Hilary Cornwell reports on some of the successes in this year’s US Programme

Studying in the States used to be just a dream for some British young people. But since 2012, it is increasingly a reality for able young people from modest family backgrounds in Britain.

Each year, the Sutton Trust takes 150 teenagers to spend a week living on campus at either Yale University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as part of our US Programme. The scheme, which we run in partnership with the US-UK Fulbright Commission, is designed to give bright UK state school student from non-privileged homes a taste of life at an American, as well as the support and advice they need to make informed decisions about higher education in the US.

Of those that decide to apply to universities in the US, some apply through the early admissions deadline. From our 2016-17 cohort, 42 students have been offered places at 30 different institutions, including Harvard, Princeton, Duke, and Columbia. Between them they’ll access over $11m of financial aid from the universities over the next four years, meaning many of them will graduate with little to no debt.

The offers these students have received are potentially life-changing. I spoke to two of them to find out what first attracted them to undergraduate study in America and how they felt when they found out they’d been accepted.


Momena Haider, who is 18 and goes to Ousedale School in Milton Keynes, has been offered a place at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution. Momena, the daughter of a taxi driver, moved to the UK from Pakistan at a young age and will be one of the first in her family to study at university:

“When I found out I’d been admitted to the University of Pennsylvania with full financial support, I was thrilled. While both the UK and the US offer world class education, I decided to apply to study in the US because I think their higher education system really looks at you as an individual and take into account the many different interests, personalities and backgrounds that teenagers have. Alongside your academic attainment, colleges look at your achievements outside the classroom and your personal story. I truly believe that my own voice was heard in the admissions committee at Penn.

“I’m looking forward to all the opportunities that will be available to me outside of the classroom at Penn.”
SheppardSam Sheppard, who is 18 and goes to Highams Park School in Enfield, has been offered a place to study at a leading liberal arts institution in Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College. His father used to be a truck driver and now cares full-time for Sam’s mother, who used to be a playgroup worker:

“When I found out that I’d been admitted to Swarthmore, my excitement was uncontainable. After a few hours of letting it set in I was both in awe and petrified of the prospect of moving my life overseas.

“What drew me to pursue higher education in the U.S was the academic freedom with which I can explore a number of interests and disciplines.”

Congratulations to Sam, Momena all of the 42 students who have already received offers. Good luck to those from the 2016-17 cohort who will be applying through the January deadlines.

There’s still time to apply to join our 2017-18 cohort. Year 12 students can find out more here.

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