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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?

GI bill
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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.

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Podcast: Study Abroad and Erasmus

Beyond the States Podcast Show Notes

college in europe

Title Study Abroad & Erasmus Student Network 

Episode Summary

In this episode, Jenn talks about the prospect of studying abroad when you’re already an international student. She interviews João Pinto from the Erasmus Student Network. Interesting fact: students who study abroad are three times more likely to vote when they return home.

Guest

João Pinto, President of the International Board of Erasmus Student Network

 

Resources

Study Abroad blogs from Beyond the States

Erasmus Student Network

Erasmus Impact Study

Fun Quiz: What is Your Perfect Erasmus Destination?

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European Study Abroad: How to Study in More than One Country without Going Broke

In our previous blog, we talked about the importance of global citizenship and the role international exposure plays in that development.  We discussed the financial challenges the US study abroad programs present as well as the fact that some of these programs even limit integration with non-US students. Less than 10% of US college students study abroad. In contrast, study abroad is an integral part of being a full-time student in EuropeThe EU sees study abroad as aligned with their policy agendas for growth, jobs, equality,  and social inclusion.  Further, the EU has set a goal that all citizens should have the opportunity to acquire at least two languages, something that the European study abroad programs also foster.

They note that this international exposure leads to “improved learning performance; enhanced employability and improved career prospects; increased self-empowerment and self-esteem; improved foreign language competencies; enhanced intercultural awareness; more active participation in society;”.  These are exactly the reasons we think studying in Europe is important as well!

Unlike the US university system, which views studying abroad as an opportunity to generate high fees from unwitting students, the European study abroad is promoted by the EU who puts money INTO encouraging students to study in outside their home country. This is one reason why the number of English conducted programs has increased over the past couple of decades. Having these programs taught in English encourages European study abroad.

The EU has a program called Erasmus+. This is an umbrella organization that encompasses many European study abroadprograms that encourage mobility among young people. The student mobility program is one that all degree students at participating European universities can participate in, even international students!

So, if you are a student at a European university that participates with Erasmus, (and most do) you have the opportunity to spend up to twelve months of your program on a European study abroad (and sometimes outside of Europe as well). This can be studying at another university or doing an internship in another country or a combination of the two. You can use the twelve months for each level of study (meaning you can participate during your bachelor’s degree program and then again during your master’s program). There are logistical benefits to the Erasmus program, for instance, you are assured that your credits will transfer, there are structures in place to assist with housing and student life, and all internships have a written agreement that includes a clear focus and specific project that will offer the student exposure to an occupation, industry or field (no fetching coffee). I recently worked with a student who really wants to study in Spain, but there were not a lot of English conducted full degree programs in her area of interest.  She decided that she would be fine spending one of the three years of her program in Spain, so will apply to schools in other European countries with the plan to study in Spain through Erasmus.

There is also a financial benefit to European study abroad. Students on Erasmus continue paying the tuition of their main school, even if the tuition at the university they are visiting is more expensive. Think of Jared, who is only paying $1,000 per year.  Almost any other school would have a much greater tuition, but he would continue to pay the KU Leuven rate while studying elsewhere through the Erasmus program.  Further, students can apply for an Erasmus grant which provides monthly stipends of 150-500€ per month depending on the cost of living of the country. Here’s the other great thing – students can do the internship (with the grant) the year after they graduate so long as they complete the application and selection process during their final year of studies. Given that employers hire 50-75% of former interns, this is a fantastic opportunity to get a career off to a strong start.

You don’t hear much in the US about study abroad opportunities in master’s degree programs. In Europe, not only is the student mobility program open to master’s degree students in European study abroadEurope (again, even international students) there is also the Erasmus Mundus program.  These are really interesting and often integrated programs that 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 94 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!

Some examples of the programs are:

Journalism, Media, and Globalization

Study in Denmark, the Netherlands, UK, Germany

This program provides “a unique educational experience with students studying and living in at least two European countries. The first year of the degree is spent in Denmark with the entire cohort, and the second year sees students split into smaller groups and move universities to specialize in one of four distinct areas of journalism: War and Conflict, Business and Finance, Media and Politics, or Journalism and Media Across Cultures. Students learn to combine academic, theoretical knowledge with journalistic skills, and to analyze, interpret and generate knowledge about the global changes that increasingly challenge traditional boundaries.”

Food Science Technology and Business

Study in Belgium, Portugal, Germany

This program helps “foster innovation and technology in order to cope with the future needs and sustainability in food science, technology, and business? The aim of the program: To foster and develop knowledge and awareness of scientific trends and health issues in food science, technology, and business in a global context. In addition, the course seeks to enhance student’s professional competence in areas such as safety, management, and ethics.”

Medical Imaging and Application

Study in Spain, France, Italy

“Medical Image Analysis and Computer Aided Diagnosis (CAD) systems, in close development with novel imaging techniques, have revolutionized healthcare in recent years. Those developments have allowed doctors to achieve a much more accurate diagnosis, at an early stage, of the most important diseases. The technology behind the development of CAD systems stems from various research areas in computer science such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, pattern recognition, computer vision, image processing and sensors and acquisition. There is a clear lack of MSc studies which cover the previously mentioned areas with a specific application to the analysis of medical images and development of CAD systems within an integrated medical imaging background. Moreover, the medical technology industry has detected a growing need of expert graduates in this field.”

Migration and Intercultural Relations

Study in the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Norway, Germany

They “address issues that currently rank highly on the global agenda – and need expertise on transnational, transcultural and transdisciplinary level. Migration and mobility, flight, displacement, and refugee – globally and (supra)nationally discussed primarily on a policy level – touch decisive dimensions in economic and social development, demography, international relations, political theory and cultural cooperation, to name some, not all of the key areas englishcollege.com. Sustainable answers bridging the interests of nation states (incl. their welfare systems and labour markets) with human rights, democratic values and globality have yet to be found. Research on intercultural relations and intercultural communication is closely linked to these questions and frequently key to the understanding of problems and conflict.”

Most of these programs cost around 9,000€ per year (convert to $) for a two-year program, but Erasmus offers scholarships for each of the programs. These merit-based scholarships cover 100% of the tuition, 1,000€ per month for living expenses, and even money for a travel allowance (the amount is determined by how far your home country is from your study country). The scholarships are quite competitive, but most of the programs offer other scholarship options as well.

The fact that these EU-funded programs are open to international students really speaks to how highly the EU values globalization. They want students from around the world to study with them because the outcome is positive for the world as a whole and benefits Europe. If you have read our blogs, you already know that you have an incredible number of options for a high quality and affordable education in Europe-conducted entirely in English. You also have the opportunity to study in more than one foreign country without extra cost, all while gaining relevant skills and knowledge for the workforce.  There are over 1,700 English conducted bachelor’s and over 4,200 master’s programs throughout continental Europe. Let Beyond the States be your guide to all the exciting educational options in Europe by becoming a member today.

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Are US Study Abroad Programs a Good Path to Global Citizenship?

I’ve talked before about the importance of exposure to cultural diversity and how grateful I was to have it as an integral part of my life growing up in Chicago.  I knew that this was something my kids would not have in their day to day life growing up in our homogeneous town of Chapel Hill, NC. Tom and I made it a priority to expose them in different ways with an eye towards global citizenship. We made it a priority to travel internationally from the time they were young, even when it meant long flights with cranky kids or making financial sacrifices.  As they are older now, we see them developing the qualities associated with global citizenship.

“Global Citizenship” is a bit of a buzz word, but something that is important to many individuals and global citizenshipfamilies. A global citizen is one whose identity includes, but expands beyond, the country in which they grew up. Global citizenship means being aware of, respecting, valuing and identifying with the world community, not just your home country. Since the countries of the world are part of their identified community, global citizens are just as devastated by atrocities occurring around the world as they are about those that occur in their home country.  Thus, the problems occurring in different countries around the world have global citizens attempting to affect change around the world’s problems.

Experiencing other cultures can help lead to global citizenship.  Through travel, you can see similarities and differences of each culture. You can incorporate parts of the cultures into your own life.  In our home, we always take off our shoes like they do in Japan and Sweden and try to include various hygge throughout following the Danish tradition. I love a good post lunch nap (Spain & Italy) and our pantry reflects food discoveries we have made in various countries. Further, I adapt the guidelines of Italy regarding acceptable levels of wine consumption!

Interacting on a personal level with people from different countries enables a greater perspective on world events.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, I had a really eye opening discussion with a 30 something hipster in Prague about his own experiences as a child under communist rule and his thoughts on the current situation in the US. While the qualities associated with global citizenship are important for personal development as well as increasing the problem solving around world issues, it is also highly valued by employers, visit maidwhiz.com.

According to the Institute for International Education in 2016, 268,910 of the 1,785,452 US college students attended a study abroad program. That’s 15.1% of all students. Many students in the US hope to experience the world through these study abroad and many do. I have to tell you that I think these programs are the biggest rip off of all time. It’s yet another example of the problems associated with universities running like big business. In addition, some of the programs decrease the true impact international experiences can have. Let’s talk about a few examples.

global citizenshipThe University of Illinois (U of I) has many study abroad choices. One is with KU Leuven, in Belgium. Students attend classes at KU Leuven with KU Leuven students learning from KU Leuven professors.  Students doing this exchange can expect to pay over $15,000 for one, single semester!

Here’s the crazy thing- The tuition for an entire year for an international student is right around $1,425-as opposed to the $4,525 U of I charges for one semester of access to the same classes! U of I study abroad students pay just over $600 a month for housing that U of I arranges in a student residence with all the other American students. An international student can find easily find housing in student residences for $375 per month. Then, of course, there are the tremendous number of fees in addition to tuition at U of I (reduced, but still!) you will pay during your semester abroad. A full time international student at KU Leuven will pay less for his entire degree than an Illinois semester abroad student!

Some schools use a private study abroad provider. With many of these, students live a fairly self-contained existence and take classes through the provider, not even on the campus of a university. It reminds me a bit of a cruise and experiencing the semester as a tourist as opposed to a visiting student. There is a reputable provider who offers a semester in Copenhagen for $25,500.  For one semester!  That does include housing and some meals, but not transportation to and from the US. Let’s compare that to a student at Copenhagen Business School(CBS)-a prestigious school with triple crown international accreditation. Yearly tuition at CBS is right around $10,000 and rooms in student residences can be found for $400 per month.  Thus, you could be a full time student for two years with housing for what it would cost for one semester of study abroad.

For students who desire an international experience, I highly recommend exploring the 1,700+ English conducted full bachelors programs offered throughout continental Europe by becoming a member of Beyond the States. Not only are the financial benefits tremendous, but true immersion in another culture provides a path to global citizenship. Beyond the States offers a variety of ways to help students and their families navigate the European programs, admissions processes, housing and more with packages starting at just $89. 

European schools have a number of programs and policies in place to increase internationalization of their students-even if you are already an international student! Next week’s blog will piggy back on this week’s topic.  You see, European schools have a number of programs and policies in place to increase internationalization of their students.  We will look at the programs avaliable that enable students in Europe (even international students!) to study at school’s in more than one country (as a bachelor’s or master’s degree student) with no additional fees-and the possibility for a monthly stipend!

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Study Abroad and the Secret of Direct Enrollment

I was speaking with the parent of a college student recently explaining the mission of Beyond the States, when she said, “Oh yes, [my college student] is going to do study abroad.” Study abroad programs, like many aspects of the US college experience, such as overpriced textbooks and crazy housing costs, tend to be unnecessarily expensive when compared with direct enrollment in a European school.

The extreme cost of these study abroad programs often stems from the fact that students generally must pay full tuition to their home school, even while they’re studying abroad. Additionally, US tuition is too high and continuing to increase. I guess someone has to pay to keep the lights on back on campus.

Let’s look at some examples:

$38,794 Georgetown’s Italian semester abroad program is at Villa Le Blaze. Villa Le Balze is georgetowns-fiesole-study-abroad-residence-italyGeorgetown’s study center in Florence. Until 1979, the villa was the property of the Marquesa Rockefeller, granddaughter of Nelson D. She donated it to Georgetown with the stipulation that it be used as a place of learning. The villa provides students with a unique study abroad experience that includes classes on site, a comprehensive academic program, intensive Italian language classes, and ample time to travel throughout Italy. Georgetown estimates tuition, room and board to be $33,894 plus another $4,900 for personal expenses such as travel and books for a grand total of $38,794 for a single semester. That’s nuts!

Compare: The average cost of all the Italian programs in the Beyond the States database is $3,250 per semester, which means you could get a 4-year degree in Italy for the cost of a semester in the Georgetown program, but I’m sure their villa is quite nice.

Hamburg UAS study abroad $24,014 (Out of State/$12,889 In State) According to the UW study abroad site, University of Wisconsin’s Engineering School offers a semester abroad at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany. HAUS is a large university that specializes in engineering, IT, renewable energy, and life sciences. UW Study Abroad notes 4th semester German is required.

Contrast: Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, like all German public universities of applied sciences charges zero tuition to international students. It even has an IT engineering degree program entirely taught in English.

$23,464 Dartmouth’s Foreign Study program in Greece is “…loosely based in Athens, consists for the marathon study abroadmost part of extensive field trips…to various parts of the ancient Greek world including Crete and the Aegean islands”, which is to say, student stay in hotels and ride from historic site to historic site in a bus. Enrollment is limited to 15 students for the quarter. Dartmouth is on a quarter system, so this is 1/3 of the year’s costs.

Compare: The average tuition cost per semester of the English-taught programs in Greece is $4,694, which would leave a lot leftover for sightseeing.

                        Why Study Abroad for Just One Semester?

Instead of making study abroad the highlight of your college experience, why not make it the center? US students can enroll directly as international students in Europe. Going to college in Europe is less expensive, you can finish a year sooner and you’ll have great travel opportunities. At Beyond the States, we’ve researched these schools and programs for you.

 Other Benefits:

Finish Sooner: Most of the programs in Europe are designed to be finished in 3 years. The difference is that there are fewer general education requirements than in the US.

Gain Perspective: When you’re an international student at a European university, you’ll be in classes with students from many other countries, rather than being in classes with only Americans as in many US study abroad programs.

Study Abroad in the US at Low European Tuition When you go to college in Europe, you have the option of studying abroad. That could back in the US or elsewhere. Some schools, like France’s Sciences Po, even require a study abroad year. As a study abroad student, you’d pay the lower European tuition.

Control Your Own Destiny: Most study abroad programs at US schools are governed by restrictions around grades, program sponsors and arrangements the schools have with their international partners find treatment how to build trust in relationship. These may not be apparent to students when selecting their US college and they may also change during the student’s tenure. When you’re a direct student, you’re in the driver’s seat and there are no middle-men to satisfy.

Choice: At Beyond the States, we’ve built a database with over 1,500 English-taught programs, many more than the US schools have in their study abroad systems.

About Beyond the States

You’ve decided to go to college overseas. Or maybe you’re just checking out your options. Either way, you need a trusted advisor to help you understand how to get from here to there. That’s where Beyond the States comes in. We help students and parents find the right college for them outside the US. For more information, contact us at info@beyondthestates.com