“If there is one thing I could hope for the next four years, is that they are half as good as the last one.” Darren McCarroll, University of Richmond

Darren grew up in rural Northern Ireland, playing rugby and helping his dad on his family’s sheep farm, but his participation in the Sutton Trust’s US Programme encouraged him to set his sights on an American education. He has now successfully secured a place to study at the University of Richmond in Virginia and will join other Sutton Trust students who have won places to study at top colleges in the states this year.

Darren’s inspiring speech addressed guests at last week’s summer reception, hosted by our partners at the US-UK Fulbright Commission. The event – filled with excited students, proud parents and engaged donors – was held in the new American Embassy in Nine Elms. It was the perfect setting to recognise our students’ amazing achievements. Founder of the Sutton Trust, Sir Peter Lampl, congratulated our newest alumni and thanked the Sutton Trust’s generous donors, without whose support the programme simply wouldn’t be possible.

Since its founding in 2012, the Sutton Trust’s US Programme has given over 800 British students from low-income backgrounds the life-changing opportunity of experiencing what it’s like to study in America. Students spend one week at a leading American college, going on to receive tailored support, mentoring and guidance as they navigate their way through the American application system.

“My teacher suggested I apply for the Sutton Trust US Programme and made me realise that studying in the States could be more than just a dream. I can’t believe it is now less than two months until I fly to California!” Valentine Bailey-Beckett, Pomona College.

Speaking to eager students like Valentine at the reception I was reminded of why an American education retains great appeal in Britain: a varied liberal arts curriculum that allows students to tailor their degrees, a contextualised admission system that gives greater weight to extra-curricular involvement, and generous financial aid packages. To say nothing of the excitement of spending four years studying in America! It is therefore no surprise that in recent years the appeal to study in America among British students has only grown. Even more understandable when you consider the UK’s record-high tuition fees.

However, the US system is in no way perfect. Eye-watering fees demanded by many US colleges and the somewhat labyrinthine application process helps explain why an American education is far off the radar for many disadvantaged students, with British applications to top American colleges from the UK increasingly dominated by top fee-paying schools. At the Sutton Trust, we do not accept that studying abroad should only be an opportunity for the wealthy. This is why we remain committed to the US Programme and proud of our ongoing partnership with the US-UK Fulbright Commission.

“I knew that I wanted to study in the States, but the Sutton Trust made it possible. The opportunities that the programme have opened up are priceless.” Dayna Moonegan, University of Rochester

Speaking with our articulate, confident and ambitious students, I left the event reassured our newest alumni will go on to achieve incredible things. In this age of increasing economic and cultural isolationism, the Sutton Trust US Programme highlights the benefits that increased access to international education brings – to both sides of the Atlantic.

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