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Internationalization: Who Benefits?

One of the ongoing tasks at Beyond the States is responding to comments on our various social channels and ads. It’s always interesting to interact with people who have been moved enough by our messages to share a comment. We received this message on an ad that shows a map of Europe the other day: “Yeah, funded by European taxpayers…” This comment represents a misconception that I’d like to explore. Are international students somehow taking advantage of European taxpayers by going to college in Europe?

Here are three primary reasons that international students are good for Europe and not taking advantage of the system:

1) International students pay a premium tuition compared to EU students in the same schools and classes, so the schools like them. For example, a non-EU student in the chemistry program at University of Groningen in the Netherlands pays 14,000 euros, while an EU student pays just 2,143 . EU students pay no tuition to attend Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, while a non-EU master’s degree student would pay 15,200 euros per year. I would say, rather than being subsidized by European taxpayers, international students are paying their fair share.

2) Unemployment is really low in parts of Europe, so the EU government wants more labor. As workers, we think that low unemployment is always a good thing, but from a macro economic perspective, which is how the leaders look at things, it’s only good to a point. In the Czech Republic, Germany, and Denmark,  unemployment is really low. This means there are too few workers chasing the open chasing jobs, which will drive up wages. When wages go up, a nation’s goods become more expensive to buy and fewer goods are sold, which is bad for the economy.  The European government expects that some of the international students who study in Europe will stay there post graduation to join the European labor pool. This is a win-win for the student and the economy.

3) International students also contribute to local economies when they purchase goods like groceries, housing, entertainment, books, and other things. In fact, the European Commission has made attracting international students an ongoing, key priority. They see that bringing students from outside Europe not only benefits the economy in the host country, but also contributes to the growth and competitiveness of the EU economy as a whole.

In the end, it’s about priorities. The EU sees internationalization as aligned with their long term policy agendas for growth, jobs, equality,  and social inclusion. I have to say, we do too!

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Why You Shouldn’t Be Worried About Knowing Your Area of Study

One of the biggest differences in applying to universities in Europe is that you are applying to a specific program, as opposed to applying to just the overall university. This is basically like declaring your major ahead of time and since there generally aren’t any university-wide core requirements, switching majors/programs often means starting over. Don’t stop reading this based on that fact! This doesn’t mean that you are stuck studying only one thing. This doesn’t mean that you must know exactly what you want to study. And this doesn’t mean you have to know what you want your career path to be!

Now, if a student does know exactly what they want to study, there are plenty of programs that focus on that area from day one. Many students appreciate that they can focus on their area of interest from day one, without having unrelated required courses. What appeals to even more students, though, are the multidisciplinary program options. The Dutch have been far ahead of other European countries about this type of English-taught educational offerings. Their universities have not only the largest number of English-taught programs, but also include liberal arts programs and many multidisciplinary options. I’m starting to see this in more and more other countries and today will focus on these types of program options in other European countries.

Vrije University, in Brussels, offers a Social Sciences program. It takes three years to complete and tuition is 3850 euros per year. The first two years provide the broad and diverse knowledge that so many students want. The first year of the program includes classes in sociology, political sciences, and communication studies. The second year seeks to interweave the three disciplines also teaches students to use critical thought in these areas. The thirds year allows for customization as students choose to specialize-like choosing a major in one of these three areas.

The Global Humanities program at the University of Sapienza, in Rome, allows for customization from the very first year! Students take 1-2 required courses each year, and the rest are courses they choose from different categories. The categories themselves are broad and include history, the arts, sociology, anthropology, economics, law, psychology, theology, and international studies. Course option goes beyond basic intro courses with options like
Environmental Law, Gender Economics, Law and Literature, Sociology of Media and Culture, Indo-Tibetan Studies, Global Health, Japanese Narratives, and Human Rights, Classical Archaeology, Latin Literature Medieval Art, and Contemporary History. And there is just a small selection of the offerings! The program takes three years to complete. Tuition at public universities in Italy is like a sliding scale, based on family income, and 2821 euros per year is the maximum annual tuition charge for this program.

Global Studies and International Studies type programs are a popular multidisciplinary program type for students with diverse interests around social sciences and cultures. The the University of Pompeu Fabra, in Barcelona, offers a three year Global Studies program that costs 6800 euros per year. The premise is that in order to develop a comprehensive view or world issues, students must look at the problems through the lens of different fields. Students take required courses in data analysis, global history, global communication, research methods, finance, economics, international relations, law, sustainability, cultural studies, business, and politics. They are required to learn another language and take electives focused on global issues as well as those that pertain to a region of their choosing.

Students who love math and science can consider the Science program at the the University of Helsinki. All students take courses in math, computer/data science, physics, and chemistry during the first year, and then they choose one of the four areas to focus on. Students can choose to combine more than one track and/or can take electives from the different tracks as well. The program takes three years to complete and costs 13000 per year.

Though it’s structured differently than in the US, students in Europe are still able to explore varied academic interests. Even those students who choose a more specific area of study can pursue interests outside of their program through the semester that is set aside for electives during study abroad. It’s not necessarily better or worse than the system in the US, just different, and the same goals can be achieved.

The options on this list represent just a few of the great options. My visits to schools and research did for other best-fit lists and such have helped me identify many more-including several programs that aren’t obviously multidisciplinary from the title name. I would love to help you find great options that fit your interests too! Act now and receive one-month free membership with your purchase of a best-fit list. There is no long term commitment for membership, simply cancel within the membership portal 7 days before your next billing date and you will not be charged again!

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“How Can I Transfer to a University in Europe?”

I’ve been getting a lot of emails from college students in the US these days. Whether it’s due to the political climate in the US, frustration with how their universities (or fellow students) handled the pandemic, or seeing ROI issues around US higher education first hand, these students are seeking alternatives. Some have a year or more of college credits and others are working on their associate’s degree. The question I’m getting from these students is “How do I transfer to a university in Europe?” I wish I had a concise answer, but it takes a bit of explaining and the complications are often due to the differences between the systems.

One of the main differences around bachelor’s degree programs in Europe is that you choose your field of study from the get go and apply to a specific program (like your major) at a university. There aren’t a set of gen-ed requirements for all of the bachelor’s students at a university. Your course requirements are specific to the program you are in. Because International Relations is a popular program choice, let’s look at the course requirements for the International Relations and International Organizations program at the University of Groningen.

The first year of study, students take History of International Relations, International Politics, International and European Law, Academic Skills, Statistics for International Relations, International Organizations, Economics, International Organization, and Political Science. You also start taking a language, with choices for Chinese, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, French, or German. You have a variety of course topics, but they are cohesive and in some way related to the program objectives.

You don’t see life or natural science classes on the list of first year courses. Nor do you see philosophy or english comp. These are the types of courses, though, that most students at US universities take during the first year. Since there aren’t these types of gen-ed requirements, the courses would not transfer. Maybe you did have an intro course to International Relations. The university will have to determine, after you get in, if it’s a 100 level course at a US university is comparable in content to their course (and it very well may not be, depending on the country).

You might be wondering whether your gen-ed courses could transfer as electives. The issue is that the courses are structured for each year of the program. Groningen, like many other universities, sets the first semester of the third year aside for a semester abroad, which is when students take electives. Since some programs require or encourage students to study abroad, particularly when the content is international in nature, you would still need to (and probably would want to) take part in that semester. Further, even if the credits are applied to that semester, you won’t graduate early since you have course requirements to complete in the second half of that final year.

Don’t let this discourage you! Let’s look at why this isn’t all horrible news!

First of all, your credits can be used to open up even more opportunities for you in Europe! There are about 350 of the 1900+ programs that require US applicants to have more than just a high school diploma to apply. These requirements can be met with an IB diploma, a certain number of AP scores (usually 3-4 scores of 3+), a year of college credit (not from a community college) or an associate’s degree. If you didn’t got the AP or IB route in high school, you are now apply to these 350 programs! Further, if you have two years of college credit or an Associate’s degree, you can apply to schools in Germany (which has free tuition for international students at most public universities).

Further, as mentioned earlier, most bachelor’s degree programs in Europe take only 3 years to complete. If you spent a year studying in the US, you will still be graduating in 4 years if you finish your degree in Europe. Further, you are likely to spend less than your would on tuition in the US, since the average tuition of bachelor’s degrees in our database is about $7300 per year, with hundreds of options under $4000 per year.

It’s still a good deal if you have two years of credits. Let’s look at the math around this. The average in-state tuition for flagship universities in the US is $11,849 per year. Using this number, after two years of credits in the US, you have $24968 left in your tuition budget. Even if you have to participate in the entire duration of the study program, there are 965 options in our database that fall within that tuition budget!

That said, your credits generally will transfer to the American universities in Europe. There are some really strong and affordable options in this category. McDaniel College in Budapest and Anglo American University in Prague are great options. There are other American schools in Europe that come with an American size price tag. Further, these schools often cater more to semester abroad students than full degree students. The academic and social needs of these groups are very different, so an emphasis on the semester abroad students can effect the experience of full degree students. This isn’t the case for all of the American schools, but something to assess if you choose to go that route.

I encourage students not to limit their choices to just those that will take their credits. You may miss out on some amazing opportunities that are within your budget if you limit yourself to just those that accept the credits. Come up with your overall tuition budget for the rest of your degree, like in the example above and work backwards from there. Yes, it may take you an additional year to finish, but that is one more year you get to spend living in Europe!

Have you taken advantage of our our Back to School Special? Join Beyond the States now and receive access to both the Choosing A Major in Europe and Choosing a University in Europe self paced classes. The regular non-member price for these courses is $75 each. Join now and the courses will be unlocked and waiting for you in the portal-at no additional cost!

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Why Not Ireland?

If I’m on Facebook and see an ad for shoes, for example, I might click and see if they offer blue shoes.  If they don’t, I will scroll on. It would never occur to me to demand in the comments that this company carry blue shoes or make accusations about their motives in not carrying blue shoes.  MAYBE, I would send them a private message saying “Hey-I really like blue shoes. Please let me know if you ever start carrying them.”, but it’s much more likely that I would just keep scrolling through my feed and carry on with my day.

This is not the case for many people! The things people will post on Facebook always amazes me and it really seems worse these days! We have a post on Facebook right now that uses the map image. Many of you have already seen this. It’s one of my favorite images as it really demonstrates the number of options and the incredible tuition for the universities/programs we have information on.

So, there is one person, I’ll call her Susan (not her real name), who saw the post and posted several comments on the fact that we don’t include the UK. This included an accusation of “Eu petulance”. She also declared that she “believes that  US students should be given choice to make those decisions” around UK universities. She also stated that she finds it finds it “irritating that an organization such as this should actively omit the UK and not give US students the choice. Unless of course they are funded by the EU, which they should declare.”  Funded by the EU? That made me laugh given that we don’t even take money from any of the universities in order to maintain our objectivity.

After I responded to her claims more than once explaining our stance she backpedalled a bit. She did maintain that she “ cannot accept that you found not a single university in the UK which you deemed suitable, and so (in my opinion) it calls into question the criteria by which you are selecting.”  You guys….she posted nine comments like this!

We generally say that our focus is continental Europe, it’s less of a mouthful than “non-anglophone countries in Europe”, but it’s not really accurate since we include Iceland and Cyprus.  With Brexit becoming official in January, I wondered if we should add Ireland, so we could just say that we include information about the English-taught bachelor’s degree programs in EU/EEA countries. I know that there are wonderful schools in Ireland and decided to start by exploring tuition. We did this five years ago, but I thought it might be a good time to revisit this. If tuition was comparable to those in the other countries we list, I would consider adding the country to the database.

Right now, the countries with the highest averages in our database are Denmark, Sweden, France and Switzerland.  The average for the English-taught programs in these countries range from $13075-13470 per year.  I’m comfortable with this number, given that most of the programs in this countries are 3 years in duration which makes them comparable to 4 year programs that are $11,625. The average in-state tuition for flagship universities in the US is $11,849 per year so even universities in these countries with more expensive programs give options to students working with an in-state tuition.

Further, there are a few things to know about the programs in these more expensive countries. The averages in France and Switzerland are pulled up by very expensive American universities that are there. If you look at the programs in any of these four countries (excluding those at American schools), then you find a great percentage under 10,000 euros a year. Not only are there 16  programs under 10,000 a year in Switzerland, but 11 of those are under 2 k a year! As I said before, most of the programs in these 4 countries are just 3 years in duration, which further adds to the savings.

So these countries provided the financial criteria I was looking for in Ireland.  I was looking for an average of no more than 14000 euros per year, though I was open to going up to 15,000 if the duration of most programs was three years. I wanted at least 25% of the programs to be under 10,000 euros per year.

Let me preface my findings with a few things. First of all, there are wonderful options in Ireland-and in many other parts of the world, too. My intention is not to discourage anyone from exploring those options, just to explain the process we go through when we are deciding to add countries to our resources.  The other thing to note is that we did not look at the tuition for every university in Ireland. We started with the public universities, which are the most reputable, to gather enough numbers to make generalizations with.

We looked at 12 public universities and, while most schools had a huge range in tuition for each of their programs, the numbers I saw most frequently were in the 16-20,000 euros range.  Remember this is $18,230-22,846 per year and the majority were four year programs.  There was only one school on this list of 12 that offered tuition under 10000 euros per year. Now, this is still much less expensive when compared to tuition for out of state or private universities in the US but, as I suspected, it did not offer the level of affordability that those in continental Europe do.  I mean, we just talked about the most expensive countries in continental Europe, but there are others countries offering programs  at the other end of the tuition spectrum too. In fact, eleven of the countries we list have an average tuition of less than 6000 euros per year!

The more I thought about it, the more I felt confident in our decision to focus on non-anglophone Europe-no matter what the Susan’s of the world think about it! The core reason that we don’t include the UK and Ireland is because they are anglophone countries. I started Beyond the States to fill a gap I saw. There simply was not a single source of objective information about the options in non-anglophone countries and many people didn’t even know they existed. The options in anglophone countries are simply easier to navigate and there are abundant resources with information and services about universities in the UK and Ireland.   The fact that they don’t offer the level of affordability as provided by universities in continental Europe is secondary.

Bottom line, there are incredible options throughout all of the world. These includes universities Canada, the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, and Singapore. Though I’d love a reason to visit all of these places, I don’t think it’s aligned with our focus area. Students moving outside of the US and exploring the world during their studies is so exciting to me-no matter what part of the world they do this in. I really believe that it benefits them as individuals as well as the world as whole!  If you are interested in doing so in the non-anglophone countries in the EEA/EU, we would love to help!

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How Does the Travel Ban Affect Students?

I know there are a lot of questions about the travel ban and, because I want to be super careful not to provide inaccurate information, I can’t speak to many of the specifics. There are a few things I DO know for sure. First off, the ban does not apply to students.  Secondly, and related to the first point, is that the ban is based on country of residence as opposed to citizenship.  International students have student residence permits from a European country which exempts them from the ban.  We had a member fly back from the US to the Netherlands last week using her residence permit, after the travel ban was put into place.  Sam flew here to meet us in Portugal this week, also using his student residence card. Students who have their residence card should not have a problem being able to board and getting through border control.

Then we have students who have been accepted for the fall.  The issue they have is that residency permits are almost always issued after arriving in the country. Even though it’s in process, they don’t have the physical card in their hands yet.  I’d like to go through a few suggestions for the students in this boat.

First and foremost, do not bank on the information you see on facebook. I’ve mentioned before about the well intentioned misinformation I’ve seen in many groups. I saw many things stated as fact even before the travel ban was officially announced!  There is someone who even posted in the comments of one of our facebook ads that her “good friend’s son has just been advised that his university in the Netherlands is not accepting him due to Covid-19 reasons”. Though I found this hard to believe, you can be sure that I immediately reached out to my Dutch administrators group who all assured me that they are NOT rescinding acceptances due to nationality!  It’s just that there A LOT of people saying things that aren’t true or are misleading.

The fact is, specifics will change depending on the country you are traveling to. The advice of someone who has a student going to France, for instance, may not apply to your student who will attend in Finland. Your first point of contact should be the school.  Usually you will already have someone, or at least a department, who has been working on your residence permit. Find out from them what they can issue you to show at the airport and border control proofing that you are a student and that your residence permit is in process. Then ask for a contact at the immigration department (of the country) to see if they can issue documentation. Ask the immigration office for confirmation (preferably written so you can print it up and take it) that what your documentation will suffice.

You may also be able to find information on the country’s website.  For instance, if you look here, you can see that students are listed separately from people who have a residence permit. This implies that already having the residence permit is not required. It also talks about documentation that can be presented at the border and information about who to contact if your documentation is not accepted. Now, it is very true that not every country hasp public information that is this thorough, so well organized, or is even translated so some digging might be required. Ideally, your university could point you to this information and the google translate extension can be a life saver when trying to work through non English documentation!

This brings you to the airport where you and your student arrive with all the necessary documentation. Can you imagine how difficult it must be to work for airports or airlines right now?  You may get in the line of someone who has had an exceptionally bad day or maybe someone who hasn’t yet dealt with this issue.  If you get push back after showing your documentation, ask for a supervisor.  It could also help to research whether your particular airline has a department that handles these type of issues so that, if the supervisor pushes back, you have a next step. There IS someone who can help, if you are in the right and it will be less stressful to figure out who this person is before you arrive.

So, you get your student on the plane but perhaps you are worried about border control on the other side.  One of our retained an immigration attorney in Prague when her daughter flew back, just in case there were any problems. If you are having trouble figuring out the documentation information you need to board, it’s possible that an immigration attorney (in the country your student is traveling to) could help you with that as well.  Here in Portugal, we worked with an immigration specialist (not an attorney but someone who knows the system backwards and forwards) and it’s been worth every penny and more. You can join facebook expat groups for the particularly city or country your student will be moving to and ask for recommendations.

If the current travel ban is still in place in August, you won’t be able to travel with your student. Don’t worry!  Parents dropping off their students isn’t the norm like it is here in the US.  I followed the lead from one of our members last year. Her son (who started a year earlier than Sam) went to school on his own. She made sure he had all the information he needed about tasks that needed to be accomplished, resources to use, and she followed up to make sure he was on top of the particularly important ones. Universities often have resources in place to help with much of this anyhow. Doing this on his own gave Sam a level of confidence and independence which helped him through the year.

If your student is going to a country that requires a quarantine, the first thing I would do is to see if a negative test would change the requirement. Some airports, like Prague and Frankfurt are offering instant tests in the airport (for a fee). I understand that more will be opening in the coming weeks and months. The next step would be to contact the school and student residence around this to see if there are suggestions or resources for new students who have to quarantine. I would also check our member group to see if another student is going there who wants to coordinate travel and quarantine together. Finally, if you have to send your student early to deal with a quarantine, have a plan in place ahead of time.  Of course, you will make plans for where they will stay (if the student residences aren’t a possibility). Find the grocery stores that offer delivery and set up an account ahead of time.  See if you can set up an order be delivered shortly after arrival and pack non-perishable food to get them through until the delivery time.  If they will be in the student residences, make plans to take a router or have it delivered on day one (if they aren’t provided). Set up an uber eats account with the quarantine address ahead of time and look at the options. Most universities, programs, and student residences have facebook and what’s app groups to join.  This will allow students to start meeting people virtually.  It won’t be fun, but at least they can get over the jet lag before their life really gets started in 14 days!

Some families are worried about the impact this will have on the first year experience.  I totally understand that concern! However, given that Covid is everywhere, life is going to be affected no matter where you are!  I’ve said before that making an international move in the midst of a worldwide pandemic was not ideal for us, but since we’ve never moved internationally before we really don’t have a frame of reference. I don’t know what was harder than it would have been without the pandemic. The same applies for students. They will have a first year experience and it will be different than students in the past, but they will still get the information that is needed and meet other people. Since they don’t have the frame of reference from previous years, they won’t necessarily feel like they are missing out.

Honestly, the overall climate around this is just so much different here and I think the students will feel that. I know I’m generalizing, but I’ve heard this from people in other European countries  too. There’s less doom and gloom and much less hostility and divisiveness around it.  Yes, we have teens who irresponsibly have large gatherings and cause an outbreak, but we don’t have people refusing to talk to contract tracers until issued until issued with subpoenas. And nobody is breaking arms over being told by a store employee to wear a mask. I’ve heard that there is more of a concern for the common good than an every man for himself mentality.  Most (again, but not all) people are following recommendations and taking precautions but moving forward with their lives as much as possible.

I’m in a similar boat as many of you, in that I’m unable to leave the country until I have my residence permit. Due to covid, my original appointment was cancelled and I don’t have a new date yet. For now, its exciting exploring this new country we are living in, but I am dreaming about all the places I want to travel!  For those of you with students in Europe, you will be able to visit them again. For those of you exploring the options, this will likely be resolved well before fall of 2021. Until then, our services and our BTS community can serve as your supports and resources!

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No Limits

“I want to study in France.”

“I read College Beyond the States and found the school I’m going to apply to!”

“I don’t need the help of BTS, the internet has everything I need for free!”

Watch the video to find out why I think all of these approaches are limiting when considering college in Europe.

SUMMER MASTERCLASS?

I’ve had a lot of emails inquiring about the next On Your Mark Masterclass. This is a live course I offer twice a year.  Students learn about the what they need to consider when looking for a university (many of these are specific to Europe) and are then guided through the process I personally use when creating best fit lists for students. At the end of the course, they have a short list of 3-5 programs that best fit their interests, preferences, budget, goals, and qualifications. This is a six week class that involves video lessons (at least students are used to these now!), assignments, 3 group calls (Sunday afternoons) with myself and the other students, and personal feedback from me on 3 different assignments.  

I will be setting the date for fall soon, but given that many summer plans have been cancelled, I’m thinking of offering it in summer too (if there is enough interest). If you would consider signing up for a summer masterclass, please shoot us an email at members@beyondthestates.com

Here’s the link for Masterclass information.

 

 

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Sam’s Change of Plans

We are really starting to turn a corner here in much of Europe.  Curves are flattening, restrictions are gradually and methodically being lifted, and we’re even starting to think about late summer travel possibilities.  Ellie’s volunteer trip to Thailand was cancelled (of course) so we’re thinking of starting some of our college trips right before high school starts for her. I loved Finland even in the winter so I imagine it will be amazing in late August/early September.  Word on the street (ok, in the different higher education facebook groups…) is that universities will be starting back this fall.

Which brings me to Sam’s fall 2020 plans….

I mentioned back in the fall that Sam failed one of his midterms.  We talked about where to ask for help and study strategies when he told me about it, but it was a bit too late. Not only did he fail the final, but he also failed the resit in January.  Sigh.  Part of the reason was that he was so far behind that digging himself out of the hole would be really hard.  I also think he got himself in a mindset that prevented him from giving it his all. Sort of a “better to fail because I didn’t really try than because I can’t do it” sort of mentality.

Bottom line is that failing the class really threw him for a loop. This is a kid who got really good grades without having to try in high school. The problem with having a high school curriculum that didn’t really challenge him was that he didn’t learn good study skills, face consequences for not really trying, and-most importantly-didn’t feel the pride that accompanies working really  hard academically and achieving something due to that work. The exception was French.  He worked hard, won awards, and loved it. However, since high school level French was offered in middle school, he went as far as he could academically by sophomore year and the experience was not replicated in other classes.

With this academic history in mind, when Sam initially expressed being less than enthused about his curriculum, I thought it was because he was worried about Binding Study Advice (BSA). BSA is a formal policy at all Dutch universities.  Though it’s easier to be accepted to Dutch universities, students have to pass a set number of courses to prove that they have what it takes. If they don’t pass that number of courses in the first year, then they can’t come back the second year. Since I thought this was the cause of his concern, I focused on what resources, skills, habits, and such he should use to succeed instead of exploring his thoughts more in depth. Consider that a parental misfire.

So next thing we know, the universities closed due to the pandemic—initially just for a couple of weeks-so he came to spend time with us in Greece. What we didn’t know was that the severity of the Covid situation would literally change overnight in much of Europe. Within a day of Sam arriving in Greece, things in various parts of the continent were starting to lock down. We decided to get to our new place in Portugal earlier than planned, with Sam joining us.

Shortly after, the Dutch universities decided to complete the semester with online courses and discontinued rules around BSA for this academic year. Even students who did not earn the credits needed would be able to return next year, retaking the failed classes in subsequent years. When even after this announcement Sam continued to express dissatisfaction about his program, I realized that is was something different.

Though Sam’s extended time with us led to many headaches (for both of us…), we also had some really good talks. One night we dug into what he didn’t like about his program and brainstormed various solutions.  His main concern was that his classes were completely  theoretical  in focus. Even history, which was a class he really enjoyed in the past, was taught from a in a way-more theoretical-that was not his cup of tea. He also learned that economics was not especially inspiring to him, and he had a required class around this in the fall and the spring. Sam had been incredibly excited about taking Arabic. However, he had only two choices for level-Beginner and Intermediate. The majority of his Arabic acquisition has been through self study, so we were concerned that he would not be ready for Intermediate. He signed up for beginner, and much of the course was information he already had. Most of all, Sam realized that he wanted to eventually have a career related to being an agent for change- in some way shape or form, and wanted a program that taught him what he needed to get there.

After gaining an understanding of his issues, the brainstorming began. The first thing we did was look at whether staying in his program would be an option. We looked at the required courses and realized that courses in economics were required each semester, so it wouldn’t be just  a matter of sucking it up for the rest of this semester. We then started looking at other programs.

The theoretical focus is not Leiden specific.  Dutch research universities are, just as their name implies, research oriented. Research, and thus theory, are important components at all of the Dutch research universities so he would have the same problems at many others as well. Because of this, we didn’t confine our search to the Netherlands, though his preference was to stay there.  He’s comfortable in the country and it feels like home to him. He came up with a list of three universities that had programs aligned with his interests and learning style, and landed on the Management of International Social Challenges Program at Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR).

Beyond geography and program content, there are other features that really appeal to Sam.  Though EUR is a research university, they are one of just a few that utilize Program Based Learning in some of their programs.  I won’t get into all of the steps of PBL here-that could be a blog itself!  Maastricht University is hard core with their use of the method and they describe it in a well here.  In a nutshell, it’s a way of applying the theory to real life situations or case studies, making the material more meaningful, concrete, and relevant. It’s also an active learning strategy centered around critical thought, both of which appeal to Sam and his learning style.

The other thing that fits with Sam’s learning style is their use of a block schedule. The year is broken into 8 different 5 week blocks. Each block has one course and one skill (academic writing, research, presenting, etc). You study those courses in depth for 5 weeks, take the exam (skill classes are generally graded on assignments, not exams) and then move on to the next course. Shifting gears academically is something that is hard for Sam.  Spending time studying one subject and then switching to an entirely different subject each day has been a struggle, so this schedule will help with that. There is, however, one economics course in this program.  While it’s possible that PBL will make it more interesting to him, at least he knows that he only has to plow through 5 weeks of it instead of 20.

There are a few downsides that we evaluated.  First of all, because of their use of PBL, they don’t accept credit transfers.  There are a few courses that will likely be similar to what Sam took at Leiden-Academic Writing for instance- that he will have to take again. There are only 1-2 classes with overlap, so we didn’t consider that to be a dealbreaker. Further, the tuition cost at EUR is 4800 Euros less in annual tuition. Even with the year of Leiden tuition plus three years at EUR, we are paying 2900 Euros less than three years of tuition at Leiden. The other downside is that language is not part of this program and Sam does want to continue Arabic.  We looked at the resources for this within the university, which weren’t sufficient as the language learning center only covered basic Arabic. We extended our search into Rotterdam and found a number of places in which he could continue with his language learning.

We went through this same process with the three universities he had on his list (these were in Prague and Krakow) As I mentioned earlier, Sam loves the Netherlands and has been to Rotterdam a number of times. That familiarity, along with the program specifics made it his first choice.  He got his acceptance last week, got his housing offer this week (yay) and will begin in the fall after completing his year with Leiden.

One thing I really want to emphasize is that this is in no way a reflection on Leiden. None of the issues Sam had were because of Leiden, but were because he gained a better of his needs, interests, and goals.  I still think the world of Leiden and just recently recommended it on a best fit list I was working on. I’ve  been asking myself what we would have or could have done differently, knowing what we know know, and have come up with quite a few things that we are already implementing with Ellie.  More on that next week…

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Looking Ahead and Planning Accordingly

As you may know, my daughter Ellie is a sophomore and has been attending a virtual high school this year.  We knew we would be moving during the school year and decided that this would be easier than trying to find a school where she could start mid year. Instead, she will start at an international school in the fall. This virtual year also allowed her to travel with me a lot, which has been incredible for both of us!

One thing I’ve learned through her online school experience is how much time in a regular school day at a brick and mortar school must be spent on non academic matters. That’s not to stay that many of those things aren’t of value, but Ellie is able to complete her classes and assignments each day in MUCH less than  a traditional 7 hour school day!  And this is with two AP classes!

With so many schools shut down right now, you might be seeing the same. Perhaps you live in a state that is enforcing more strict shelter at home measures.  We’re living that right now in Portugal and it makes excessive free time a little less enjoyable…

It’s often hard to plan for the future when we are in the midst of a crisis-the focus is more about getting through each day. The problem is that this strategy leaves us unprepared when things are stabilized. Though we may need to be more flexible with our plans, we still need to anticipate the future and work towards goals.

I’m working on a few personal goals during this time. The first is working on learning Portuguese.  Languages don’t come easily to me, but I’m making myself work on this daily and am looking forward to the days when I will actually be communicating with people in places other than grocery stores!  I’m also working on my flexibility.  I seriously can’t even touch my toes an as I’m getting older this is causing a lot of aches and pains.  I’ve alway struggled to find the motivation to stretch. I get bored and-because I lack flexibility- it’s not comfortable. I bit the bullet and signed up for an online class that walks me through what I need to do for 15 minutes a day to double my flexibility in a month.  I’ve also thrown a fun project in there too!  I ordered a bottle of wine from each region in Portugal to learn about the differences and my preferences.  While I have to make sure that language learning and stretching are on my list each day, this is one goal I remember to work on regularly! In a time of such uncertainty, it actually feels really good to be working towards something!

Though it’s hard to imagine right now, at some point the worst of this health crisis will be behind us.  I imagine/hope that things will be relatively normal by fall of 2020 (though we may have a new definition of normal).  By fall of 2021 or 2022, when some of your kids will be starting university, this will be well in the past-hopefully due to a vaccine!  Unfortunately, for many of us, the economic impact of the social distancing measures are hitting hard and affecting college savings.

How about some good news? Each year, after the database updates are complete, we update our numbers for the average tuition of the English-taught bachelors degree programs in continental Europe. Get this-there are 1953 English-taught bachelor’s degree programs in Europe and the average tuition is just $7390 per year-and remember-most of these just take 3 years to complete!

When you start looking at the country level, it’s even more astounding.

  • Czech Republic-home of a few of my favorite schools in Brno and Prague-with an average of $4675 per year!
  • Norway-one of the happiest places in the world according to studies-at an average of $930 per year!
  • Estonia-which I think is a hidden gem for students-with an average of $5420 per year!

Sweden, and Denmark have the highest averages, each at about $13,400.  I love that $13,400 is considered the high side, as opposed to $30-50,000!

So what do we know?

Our kids have extra time right now.

At some point in the future, we will not be confined to our houses.

Money may be tight and our investments may have suffered losses.

You are getting this email because at some point in time you expressed interest in college in Europe, by opting in to our email list. This is a fantastic time to explore these options more in depth! Because of the financial issues facing many of us right now, I know that committing to a monthly membership fee  can feel like a no-go.  I’d like to tell you about some stand alone options we have, as well as some special offers around these services.

Over the years, I’ve developed a number of courses to help students and families navigate the options in Europe.

Our best selling course,  Choosing A University in Europe, walks you though the process of finding the right school. It actually is the process I use when I’m working on best fit lists for student! The course helps you determine the criteria to search including budget, admissions, field of study, location specific criteria, and more! It includes 30 days of database access so you can conduct your own search using the criteria you decide on through the activities included with each lesson.

Though Choosing a University is the best starting point, we have other courses to help you navigate the other aspects of exploring college in Europe. We have one that provides information abut the admissions process,  another that helps you determine what area of study is best for you, one that talks about business schools in Europe and another that talks about the options in the Netherlands (since they have the largest number of English-taught options with a wide variety of disciplines represented, including liberal arts).

Right now, I’m offering 50% all of these courses, which means most are just $25. Both parents and students can benefit from these courses and they are completely self paced so finish as quickly or slowly as you like! We also offer an option for If you would like personalized support through the process too.

My son, Sam, is with us in Portugal right now. His Dutch university, like most, has cancelled face to face classes for the rest of the semester.  Lectures are recorded and tutorials (which are the smaller seminars) are done through Skype calls. Like most of the students I’ve worked with, he is eager to get back to his life in the Hague!  His  tuition is on the higher side of the European tuition range, at $11,350 per year. Despite that, overall we are paying about $200,000 than we would at a comparable US private university and even about $40,000 less than we would for instate tuition at one of the flagship state school in North Carolina, where we were residents.

 

So $25 to….

… take action towards preparing for when the virus is behind us.

… learn about high quality educational experiences.

….avoid student loans, second mortgages, and using retirement savings for tuition.

…provide life changing experiences for our kids.

… pursue opportunities that will give them a competitive edge in the workplace when they graduate.

Sound good?

If any of these benefits appeal to you, then follow the link to sign up for the courses!

Discount expires on June 15th

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GI Bill: Can It Be Used for College in Europe?

Josh is a former US Marine from Florida who now studies International Relations at the University of Warsaw in Poland.  His first international exposure came during his years of overseas duty. His posting to the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group  really increased his interest in higher education and stoked a desire for continued international experiences.  He also met his now-wife while serving at the US Embassy in Warsaw.  Josh’s studies are financed through the GI Bill which, until recently, I didn’t realize could be used to fund college in Europe (more info here)!

Why Are Veterans So Well Suited for College or Grad School in Europe?

  • They have gained international exposure through their service.
  • They tend to be older and more mature than typical students in the US.
  • Their benefits really are confined to state schools in which they live or have residency, since $23,672 won’t go very far for towards out of state or private school tuition.
  • Their experience in the military has taught the skills needed to deal with bureaucratic processes that are often involved in studying abroad.

What Are the Benefits Under the GI Bill?

Benefits under the Post 9/11 GI bill vary based on the amount of time served after 9/11/01. Those who had active duty for 3 months get 40% of benefits up to those who served for 3 years who get 100% of benefits.

100% of benefits include:

  • Full tuition for in state and up to $23,672 for out of state or private or international (veterans can get in state tuition where they live or have official residence).
  • $1,000 per year for books.
  • $1,650 monthly living allowance

What are the Options in Europe?

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There are 735 universities in continental Europe that offer English-taught bachelor’s and/or master’s degree programs.  More than 220 of these schools accept the GI Bill. The only countries that don’t have any schools that accept the GI Bill are Monaco and Slovenia.  All the others countries have options! In fact, more than half of the bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in our database accept the GI Bill!

Of these 4,300+ English taught bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that accept the GI Bill, only 177 have tuition that is greater than the max benefts.  Most of these more expensive programs are either MBA programs, Fine/Performing Arts programs in Sweden, or programs held at American schools with a European campus (surprise…).

Here are just a few examples of universities that offer programs of interests and are fully covered by the GI Bill (assuming the student has 100% benefits) :

 

Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia

What better place to study cyber security than Estonia?

On my first visit there, I was surprised to learn about all their technological advances, their focus on internet connectivity (including free WiFi throughout Tallinn), e-society (CNBC Story), electronic voting, and unique cyber-security programs. This from a country that was under Soviet rule until just 1991! Tal Tech offers both a bachelor’s and master’s degree program in Cyber Security.

The curriculum is designed to provide higher education in the extremely hot field of Cyber Security, integrating software development and IT systems administration. Graduates of this curriculum will be able to independently design, operate and manage secure IT systems. Cyber security personnel are in high demand right now. The unemployment rate in the field is 0% and there are estimates that there will be 3.5 million unfilled positions in 2021. Visit the bankruptcy lawyers website for more information.

The university offers a total of 20 English-taught bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, primarily in the fields of business, engineering, technology and computer science. Tuition ranges from 2,300-6,000 euros per year.

 

University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands

The city of Groningen has a tremendous amount to offer students. It is the youngest city in the Netherlands, with half of the population under the age of 35. Further 25% of the residents are students. The decentralized campus means that the various university buildings are located throughout the city, which makes the city and university feel very connected-like the town is serving as one big campus. Though it’s a city with a population of more than 200,000, it retains a community feel. Groningen is also a world cycling city and residents say that the city center is busy but quiet, since there are so few cars. Truly an incredible student city!

The University of Groningen is one of the oldest in Europe, founded in 1614. They have a strong international student body, at 20%, representing 120 different countries. I don’t think I could even name 120 countries!

The university offer 34 bachelor’s and 116 master’s program, all 100% English taught. Not only are there programs representing most study disciplines, but most of them are multidisciplinary in nature. For instance, the Internal Law program includes courses in politics science, economics and international relations.  The Life Science and Technology program covers biology, pharmacy, physics, chemistry, and engineering. There is really something for almost everyone here! Tuition ranging from 8,900 to 15,500 EUR per year, all well under the GI Bill spending limit, check benjaminnicholas.

 

University of Bocconi, Milan, Italy

gi billBocconi just about has it all-triple crown accreditation,  a centralized campus in the incredible city of Milan, a truly international approach to education-and, of course, Italian food! They ensure that class size is conducive to interactions and the classroom layout is intentionally designed to create an interactive environment.

Many schools SAY say that emphasize internationalism, but Bocconi really backs it up. Every professor that has been hired over the last 15 years has had international experiences themselves-they are either non-Italian or an Italian who received their Ph.D in another country.  Bocconi sees the value of providing international exposure throughout the study period big city maids. Bachelor’s students are required to learn two additional languages during their studies and students are strongly encouraged to study abroad (in some cases it is mandatory).

Given that this is a business school, almost all of the programs are related to economics and management.  That said, in addition to pure business programs like Finance and International Management, there are also programs that integrate business with other areas of study.  Examples include:

  • Economics and Management for Arts, Culture, and Communication
  • Green Management, Energy and Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Economics and Data Science
  • Data Science and Business Analysis
  • Economics and Management of Government and International Organizations

Bocconi offers 27 English-taught bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. All except for 8 of the programs are less than the tuition covered by the GI Bill.

How Can Beyond the States Help?

Beyond the States provides information, resources, and a community of like-minded people to help students explore, apply to, and prepare for higher education in Europe.

Interested in Learning More??

If you’re looking for a bachelor’s degree, click here to get our Five Programs Guide.

If you’re more interested in a Master’s degree, click here to get the Ultimate Guide to Grad School.

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Three Reasons Students Are Going To Europe For Graduate School

master’s degree programsIn 2015, I stumbled on the existence of English-taught full degree programs held at European universities. My kids were teenagers and I had a number of concerns about higher education in the US-from ever increasing cost to opaque admissions process to varying quality- so I decided to explore whether to keep this possibility on our radar. Prior to this, I assumed that an international student would have to know a foreign language to study in Europe. I certainly had no idea that, in non-Anglophone countries in Europe, there are over 700 accredited universities offering almost 8,000 full bachelor’s and master’s degree programs conducted entirely in English—no foreign language skills needed. Everything from the courses to the readings to the assignments are in English, plus English is widely spoken as a second language in many countries.

The cost savings alone made master’s degree programsme realize that many other families would also be interested in learning more.  I spent a year researching, visiting schools in Europe, meeting with administrators and talking to American students who were already studying in Europe in order to start Beyond the States.  Until now, we focused on helping families learn about and navigate the European bachelor’s degree options. As I’ve visited schools, I’ve learned about the incredible master’s degree programs and, by popular demand, we have begun to offer resources around these options as well.

Interested in learning why so many Americans are excited about getting their master’s degree in Europe?

1) Lower Cost of Master’s Degree Programs

According to FinAid.org, the average cost for master’s degree programs in the US ranges from $30,000 – $120,000 which depends on whether a student is paying in-statue tuition, out of state or private tuition. Given that the average student completes their bachelor’s degree with $33,310 of debt, taking on the expense of graduate school can be financially devastating, especially if, as most do, master’s students also carry debt from their bachelor’s degree.

English-taught master’s degree programs in Europe are much more affordable.  Their average tuition for the more than 5,000 English-taught programs is at $9,000 per year.  That average includes the higher priced programs, like MBAs, so it is significant to note that there are over 1,800 options under $3,500 per year and more than 700 that are tuition free-even for international students.

There’s a false perception that the cost of living in Europe is much greater than in the US, and that cost of living, along with increased travel expenses, erase the savings provided by lower tuition. Let’s look at a couple of comparisons around this.  My son, Sam, is in the International Studies bachelor’s program at Leiden University.  Students in this program choose a region and related language and then study politics, economics, international relations, culture and such as it pertains to that area. For the sake of this example, we will look at related master’s degrees in Europe and compare them to the costs of attendance in our state of North Carolina.

UNC Chapel Hill offers a master’s degree in Global Studies.  In state tuition is $10,552 per year while out of state master’s degree programsstudents pay $28,278 in tuition a year. Duke University offers a Political Science master’s degree program for $60,727 per year.  Both of these programs take two years to complete. The cost of living in Durham and Chapel Hill is similar, estimated by the schools to cost about $2,000 per month, so $18,000 for an academic year thus, the total cost of attendance for in state at UNC Chapel Hill is $59,104, out of state is 94,556, and private is $242,908.

Five years ago, those numbers would have seemed normal to me….Now though, they do not. I know that there are other options. Groningen University, in the Netherlands, is one of many universities that offers one year master’s degree programs, and has a Middle Eastern Studies master’s program.  The tuition is $14,241 and cost of living estimates are $14,437. The total cost of attendance is $28,679. Even budgeting for two flights home during the year, it’s still half of what we would pay overall for in state, a third of what we would pay for out of state, and just over a tenth of what we would pay for private US universities.

There are also countries with a much lower cost of living to explore.  Charles University, in Prague, Czech Republic, offers a two year International Relations program for $6,835 per year.  The estimated cost of living for the year is even lower than tuition at $5,481. The entire two year degree, then, is $24,633. Note that both of these schools are highly reputable, globally ranked universities.

Even factoring in the cost of living and 2 flights home per year, we would save anywhere between $28,000-$214,275 using these examples!

2) Employability After Master’s Degree Programs

I’m often asked if the degree will be “good” here in the US.  First of all, all the programs we list are fully accredited and the degrees are internationally recognized.  Usually, this question pertains to employment though.  Good news on that front!  A recent study by the Institute of International Education found that studying abroad for longer periods of time has a high impact on job offers, as well as job advancement.

The experience of living outside of one’s home country help students gain the soft skills that employers are looking for-and find lacking in US graduates. Students who have studied outside of their home country are immersed in a different culture and cultivate awareness of and appreciation for cultural differences. The emphasis on group work in European schools gives students the opportunity to work with people from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. These graduates are often flexible, adaptable, and experienced in navigating unfamiliar circumstances, all of which are the soft skills that lead to success in the workplace.

Multinational companies recognize the skills what these students bring and partner with many of the European universities to recruit students and/or offer opportunities for hands on experience during studies. These companies include Google, BP, JP Morgan, Accenture, Deloitte, Cisco and many more. There are a number of countries that offer English-taught programs as a way to address their labor shortage. Denmark, for instance, focuses their English taught programs on the employment needs of their country so international students have many opportunities for employment after graduating.

3) Life Changing International Experiences

International experiences are in no way confined to living in the country of your university. The English-taught programs in Europe are developed to attract students from around the world. Thus, friendships are made with others from around the world. Cultural differences are recognized, openly discussed, and valued. Though there are differences in background, there are meaningful common experiences and values among international students. They are all experiencing living outside of their home country, which is a significant and life-changing experience. Further, most of these students do have the values associated with global citizenship, which connects them on a very deep level.

In addition to experiencing the world by studying in a different country, students studying in Europe have many other opportunities for international exposure. The EU’s Erasmus+ program, for instance, is an umbrella organization for the many programs that encourage mobility among young people. The student mobility program is one that all degree-seeking students attending European universities can participate in—even international students! In addition to offering opportunities for study and internships in different countries, Erasmus + also funds Erasmus Mundus programs. These really interesting and often integrated programs are developed and implemented by a consortium of higher education institutions in at least two different countries. Students study in at least two countries and receive a joint degree from the universities of the consortium.  There are more than 100 of these programs that are conducted entirely in English. There are options for just about every field of study that you can think of: Agriculture, Arts, Design, Humanities, Social Sciences, Health Sciences, Computer Science and Technology, Business, and more. These programs are relevant to today’s issues and often involve professionals from related companies which helps students understand how to apply the knowledge – not to mention network! Though the tuition for these programs is generally 9,000 Euros per year, students can apply for scholarships which fund everything from tuition to food and housing to travel costs.

Of course, there are abundant travel opportunities that are more exotic than Cancun or Florida. Europe is compact, making it easy to spend the weekends exploring by train or through inexpensive flights. This may include visiting the hometowns of your new friends, or trips organized by the university or international organizations.  I recently met with a group of students who were spending a weekend in Montenegro, organized by their schools international student organization.  The cost for travel, lodging, food, etc. was just 200 Euros!

These options aren’t for everyone.  They are for students who don’t confine themselves to the status quo, who are interested in other cultures, who love to travel, and want to explore the world, who are open-minded, and eager to have new and different academic and life experiences.  For these students, these options would be worth exploring – even if the potential savings were not so dramatic.

Interested in learning about specific schools in Europe?   Click here to receive a free guide I put together about ten great graduate school options in Europe.