Requirements to Admissions In Europe

We’re going to talk about specific requirements in different countries and in different schools.

Slide 1: Lesson 2: The Requirements

Okay, we are now moving on to Lesson Two of the Admissions in Europe course, and we’re going to talk about specific requirements in different countries and in different schools. So the basic admission criteria at any school in Europe is that the applicant must have a high school diploma that’s the equivalent of the high school diploma in their own country. So here’s the thing. In some countries, a US high school diploma is considered less than a high school diploma in their own country. So let’s go through the requirements at a country level first. 

Slide 2: Golden Tickets for Admission – no need for APs

  • IB Diploma
  • 1 year of college credit (not from community college)

Before I get into this, let me tell you, I’m just talking about an American high school diploma that’s not equivalent. If you have an IB diploma, if you have one year of college credits, no matter what country you’re from, those are the golden tickets. The standard high school diploma of any country is assessed on a country by country basis. Again, the US high school diploma is not the equivalent in some countries, but an IB diploma, or one year of college credits, you are good. Sometimes a full associate’s degree will meet these requirements as well. But otherwise credits at a community college do not.

Slide 3: Countries with no extra requirements

So these are the countries that don’t have any of the extra requirements. A regular American high school diploma is their equivalent. Keep in mind that particular schools in these countries may have other requirements, which we’ll get to in a minute, but we’re just talking about at the countrywide level. So I want to talk for a minute about these four year programs in the Netherlands at the universities of applied sciences. You may already know about the difference between research universities and universities of applied sciences, but I do want to touch on that for just a minute here. Universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands is teach a different way. It’s more of a practical approach, it’s more of a hands-on learning. You’ll almost always have to complete an internship. And it doesn’t have the research focus. You’re not going to have to take statistics, for instance. You’re not going to be taking quantitative methods or qualitative methods, or anything like that. They don’t have a research focus. It’s about how to use that knowledge in the workplace, basically. So you might find a business program, for instance, at both a research university and the university of applied science, and they’re going to be approaching it in a different way.

They’re both full bachelor’s degree programs. Some people think, oh, it’s a university of applied science. Does that mean like it’s a vocational program? No, it’s a full bachelor’s. The universities of applied sciences have four year programs and they have three year programs. By the way, as I’m talking about this, I’m just talking about the Netherlands, there are universities of applied sciences elsewhere. Right now, I’m just talking about the Netherlands. So in the Netherlands, there are four year programs, and there are sometimes three year programs at the universities of applied sciences. The four year programs do not require any extra of the qualifications that we’re about to get into.

Slide 4: Countries with extra requirements

So these are the countries that do have extra requirements if you don’t have an IB score, or an IB diploma, or the one year of college credits. So for instance, the countries in red have an AP requirement. If we are talking about Denmark, and Norway, and Italy, they require three AP scores of 3 or higher. The research universities or three year programs in the Netherlands, they require three or four AP scores of 3 or higher (the exact number depends on the school and program).So the thing to remember though is even with these AP requirements, more doesn’t necessarily help you at all. So it’s still attainable if you’re early in the game. And we’ll talk about that in just a little bit as well. 

Slide 5: Entrance Exams

  • UAS in Finland
  • Many in Portugal
  • Many in Lithuania

 There are some countries that require entrance exams. The universities of applied sciences in Finland for instance, they all require entrance exams. And this is of importance, because almost all of the schools in Finland with English-taught bachelor’s degree programs are at the universities of applied sciences. This used to create a lot of obstacles because students would have to travel to Finland to take the exam. But then, it started to get easier with tests offered in international cities. They even had one that was in the US and Chicago, I think. But now, some of the schools are even allowing SAT scores to substitute for the exam, if you want it to. Many of the schools in Portugal and Lithuania also have entrance exams, but almost all of them allow SAT scores to substitute for the exam. 

Slide 5.5: Ireland

And while we are talking about the SATs, we do need to talk about Ireland.  Irish universities do require students with an American high school diploma to submit ACT or SAT scores. Each school puts their different programs into different tiers and each tier has a minimum score requirement. That said, it’s not always a hard and fast rule. Sometimes, if a student has an exceptional GPA or lots of AP scores and a SAT/ACT score that is just shy of the requirement, they will still be considered.

Slide 6: Countries with no extra requirements

But again, I want to emphasize that the majority of countries don’t have these extra requirements. This is a much bigger list than those that I just gave you. So you see, Sweden here is on the list of places without extra requirements. And while it’s true that you don’t need APs, they have a timeline that prevents students from applying during their senior year. They don’t allow you to apply until you’ve officially graduated. And their deadline for international students is in January; very few seniors graduate by January. So unless you’re taking a gap year, or you’ve already graduated from high school, Sweden is often off the table. 

Slide 7: Coordinated Admissions

  • Sweden
  • Finland
  • Denmark

So speaking of Sweden, Sweden, along with Finland and Denmark, have countrywide coordinated admissions processes. So you can apply to a certain number of programs and schools within the country, and you rank your order of preference. If you’re not accepted to your first choice, then you pass your second choice for review, and so on, until you are hopefully accepted. So you only get an offer from one school. 

So besides the quantifiable criteria, the other thing schools are assessing is whether or not you’re a good fit for the program, and the program is a good fit for you. This is done often through a motivation letter, and sometimes a Skype interview, which we’re going to get into more in depth in Lesson Four. But I want to give you a few examples of specific schools and what they require. 

Slide 8: School Examples

  • AAU
  • Aalto
  • Most Netherlands
  • AAU

So Anglo-American University, a member favorite school, is in Prague. And it’s non-selective, with  rolling admission throughout the year. They require students or applicants to provide some short essays and a Skype interview, and you submit your transcripts.

  • Most Netherlands

For most of the Netherlands, you submit your transcripts, your scores, a motivation letter sometimes, sometimes a Skype interview, and that’s pretty much it. 

  • Aalto

Aalto University, this is that one university in Finland that doesn’t require an entrance exam, because it is not a university of applied science. And what they do — this makes it hard to get in — because they base their decision 100% on SAT scores. So they just kind of, you know, lists all the scores, you know, that each student had, and accept the top ones.

Do I think that that’s necessarily an indicator of success? No, but it is very transparent. You know then. They show the cutoffs of each year. What the people who were accepted, the scores that they had. So you can see, is your score within that range, and know whether or not you have a good shot at it. 

So it’s just to show you that there’s a real range in the way different schools approach the admissions process and what they look at and all of that. Again, all of it is really transparent though, which I really appreciate. 

Slide 9: What if you are set on a school with AP requirements and won’t have them in graduation?

  • Are there other similar options?
  • Taking tests without the class
  • Foundation Year
  • Propedeuse
  • Are there other similar options?

So what if you really want to go to a school that has the the AP requirements, and you don’t have any AP courses? So the first thing I would ask you is why that particular school? Have you explored whether there is anything similar at a school that doesn’t have the AP options? 

  • Taking tests without the class

The other thing to think about is that you are able to take AP tests without taking the course. Maybe you go to a school that doesn’t offer AP courses, because their own curriculum is about that demanding. Or maybe you’ve taken Intro to Psych, for instance, as part of a dual enrollment program at a community college. You can do some self-study to supplement your learning, and be prepared to take the test yourself. 

  • Foundation Year

There are also these foundation year programs offered by some schools or some countries. The thing I’ll caution you about is that often, the foundation year program are about helping international students meet the English proficiency as well. So if you’re a native English speaker, some of that’s going to be kind of boring for you, quite frankly. 

  • Propedeuse

And then, the other thing — I’m going to butcher this word — is a propedeuse — and this is in the universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands. And if you complete your first year of a four year program, you receive a propaedeutic certificate. And with that, you can apply to the research universities within the Netherlands. Also, if you started another school and you get your year of college credits, you can also then apply to one of the schools that does have the AP requirements. 

So being able to completely opt out of the rat race is real game changer in many of our members lives. When families know they are going to pursue these options fairly earlier in high school,they can plan courses to make sure that all of the options in Europe are open, and still have some balance. This can give them time tohave an after school job, to atake classes he’s interested in,to have downtime, explore other interests outside of school, and have time for friends and family and sleep. 

So if you’re looking into this early enough in the game, and that you can plan accordingly, that’s great. But if not, it’s totally fine, and there’s no reason to load up on APs your senior year. 

Slide 10: Action Step – Assess your Qualifications

And the action step is basically around this, it’s going to look at how reasonable it is for you to have three to four AP scores by the end of high school. Because if it’s not, it’s fine. You know? And again, you can really benefit from the balance that you can have in life that so many high school students don’t. 

So things to think about — and this is on the action step and the resources that you’re going to find — have you had any AP scores and scored a 3 or higher? You know, testing is a struggle for some kids more than others. And if you’ve gotten a 2 on an AP test or lower, then maybe that’s not the route you want to take. Again, that’s totally fine. Do you have at least two years of high school remaining, so that the four could be spread out? You know, two your junior year, and two your senior year, for instance. If you haven’t taken any APs yet, have you taken honors classes and has that workload and the expectations in there, has that been a struggle or fairly easy for you?

The other thing to think about is whether your school operates on a block schedule. The thing I’ve seen is that students who are on a block schedule, if they have the AP class the first part of the year, they really struggle a lot more on the AP test, which isn’t offered until what is that, late May, early June? So if you are on a block schedule, you might want to look at how much input families have in scheduling requests so that that AP could be the second part of the year.

So yeah, so that’s the main part of the homework; what’s reasonable to expect at graduation of yourself? Again, there are options across the gamut, so it’ll just help you in your search and help you plan accordingly. So in Lesson Three, we’re going to start talking about some of the headaches, there are headaches when applying to college in Europe, and some strategies you can take around that as well.