Studying in USA as a South African

I’m a student in South Africa, Gr 9 and want to go study abroad in America. I really want to go to either Caltech or MIT and study in the STEM field. What subjects should I be taking, extracurriculars and marks should I have to achieve this? Also, how do I go about doing the SATs and when should I apply to said a Universities? I’m very confused by the whole process and on what I should be doing to get there.

Hi @anonymous102,

Thanks for your question – they are common and you’re right that the process is confusing. For that standard of university, you’ll want to be one of the top few students at your school (realistically, for those two, the top academic student) as well as have had nationally ranked academic results (either your IEB/NSC, or competitions such as mathematics olympiad). Take subjects that are STEM-orientated and choose the most challenging subjects, and at as high a level as possible.

Outside the classroom, the best advice I can give is to pursue personal projects that interest you, and do an outstanding job over a number of years. Worry less about playing formal sport or an instrument (do those if they are important to you, and remember the value of balance), because it is the unique and outstanding things that will get you admitted. For example, if you like rockets, build rockets. If you like trading and making money, start a company. If you like cars, build or race or fix cars. If you like to volunteer, start an organization that raises money or fills a need. My point is that you can do all sorts of awesome stuff that interests you, and that is what those universities will be most interested in.

Don’t worry about your SAT until G10 or probably G11.

I recommend reaching out to Rebecca Pretorius, the Country Manager for Crimson in South Africa, at and she’ll schedule a free call with you to describe things in more detail and you can talk about how Crimson can support you.


Dear @anonymous102, the Admissions Director of CalTech said “If they’ve done nothing in the realm of math and science, that student won’t be admitted. The priority for us is making sure that the student is a good fit at Cal Tech.” It’s important that you look now at what kinds of activities you’re doing even before you reach the SATs. University Admissions Officers are look at all areas of a students application, academic (school/SAT/SAT Subject Tests); Extracurriculars and Personal Statements/Essays/Interview.
Please reach out to me if you’d like to look at how Crimson can be helpful in your journey to study abroad by planning a personal roadmap for you to help you achieve your goals.