Please contact me at my school email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
Before you read this guide, it is important to consider if going to college a year early is the appropriate course of action. Perhaps you have not yet taken a Physics course and will not be able to until senior year, in which case it would be prudent to continue on a standard 4-year pathway. You should also confirm parental approval because the lack thereof will make it very difficult. Matriculating (going) to college early should only be done if you've exhausted most of the curriculum and have already taken everything you want to take through concurrent enrollment.
First, speak to your counselor (i.e. Kathleen), advisor, and teacher(s) to request a letter of recommendation. Brainstorm things to put - here are some starters + set of guidelines. Ask for them as soon as possible because waiting for a letter of recommendation can be the most time-consuming step of the application process.
You'll also want to request an official copy of your transcript (ask email@example.com if you can't find it) and your concurrent enrollment one if applicable. At this time I strongly recommend creating a custom email address specifically for college applications, such as "[first][last]firstname.lastname@example.org", so sorting out communication becomes much simpler. Here's how to forward Gmail from a secondary address to your main account: https://support.google.com/mail/answer/10957?hl=en
UK via UCAS:
d.tech DOES NOT have a buzzword code. Just ignore the box asking you for one.
You need to apply through the normal undergraduate application unless you are looking to pursue a music-related career, in which case you should choose the conservatoire application. I do not have experience in this field, but I presume you need to submit some recordings.
For the Education section, put Design Tech High School in as a custom school and add the qualification "USA High School Diploma" - you won't have graduated from d.tech early but this is the closest thing available. Set the grade as Pending, qualification date as May 2024 (for Class of 2024), and add as many modules as classes you have taken. I put my classes in chronological order from freshman year, and put the Intersession classes at the end of each year. If you're currently taking a class, list it and put the grade as Pending. If you are taking classes through concurrent enrollment, add each of the colleges you have classes in. For Canada, when you type in the custom college name, paste it in with the tilde over the letter "n". Each class you have taken should be added as the "Open University Credits" qualification, and like the other classes, put it as Pending if you are currently taking it. If you have finished classes, put them as CQ (completed qualification).
If you have already taken the SAT/ACT, put in an "Other" qualification. For the SAT, call it "USA - SAT Reasoning Test (redesigned from 2016)" and put in your composite score. Write "No Essay" in the "Exam" field. Add two modules, one for Mathematics and one for Evidence-Based Reading & Writing. I am not sure what you would put for the ACT, but I strongly suggest separating your subscores into modules like noted above.
If you've taken any AP tests, you MUST list all of them even if you received a bad grade. If you haven't, make sure to put in your statement that d.tech doesn't offer APs. Some of the colleges may email you asking about this (Imperial did to me).
As a US student, you can mark that you do not need to take the TOEFL. In the segment titled "Nationality", there is a question asking for your date of first entry to the UK. If you have not visited, put August 1st of the year you will be entering college. You should also mark that you will need a student visa (unless you are a UK citizen).
You will only need to submit one letter of recommendation (they call it a reference). Talk to Kathleen and have it sent through her (from your teacher).
Employment in the UK is not considered the same as an internship in the US - they only want you to list paid work. If you have taken an internship, talk about it in your personal statement.
Once you've decided on the major you'd like to pursue, commit to it and find what schools would be the best fit for you. Make a list of a few choices, and check the entry requirements - some schools, like University of Edinburgh, require SAT score submission, so you would not be able to apply if you have not taken it. Oxford and Cambridge are mutually exclusive (you can only apply to one) and both require tests for almost all majors which are only available around September.
You cannot switch majors once you are accepted, unlike schools in the US. UCAS will let you pick up to five selections, with one per school. You cannot apply to two majors within the same school.
Write your personal statement (UK term for essay) about the career you intend to pursue. Here are some guides/examples. Do keep in mind there aren't any other places to discuss your extracurriculars, so make sure to mention any ones that would be relevant as well as internships in the statement. I strongly suggest typing it in a document editor (GDoc, Word, etc.) rather than the text entry field in UCAS, then pasting in afterwards.
There is a £27 application cost for five schools, which can be reduced by £4.5 if you only apply to one school. This is much cheaper than most US schools (the UC Berkeley fee is $70) and if you are not filling all five slots, I strongly suggest doing so by adding selections.
US via Common App:
The Common App is what most of the schools in the US use. At the very bottom I have a list of colleges that accept students without a high school diploma. As a d.tech student, you will not have received it if you intend to leave the school junior year due to the graduation requirements - 4 years of both d.lab and English are required and are nonreplaceable.
The first part of the Common App needs you to fill out normal demographics stuff like on the PSAT, but remember these are optional - you are allowed to leave them blank, which you could consider doing if you do not think they will help you in admission. At the end of the Profile segment there is a question asking if you want to sign up for UStrive. I chose not to register it through the Common App but signed up for it separately, and can say that the mentor I got assigned was pretty helpful (although not for admission as a junior, just as general counsel) so I recommend registering an account.
When you get to the Education segment, type in May 2024 (class of 2024) and mark "No change" for progression. This may seem counterintuitive but I checked with both Kathleen and the staff for the service and both parties said you need to clarify this in text entry box elsewhere. The 2024 graduating class size is 130. In the activities segment, add as many extracurriculars as you can, and sort them by importance to yourself. If two things are roughly the same, put the one you think the college will want to see higher up.
Of the schools on the list below, only one (Amherst) requires the "Courses & Grades" section to be filled out. If you are doing that, you need to put two transcripts per year, with the first being the normal classes as semesters and the second transcript with Intersession courses as 2.5 credit pass/fail courses (barring VAPA, which goes in as as letter grade) in quarters. Mark nothing for 11th and 12th.
California Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Pennsylvania
William & Mary
Asterisk denotes female-only schools.
MIT uses a separate application portal very similar to the Common App.
As of 06 January 2023, only Pomona, Swarthmore, and Lafayette are still accepting applications.
Unlike the UK schools, each college in the US has its own (quite pricey) application fee from $50 to $90. If you'd like to hear about Lafayette's fee waivers, please reach out to me.