For more information about studying abroad, you can find a complete eBook on studying abroad in London here.
Continuing with my reviews of London study abroad programs, I’ve put together a post on my time with API on their UCL Direct Enrollment program.
API is a study abroad program provider whose London programs are run out of existing universities. For most programs, you will be a student at a UK university with the support of API staff if you should need it. They’ll also run events exclusively for API students.
The benefit of an API program in London is that they are immersive. You’ll usually be working and living alongside UK professors and students and making friends with British students is much easier.
Of course, on the other hand, if you’re someone who wants a ton of on-site support or to be guaranteed to be surrounded by the ‘safety’ of American students, API in London programs might not be for you (except for the FSU direct enroll program, which is with US students). You’ll be able to reach the API program managers at any time, but you won’t see them everyday like you would on some other programs.
API UCL Direct Enrollment
API’s UCL program has one of the highest GPA requirements (3.3 overall and 3.5 in your major). It also only allows juniors and seniors, while others allow sophomores as well. I was drawn to the UCL program because I specifically wanted a more rigorous study abroad experience where the ‘study’ wasn’t an afterthought.
UCL is ranked in the Top 10 universities in the world and has an impressive list of alumni. It has one of the best locations in London and is walking distance from Oxford Street and King’s Cross Station. It’s a large university, so small classes aren’t the norm, and it functions more like a large American university rather than a smaller liberal arts college.
While you are assigned a ‘tutor,’ or academic advisor, British universities tend to be a lot more ‘hands-off’ in their approach to higher education. You’re expected to do most of the real learning outside of the classroom using the guidelines you’ve been given in lectures, and you won’t usually have assigned pages to read or weekly ‘homework’ to do. Professors are accessible if needed, most of the time, but won’t go out of their way to make sure that you are showing up to class. You get as much out of your time at UCL as you put into it.
While at UCL, you live in UCL-provided housing. When I lived there, we were in Astor College, a residence hall only a 5-7 minute walk from the campus. The downsides to housing are that you’ll be living with ‘first-years’ or freshmen, which can be a bit tedious for juniors and seniors. It’s also university housing, and standard university housing isn’t known for it’s luxury or beauty. API wouldn’t put you somewhere that wasn’t suitable or dilapidated, of course, so wherever you are will have what you need.
Because UCL is so large, there are an unbelievable number of clubs and societies to join. UCL also hosts it’s own excursions and ‘days out’ for its students at a reduced price, which you can do on top of API excursions. You’ll have access to the student union and the library as well, just like a normal student.
I have great memories of my time at UCL and was really able to gain an understanding of the differences between British universities and American universities. UCL prepared me for my Master’s at the University of Westminster (review to come later), and I would definitely recommend it.