10 Reasons Why Students Should Pursue a Full Degree Overseas

10 Reasons Why Students Should Pursue a Full Degree Overseas

There has never been a better time for American college students to study overseas.  With the costs of tuition continuously on the rise in the United States, studying abroad has become a very attractive option for many cost conscious American students.  Some American students elect to study abroad for a semester or two. Other Americans decide to go “all in” by seeking to commence and complete their entire higher education in a European university.

Fortunately, the number of overseas academic options are growing every year.  Aside from the economic benefit of studying abroad, many American students understand well the benefits of an international education at this time of globalization. Research currently shows, students that study overseas increase their employment opportunities long after graduation. In addition, traveling abroad during college for any length of time will quite likely provide the student with a strong and worldly frame of reference that will last a lifetime. The big challenge for many American students is deciding whether to pursue a full degree overseas or whether to undertake a more limited study abroad experience.

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A Full Degree Overseas May Be More Affordable Than Staying Home

For parents, a child pursuing a full-degree overseas can be both life changing and economical.  Many universities in  Europe offer  an outstanding education at a fraction of the cost that would be incurred in most American schools. Many educators in Europe indicate that American parents may save anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 a year in college tuition and fees by enrolling their student in a European university instead of a traditional American college or university.  In many places, such as France, the Czech Republic, Austria, and Norway, tuition is either free or so low it seems free.  There are also many other countries offering a university education for well under $10,000 a year.

Use Financial Aid to Fund A Degree overseas

Another benefit that is often overlooked by many American students is that the Department of Education website lists nearly nine hundred international institutions where Americans may use federal financial aid to fund a full degree overseas.  Students can receive both need and merit based aid to study abroad.  With low tuition fees overseas, one might expect to take out a minimal number of loans to help keep student loan debt down.

International Application Process Less Intensive

Another big difference with schools overseas is the application process.  Schools in the United States often require your SAT scores, an essay of some or sort or several essays and an interview.  For many universities in Europe, your SAT score, a letter of reference and a motivational letter may be all that you need to submit in order to apply.

Students Apply to a Program of Study

When deciding what field you wish to study, you will need to be sure that you are willing to commit to your field for the entire course of your studies.  When you apply to a university in most countries overseas you are also applying to a specific program within that university.  You are therefore expected to stick to your major of choice.

Complete your Degree in Less Time

Another big reason for students to consider a degree overseas if that you can complete your degree in 3 years compared to a 4 year degree in the United States. However, students can go on to study a year longer by earning a Bachelor’s Honors degree – a more advanced credential. Students can also go on to complete a Master’s degree for an additional year of study in some countries.

Studying Abroad Not for Every Student

Studying abroad is not necessarily for every student.  Students who are willing to try news things outside of their comfort zone and who are intensely curious and resourceful will  likely benefit the most from the European experience. A student studying overseas also needs to be comfortable with the idea of immersing oneself in the culture of the student’s new home.  There will also be a difference in campus life and educational systems.  If a student is looking to slack on their studies or party it up with friends every night, studying overseas may not be a good choice.  

Curriculum’s More Specialized

Another difference that an American student in Europe may note is that the curriculum may not be the same as it might be in the United States.   While the quality of the education will be the same, it will likely be structured differently.  Your course load will be tightly focused on your major.  You may not be able to take different courses to explore other subjects or majors.  There will also be an expectation that you are academically prepared for university life.  In general, no one will be holding your hand to make sure that you timely turn in assignments and regularly attend classes.

Some International Programs Similar to U.S.

If you are not certain about the major that you have selected, you may want to focus on schools that are known for catering to international students and offer experiences similar to that in the US.  Some schools including The University of St. Andrew’s and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Trinity College in Ireland are well known for rolling out the red carpet to international students paying higher tuition fees than EU students.  They provide orientation to first years (Freshman), and assign advisors.  The schools encourage a community atmosphere and a strong support network for international students. Additionally, programs similar to the schools in America run for four years and offer students the ability to explore other subjects and majors. Some students have even been approved to switch majors mid-program.

English Programs Gaining Popularity

If you feel comfortable navigating university life without many campus supports, most countries within the European Union as well as countries scattered throughout EurAsia offer an excellent education to international students in English.  Germany, according to DAAD the German Academic Exchange service, offers over 200 English-taught Bachelor’s degree programs with a very affordable price, including Master’s and doctoral degrees.   Additionally, the Netherlands offers around 300 English-taught undergraduate programs at 42 universities scattered throughout the country.  If you’re looking for a warmer climate, Singapore has six national universities steeped in British tradition offering programs in English.

University Experience Abroad Different From the United States

Keep in mind that when pursuing a degree in Europe, students are expected to take a course in the mother tongue of the host country. Student’s are also more on their own than they would be in Anglo-Saxon countries.  Some students may feel a bit lost until they get acclimated.  Student housing may also be offered the first year but not always beyond that. Additionally, European programs may be more focused on theory with less “hands-on” learning.  If you are looking for a program in Europe providing more support to international students, there are private universities available (with higher tuition fees) geared more towards helping international students to integrate.

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