By Sara Cavalieri the founder of College Apps Abroad, an educational consultancy based in San Diego. We specialize in helping students and families across North America navigate the process of applying for college overseas
Looking back on when I was applying for college, I knew I wanted to study journalism, and I knew college was expensive.
So being a young, naive Midwestern girl from Ohio, my college search process involved looking up the top journalism programs in the country, visiting a few and applying to about five schools max.
Despite being a straight-A student, I didn’t speak to my guidance counselor, I didn’t really consider the cost of tuition and I didn’t seek any professional advice.
And despite my love of travel, I definitely didn’t even consider the idea that I could look outside the country, complete my degree overseas faster, save money and access a totally different job market afterward, to say the least.
Instead, I just took out my student loans to attend Ohio University and went on with it.
But it wasn’t until I studied abroad in Australia as part of my OU degree that I realized there was a whole world out there waiting to be explored, and there was no better way to do that than as a student.
So after I graduated, I spent time living in the UK and Ireland before going back to Australia to do my master’s, where I realized I not only loved the idea of international education, but I loved the idea of working within it and promoting it.
Most people don’t realize education abroad is even an option let alone a fantastic one; it’s easy to do what everyone else is doing and not think outside the box.
So I began my career in study abroad and international student recruitment/admissions—working for some of the world’s top universities outside the U.S., such as The University of Edinburgh, the University of New South Wales and The University of Western Australia—encouraging and supporting students considering going to college outside the country.
After living overseas for nine years, I returned to the U.S. and founded College Apps Abroad, an educational consultancy that helps students and families consider all their degree options overseas, go through the application process and avoid some of the common mistakes students unknowingly make when applying on their own.
And since a college education is arguably the second largest purchase people make in their lifetimes (besides a house), my goal is to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible and provide the professional guidance and support I never had when I applied.
I help with all aspects of the international college search process, from understanding the different admissions requirements to applying for financial aid abroad and even providing pre-departure and college readiness support.
So here are the top five reasons your child may want to consider applying for college abroad.
1. Developing cultural competency
In David Livermore’s book The Cultural Intelligence Difference, he highlights that “the number one predictor of your success in today’s borderless world is not your IQ, not your resume (CV), and not even your expertise. It’s your cultural intelligence.”
And nothing could be truer.
Having to learn to adapt and deal with uncomfortable situations or new experiences goes a long way to develop independence and self-confidence.
Future professionals really have to know how to work and communicate with people of so many different backgrounds, and there’s no better way to gain this competency than by undertaking a degree abroad, where your child will no doubt have group projects, presentations and study sessions with students from all corners of the globe.
Universities in the U.S. like to think of themselves as diverse, but they don’t know diversity until they’ve seen the campuses at universities abroad.
2. Lower cost of attendance
College tuition is ballooning out of control in the U.S., inflating at a rate significantly higher than wages, and this is creating a very scary situation in which access to a college education is getting more and more restricted.
Other countries, however, have the mindset that education is a right and not a privilege, so tuition is generally more affordable, even for international students.
As the number of English-taught programs abroad grows steadily, popular destinations for degree-seeking students overseas include the UK, Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and the Czech Republic.
And public universities in countries like Norway and Germany don’t charge tuition.
Many degrees are also only three years in duration because there aren’t general education requirements to fulfil, so for students that know exactly what they want to study, it’s great—they can really become specialists in their fields.
Had I known that I wouldn’t have had to do statistics in a journalism program abroad, I would’ve signed up on the spot!
Factoring in a strong U.S. dollar and favorable exchange rates, along with shorter degree durations, lower tuition and the possibility of scholarships, and you have the potential for a much more accessible option.
3. More transparent admissions process
If you’re dreading the thought of your child applying for college and the stress on the whole family that comes with it, you’re not alone.
U.S. universities make it quite difficult to know who’s a likely candidate and who’s not, as they build a very specific class made up of various types of students, give points for legacy, demonstrated interest and more.
Two students with similar grades applying to a U.S. college can easily receive two very different outcomes.
Not overseas—at least for most programs, as universities abroad make public their minimum entry requirements and base admissions decisions almost entirely on academics.
Apart from competitive programs such as Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Dentistry, if your child were to achieve the minimum requirements, he or she would have a very high chance of gaining a place.
This transparency can take a lot of the guesswork out of the process and make it a lot easier to determine where to actually apply.
4. Gain a competitive career advantage
In a 2013 Hart Research Associates study, 78 percent of U.S. employers said that they wanted their future employees to have an understanding of societies and cultures outside the United States.
An international degree is not only a great way for your child to get a foot in the door to get an interview, but it also provides very unique talking points for the interview itself.
5. Post-study work visas and access to other job markets
I graduated from college right into the recession of 2008; unfortunately, my work options were limited.
Graduates from overseas institutions, however, have more options available to them, as most countries have stay-back visa schemes from one to three years, allowing them to gain work experience in that country.
So if the job outlook isn’t looking so great in Southern California, having access to an entirely different country’s job market upon graduation is a huge plus.
And while these are just a few of the many benefits your child can gain by going to college abroad, they’re not the only reasons to consider it.
After all, there’s also something in it for you, moms, should your child choose to go abroad for college: you’ll never have to come up with an excuse to take an international vacation again.
Sara Cavalieri is the founder of College Apps Abroad, an educational consultancy based in San Diego. We specialize in helping students and families across North America navigate the process of applying for college overseas. Schedule a meeting to learn more about our services or follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.