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How Should I Pick a Major for College in Europe?

Jennifer Viemont
Founder Emeritus
October 29, 2022

One difference between college in the US and Europe is that in Europe incoming students must apply to a specific program, so they must know what they want to study. For students who don’t know what they want to study, this aspect can lead to worry. In this podcast, Jenn announces the availability of our “What’s My Major?” offering that helps students determine their field of study

Full transcription of the podcast.

Intro: You're listening to the Beyond the States podcast with Jenn Viemont. Did you know that you can go to Europe and get your entire degree taught in English for less than one year of tuition at many American schools? Jenn will take you on a deep dive into the many benefits and options around English-taught higher education in Europe, helping to make the possibility less foreign.

Jenn Viemont: Hi, I'm Jenn Viemont. Thanks for joining me today. So as you may know, last month, we only had one episode because it was a super crazy month, I'm finishing writing the book, which is almost done and should have a name in the next few days, I headed to Atlanta for a speaking engagement. And I was also developing this new service called the what's my major list, which we're going to talk about today. But we're back, we're back to two episodes a month. This month, we our other episode, is going to be talking with a financial adviser about using 529 savings in Europe. So I think that'll be a really helpful episode. The other thing I want to tell you about when I went to Atlanta, I like to load up my phone with podcasts for long drives. And I found a new podcast I really enjoying you might enjoy as well. It's called the Europeans. And the hosts are two British friends, one's an opera singer who lives in Amsterdam, the others, a reporter in Paris. And they just talked about all sorts of cultural, political and lifestyle related topics and stories that are going on across all of Europe. So it's just really interesting, you might want to check it out. So today, I want to talk about this new service that we're offering, called the what's my major list. So if you've been to other webinars, or if you've read our blogs, you probably already know that one of the main differences about college in Europe, is it for most bachelor's programs, you apply to a specific program at a school, it's like knowing your major ahead of time. So we've been offering a best fit list service since we started. Other than traveling to visit schools in Europe, this is my very favorite thing to do with beyond the states. For this service students provide me with information about their interests, their qualifications, their budget, their various preferences, and I give them a short list of programs at schools, that would be a good fit for them. So my main goal in this task is to find programs that are within their budget, and that they meet the admissions requirements for but that also combined more than one of their interest areas. So most of the people using the service have some idea of what they want to study. 

However, there are some kids who really have no idea what they want to study, which is why we're starting the what's my age of service, when we I started to develop this was to try it out to try out some questions on one of our members. His name is Jack, and he's 15 and lives in Portland, Maine. I was planning on using some of our call for the episode, but we had a recording issue. So I'll just summarize what we did. So Jack's major out of school, passion is sports, big time watching and playing. He also in school, he also really enjoys chemistry. He said he's good at mental math, and he likes the calculations involved in chemistry. My goal was to come up with some possible study areas for him to look at. One thing I did was to give him a website of a school that has extensive program descriptions. This includes course requirements, what people end up doing after graduation, all of that for a number of programs related to chemistry, whether it's Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Science and Technology, so he could have a better understanding of the differences and what's included in those different programs. Another field I suggested was pharmacy based on his interest in chemistry and that type of science, but I also thought he might be interested in a non science option. And I suggested that he look at sports management programs, where they take business topics, but totally focused on sports, sports, economics, sports, finance, sports, marketing, sports, media, sports, PR, and so on. So that's not to say that he's now ready to choose a field of study, so that he and his parents can now find ways to explore these possibilities over the next year and a half or so. So a lot of you have heard me talk about my son, since he's going to college and another year. He's always known his academic area of interest. So we didn't have to go through this with him as much. My daughter is a different story. She's only 14, so she's young. And so it's expected that she probably wouldn't know what she wants to study in college. But I decided to work out some of the kinks of this, this new service with her. So even though I know her like the back of my hand, I also had her do a questionnaire for me. So the results of a questionnaire are things I already knew. She likes pop culture, she likes helping her friends, she likes traveling. She loves social media, she really enjoys writing, and she likes musical theater. So as I looked at her very sparse answers, and knowing what the full answer was, because she also really likes to talk. I decided that as part of this service as part of the what's my major service, I'm also going to have parents fill out the form I'm, in addition to the student filling out the form, because there is a lot of supplemental information that a parent could give. Ellie, of course did not write that, you know, she really enjoyed the genetics unit they did in sciences here. But that might be information that a parent could provide it that were recurring or, or that musical theater is a nice interest, but she didn't seem Broadway Bound those sorts of things are, are things that that parents can provide me with. So we are including that as a service. So based on Ellie's list and what I know about her, I gave her a list of a number of programs. Many of them are similar, because they also included the website, and they were similar. So she could get an idea of overall what, for instance, media studies, that's an area that I recommended she looked at. So she could get an idea, not just what media studies is like at a particular school, but what one can generally expect to study in a Media Studies program. So I did try to focus on her love of social media and her love of the arts, and tried to find programs that would include these and expand on these. So like I said, some are media studies. Some were arts, culture, and Media Studies. And there were also things that were business aspects of each of these sort of like with Jack, and sports, there's, you know, arts management, or digital media marketing or events management, she was especially interested in the media studies programs, as well as a few of the arts, culture and media programs. So it's cool about these, you know, I wouldn't have known what many of these were when I went to college, but one of the programs she was interested in, they specifically look at the role of linguistics and media. Another really looks at the different platforms for social media, and the roles that plays in society and culture. And then students choose an area of focus, like digital culture, or journalism studies, or AV culture, or creative industries. And they can also choose a minor, which is pretty interesting as well. And then the Arts Culture, Media programs are really interdisciplinary programs, looking at those different topics. One thing I really like about a lot of the websites for the colleges in Europe, is that when you're looking at a program, not only does it tell you the courses, and often the course descriptions that make up that program, but there's usually a tab that says something like after graduation, and it lists different jobs that you can do with that degree. And it never just says one thing. I think sometimes we're concerned that by choosing a program, our kids are essentially, you know, choosing a specific career. But it really doesn't have to be the case, it's that the jobs related to that program will likely be related to this interest area. So examples from the programs that Ellie noted interest in work, a consultant, a web TV producer, content and campaign manager, digital product manager, social media strategy advisor, web editor, a sentiment analyst, I have no idea what that even is a market researcher, or she could work for publishing firms, or theaters or music venues, doing arts research and evaluation or management and policy consultations. So this is a really wide and varied list of potential jobs she could get from these pretty related fields of study. Interestingly, she was interested in a program called creative business and media management, but she disqualified many on the list with the reason I don't like business. So it made me realize that she might not have a full grasp on what business is, I know I don't have a full grasp on what business is. And this is something that over the years, we can help her expand her knowledge in. And she might still decide she's not interested in business, or she might realize that she had a very different understanding of what business really is. So certainly, she's young, and her interest may change many times in the next few years. Part of my job as a parent over the next few years, is to help her explore different areas that she might not choose to explore on her own. For instance, I've been reading about the real need for people in the cybersecurity space. Do I know what a job like that even means? Absolutely not. But there are different ways to expose her to actually specifically to cybersecurity and the computer sciences, if she's interested, cool. If she's not, then she knows that she's not interested based on an experience. It also gives us time over the next few years as she changed her interest to give her examples of study programs that relate to these new interests that she may develop, just to get her to start thinking about these things before it's really time to pick an actual program. So it's great, you know, we have four years to do that. But that said, it's never too early and it's never too late to think about these things. We have Ellie who's finishing eighth grade, and then we have people in their 20s and 30s Who'd like to go back to school but don't know what to study. We're happy to help anyone at any point through this journey. As I've mentioned before, we do that in a few different ways. We are members are Beyond the States members have access to our database. Of all of the accredited English conducted bachelors programs that are held in continental Europe. This is more than 1700 programs. We don't take money from the school so that we can be completely objective, even providing negative information. And since I've personally visited many of the schools members get first hand information, I created the database based on information that I wish I had in one place when I was exploring the option for my son so that includes information about housing about proof of means admissions requirements, and more. Members can choose from a DIY approach, the best fit list I spoke about before our new what's my major list, and even personal consultation services. All memberships include regular access to me and other members through our monthly q&a calls. We also have information about master's degree programs, though not in database form. If you're interested in master's degree programs, please do let us know we're able to do best fit lists as well as consultations for that. So you can find more information on our website which is beyond the You can also sign up for our newsletter while you're there and check out our blogs and recorded webinars. We're also on social media, Instagram and Facebook and I am hoping to have another student social media takeover. Coming up in the next few weeks fingers are crossed. Thanks for listening.

Jennifer Viemont
Founder Emeritus

5 Reasons Why You Should Study in Europe

If packing up your whole life and moving sounds more exciting than terrifying, then you'll love what colleges in Europe have to offer you. These are 5 reasons why going to college in Europe will be the best decision you'll ever make:

1. Tuition is much more affordable than the US.

In continental Europe, the average cost of all the English-taught bachelor’s programs is just $7,390 per year. Since 1985, US college costs have surged by about 1000 percent, and tuition and fees continue to rise. Even when you factor in the cost of travel, going to college in Europe if often cheaper than one year of tuition at a state college in the US.

2. There are thousands of English-taught degrees.

Choice is another key issue. When cost is a chief consideration, you may be limited to only in-state schools, where tuition is lower. What if your in-state schools aren’t a good option for your chosen field of study? In Europe there are thousands of programs to choose from across 212 areas of study, and they are all taught 100% in English, so there's no need to worry about learning a new language.

3. International exposure is essential and highly valued.

Students who studied abroad stand out from the crowd when seeking jobs after college. The very act of leaving their comfort zone to make a fresh start in a new place builds skills and confidence that will be carried throughout a student’s life. Silicon Valley billionaire investor, Chris Sacca, describes international study experience as a critical differentiating characteristic among candidates. According to former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, “The Jack Welch of the future cannot be like me. I spent my entire career in the United States. The next head of [General Electric] will be somebody who spent time in Bombay, in Hong Kong, in Buenos Aires.”

4. You'll avoid the US admissions rat race.

The college admissions process in the US has become a race to the bottom as students compete with their peers for a single spot in a liberal arts college, convinced by parents and guidance counselors that their survival rests on playing a musical instrument or varsity sport.Many smart kids don’t do well on standardized tests. This doesn’t limit them as much when looking outside of the US, as many colleges in Europe do not require standardized tests. Many countries see entry into universities as a right, rather than a privilege, so admission standards are not as stringent.

5. Spend your weekends & breaks exploring the world.

Travel opportunities abound when attending college in Europe. For example, Lille, a city in northern France with multiple universities, is close to major cities such as Brussels, London, and Paris via high-speed rail. Air travel, especially with the rise of affordable airlines like Ryanair, EasyJet, and Transavia, can be comparable in price to rail travel, so many more destinations open up for short-term travel.

How to Get Into the World's Top Universities

When you also factor in the many problems with US higher education, it is imprudent not to consider other possibilities. It is true there are many excellent schools in the United States—I don’t think anyone would argue that. There are some that have managed to look at applicants as people, and not just a checklist of achievements. Some even have reasonable tuition rates, and/or professors that actively teach and have highly engaged students. Despite this, I have yet to find a school in the United States that addresses all of these issues: allows students to opt out of the rat race the admissions process has become, have reasonable tuition, AND have positive results around the educational experience and post-graduation outcomes. Not every school in Europe provides all this either, but the schools listed in our database do.

How to Find Degrees in Europe That Are Taught in English

Finding these programs is burdensome, difficult, and confusing, especially with institutional websites in foreign languages... We know that making the decision to study abroad can be difficult, so we want to make it easy for you. We scoured the continent for vetted programs and made them available to thousands of families looking to leave the US and find a better life in Europe. We found over 11,200 degrees, 870 universities, 550 cities, and 32 European countries to choose from. Europe offers an impressive range of educational opportunities!

We have gathered all of the information you need to know about studying in Europe – from the different types of schools available to how to get housing and everything in between. Our database helps you find these programs quickly and easily, helping you contextualize the many benefits and options around higher education in Europe.

You will be able to find programs and courses that suit your interests and needs, taught in English by experienced professors in state-of-the-art facilities. Purchase a membership and search our database of English-taught European bachelor's and master's programs to get started on your journey to Europe today.

Discover all the English-taught European college programs in one place.

Beyond the States provides easy access to 11,600+ European bachelor's and master's programs across 870 universities, 550 cities, and 212 areas of study, plus all the resources you need to get there. No sponsorships. No bias.
English-taught bachelor's programs in our database.
English-taught master's programs in our database.
Beautiful European cities to choose from.
Top-tier universities accepting international students.
Typical savings against a private university in the US.
Typical savings against in-state tuition in the US.
All inclusive of tuition, living, food, books, health insurance, travel expenses, as well as hidden fees. Compiled with data from students and the official websites from KU Leuven, UNC, and Duke.

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