United World Colleges

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: United World Colleges
By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 05:19 pm: Edit

Does anyone know anything about these schools?

By Palomino (Palomino) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 05:26 pm: Edit

They're not really colleges--more like international high schools.
Shelby Davis, a philanthropist and the founder and CEO of Davis Selected Advisers, a mutual fund and money management firm, created the Davis Scholarship Fund three years ago.
This fund will pay for all of the need-based financial aid for any graduate from the UWCs who attends Colby College, College of the Atlantic, Princeton University, Middlebury College, or Wellesley College.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 06:42 pm: Edit

There are several UWC programs worldwide. There is one in Singapore for sure, and another in ?Ireland- somewhere in GB? They are IB schools (beginning in the primary programs I think) and at least in Singapore, they begin with preschool and primary programs. I vaguely remember an association with Armand Hammer, but I can't remember why!

By Mahras (Mahras) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 07:03 pm: Edit

There is one in the US, Louisiana I think. However, I know about the Singapore one and it is an EXCELLENT program. Mom101, I would suggest those schools as they provide excellent academics and your daughter could choose where he wants to study for example she may want to study in Singapore. Its free also so that reduces the dent in the pocket when attending the regular prep schools. And seeing that her dream school is Pton, she will have a good deal. If I now can convince my parents that boarding schools are not for students whose parnets dont love their children. /sigh. I will probably apply there this year as it starts from 11th grade.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 07:29 pm: Edit

My husband went to the one in Wales many years ago but we have not run into anyone who went since. How have you guys heard about them? The program he was in was only for 2 years, but he wasn't sure if Americans went before or after high school as he had finished HS in Canada befor going. There is also a summer leadership program at the school in Canada. Anyone know anyone who's been in the last 25 years?

By Mahras (Mahras) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 08:25 pm: Edit


You apply in 10th grade to the US Davis scholars program. The Davis scholars are 50 kids chosen from the applications and are provided with scholarships to go to the United World Colleges. First one has to submit the application, then 100 kids are selected from them and from the 100, 50 are chosen. Each region apparently runs its own admissions program. The applicants choose a first choice, second and third choice campus and people are put in respectively if space is avaliable. It is pretty selective and I have had aquaintances with several students in the Singapore one but , unfortunately, I wasn't interested or knowledgeable enough to ask them about their experiences as a student as I have had positive reviews about the UWCs from adults but not from the students themselves. Is your daughter interested in attending them?

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 09:08 pm: Edit

No Mahras, it's a friend's child who may be interested. She'll be pretty busy with the US prep, India and Switzerland! My husband had a wonderful experience though, a phenomenal way to meet people from all over the world. I did visit the one in Wales a few years back. It was very spare to say the least, so put it low on your list! I hear the one in Italy is quite beautiful.

By Mahras (Mahras) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 01:54 am: Edit

Yes mom101, I heard the same about the one in Wales. however, the matriculation list for that one is also very very good. My preferences are probably going to be: Singapore, New Mexico, Italy, Wales. The other ones dont really interest me too much. The colleges I am considering now: Ivies, LSE, Cambridge or Oxford are all well represented by graduates of UWC. However, my current school is also well represented lol. But I wouldnt mind meeting new people and the global out reach is phenomenal. I am thinking maybe I could do a year in Singapore and my senior year in Italy. A possibility maybe? Of course getting in is the first huddle. It seems that competition in the US is feirce for these schools. Six applicants for each seat. Pretty tough competition unlike the one I faced to get into Bxscience. Should be interesting....

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 01:59 am: Edit

I've heard Bx Science is very hard to get into. And while every smart kid in NYC knows of Science and takes the test, very few know of UWC. You'll get in!

By Path1 (Path1) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 02:13 am: Edit

The WC in the USA is in northern New Mexico. The website is uwc-usa.org or uwc.org for the main WC homepage.

By Hey_La (Hey_La) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 11:23 am: Edit

Hey--(once again hijacking the parents forum...sorry! I'm v. interested in this topic, that's all)

There are 10 UWCs worldwide, in a variety of locations. You apply through National Selection Committees. Like somebody else said above, it's free for the US students who make the cut through the Davis Foundation. Not too sure about the US, but I know competition everywhere else is VERY stiff. (I know for a fact that the acceptance rate is sub 10% for at least one of the major national selection committees, it may be better or worse in the US, I don't know.)

I think they want at least a 3.5 GPA academically on the US 4.0 scale, and what they're looking for is a 'passion' (something that you're devoted to that's un-school related, like a sport, or music, or something along those lines). They really focus in on that passion; I was talking to one girl at an info session and she said that the interviewers didn't seem too interested in her until she mentioned that she danced. Somebody else at the info session said that if you have a 'grand passion', that you should still apply even if you're not quite there academically. (His was theatre/music, and he raved about the theatre studies program.) That all said, the only person I know from my school who got in is a math genius. (I don't use genius as a hyperbole there.)

Sports are pretty much non-existant, music may or may not be there based on which college you get into. (I guess it's hard to have a full orchestra when the campus is that small.) But everyone I've talked to who goes there loves it. According to them, the academics are top notch, but more than that, it's the community that makes it special, and it's the community that provides the real learning experience. They make a real effort to 'integrate' people, and to make them interact with others from different cultures.

The Singapore one may be different. I visited it once for a math competition, and it had a primary/middle school (the others are 2 year boarding IB programs), and I know that not everybody was a boarding student.

Wow, Mahras, I'm applying for next year, too! (Not through the US, though, so don't worry, no competition.) We should def IM or whatever, it's in the profile.

All of what I know comes from this info session I went to last year, and from the students/teachers I talked to at that info session. I may have more later on in the year if you're still interested. Hope what I know helps out both Mahras and Mom101! :)

By 2applying (2applying) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 07:40 pm: Edit

I had to reply to this as our daughter just finished up at Wales (Atlantic College of UWC). The wales program is 2 years (as are all of them as far as I know) and students emerge with a full IB diploma. Would not agree about sports and music; at least in Wales (and Italy) music programs are quite active and diverse, AC has its own art center (St Donats) open to the public for professional and student performances, and AC has a basketball team and very active life boat rescue squad! A neighbor of ours who attended the Hong Kong UWC began a womens basketball competitive team there.

The schools are very focused and intense. Most every activity (outside academics) is student run, thus each school does vary in what it offers. Our daughter ended up running a week long conference for Irish youth, volunteered extensively in Welsh schools, and competed in British forensic events.

She, as many of her classmate, was accepted at many universities and will be attending an Ivy. Not the reason to go to UWC however, as the experience is quite intense and will involve some degree of discomfort (many peers with different customs, backgrounds, expectations).

AC was visited by many major US universities - not just admission reps but often deans. Someone had mentioned above that it was "sparse" - not to my eyes as a visiting parent! AC is housed in a castle renovated by Hearst, has 2 swimming pools, gardens, sheep, cliffs and the seaside. The dorms are plain and box like, that is true!

Good luck with the admissions procedure. Not sure what they look for in US applicants, but certainly a willingness and eagerness to understand and be understood by others from wide range of backgrounds.

By Mahras (Mahras) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 10:29 pm: Edit

Thank you 2applying for that description. BTW are you an American or British? I am thinking British. The UWC in the US is also situated in a castle and the grounds are very spacious. Going to a UWC is not because I want to go to an ivy as the school I am in right now will actually give me a better shot at the Ivies and other similar caliber institutions. I am currently debating the pros and cons of leaving my current school to go to a UWC. Hopefully, I will be able to make my decision soon. The problem with my school is that even though there is no rank, there is no weighted grading either which creates a mishap, so to speak, if I want to register for AP classes. People with 93s on the regular course are getting in ahead of honors people with 90s in AP classes. The honors classes at my school are basically APs in many others as it is two periods each week for the sciences and overlaps in many subjects with the APs. I am familiar with the IB cirricula as my old school was in that curricula. However, my dilemma is that my current school provides me with EXCELLENT activities. For example, I am going to be part of a research class where one is mpaired up with proffesors and I will probably be able to pair up with one at Columbia. This program will lead to the publishing of a research proect which I can later submit to the competitions. Also, due to the location it would be relatively easy to get a good internship in a financial institution. However, UWC does have its pros. Having classmates from all over the world will certainly be a plus and the cirriculum is very intense which is also a pro for me.


By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 10:43 pm: Edit

Actually Mahras, I think a UWC will give you a better shot at top US colleges than your current school. Everyone there will be applying to the same top colleges in the US and they are your key competition. AT UWC far fewer want to go to school in the states.

By Mahras (Mahras) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 11:30 pm: Edit

Mom101, That isn't actually the case. I have seen the matriculation list for AWC and I have seen the list for my school. Approximately, 40-45 kids were accepted into Cornell, every Ivy league, Stanford, MIT, top LACs, and schools like Georgetown, Johns Hopkins and Emory were represented almost 90% times there were multiple admits. Roughly the top 100 kids from Bronx Science make their way to top 20 schools. Not to sound arrogant but I believe taht I fall in that top 100 range even with my honors courses. Let me give you an example: A teammate of mine in the robotics team got into Columbia College. He is very bright and smart. However, the leadership positions he has held as a senior, I will actually be holding a higher one next year (sophomore). Of course this isn't taking any credit off of my teammate but I actually have the same GPA as him (albeit I only spent one year here) and my 9th grade SATs are 180 points higher than his which is actually the 50th percentile for Columbia. This is why I am having my doubts. Cornell almost ALWAYS accepts anyone from my school with a 92+ average. Yes, I admit that admission decisions are not always the same but this does tip the odds towards my side. I am still in the process in deciding and I wouldnt mind more parents having a say in this. So fire away! Thank you.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 11:37 pm: Edit

The matriculation list or the % of applicants accepted? I'm wondering if Science differs from the top private preps. They send maybe 25% to top 15 schools, yet the vast majority would get into those schools if they were not competeing with each other. The other issue at the preps which Science probably doesn't face is the huge number of legacies. My assumption is that many of the kids at UWC still go to the top colleges in their own countries and that the top UK colleges are equally popular to US elites for those who don't go home.

By Mahras (Mahras) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 12:07 am: Edit

Many of the UWC graduates actually come to the US. However, a lot of them also go to their own countries. Here is the matriculation list of the US one: http://www.uwc-usa.org/academics/matriculation.htm.

By Lilyemerald (Lilyemerald) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 01:32 am: Edit

Hi, I live in Singapore and I know a bit about the UWC here.. It's called the United World College of South East Asia or UWCSEA for short. Their website is http://www.uwcsea.edu.sg/. Because I live near the school, most of the expatriates in my neighbourhood teach there and send their children there. It caters to children from kindergarten all the way to grade 12. From what I've heard, UWCSEA is one of the best international schools in Singapore. I don't know how hard it is to get in as the kids in my neighbourhood who go there have parents teaching there so they get in easily. There is boarding but I think it is quite limited. But then I've only had contact with students who live with their parents. I believe the school requires you to take a second language. A couple of friends took french, another took mandarin and the other spanish. It starts from about Grade 3 I think. As far as extra curricular activities goes, I feel that UWCSEA does place emphasis on that. I had a few neighbours play soccer with the school, many took piano lessons from the school, another played the clarinet. I've heard of their soccer teams having friendly competitions with local schools.. I'm not sure about the other sports because I don't play them. I'm sure they would have a range of sports. I've seen part of their campus and they have a rugby/american football/cricket field... They've got swimming and netball too. I've heard of my friend playing tennis in school as well. I don't know the number of students who head off to college but most would head back to their own countries for it, especially those from UK and US. OK, that's all I can think of for now. I don't know anything about the scholarships, sorry!

By Lilyemerald (Lilyemerald) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 02:04 am: Edit

oh, and they have an annual class trip... for each grade.... usually go around the region.. educational /fun stuff...

By Hey_La (Hey_La) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 03:28 am: Edit

Wow, didn't know about the competitive women's basketball team at LPC. I actually live right here, so that's what I've based my observations on. I definitely stand corrected. What I should have said was: Athletics can be there, if you want them to be. However, the organized sport programs are kind of lacking as compared to most American high schools. And that yes, the music offerings will vary a lot depending on which school, so pick carefully.

Mahras, I live overseas and will be applying through selection committee here as I have a permanent identity card and it's just a lot less hassle that way. I'm an American, though. What about you?

I'm very excited about applying. So Ellen, if there are any personal anecdotes/stories that you'd like to share about UWC, I'd love to hear them! Thank you!

By 2applying (2applying) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 03:40 pm: Edit

I will see if my daughter is available to reply to any questions as she is certainly in a better position to do so! BTW, we are from the USA. Ellen

By Mahras (Mahras) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 04:53 pm: Edit

That would be great 2applying. Thank you all for the contributions.

By Stevie901 (Stevie901) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 06:00 pm: Edit

I'm Ellen's daughter. My mom emailed me with this UWC discussion so I thought I'd jump in.
I just finished my two years at Atlantic College (the UWC in Wales).

I've been sitting here for the better part of a half hour, trying to get something down that's helpful and failing misery. So I'm resorting to this:


I kept an online journal for a large part of my time at AC. This illustrates a typical week for me (if there was any such thing) during my time there. Maybe that can help in part. But even so, AC is an experience that I don't think anyone can fully grasp until they've been through it. I remember looking back at my admissions essays while I was there and realizing that I had absolutely no idea as to what I was getting myself into.

Anyway, if you have any specific questions feel free to ask! You can also look at the AC website-

By Stevie901 (Stevie901) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 06:16 pm: Edit

(sorry for the excessive posting, but this is a topic that it's hard for me to stop thinking about!)
I went for a little memory lane stroll through my journal and found this entry. Thought it was appropriate:

"had a huge discussion in french yesterday about ac, and how services are really its defining characteristic. i mean, our teacher was pointing out all the crap classrooms we have and lack of decent internet access, overhead projectors that work, and supplies in general, and you know, he was totally right. but on the other hand, he saw that there was something keeping us here. and it's the whole atmosphere that's great, really, and sitting between someone from palestine and someone from tibet in math class, then going to econ with friends from czech republic, poland, south korea etc, then cuddling up on my bed to do homework in a room with a door that doesn't have a lock because it pretty much doesn't need one."

Which I hopes explains the UWC experience just that much more.

By Mahras (Mahras) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 06:30 pm: Edit

Hiya Stevie. Thaks for posting. I was wondering are most of the students 10th graders or 11th graders when they go to their first year at UWC. Also what would you say is needed to become a Davis scholar? I am guessing you were one seeing that you are American. Also could you tell me how many people go to UK schools like LSE? Thank you for posting and have an awesome time at Yale!!

By Stevie901 (Stevie901) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 09:19 pm: Edit

Actually, for americans most students are in 11th grade when they apply and so, like me, spend their senior year and the year after at the school. I'm not sure how that happens-for me, it was because I only really heard about it when I got a mailing from them after the PSATs. But it's not entirely unheard of for younger americans to be davis scholars.

I'd have to agree with previous posters on the concept of a 'passion' that the committee looks for in prospective students. I'm thinking of the Americans who were in my year-one was an active feminist, another was a big soccer player, another was very politically active, and so on. We were such a diverse group that I could only speculate as to why we were chosen.

I have no exact numbers for how many go to UK schools, but I know that a lot do- 1/3 of us in my class ended up in the US, and from what I know of my friends' plans a large portion of the remainder ended up in the UK I know ex-AC students at LSE, Oxford, and Cambridge, among others-if that's where this is headed-and I know that there is a big ex-UWC population at all 3. When we went to London for a class trip ex-students seemed to be sprining up all over!

By Mahras (Mahras) on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 04:56 pm: Edit

Hey Stevie,

Thanks for posting. It is cool that tere are grads going to LSE and the like because I would like to apply to those schools also. However, I have a couple of questions. Is there class ranking in the school? Also if I am not mistaken one has to select one subject from each of the six categories right? For example, chemistry for science, economics for society, Higher math for mathematics, English for Language 1. Does it work like that at Atlantic? Thank you for answering all these questions. I will also probably end up applying junior year if I apply at all.

By Hey_La (Hey_La) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 02:42 am: Edit

Hey Stevie/Ellen--
Thank you so much for posting that link! It really did give me a 'feel' for what it might be like to attend one of the UWCs, and it sounds awesome!!!

By Stevie901 (Stevie901) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 01:36 pm: Edit

Hey, no problem. AC is one of my favorite topics so I'm more than happy to help you guys out!

There isn't any class ranking at AC-in fact, there's barely grading. You do get monthly grades based on the IB scale (1-7, with 7 as the highest) as well as a letter grade, A, B, or C, which is meant to reflect your level of effort. But as AC classes tend to rely on your own motivation, the grades may be based on a single essay or participation in class discussions or maybe an idea on how well you did on your IB coursework as there tends not to be much more than that. In my experience, it was great b/c I didn't have to deal with a large portion of the busywork that I would have gotten at my old school! It made the academics that much more challenging because, while the teachers were definitely availble(they all live on or just outside of campus and we called them by their first names. They are not only there for the academics-my step aerobics instructor was also my math teacher, for example, and my econ teacher was my service leader!) no one was going to force me to learn the material I needed to know.

It was a little weird at first-the reports that they send home at the end of each term are just a bunch of blurbs from your teachers, service, and activity leaders (many times other students!) that say how you're doing-my parents thought I had been kicked out or something because they didn't see any grades! But they do put transcripts together based on monthly grdes for ppl applying to the US.

And yes, students generally take 6 courses at AC from Language A (your mother tongue), language B (a second language), social science, science, math, and a sixth which is either creative-art, music, theater-or a second class from one of the other five categories-'groups'. And generally you take 1 from each group (or replace group 6 with a class from one of the other 5), three at higher level and 3 standard.

I say 'generally' because there are exceptions-for example, AC offers Further Math, and I took that as a 7th subject as did about 7 other people in my year of 120 or so. And some others took a different 7th subject, and some took 4 at higher and 2 standard. But it's really easy to change if you get in over your head-people were still switching in the very beginning of our second year!

By Jmascasa (Jmascasa) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 01:35 am: Edit

Hey, just thought I would add my insight on the matter.

I'm Jana, and in May finished my run at Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific (the UWC in western Canada) representing the U.S. for the past two years.

Although it's good that you, Mahras, are so interested in the academic side of the colleges, but I think you are missing out some of the bigger aspects as to what these institutions were created for.

Kurt Hahn first started AC (Stevie's school) as a place where young people can come and learn from one another. He hoped to start some sort of a revolution in youth, get them thinking in a more global picture by living with people from all over the world. As Lester B. Pearson said himself, "How can there be peace without people understanding each other, and how can this be if they donít know each other?"

I think many graduated would agree that although the academic life was an important part of their two years, it didn't compare to everything else that they were exposed to.

From my interaction with the national committee in the United States, if you go into your interview and state that one of the reasons you are applying is to get "a good education", I've been told that they automatically take you off the list. You can get a good education anywhere, but very few places can you have discussions about U.S. foreign policies with people who's lives have actually been affected by the policies.

From these schools you are given other opportunities as well. I'm not sure where Stevie is at the moment after her time in Wales, but as a graduate, I'm headed to Ethiopia for the year, teaching English with two fellow students. I've learned so much about the world and now I have the chance to give back.

Maybe this is what Stevie attempted towards the beginning. I just thought after reading sooooo much about only the academic side of the UWC's that something was missing for those just passing by.

By Jmascasa (Jmascasa) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 01:45 am: Edit

Sorry, just something else while I was re-reading that came up.

Mahras, you mentioned that you wanted to do a year in Singapore and a year in Italy. It doesn't usually work like that.

A few students are chosen each year at each college. There were three each year at Pearson, three or four in Norway, and I'm not too sure about the others. It is extremely rare for someone to switch schools, it depends on the national committee and both schools. There was a boy from Alberta, Canada at Pearson that did shift to Norway though in my year, so I suppose it is possible.

Feel free to look on www.pearsoncollege.ca for more info on the school in Canada. There is a link from the front page that is called The Link. It's a weekely online newsletter that showed almost everything that went on on the campus. I think the past three years have all been archived, and they give a pretty good picture of what activites were like up there.

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