend this fall, factor in GPA heavily as well as test scores, but still emphasize essays and other qualitative factors less than American schools.

“I knew since maybe the middle of sophomore year that I wanted to go abroad,” Michelle Lee ’14, who will attend King’s College London, said. “I want the experience of living in a foreign country, and college is the best time for that.”