Christie just dropped her son off at college in London, England!
Yes, London, England not New England! She sent her son to college a bit further than she probably expected when the process started.
I sat down with Christie and asked her 10 questions about the experience and application process. Hopefully, this is going to give our readers an insight into what parents go through during this process. We weren’t supporting Christie, as she didn’t know about Friesland Collective at the time, so this is a really great case study that shows why we do what we do.
If you have questions, share them in the comments below. Christie is now a part of our Parent Network, a closed group of parents who support each other in this process.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your son
We are from Chicago, IL
My son had a pretty rocky academic journey at the beginning of his elementary schooling. We transferred him to a high school focused on the arts and musical theatre. ChiArts is a rigorous school which helped him focus on his passions as an artist. He is very fascinated with the anime scene and studied in Japan for the summer after his junior year. He got the travel bug and decided he was interested in applying to colleges outside of the USA.
How did you navigate the admission process to schools abroad?
When he made the decision that he was going to apply to schools in London, I helped him curate a list of schools. We had a very long list of about 10 schools in the US and 5 London schools.
I appreciated that the schools in the UK were more focused on seeing his portfolio rather than his SAT or ACT scores.
Who helped you with the process?
We learned a lot from vlogs on the internet as well as a particular person at the University of London, Caitlynn. She was a huge support system once we committed to UEL and answered all my questions. ( Shout out, Caitlynn! )
What parts of the process were confusing?
The most confusing parts were the UCAS application as well as the Visa application process. There were certain expenses we had to pay in advance and that was slightly confusing to us. Once we submitted the visa application there was no ability to track when it will arrive. I envisioned this process to be a little smoother. About two weeks after we submitted the application, the visa came in the mail and I didn’t have to worry any further.
Did anything go wrong?
This entire process was a breeze for my son because I did everything! (Supermom to the rescue) I felt the stress of it all the most because I was in charge of the process. For the applications, I used UCAS, the Common Application and direct applications. But UCAS… now my eye is starting to twitch again. (We feel you, Christie) UCAS is not very user-friendly. The experience was very challenging to navigate on our own.
What advice would you give other parents?
My advice to parents is research, research, research. I’m sure you’ve heard this many times but a lot of fellow parents would say to me ‘You’re going to let him go THAT far?!’ Ultimately I told them, I want him to live his life for him, not me. That was his dream and I do not want to stand in his way. Also, it felt like he’s just giving me another place to visit, so I loved that.
If you had to go back in time and do it all over again, would you use Friesland Collective to help with the process?
We would definitely utilize the opportunity to use a support service like Friesland, especially in those moments of the process where things were not clear. I think it’s a great resource for parents and students who are new to the overseas admission process.
What was your first impression of London?
I loved it and I would like to look at property here to stay permanently. Even though my son would not be impressed with that! London felt incredibly diverse in culture and cuisine. The food and views were great! I even felt like I picked up a little bit of a British accent after a couple of days! We travelled to Paris and all over London while we were there so the convenience of using public transportation in London and beyond proved to be very useful. My son navigated his way around the city with ease and helped us get around via Tube and Bus.
Would you recommend this to other students?
After we went to London, my daughter who is 15 is also open to applying to college overseas. She is focused on the IVY League route in the USA but we will be looking at options in the UK as well.
What advice did you give your son before leaving him in London?
This is a great question. I said to him, Be Open, Be Kind and Travel. I want him to be open to new opportunities that this experience is going to throw at him. He is a really great young man but I told him to be kind to himself and everyone he meets. I also want him to travel and use London as his passport to Europe and the rest of the world. This opportunity will fly by and I want him to enjoy the journey. We are very proud of him.
You’ve got a great mom, Ramon! Best of luck in your studies!
If you are a student or parent who would like to explore college options in the UK as well, please get in touch by email.