By Marco Maisano






There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to the almighty US of A. I love addressing misconceptions, because they really are ‘misconceptions’. I have been working with Americans and travelling to and from America for 11 years now, and to say that there are a few ACADEMIC misconceptions is an understatement.

You see, here in Australia, New Zealand or anywhere else for that matter, we make our assumptions based on what we see on TV, Facebook or read in magazines.

I for one, love America and American people and in this week’s blog I will list a few of the common misconceptions we hear every day here at NSR.

First and foremost, we’ll start with the academic side of things.

The old argument of “Degrees are not transferable”

False! degrees are transferable. There’s more international students studying in the United States this day in age than any other country in the world.


You’ve got over a million and a half international students spread across the United States from literally every country on the globe. To sit there and say that “they’re all studying degrees that are not transferable”, is crazy.

Depending on what you study, there may be certain things that you need to do in order to have your degree transferred back and forth, and we’re here to support if that is the case.

In certain fields, you may be required to take bridging courses or receive further certifications in order to be able to practise another country. That’s the same from state to state even here in Australia. Say for example, you’re looking to study medicine, you’d do your undergraduate degree in biology or chemistry in the US. From there, depending on where you complete your postgraduate work (med School) would determine what you would have to do to be certified to practise in that particular country.

“All international students have to study American History” 

This is a bit of funny one for sure. You can choose to study American history…….. if you want. In your first couple of years you’re going to have a liberal arts core curriculum that you must complete. Part of that is going to be social sciences. If you want to learn about American history, then yes you can study American history, but you can substitute American History for economics if you please …

It’s just the more basic one, but I mean obviously if you’re not a fan of writing papers, I’d probably avoid psychology to be honest.


In regards to specific social sciences, you can also do world history, you can do ancient history too.

It’s completely up to you. You can also avoid history altogether and do economics, or you can do sociology, psychology or Philosophy.


“If I want to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, I can’t / shouldn’t study those fields in America”

Another false comment.

I’ll start with medicine, or wanting to be a doctor. If you’re looking to study medicine, you basically want to decide whether you want to do med school in the U.S., or Australia. If you’re looking to do med school back here in Australia, you’ll want to find out the med schools you’re looking to apply to, find out what their prerequisites are, and then you’ll need to do your undergraduate degree, in biology or chemistry whilst making sure you take the correct classes.

You will also need to sit the MCAT, which they offer in the U.S. Then your application to the med school would be based on your undergraduate GPA, the classes that you’ve taken, and your MCAT score.

If you go all the way through to your full medical degree in the U.S., then you’re going to be licensed to practice in the U.S. Now that’s perfectly fine if you want to stay in the U.S. and practice medicine. If you want to come back to Australia and practice medicine, be a physio, and let’s include law, or you want to be a vet you will want to do the certification component in the country that you want to practice in.


Basically…….. you can do your full undergraduate, Bachelor of Science, in pre-medical science, pre-vet, pre-law, criminal justice, those types of things, and then do your post graduate component in Australia, or New Zealand, whatever country that you want to practice in. Again, there’s no guarantee that you’re going get into medicine in Australia, especially if you don’t make unbelievable grades in your undergraduate studies. You can go and study whatever you want in the U.S., you genuinely can, but that doesn’t mean that you can be whatever you want to be.

If you make C’s throughout your entire pre-medical undergraduate, you’re not getting into med school, nor would I want you to!!!

Here’s your pre-medical track…….. get a bachelor’s degree, make perfect grades, take the MCAT, pass the MCAT, then apply for medical school. You’ve got a good chance of getting in. Not the other way around.

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Engineering is the same. All the engineering courses that are offered in the States are going to be ABET approved. ABET is Global recognition of your engineering degree 

Quick story….One of the first athletes we recruited here at NSR, Matthew Baker from Deniliquin and a Caulfield Grammar student, went over to the US to do business law in his undergraduate. He made really, really good grades in political science, graduated with his graduate degree in political science, graduated with honours, and then came back to the University of Sydney. Matthew is now doing his Juris Doctor, which is the post graduate law component, whilst also working with a law firm (Minter Ellison).

“Only A grade students can get academic scholarships”

That’s incorrect, false!!!


A lot of universities or colleges in the U.S. will have admission scholarships. What this means is that if you get accepted and you have at least a 1000 on the SAT and a B average, or a C+ average, you may get X amount of scholarship. Obviously, if you get a higher SAT and you have a better GPA, your scholarship may increase to a higher number. There are a lot of private schools in the States that offer scholarships just for being accepted.

“You don’t have to be an A grade student”

‘A’ grade students will qualify for more academic scholarship in more places. But, that’s not to say that C grade students with a passing SAT, can’t apply to schools and get academic scholarships.

Literally every school is different. Can a C grade student can get an academic scholarship in every school? No. If that’s below the standards of that particular institution then you will not receive an academic scholarship. In summary though……. Not only A grade students get academic scholarships!

“My ATAR score will determine where I can and can’t study in the states”

Your ATAR score will not work the same as it does in Australia. Your ATAR score does not determine what you can study or where you can study.  You can study whatever you want to study, and your grades, your overall grade point average, the classes you have taken in high school, and your SAT, will determine where you can study that.

Your ATAR score is important, because it’s factored into your overall grade point average. It does matter, but not in the same ways that it matters here in Australia.


You determine what you study. If you’re a C grade student and you want to study medicine, you can. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to pass your classes and become a doctor in medicine.


Again, you determine what you study. I know that may be a difficult thing to grasp. If you’re a C grade student and you want to study medicine, you can do that at schools that allow you admission. You’re not going to go and study medicine at Harvard. Your grades are important, and they will determine the types of schools that you can gain admission into, they will also be a big part of where you can be rewarded different forms of financial aid, and academic scholarship. But nothing determines what you can study, other than you.

“I went to a private school/grammar school here in Australia, I can get in to more universities in the United States?”

If you went to a private school, and your grades were just as bad as someone that went to a public school, you’ve accomplished the exact same things. The thought that, “Oh it’s a private school, it’s scaled differently.” That may be the case here, but over there, they don’t get that, they don’t understand that, and they will not weigh those grades differently. A ‘C’ is a ‘C’, no matter the school you received that from.

“I’m not the best student, so does that mean this opportunity isn’t for me”

Not the case! Even if you didn’t graduate from high school, there’s still possibilities to get to the US.


“If I don’t get a good ATAR score, I may as well not study at Uni, or I should give up on my intended course”

No one is going to judge you when you get to 24, 25 years old, and they say, “Oh what was your ATAR score?” No, it’s not about that. Again, this goes back to the three topics we just talked about. Your ATAR score is just factored into your overall GPA. If you genuinely want to do something, you’re going to be better at it than something that you don’t want to do. Don’t give up on what you want to do, ever.

But your ATAR score does not determine that, you determine that, your experience determines that, and that’s it.

These are just a few of the many misconceptions that flood our office every single day. Some make us laugh for sure but how are you to know? Google is everyone’s best friend that’s for sure, but that can also be a nightmare for most as google will give you 1000 different answers for every single question that you ask, so you will end up back where you first started….confused and with plenty of misconceptions……


Unless you reach out to us of course!

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