Neither Rose nor I leveraged a study abroad program while attending college in the United States. As an adult, now it seems like something I should have done, but at least she and I were able to live and work in Sweden in the late 90s while still in our twenties. That experience changed me profoundly in many ways, mainly in my perspectives on life, and I imagine that had I gone overseas while younger I could have experienced even more profound changes in perspective.
I have heard many people, including my brother, speak quite fondly of their one- or two-semester study abroad experiences, mainly in Europe somewhere. But why stop at less than one year of study abroad? How about staying for an entire degree for three or four (or more) years in a foreign land? If a few months is fun and so memorable, why not longer? And how much greater would this opportunity be if it was actually less expensive than studying in the US, where the cost of college has increased dramatically?
To my great surprise I discovered that all of this is quite feasible, and it doesn’t even require learning a foreign language! I give full credit for this discovery to Jennifer (“Jenn”) Viemont through her book “College Beyond the States” and her website BeyondTheStates.com. Of course there are many university degrees taught in English available in the United Kingdom and Ireland, though these tend to be relatively pricier compared to many of those offered on the European continent. According to Jenn, as of mid-2020, there are over 1,900 programs taught entirely in English at universities throughout continental Europe. Further, Jenn notes:
“The average tuition for international students is right around $7,390 per year. There are hundreds of options under $4,000 per year and 50 that are tuition free-even for international students!”https://beyondthestates.com/
Jenn notes how competitive and opaque the college admission process has become in the United States, and contrasts that with the very transparent and straightforward admission processes offered all over Europe.
As of 2020, our daughter is considering attending a three-year degree program in Europe, and the cost would be less than we have paid for US in-state university tuition for our son. In the program she would get a one-semester internship and would also have her own “study abroad” semester as well, where she will attend university somewhere outside of the country of her degree program, most likely somewhere else in Europe.
Attending university in Europe offers students competitive soft skills, international exposure and experience, and language learning. Even if the program is in English, there are opportunities to learn the language of the country in which the student is living, and other non-English language courses are normally offered by the universities. Further, employability is excellent, and as a former hiring manager at multiple different tech companies over the past few decades, I certainly would have had my interest piqued when reviewing a CV of a candidate who obtained their degree overseas.
On top of all these advantages,
“In many cases, it costs less to obtain a full bachelor’s degree in Europe, including cost of travel, than ONE year of US out-of-state or private school tuition.”Viemont, J. (2018). College Beyond the States: European schools that will change your life without breaking the bank (p. 15).
This opportunity is another form of geoarbitrage and could allow for many young Americans to avoid or greatly lessen their debt burden coming out of college. Attending university in Europe seems like a win all around!