Resources to help you reach Europe.

Exploring higher education shouldn't be a chore. Contextualize the journey to Europe with these Resources.

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September 2022 Q&As, Your Questions Answered

From gap years to applications and visas, these are September questions answered in our new Q&A format. Follow along to read other member's questions and answers by Beyond the States.

From gap years to applications and visas, these are September questions answered in our new Q&A format. Each question is thoroughly researched, and if we have existing content that answers it already, we'll provide you with a handy link so you can take a read. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!

From gap years to applications and visas, these are September questions answered in our new Q&A format. Each question is thoroughly researched, and if we have existing content that answers it already, we'll provide you with a handy link so you can take a read. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!

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The New Beyond the States, Now Easier and More Affordable

Beyond the States has a fresh new look and feel, with a brand new engine powering the database and whole new suite of possibilities to help you reach your aspirations of a higher education in Europe easier, faster, and more affordably.

From the first days at Beyond the States, helping customers build beautiful and powerful educational experiences in Europe has always been at our core.
We’re committed to continuously address the needs that are most critical for our customer base right now. In particular, we’ve seen a rise in critical filters with much higher levels of complexity, like tuition, city scores, admissions requirements, and more.
Over the years, many of you have successfully leveraged Google to power your searches. With this, you’ve been able to connect the dots between the program you found and the start of your journey — giving all of your research a real purpose and keeping it from existing in a silo.
However, we’ve also heard that many third-party websites can be too painful to search through or manage long term. Those challenges make discovery for higher education in Europe, and the freedom and savings that it brings, a pipe dream for many families without the time, resources, or abilities to do the research — **until now. **
Today, we’re excited to bring the updated Beyond the States with a brand new platform release at a lower price.
We have listened to our members and overhauled our platform for faster performance, introduced a way to seamlessly find programs with your family, and shared countless features and updates.
This means that performing simple actions like filtering, searching, connecting with other students and parents, and much, much more can all be easily handled by anyone in the family, and by many more families.
As of this morning, the beta waitlist has been cleared and we are now accepting new members on an ongoing basis. 
Let’s take a closer look at all Beyond the States has to offer:

Easier search for faster discovery.

We have revamped the search and discovery platform and made it faster and easier to find English taught programs in Europe. You can now search through program descriptions, school information, cities, countries, and many more data points to make discovery an easy and enjoyable process.

Richer information for easier decision making.

We've enriched the program listings with new and important data points, as well as powerful imagery, that makes deciding on your career easier and stress-free. Programs include important information like AP requirements, GI Bill Acceptance, and many more items upfront. Schools, cities, and countries are now expanded with relevant information for students.

Easier process for Best Fit List™ services.

We’ve improved the onboarding process for the Best Fit List™ service with clearer language and a new intake process that makes finding your perfect program an easy task. No longer will you need to chase down intake forms, as these are now available in your dashboard.

Friendlier website for everyone, everywhere.

We've improved website navigation so finding the right resource is easier than ever. We've also made it mobile friendly so you can run powerful searches without the hassle of a bulky computer.

Contextualize the journey to Europe with helpful resources.

It is now easier to find all of the amazing resources, like blog posts, podcasts, and student profiles, that Jenn, Beyond the States founder, has written over the years, allowing you to contextualize the journey to higher education in Europe without the stress of Google.

Skim through courses & podcasts with accessible transcripts.

Don't have headphones or have a hearing impairment? Find all of the courses and podcasts in one easy place and skim through them blazingly fast with full word by word transcriptions.

All-Inclusive database with both bachelor's & master's programs.

All memberships now include access to both bachelors and master’s databases, so you can find programs for your entire family, no matter their age or career stage. We believe this aspect of the memberships to be an important one, as you may be seeking programs for multiple family members, or may be looking beyond your bachelor's programs and into the future.

Ask more questions, get better answers.

We’ve made it easier to submit questions for the Monthly Q&As, while also making it easier for us to answer them. Every month, we'll post last month's questions and answers in an easy to read blog post.

Make and see comments on everything.

Introducing commenting! You can now make comments on specific programs, courses, and resources. Read through comments made by other parents and students and add more context to what you're reading.

Easily manage your membership.

The new membership platform is easier to manage for both you and us! You'll have full transparency on your membership, including easier upgrades and renewal options.

Lower pricing for everyone.

We’re making access more accessible to more families with a lower monthly membership cost and the ability to add family members under the same account at no additional cost. With this, we're expanding our reach and finding more parents and students like you so you can get more specific questions answered by people that are on the same boat as you are.

One single purchase unlocks all mini-courses.

One single purchase unlocks all 5 self-paced mini courses, so you don't have to hop around between options and get the FULL picture at your own pace.

One single purchase unlocks both masterclasses.

We've transformed masterclasses into self-paced courses. Take them your own time. One single purchase unlocks both On Your Mark and Get Set masterclasses!

The same team working harder for you.

Most importantly, **Jenn is staying on board **and delivering Best Fit Lists™ for all Bachelor programs as well as Motivation Letter Reviews for anyone that needs them!

What's next?

Existing members will get an invitation to join the new membership platform and create a new password. You can hop in now and reset your password on the login screen. All of your existing membership information will transfer over, and you'll only need one login to access everything, so please disregard all previous links to the old database and member portals.
**New members **will get the chance to join immediately.
Moving forward, we'll be adding more programs and updating them more frequently. We'll also be enriching the platform with more features like favorites, richer listings, and enhanced programs that make the community a life-long journey with students and parents that took the leap to a better life.
Any questions about the new platform? Email us at go@beyondthestates.com.

From the first days at Beyond the States, helping customers build beautiful and powerful educational experiences in Europe has always been at our core.
We’re committed to continuously address the needs that are most critical for our customer base right now. In particular, we’ve seen a rise in critical filters with much higher levels of complexity, like tuition, city scores, admissions requirements, and more.
Over the years, many of you have successfully leveraged Google to power your searches. With this, you’ve been able to connect the dots between the program you found and the start of your journey — giving all of your research a real purpose and keeping it from existing in a silo.
However, we’ve also heard that many third-party websites can be too painful to search through or manage long term. Those challenges make discovery for higher education in Europe, and the freedom and savings that it brings, a pipe dream for many families without the time, resources, or abilities to do the research — **until now. **
Today, we’re excited to bring the updated Beyond the States with a brand new platform release at a lower price.
We have listened to our members and overhauled our platform for faster performance, introduced a way to seamlessly find programs with your family, and shared countless features and updates.
This means that performing simple actions like filtering, searching, connecting with other students and parents, and much, much more can all be easily handled by anyone in the family, and by many more families.
As of this morning, the beta waitlist has been cleared and we are now accepting new members on an ongoing basis. 
Let’s take a closer look at all Beyond the States has to offer:

Easier search for faster discovery.

We have revamped the search and discovery platform and made it faster and easier to find English taught programs in Europe. You can now search through program descriptions, school information, cities, countries, and many more data points to make discovery an easy and enjoyable process.

Richer information for easier decision making.

We've enriched the program listings with new and important data points, as well as powerful imagery, that makes deciding on your career easier and stress-free. Programs include important information like AP requirements, GI Bill Acceptance, and many more items upfront. Schools, cities, and countries are now expanded with relevant information for students.

Easier process for Best Fit List™ services.

We’ve improved the onboarding process for the Best Fit List™ service with clearer language and a new intake process that makes finding your perfect program an easy task. No longer will you need to chase down intake forms, as these are now available in your dashboard.

Friendlier website for everyone, everywhere.

We've improved website navigation so finding the right resource is easier than ever. We've also made it mobile friendly so you can run powerful searches without the hassle of a bulky computer.

Contextualize the journey to Europe with helpful resources.

It is now easier to find all of the amazing resources, like blog posts, podcasts, and student profiles, that Jenn, Beyond the States founder, has written over the years, allowing you to contextualize the journey to higher education in Europe without the stress of Google.

Skim through courses & podcasts with accessible transcripts.

Don't have headphones or have a hearing impairment? Find all of the courses and podcasts in one easy place and skim through them blazingly fast with full word by word transcriptions.

All-Inclusive database with both bachelor's & master's programs.

All memberships now include access to both bachelors and master’s databases, so you can find programs for your entire family, no matter their age or career stage. We believe this aspect of the memberships to be an important one, as you may be seeking programs for multiple family members, or may be looking beyond your bachelor's programs and into the future.

Ask more questions, get better answers.

We’ve made it easier to submit questions for the Monthly Q&As, while also making it easier for us to answer them. Every month, we'll post last month's questions and answers in an easy to read blog post.

Make and see comments on everything.

Introducing commenting! You can now make comments on specific programs, courses, and resources. Read through comments made by other parents and students and add more context to what you're reading.

Easily manage your membership.

The new membership platform is easier to manage for both you and us! You'll have full transparency on your membership, including easier upgrades and renewal options.

Lower pricing for everyone.

We’re making access more accessible to more families with a lower monthly membership cost and the ability to add family members under the same account at no additional cost. With this, we're expanding our reach and finding more parents and students like you so you can get more specific questions answered by people that are on the same boat as you are.

One single purchase unlocks all mini-courses.

One single purchase unlocks all 5 self-paced mini courses, so you don't have to hop around between options and get the FULL picture at your own pace.

One single purchase unlocks both masterclasses.

We've transformed masterclasses into self-paced courses. Take them your own time. One single purchase unlocks both On Your Mark and Get Set masterclasses!

The same team working harder for you.

Most importantly, **Jenn is staying on board **and delivering Best Fit Lists™ for all Bachelor programs as well as Motivation Letter Reviews for anyone that needs them!

What's next?

Existing members will get an invitation to join the new membership platform and create a new password. You can hop in now and reset your password on the login screen. All of your existing membership information will transfer over, and you'll only need one login to access everything, so please disregard all previous links to the old database and member portals.
**New members **will get the chance to join immediately.
Moving forward, we'll be adding more programs and updating them more frequently. We'll also be enriching the platform with more features like favorites, richer listings, and enhanced programs that make the community a life-long journey with students and parents that took the leap to a better life.
Any questions about the new platform? Email us at go@beyondthestates.com.

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Countries
Members

Nine Reasons Why You Should Go to College in France

Did you know you don’t have to speak French to go to college in France? There are 71 colleges in France that offer a total of 295 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs – entirely taught entirely in English.

Did you know you don’t have to speak French to go to college in France? There are 71 colleges in France that offer a total of 295 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs – entirely taught entirely in English. Though France does not offer the most inexpensive tuition in Europe, there are still 109 programs that cost under $12k per year! ⠀
Beyond the States helps students learn about the affordable English-taught bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in Europe. Whether you’re still in high school contemplating your freshman year, an older person returning to college or if you’re considering getting a master’s degree, here are nine reasons why you should consider going to college in France:

1. College in France is Much More Affordable than in the US

In continental Europe, the average cost of all the English-taught bachelor’s programs is just $7,291 per year.
Since 1985, US college costs have surged by about 500 percent, and tuition and fees continue to rise. According to the College Board, the average tuition rates in the US for a bachelor’s degree is $9,410 for in-state tuition at a public university, $23,890 for out-of-state tuition at a public university and $32,410 for a private university,
For master’s degrees, the average tuition is just $9,050 per year and the average duration is 1.76 years, so the average cost of getting a master’s is $15,928. With average tuition at over $30,000, getting a master’s in France is less than half the tuition cost of getting a master’s from a public university in the US.
Even when you factor in the cost of travel, going to college in France is at a minimum comparable to an affordable American college program—and often cheaper.

2. Thousands of Programs to Choose From

Choice is another key issue. If cost is a consideration, you may be limited to in-state schools. What if your in-state schools aren’t a good option? In France, there are almost 300 programs to choose from. These programs are all taught 100% in English.
Many American students don’t speak a foreign language proficiently enough to study at a college that teaches in that language, but that doesn’t matter. Even in non-anglophone countries in Europe, there are full-degree college programs taught in English. These countries are very welcoming to international students, especially Americans, who want to study there.

3. Gain a Competitive Edge in the Job Market

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.”
In a study published in the Harvard Business Review, people with experience living abroad were better employees, because they are likely to create new businesses and products and to be promoted. According to The Erasmus Impact Study, internationally mobile students are half as likely to experience long-term unemployment compared with those who have not studied or trained abroad and five years after graduation their unemployment rate is 23 percent lower.

4. 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. You May be Eligible for Financial Aid

American students may be able to receive US federal loans to study at an international college. The Department of Education has a list of international schools participating in its student loan program. Some European universities also provide grants and/or scholarships for foreign students.

**6. You Can Earn Your Degree Faster **

According to a study published by Complete College America, over 80 percent of students at US public universities do not to complete all the necessary courses to graduate in four years. According to the same report, every additional year averages $22,826 in tuition costs and expenses. In contrast, many bachelor’s degree programs in Europe are completed between three or three-and-a-half-years, because there are fewer general education classes required. Many master’s degree programs are just one year.

7. Be an Active Participant in the Learning Process.

At college in Europe, the educational experience is rich and students are expected to engage and even encouraged to debate and disagree with the professor. The goal is to help solve problems and enhance critical thinking skills as opposed to regurgitating the material. Further, many universities use modules or block scheduling, so the number of courses you are taking is limited in number with more intensive study over a shorter period of time, focusing entirely on one class before moving to the next.

8. Gain Fluent Language Skills

While a foreign language isn’t necessary to start or even complete college in Europe, students have a wonderful opportunity to really learn a language while they’re there, one which they are immersed in. Many colleges in Europe offer free language courses for international students where you can practice through daily interactions in town with native speakers and with other students. True fluency is gained outside the classroom.

9. 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 RyanairEasyJet, and Transavia, can be comparable in price to rail travel, so many more destinations open up for short-term travel.

Did you know you don’t have to speak French to go to college in France? There are 71 colleges in France that offer a total of 295 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs – entirely taught entirely in English. Though France does not offer the most inexpensive tuition in Europe, there are still 109 programs that cost under $12k per year! ⠀
Beyond the States helps students learn about the affordable English-taught bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in Europe. Whether you’re still in high school contemplating your freshman year, an older person returning to college or if you’re considering getting a master’s degree, here are nine reasons why you should consider going to college in France:

1. College in France is Much More Affordable than in the US

In continental Europe, the average cost of all the English-taught bachelor’s programs is just $7,291 per year.
Since 1985, US college costs have surged by about 500 percent, and tuition and fees continue to rise. According to the College Board, the average tuition rates in the US for a bachelor’s degree is $9,410 for in-state tuition at a public university, $23,890 for out-of-state tuition at a public university and $32,410 for a private university,
For master’s degrees, the average tuition is just $9,050 per year and the average duration is 1.76 years, so the average cost of getting a master’s is $15,928. With average tuition at over $30,000, getting a master’s in France is less than half the tuition cost of getting a master’s from a public university in the US.
Even when you factor in the cost of travel, going to college in France is at a minimum comparable to an affordable American college program—and often cheaper.

2. Thousands of Programs to Choose From

Choice is another key issue. If cost is a consideration, you may be limited to in-state schools. What if your in-state schools aren’t a good option? In France, there are almost 300 programs to choose from. These programs are all taught 100% in English.
Many American students don’t speak a foreign language proficiently enough to study at a college that teaches in that language, but that doesn’t matter. Even in non-anglophone countries in Europe, there are full-degree college programs taught in English. These countries are very welcoming to international students, especially Americans, who want to study there.

3. Gain a Competitive Edge in the Job Market

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.”
In a study published in the Harvard Business Review, people with experience living abroad were better employees, because they are likely to create new businesses and products and to be promoted. According to The Erasmus Impact Study, internationally mobile students are half as likely to experience long-term unemployment compared with those who have not studied or trained abroad and five years after graduation their unemployment rate is 23 percent lower.

4. 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. You May be Eligible for Financial Aid

American students may be able to receive US federal loans to study at an international college. The Department of Education has a list of international schools participating in its student loan program. Some European universities also provide grants and/or scholarships for foreign students.

**6. You Can Earn Your Degree Faster **

According to a study published by Complete College America, over 80 percent of students at US public universities do not to complete all the necessary courses to graduate in four years. According to the same report, every additional year averages $22,826 in tuition costs and expenses. In contrast, many bachelor’s degree programs in Europe are completed between three or three-and-a-half-years, because there are fewer general education classes required. Many master’s degree programs are just one year.

7. Be an Active Participant in the Learning Process.

At college in Europe, the educational experience is rich and students are expected to engage and even encouraged to debate and disagree with the professor. The goal is to help solve problems and enhance critical thinking skills as opposed to regurgitating the material. Further, many universities use modules or block scheduling, so the number of courses you are taking is limited in number with more intensive study over a shorter period of time, focusing entirely on one class before moving to the next.

8. Gain Fluent Language Skills

While a foreign language isn’t necessary to start or even complete college in Europe, students have a wonderful opportunity to really learn a language while they’re there, one which they are immersed in. Many colleges in Europe offer free language courses for international students where you can practice through daily interactions in town with native speakers and with other students. True fluency is gained outside the classroom.

9. 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 RyanairEasyJet, and Transavia, can be comparable in price to rail travel, so many more destinations open up for short-term travel.

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College in Europe: Nine Reasons Why You Need to Evaluate This Option

Whether you’re still in high school contemplating your freshman year, an older person returning to college, or if you’re considering getting a master’s degree, here are nine reasons why you should consider college in Europe.

Whether you’re still in high school contemplating your freshman year, an older person returning to college, or if you’re considering getting a master’s degree, here are nine reasons why you should consider college in Europe:

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 500 percent, and tuition and fees continue to rise. According to the College Board, the average tuition rates in the US for a bachelor’s degree is $9,410 for in-state tuition at a public university, $23,890 for out-of-state tuition at a public university and $32,410 for a private university. For master’s degrees, the average tuition is just $9,050 per year and the average duration is 1.76 years, so the average cost of getting a master’s is $15,928. With average tuition at over $30,000, getting a master’s in Europe is less than half the tuition cost of getting a master’s from a public university in the US.
Even when you factor in the cost of travel, going to college in Europe is at a minimum comparable to an affordable American college program—and often cheaper.

2. Thousands of Programs to Choose From

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. These thousands of programs are all taught 100% in English.
According to our research, there are more than 300 European colleges and universities offering more than 1,900 bachelor’s programs in English. There are over 6,500 different master’s programs at 475 schools. All are taught 100% in English.
Many American students don’t speak a foreign language proficiently enough to study at a college that teaches in it, but that doesn’t matter. Even in non-anglophone countries in Europe, there are full-degree college programs taught in English. These countries are very welcoming to international students, especially Americans, who want to study there.

3. Gain a Competitive Edge in the Job Market

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.”
In a study published in the Harvard Business Review, people with experience living abroad were better employees, because they are likely to create new businesses and products and to be promoted. According to The Erasmus Impact Study, internationally mobile students are half as likely to experience long-term unemployment compared with those who have not studied or trained abroad and five years after graduation their unemployment rate is 23 percent lower.
4. 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. You May be Eligible for Financial Aid

American students may be able to receive US federal loans to study at an international college. The Department of Education has a list of international schools participating in its student loan program. Some European universities also provide grants and/or scholarships for foreign students.

**6. You Can Earn Your Degree Faster **

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, on average, just 58 percent of US students who started college in the fall of 2012 had earned any degree at all six years later. According to nonprofit Complete College America, every additional year averages $22,826 in tuition costs and expenses. In contrast, many bachelor’s degree programs in Europe are completed between three or three-and-a-half-years, because there are fewer general education classes required. Many master’s degree programs are just one year. Finishing a degree faster is a double benefit for students who avoid taking on more debt and also begin earning a living sooner as employed workers.

7. Be an Active Participant in the Learning Process.

At college in Europe, the educational experience is rich and students are expected to engage and even encouraged to debate and disagree with the professor. The goal is to help solve problems and enhance critical thinking skills as opposed to regurgitating the material. Further, many universities use modules or block scheduling, so the number of courses you are taking is limited in number with more intensive study over a shorter period of time, focusing entirely on one class before moving to the next.

8. Gain Fluent Language Skills

While a foreign language isn’t necessary to start or even complete college in Europe, students have a wonderful opportunity to really learn a language while they’re there, one which they are immersed in. Many colleges in Europe offer free language courses for international students where you can practice through daily interactions in town with native speakers and with other students. True fluency is gained outside the classroom.

9. 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 RyanairEasyJet, and Transavia, can be comparable in price to rail travel, so many more destinations open up for short-term travel.

Whether you’re still in high school contemplating your freshman year, an older person returning to college, or if you’re considering getting a master’s degree, here are nine reasons why you should consider college in Europe:

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 500 percent, and tuition and fees continue to rise. According to the College Board, the average tuition rates in the US for a bachelor’s degree is $9,410 for in-state tuition at a public university, $23,890 for out-of-state tuition at a public university and $32,410 for a private university. For master’s degrees, the average tuition is just $9,050 per year and the average duration is 1.76 years, so the average cost of getting a master’s is $15,928. With average tuition at over $30,000, getting a master’s in Europe is less than half the tuition cost of getting a master’s from a public university in the US.
Even when you factor in the cost of travel, going to college in Europe is at a minimum comparable to an affordable American college program—and often cheaper.

2. Thousands of Programs to Choose From

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. These thousands of programs are all taught 100% in English.
According to our research, there are more than 300 European colleges and universities offering more than 1,900 bachelor’s programs in English. There are over 6,500 different master’s programs at 475 schools. All are taught 100% in English.
Many American students don’t speak a foreign language proficiently enough to study at a college that teaches in it, but that doesn’t matter. Even in non-anglophone countries in Europe, there are full-degree college programs taught in English. These countries are very welcoming to international students, especially Americans, who want to study there.

3. Gain a Competitive Edge in the Job Market

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.”
In a study published in the Harvard Business Review, people with experience living abroad were better employees, because they are likely to create new businesses and products and to be promoted. According to The Erasmus Impact Study, internationally mobile students are half as likely to experience long-term unemployment compared with those who have not studied or trained abroad and five years after graduation their unemployment rate is 23 percent lower.
4. 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. You May be Eligible for Financial Aid

American students may be able to receive US federal loans to study at an international college. The Department of Education has a list of international schools participating in its student loan program. Some European universities also provide grants and/or scholarships for foreign students.

**6. You Can Earn Your Degree Faster **

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, on average, just 58 percent of US students who started college in the fall of 2012 had earned any degree at all six years later. According to nonprofit Complete College America, every additional year averages $22,826 in tuition costs and expenses. In contrast, many bachelor’s degree programs in Europe are completed between three or three-and-a-half-years, because there are fewer general education classes required. Many master’s degree programs are just one year. Finishing a degree faster is a double benefit for students who avoid taking on more debt and also begin earning a living sooner as employed workers.

7. Be an Active Participant in the Learning Process.

At college in Europe, the educational experience is rich and students are expected to engage and even encouraged to debate and disagree with the professor. The goal is to help solve problems and enhance critical thinking skills as opposed to regurgitating the material. Further, many universities use modules or block scheduling, so the number of courses you are taking is limited in number with more intensive study over a shorter period of time, focusing entirely on one class before moving to the next.

8. Gain Fluent Language Skills

While a foreign language isn’t necessary to start or even complete college in Europe, students have a wonderful opportunity to really learn a language while they’re there, one which they are immersed in. Many colleges in Europe offer free language courses for international students where you can practice through daily interactions in town with native speakers and with other students. True fluency is gained outside the classroom.

9. 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 RyanairEasyJet, and Transavia, can be comparable in price to rail travel, so many more destinations open up for short-term travel.

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A Sense of Optimism in a Time of Darkness, an American Perspective on Leaving Your Home Country

I don’t have to tell you, but the divisiveness in the country is continuing to escalate. Where I often see evidence of this in the comments of our BTS Facebook ad.

As you may know, I’m a huge Tim Leffel fan. He’s the author of such books as The World’s Cheapest Destinations and A Better Life for Half the Price. We were lucky to have sat in conversation with him on our podcast this past winter. I was just drawn into one of his recent blog posts on the topic of living abroad. His newsletter last week noted:

“The June reaction to all the bad news was interesting. More people bought my living abroad book last month than they have since launch month and newsletter subscribers went through the roof.” 
At the same time, I noticed a Thrilist email last week with the subject line “How to Move to Canada, You Know, Just in Case”. In general, I’ve been struck by the rising number of posts across social media expressing desire to relocate outside of the US.
I don’t have to tell you, but the divisiveness in the country is continuing to escalate. Where I often see evidence of this in the comments of our BTS Facebook ad. The ad itself is not a political one at all. It has our map image of the number of English-taught Bachelor’s degree programs, and the average annual tuition, per country; it’s a rousing visual. But listen, the comments I have to delete on a too-regular basis are really disconcerting. People disagreeing is not the issue. I, myself, thrive in atmospheres of rigorous debate; our dinner table is such a place (much to Tom’s chagrin). But it’s the hostility and personal attacks that accompany these comments online that I find increasingly troubling. It feels like there isn’t space for real discourse– where people are able and willing to lean about an alternate point of view.
As you may know, my own family lived abroad for two years during a particularly divisive time in the US, and I can tell you here that relocating abroad is not the panacea we thought it might be. Regardless of where we live, the issues in our home country affect us in some way or another. However, the learning and growth that often accompanies a move abroad were tremendous, and well worth the experience. You can check out more of that in a past blog I wrote when we decided to return to the US.
Given the amount of growth I had as a middle aged woman, I feel optimistic about our future when I think about the impact the experience of living abroad has on the students who are pursuing their education outside of their home country. This is the generation that will lead our country at some point in the future. Having this opportunity at such a formative age to step away, to experience a whole other country and culture, and engage in regular discourse with a truly diverse, international community of students, may be an antidote to the societal extremes we currently find ourselves in in the US.
These students gain a perspective on how different parts of the world handle various matters be it healthcare, educational costs, gun control, refugees, or reproductive rights. They are benefiting from lower tuition, but their EU friends are paying tremendously less (if anything) and may even get a government stipend while they study. I’ve told the story before about how my son broke his wrist and had to have surgery while living in the Hague. Our out of pocket expense for the surgery was $0-and his student health plan that covered it was only about $500 a year!
Students also glean from the viewpoints of their friends and classmates, who are from all over the world. My own son, Sam, who is in school in Prague, attends a monthly university event called “Professors in the Pub” in which students and professors gather to engage on timely topics. This past February the topic was, of course, Ukraine. What can transpire in a venue like this-where students from Russia, Ukraine, and US and many other countries share their perspectives- is that students can avoid buying into the your-corner, my-corner mentality we’re growing detrimentally accustomed to in the US.
Of course, some of the growth comes from less positive experiences. Student may bear witness to (or personally fall victim to) discrimination. They may have to deal with slow-moving bureaucracy and inefficient systems they don’t recognize. There is culture shock, and the discomfort that is inevitable when one is far from what’s familiar.
The point is this: studying and living abroad is so much more dynamic and beneficial than simply escaping fraught and volatile circumstances. There is adversity regardless of where you reside–there is no escaping this reality. But what can develop in an individual when they go abroad in this way, is an appreciation for different perspectives and policies. These conversations and experiences bring a refreshing shift in orientation. We’ve gone on and on about the soft skills that are inevitable outcomes of studying abroad long-term, and these skills, such as resilience, cooperation, empathy, self-direction, and diversity-awareness, are what’s sorely needed in any society. Yes, these qualities bode well for employability, and we’ve discussed this at length this past year, but greater than that they bode well for our younger citizens and the impact they will have on the world.
“I always felt a bit of an outsider in the US, so I was ecstatic about coming to study in Europe. It’s been all that I’ve hoped for and more. The university is incredibly international and everyone has a different perspective and is not afraid to discuss and debate. It was beyond refreshing to come to such an open-minded environment, especially what is going on in the US currently.”
–Marieke, age 20, from Wilmington, DE, studying English Language and Culture at UG
“I think studying abroad is an amazing experience. I have met people from every continent (except Antarctica). I learned that there is more than just one perspective; how I think is developed by the environment I grew up in, but other people in different places think in different ways. I also adopted some of the Dutch ideology. For example, Dutch people generally have a good work-life balance. Students strive to pass, but not necessarily excel. I grew up thinking the goal was to be perfect, but I’ve since learned that finding a balance is a much happier way to live.”
–Kaitlin, age 21, from Florida, studying Psychology at Leiden University

As you may know, I’m a huge Tim Leffel fan. He’s the author of such books as The World’s Cheapest Destinations and A Better Life for Half the Price. We were lucky to have sat in conversation with him on our podcast this past winter. I was just drawn into one of his recent blog posts on the topic of living abroad. His newsletter last week noted:

“The June reaction to all the bad news was interesting. More people bought my living abroad book last month than they have since launch month and newsletter subscribers went through the roof.” 
At the same time, I noticed a Thrilist email last week with the subject line “How to Move to Canada, You Know, Just in Case”. In general, I’ve been struck by the rising number of posts across social media expressing desire to relocate outside of the US.
I don’t have to tell you, but the divisiveness in the country is continuing to escalate. Where I often see evidence of this in the comments of our BTS Facebook ad. The ad itself is not a political one at all. It has our map image of the number of English-taught Bachelor’s degree programs, and the average annual tuition, per country; it’s a rousing visual. But listen, the comments I have to delete on a too-regular basis are really disconcerting. People disagreeing is not the issue. I, myself, thrive in atmospheres of rigorous debate; our dinner table is such a place (much to Tom’s chagrin). But it’s the hostility and personal attacks that accompany these comments online that I find increasingly troubling. It feels like there isn’t space for real discourse– where people are able and willing to lean about an alternate point of view.
As you may know, my own family lived abroad for two years during a particularly divisive time in the US, and I can tell you here that relocating abroad is not the panacea we thought it might be. Regardless of where we live, the issues in our home country affect us in some way or another. However, the learning and growth that often accompanies a move abroad were tremendous, and well worth the experience. You can check out more of that in a past blog I wrote when we decided to return to the US.
Given the amount of growth I had as a middle aged woman, I feel optimistic about our future when I think about the impact the experience of living abroad has on the students who are pursuing their education outside of their home country. This is the generation that will lead our country at some point in the future. Having this opportunity at such a formative age to step away, to experience a whole other country and culture, and engage in regular discourse with a truly diverse, international community of students, may be an antidote to the societal extremes we currently find ourselves in in the US.
These students gain a perspective on how different parts of the world handle various matters be it healthcare, educational costs, gun control, refugees, or reproductive rights. They are benefiting from lower tuition, but their EU friends are paying tremendously less (if anything) and may even get a government stipend while they study. I’ve told the story before about how my son broke his wrist and had to have surgery while living in the Hague. Our out of pocket expense for the surgery was $0-and his student health plan that covered it was only about $500 a year!
Students also glean from the viewpoints of their friends and classmates, who are from all over the world. My own son, Sam, who is in school in Prague, attends a monthly university event called “Professors in the Pub” in which students and professors gather to engage on timely topics. This past February the topic was, of course, Ukraine. What can transpire in a venue like this-where students from Russia, Ukraine, and US and many other countries share their perspectives- is that students can avoid buying into the your-corner, my-corner mentality we’re growing detrimentally accustomed to in the US.
Of course, some of the growth comes from less positive experiences. Student may bear witness to (or personally fall victim to) discrimination. They may have to deal with slow-moving bureaucracy and inefficient systems they don’t recognize. There is culture shock, and the discomfort that is inevitable when one is far from what’s familiar.
The point is this: studying and living abroad is so much more dynamic and beneficial than simply escaping fraught and volatile circumstances. There is adversity regardless of where you reside–there is no escaping this reality. But what can develop in an individual when they go abroad in this way, is an appreciation for different perspectives and policies. These conversations and experiences bring a refreshing shift in orientation. We’ve gone on and on about the soft skills that are inevitable outcomes of studying abroad long-term, and these skills, such as resilience, cooperation, empathy, self-direction, and diversity-awareness, are what’s sorely needed in any society. Yes, these qualities bode well for employability, and we’ve discussed this at length this past year, but greater than that they bode well for our younger citizens and the impact they will have on the world.
“I always felt a bit of an outsider in the US, so I was ecstatic about coming to study in Europe. It’s been all that I’ve hoped for and more. The university is incredibly international and everyone has a different perspective and is not afraid to discuss and debate. It was beyond refreshing to come to such an open-minded environment, especially what is going on in the US currently.”
–Marieke, age 20, from Wilmington, DE, studying English Language and Culture at UG
“I think studying abroad is an amazing experience. I have met people from every continent (except Antarctica). I learned that there is more than just one perspective; how I think is developed by the environment I grew up in, but other people in different places think in different ways. I also adopted some of the Dutch ideology. For example, Dutch people generally have a good work-life balance. Students strive to pass, but not necessarily excel. I grew up thinking the goal was to be perfect, but I’ve since learned that finding a balance is a much happier way to live.”
–Kaitlin, age 21, from Florida, studying Psychology at Leiden University

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The Many Incredible Master's Degree Options in Europe Very Few Know About

Her conversation partner this week is Sean Dempsey, a past BTS member and recent graduate of the highly-ranked KU Leuven, in Belgium.

For our final episode of the season, Jenn dives into a discussion on the rewards of pursuing a Master’s degree in Europe. Her conversation partner this week is Sean Dempsey, a past BTS member and recent graduate of the highly-ranked KU Leuven, in Belgium. It was his study abroad semester in Spain, as an undergraduate, that was the inspiration and gateway to gaining his Master’s degree in Europe. 
And speaking of graduate school, Jenn announces our team’s summer plans on the podcast for giving a deserved boost to our sweeping Master’s degree resources and offerings. Get the scuttlebutt on these improvements, and hear about some of Jenn’s favorite grad programs featured in our Master’s database, some of which her own son, Sam, is exploring. It’s happening! 
_“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. English-taught master’s degree programs in Europe are much more affordable. Their average tuition for the more than 6,200 English-taught programs is under $8,000 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.” _
–Jenn
Special offer for Master’s: Get 50% OFF your 1st month’s of our Master’s Membership. Special offer for Bachelor’s: Check out our (Almost) Crunch Time Pack for those looking to attend college in Europe for 2023 and beyond. Huge savings!

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: As you probably know, we talk a lot about the bachelor's degree options in Europe. But I'm realizing that we've not been giving enough attention to the master's degree options. In fact, that's actually about to change. I have an announcement about that later on in the episode. But as I've been thinking about these master's degree options, it's occurred to me that while I understand that some parents think their kids aren't ready for life abroad at 18 - though, I would argue that there are ways to prepare them for that - what better time to explore life abroad than in your 20s? Of course, these options aren't limited to kids in their 20s, you heard an earlier episode with Tiffany, whose kids are getting their bachelor's in Europe, and she and her husband are preparing to pursue their master's degrees in Europe as well. 
So now that Sam is about a year away from graduating, we're starting to talk about whether he wants to go straight for a master's or work for a while first, and he hasn't reached a decision yet so we're exploring all the options. Now, there are certainly some great options in the US for sure. We had a recent interview with Martin Tillman, which put SIT Graduate Institute on my radar. They're based out of -- is it Maine or Vermont? One of those two, I can't remember. They have these really cool one year master's degree programs that are completed out in the field. There's a Humanitarian Assistance and Crisis Management program that's done in Jordan and Uganda. There's a Diplomacy and International Relations master's, which is done in South Africa and Switzerland. And both of these are aligned with Sam's interests, but tuition alone is $46,000 a year. 
I also talk about Middlebury a lot when I do tuition comparisons for Sam, mostly because they have a lot of master's degree programs that aligned with his interest. They also have really cool master's degree programs like one called -- let's see if I can say it -- Non Proliferation and Terrorism Studies. But this one is two years and costs $42,000 a year. 
So his best in-state option would likely be the International Studies master's at NC State, which is two years and cost $11,000 per year. So according to financial aid.org, finaid.org, the average cost for master's degree programs in the US ranges from $30,000 to $120,000, depending on whether a student is paying in-state tuition or out of state tuition and the duration of the program, of course. So the $22,000 he would pay for an in-state tuition for the two year program is actually below average. But then we get to his options in Europe. 
So today, I'm talking about options that pertain to social science type programs that fall under things like international relations, security studies, political science, and international studies simply as an example, because that's what Sam's interested in, and also what our guest today studies. But I really want to emphasize that the options in Europe are not limited to this area. In fact, of the 8,633 master's degree programs -- yes, you heard that number right -- there are more than a thousand that fall under Social Sciences. That means that there are still 7,611 in fields like humanities, science, engineering, computer science, business, and many, many more. 
So at first I thought I'd tell you about programs in this area that were under the low range of the US average of $30,000 total tuition. But then, since our in-state tuition here in North Carolina is on the lower end, I thought I'd challenged myself to programs that are under the tuition that Sam would pay at NC State. So under $22,000 in total tuition. 
So let's start in Switzerland, which may not be a place you first think of when you're looking for bargains. But I visited the Graduate Institute of Geneva last summer and was just completely blown away. We have a blog about it that you can read more on it in, but a couple of highlights are that 90% of their students find relevant work within four months of graduating. They're located right around the corner from the UN headquarters, and Kofi Annan is an alum. They have a master's degree program. They have several, but the one I want to tell you about is called International and Developmental Studies. 
So all students in the first year of the program take the same classes as the other students in this International and Developmental Studies program. They take classes about professional skills, research classes and some around sociology, anthropology, international economics, international relations and political science, international law, international history and politics. So these classes are taught around the themes of sustainability, democracy and inequality, fairness and justice, digital and emerging technologies, global governance and education. And then during the second year, students choose either one or two specializations and focus on that area. They can choose between conflict, peace and security, or environment and sustainability. There's gender, race and diversity, there's global health, mobilities, migrations and boundaries, sustainable trade and finance, or human rights and humanitarianism. So the program takes two years to complete, and it's €7,040 per year. So that's right around US$7,775, so around $15,550 total tuition. 
So the next one I want to tell you about is an Erasmus Mundus program, Erasmus Mundus programs were established to promote student mobility, and they provide integrated study programs at the master's degree level. So not only do you study in more than one country during the program, but you graduate with a degree from all the participating universities. So there are actually a lot of really cool programs under the umbrella of Erasmus. And we have a previous podcast and blogs about those options as well. But this program I want to tell you about is called the International Humanitarian Action program. It is a two year program that is €6000 per year. 
So the first semester of the two years, you establish your home university and you can choose -- for the English-taught track. There's one in Germany, there's one in Ireland, there's one in Sweden, one in the Netherlands, one in Poland, and one in Malta. So this is a foundation semester and you studied things related to humanitarian action, like politics, public health, culture, law and management, as they pertain to humanitarian action. And then the second semester needs to be at a school that was different from your first semester, and is based on the specialty you choose. You can study humanitarian policy and practice in Germany, you can study societies in transition in Ireland, forced migration and human security in Malta, humanitarian analysis and intervention design in the Netherlands, armed conflict and humanitarian action in Poland, or conflict, peacebuilding and religion in Sweden. 
So that's cool enough on its own, but then the third semester is even cooler, which is a regional training study at a university in Jordan, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Japan, Australia, Colombia, or the US, or work placement, so that's incredibly cool. And then, you return to your home university for the fourth semester to work on your thesis. I mean, this is just amazing.
Then we have -- gosh, we have so many, you guys. I mean, if I were to tell you details about all of these programs that are on Sam's list, we would be here all day, and I do want to get to our guest soon. So I just want to tell you some of these schools that are on this list. There's a joint program between the University of Barcelona and UPF, which is in Barcelona. It's one year, so €11,000, and it's an international relations program with different specializations, including international security. There's Dublin City University, which is a one year program for €15,000, and it's the International Security and Conflict Studies. There are a couple of good options that would fit Sam's interest in Milan at the Catholic University of Sacred Heart. There's a Middle Eastern Studies program that's one year and €7,500. And there's an Advanced Global Studies that's one year and €10,000. 
And then, let's see, there's Berlin School of Economics and Law, which is zero euros a year for tuition -- of course, there are still living expenses. It takes two years to complete the International Security Management program. Oslo, Norway is another country that has free tuition for international students, and the University of Oslo has a Theory and Practice of Human Rights program, two years, zero euros a year. If he decided to stay in the Czech Republic, Charles University has a two year International Relations program with a number of really cool specializations. And that one is US$6,835 per year. 
Another really cool city in the Czech Republic -- most people just think of Prague -- but Brno is a really, really cool city and holds a number of awesome universities, one of which is Masaryk. And there's a Conflict and Democracy Studies program that's two years for just €3,000 per year, and the cost of living is incredibly reasonable there. And then, if you wanted to go back to the Netherlands, VU in Amsterdam has a Law and Politics of International Security program. It's one year to complete and €14,762. 
So this is just a small sampling. I don't know where Sam's going to end up, he might take time to work before going to get his master's. And he's actually spending this summer, you know, going over his options. But I did have an incredible conversation with one of our members, who was getting his master's degree in Europe in Brussels -- well, right outside of Brussels. We actually did this interview back in the fall of 2021. But that was right before we moved from Portugal. And in the midst of the craziness with the move, I had difficulty finding that recording. I'm a neat freak in my house, but the organization on my computer is just a mess. 
So today, you're going to hear from Sean Dempsey, who just graduated from this school in Belgium. I recently caught up with him to find out what he's up to. I learned he has moved to Madrid and he is doing work for two separate organizations. One specializes in transatlantic business consulting. It's a business based in Spain. And the other is an NGO, which sends doctors and medical supplies to war-stricken areas around the world like the Ukraine, Yemen, and places like that. So really cool. And we're going to hear from him right after this break.
Testimonial: Hi, I'm Maclan and I'm in my second year studying at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Before I began my degree, my sister started university in the Czech Republic, which inspired me to explore my options of going to school in Europe. But I was still lost at what exactly I needed to do in order to attend university abroad. This is where Beyond the States stepped in. My sister had previously worked with them. They built a best fit list of universities for her to consider. Over time, Beyond the States has expanded its options. I was able to take advantage of the personalized approach to explore what I found most useful. I was a part of the first On Your Mark master class where I learned what I found to be most exciting to study, where my interests aligned, and what universities I was most interested in. Before the master class, I was lost and overwhelmed with what to focus on. Beyond the States gave me a sense of direction. Before, I was only following my sister's path. Through their help and support system, studying in Europe was able to become a reality for me. The class is offered three times a year and fills up every time. Check the show notes for more information and to sign up for the next session.
Jenn Viemont: So today, I'm talking to Sean Dempsey. He is 26 years old and he's from Iowa. He got his bachelor's at Luther College in Iowa, and now he's finishing up his master's in European Studies from KU Leuven. So before we start talking to Sean, I want to tell you a little bit about his school and his program so you have a frame of reference when we're talking about these things. First of all, KU Leuven is right outside of Brussels, and it's consistently ranked in the top 100 universities globally, often in the top 50, depending on which ranking system you're looking at. Yet Sean's tuition as an international student is just €3900 a year, which is crazy. So in his program -- it's again European Studies -- and students choose a major and a minor, and elective from the following: European history, integration and political order, European diversity and cultural policy, European governance, European external relations, globalizing Europe, European and global economy, social Europe and European welfare states, sustainability in Europe, comparative American-European Studies, Europe and its eastern neighborhoods, Europe and its southern neighborhoods, and Europe and Asia. 
So I just wanted to give you a little context as Sean and I start talking about his school and his program and his experiences. So Sean, thank you so much for being here today.
Sean Dempsey: Thank you, Jennifer. I'm excited to come.
Jenn Viemont: Yeah, I am too. So can you tell me -- I mean, wherever you want to start, really -- why you chose Europe, why you chose KU Leuven? If I'm mispronouncing it, even though I've been there, and why you chose this program?
Sean Dempsey: Yeah. Also, I had graduated -- as you mentioned, I graduated from a small school in Iowa, Luther, and I had been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study abroad in Spain, Seville for just a semester. That was kind of a last minute decision, and I'm so glad that I did. And I really, really wanted to continue with a more permanent stay somewhere abroad. I actually met my girlfriend there as well. That was five years ago.
So things got a little sidetracked. I took an internship in DC and ended up working there for three years with my Iowa congressman, and things just worked out. He was retiring in 2020. And so, it was a great time to just reevaluate, and I knew I wanted to go back to school. And as you mentioned, the tuition was just a huge motivator to come, you know, for a fraction of the cost the equal program would be in the US. Yeah. Of course, it's been a unique year, the past year. I'm still with the online classes, but I'm just finishing out my thesis. I'll be done here pretty soon, so.
Jenn Viemont: So which of the majors and minors did you choose? So your kind of specialty areas?
Sean Dempsey: Yeah, I chose History as my major; History of Integration. And then, I chose the External Relations one. My rationale is like, as an American, you know, you're coming in having to learn, like, at least two times more about the context of -- when you to do a program like European Studies. So I really wanted to have a good strong foundation, you know, the history of the EU. And then the External Relations as a minor, that's a very popular one for the students. People all want to work at the Commission or EU Commission or Council or some diplomatic post. But that was my second choice. I thought I wanted to take a few classes with that.
**Jenn Viemont: **So are your classmates primarily European or really from around the world?
**Sean Dempsey: **And that's been probably the most amazing part, is really from everywhere. Of course, very strongly slanted toward the EU. But I think we have -- they showed us in the very beginning, but definitely representation from almost every EU member state. There are a few Americans. I think some of them still had to do it digitally. But I think we're still four, I think, in -- it's like an 80 person program.
Jenn Viemont: Oh, that's a good percentage.
Sean Dempsey: Yeah, yeah. So it's still good, well represented. And then, Hong Kong and China I think were the other furthest away from the EU students.
Jenn Viemont: So what does this not only prepare you for, but prepare students for? So as an American student or as an international student, you need to have a background in politics. Is that what you plan on pursuing? Do you think you'll pursue it there? What are your thoughts on that?
**Sean Dempsey: **Well, I'm always hoping that -- because that's a question that I get all the time from Europeans. Like, "Whoa, why did you come here to study European Studies?" And I think that it's a unique route, which is strong -- you know, we're all, in job searches and schools, we're all trying to differentiate ourselves from other candidates. So I think to have a level of expertise, hopefully, hopefully bodes well for some future job offers. But it really prepares you, because a lot of people don't know -- a lot of Europeans don't know how the EU really works. And so, coming out of this program, you get down to the nitty gritty of, you know, how all these regulations advance. And so, many of my friends and students, the other students in the program, are trying to end up in Brussels. I would say that is the place people are really, really wanting to end up. But I mean, I don't know, I don't want to do this, but I think if you wanted to do a State Department position at some point, which I know a lot of people have dreams about coming here and learning in depth about, you know, another governmental system is a really good thing to do.
Jenn Viemont: It must have been interesting this year -- you know, we moved to Portugal this year, so it's also our first kind of chance living in a different country. And seeing how the EU has and has not dealt with COVID, and kind of learning how it functions, or doesn't function, through a crisis time has been really interesting. And I imagine if you're in the classroom, kind of learning those things that are relevant could be incredibly interesting as well.
Sean Dempsey: Definitely. Yeah, that was kind of cool, because I took a lot of history classes, but there were -- I took a current issues class, I think, and the whole point of the course was seeing how the EU responds to crisis. They love talking about their crises over here. And, of course, we had just like Exhibit A, COVID...
Jenn Viemont: Yeah, right.
Sean Dempsey: ...Which we were just analyzing real time. It's been -- you know, it's changing constantly. When I first arrived in September 2020, it was like a different world. Because coming from DC, we were in the midst of one of our -- you know, that summer was really bad with COVID, and they had rolled back a lot of their restrictions. And then of course, it kind of flip flopped as the US started vaccinating more, but it seems like we're coming out of it here, but not definitely out of -- you know, I wish it would have been in person, but they really did well, adjusting to the current circumstances.
Jenn Viemont: So it's hard to compare because of the unique online circumstances this year. But, you know, keeping that in mind, what would you say the biggest differences in either the educational approach -- and I know it's hard to compare bachelor's and master's, you know, they are two different things. But you know, I did both in the US, and it was somewhat similar in terms of approach and expectations. What would you say the biggest differences are that you see from the US system?
Sean Dempsey: Yeah. Well, definitely, first and foremost the exam system. It's mainly one big exam at the end of the semester for each course. And really no busy work. Like for some courses, you didn't -- I mean, the professor, you'd be in class with him and you'd be participating in the course, but there was never any like hand in anything. I know some people struggle with that, because they need something each week. But for me, it was really good because I struggle with the busy work, turning it in. So to be able to have like one big goal at the end was great. 
And then, I should explain, it's much easier to fail then, I guess you could say. Well, the grading system was 1 through 20 in KU Leuven so you need to get a 10 or higher to pass the course. But if you fail, then you have a retake, period. And our retake period is August. So if you would fail that course, you would take both from first semester or second semester in August. So it takes a lot of the pressure off. I mean, it's still pressure, but to have a second chance at it, I think. Because, you know, if you -- like if you're talking about failing a course in the US, like, it's kind of the end of the world. You have to make some changes or do something else, so.
Jenn Viemont: It's interesting. I think that's a big adjustment, not only for students in Europe, but also parents, because there's so much grade inflation in the US. And there's not that grade inflation in Europe. And not only that, but in many countries -- and you can speak to whether this is the case at Leuven -- like A's are not the expectation. It's getting, you know, a 9 or a 10 on the duct system. So I guess that'd be like a 19 or 20 is fairly unheard of. And it is more about even though it's not pass/fail, it's more about, okay, am I going to pass? And many students, especially for a bachelor's, which is longer, will fail at least one class and have to do a reset, when they never failed anything in high school. And that can be a big mindset shift need for students and parents. Have you found that too? Did you have higher expectations of yourself? Or were you able to kind of embrace this?
Sean Dempsey: I had tried to I tried to look into this before. Like I had been asking people and there were people that were such strong students, and they told me like, "Hey, I failed," you know. It's not something to be -- I don't know, I think we're sometimes ashamed if we're in the US. And it's really not -- like, yeah, what you had mentioned, I had one professor that I think he let it slip to a student that he had never given out 19, let alone a 20. Like full percentage for points, you know, really unheard of. I can give you an average of 9 for an 18. In KU Leuven, you get a personal acknowledgement from the exam staff. That's so rare, and that's just 18 out of 20.
Jenn Viemont: Which is like a B. Which is like a B if we're going to convert it. So if you get an average of a B, they're like, "Hey, let's have a parade for you." So yeah, it's really a shift.
Sean Dempsey: Definitely, definitely. I've enjoyed it, but I know it's different. It's totally different, that's for sure.
Jenn Viemont: Yeah, it really is. So what do you plan on doing next? What's next on your agenda?
Sean Dempsey: Yeah. Well, I kind of not mentioned it, but apart from like the great education and the tuition, a big motivator was my longtime girlfriend, she's Spanish. So that's where I'm at right now. I mean, I'm going back in Seville. It's really, really hot.
Jenn Viemont: And no air conditioning, right? 
Sean Dempsey: Yeah, they do fans usually.
Jenn Viemont: Yeah. Yeah, that's how it is in Portugal.
Sean Dempsey: So that's an adjustment as well. But I'd like to end up in Brussels as well. I'm working on getting a residency through a partnership. And then, I think with Leuven, a lot of my non-EU colleagues, I guess -- those other students that are non-EU are really excited because Belgium might pass a bill in this next calendar year that would allow non-EU students to job search for nine months. I know other European states have it, and the Netherlands I believe has it, but you probably know better than I, Jennifer. But that would be great. So give us time to try to find some job in Brussels, Oh, I didn't specify. It would be more -- I'm thinking like think tanks. There's a lot of like focused on transatlantic relations between the US. So I would hope to use my dual expertise here, if I could call it that, with the US and Europe to find something. 
**Jenn Viemont: **For sure. So how long do you have? Is it six months or three months that you have if they don't pass this, to look for a job after?
Sean Dempsey: Yeah. So I think all the visas expire after October 31st. So that's over a year. I got here September 2020. And so, it'd be like 13, 14 months, whatever that is. So October 31st, if I don't get this residency through another avenue, then I would have to go back to the US or figure something out.
Jenn Viemont: When do you technically graduate?
Sean Dempsey: If I get my thesis in, which I need good thoughts on that right now, but I should graduate in September.
Jenn Viemont: You might want to look into it. I'll actually look into it and email you later. Because most countries have something for after. Like the one that you're talking about, the nine month thing, it's shorter. You know, it's like three or six months, So I'll look at that and I'll email you after. We have that in our database. 
So speaking of that, so you were a Beyond the States member. Your brother was a Beyond the States member and just graduated from a school in Prague. And my understanding is he's also in Spain, right? 
Sean Dempsey: He's on his way. Yeah, he's going to be in Madrid. 
Jenn Viemont: And then your parents are in Iowa, yeah?
Sean Dempsey: Yep, yep. My mom is in Iowa with my stepdad and my dad's in Southern California.
Jenn Viemont: How are they adjusting to both of you intending to settle in Europe?
Sean Dempsey: I think it's -- I mean, it's definitely tough. I know they get a lot of questions about this from other worrying parents, like how could you ever let them go? But I think they're really excited for us. I know that they know that both my brother and I wanted something, an experience like this. And they're excited about the tuition, that's for sure.
And I mean, so thank God, the vaccinations are coming through. So my mom is actually going to visit this month my brother in Prague, and then my dad later in August. So I mean, we're lucky in that sense that they're able to do that. But again, like, you know, FaceTime, what we're doing right now, that helps. We can stay really close.
Jenn Viemont: It really does. I mean, though there's a time difference to deal with on phone calls, I feel like when I talk to my son in the Netherlands, whether it was from the US or not, like I know what his room looks like, I've met his friends. It's not much different than if he were in school or living in a different state, other than the time difference. But yeah, my mom has the same thing; myself and my two brothers all live in Europe. So she gets the questions too, like what did you do wrong?
Sean Dempsey: Exactly, exactly.
Jenn Viemont: Interesting. Well, this has been really, really helpful. I'm so excited for you and I'm excited for your future, and I can't wait to hear what's next on your life.
Sean Dempsey: Yeah. Well, thank you for this. And then also, really your work, I hope to get the ball rolling, because it I know can be intimidating when you come to this, you know, idea of "Oh, I want to go." So I appreciate it. I appreciate all that you do. 
Jenn Viemont: Absolutely. Thanks for being here. 
So I usually put the Special of the Month at the end of the episode, but I'm just too excited to wait. So we're spending this summer beefing up our masters membership resources. They're already substantial; we have webinars, our member Facebook group, the database of more than 1,000 master's degree programs, our office hours, but we're also going to be adding a separate member Facebook group just for our masters members, programs for the month about these graduate programs, blogs with master's students experiences, classes, and more. 
So in the meantime, we've lowered our price for our masters membership, probably until the fall, to $49 a month. And this month, for one of our monthly specials, we're offering a 50% discount on the first month of your masters membership. So use the code 50offmasters, all one word, to receive your discount. And if you're driving and you can't write that down, no worries, we're going to have that in the show notes as well. 
We also have our bachelors-related special of the month too. We're calling it the Almost Crunch Time Special. We have a really popular offering that we offer in the fall and spring of each -- well winter of each year for students who are applying for the upcoming fall. And this one is a modification of this, this would be for students who are applying for fall of 2023. So rising seniors mostly, and it includes a best fit list, it includes consultation time with me. It includes video lessons around the admissions process, and then a call with me after to narrow down the list and to make an admission strategy and all of that, and just everything you need to have all of your ducks in a row by the time school starts in the fall, so you can just apply with ease. So we'll have the link to that in our show notes as well, which you can find at the beyondthestates.com monthly special. 
So you guys, it's summer. So we just moved into our house in Durham here in North Carolina, and I'm really enjoying nesting after the last few years that was just full of moves. Sam is home from Prague for the summer, and he really found his academic groove this year, which has been great to see. He'll go back in the fall for his final year. He'll have an internship and a thesis so it'll be a busy one for him. And then Ellie is going to be just 30 minutes away at NC State this fall. 
So summer is a super busy time for all of us and scheduling interviews during this time is never easy. So we're going to take a break from the podcast for the fall, but we would love to hear if there are topics you'd like us to cover, or guests you'd like us to interview. Please do send us your suggestions. You can send those to members@beyondthestates.com. Have a fantastic summer.

For our final episode of the season, Jenn dives into a discussion on the rewards of pursuing a Master’s degree in Europe. Her conversation partner this week is Sean Dempsey, a past BTS member and recent graduate of the highly-ranked KU Leuven, in Belgium. It was his study abroad semester in Spain, as an undergraduate, that was the inspiration and gateway to gaining his Master’s degree in Europe. 
And speaking of graduate school, Jenn announces our team’s summer plans on the podcast for giving a deserved boost to our sweeping Master’s degree resources and offerings. Get the scuttlebutt on these improvements, and hear about some of Jenn’s favorite grad programs featured in our Master’s database, some of which her own son, Sam, is exploring. It’s happening! 
_“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. English-taught master’s degree programs in Europe are much more affordable. Their average tuition for the more than 6,200 English-taught programs is under $8,000 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.” _
–Jenn
Special offer for Master’s: Get 50% OFF your 1st month’s of our Master’s Membership. Special offer for Bachelor’s: Check out our (Almost) Crunch Time Pack for those looking to attend college in Europe for 2023 and beyond. Huge savings!

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: As you probably know, we talk a lot about the bachelor's degree options in Europe. But I'm realizing that we've not been giving enough attention to the master's degree options. In fact, that's actually about to change. I have an announcement about that later on in the episode. But as I've been thinking about these master's degree options, it's occurred to me that while I understand that some parents think their kids aren't ready for life abroad at 18 - though, I would argue that there are ways to prepare them for that - what better time to explore life abroad than in your 20s? Of course, these options aren't limited to kids in their 20s, you heard an earlier episode with Tiffany, whose kids are getting their bachelor's in Europe, and she and her husband are preparing to pursue their master's degrees in Europe as well. 
So now that Sam is about a year away from graduating, we're starting to talk about whether he wants to go straight for a master's or work for a while first, and he hasn't reached a decision yet so we're exploring all the options. Now, there are certainly some great options in the US for sure. We had a recent interview with Martin Tillman, which put SIT Graduate Institute on my radar. They're based out of -- is it Maine or Vermont? One of those two, I can't remember. They have these really cool one year master's degree programs that are completed out in the field. There's a Humanitarian Assistance and Crisis Management program that's done in Jordan and Uganda. There's a Diplomacy and International Relations master's, which is done in South Africa and Switzerland. And both of these are aligned with Sam's interests, but tuition alone is $46,000 a year. 
I also talk about Middlebury a lot when I do tuition comparisons for Sam, mostly because they have a lot of master's degree programs that aligned with his interest. They also have really cool master's degree programs like one called -- let's see if I can say it -- Non Proliferation and Terrorism Studies. But this one is two years and costs $42,000 a year. 
So his best in-state option would likely be the International Studies master's at NC State, which is two years and cost $11,000 per year. So according to financial aid.org, finaid.org, the average cost for master's degree programs in the US ranges from $30,000 to $120,000, depending on whether a student is paying in-state tuition or out of state tuition and the duration of the program, of course. So the $22,000 he would pay for an in-state tuition for the two year program is actually below average. But then we get to his options in Europe. 
So today, I'm talking about options that pertain to social science type programs that fall under things like international relations, security studies, political science, and international studies simply as an example, because that's what Sam's interested in, and also what our guest today studies. But I really want to emphasize that the options in Europe are not limited to this area. In fact, of the 8,633 master's degree programs -- yes, you heard that number right -- there are more than a thousand that fall under Social Sciences. That means that there are still 7,611 in fields like humanities, science, engineering, computer science, business, and many, many more. 
So at first I thought I'd tell you about programs in this area that were under the low range of the US average of $30,000 total tuition. But then, since our in-state tuition here in North Carolina is on the lower end, I thought I'd challenged myself to programs that are under the tuition that Sam would pay at NC State. So under $22,000 in total tuition. 
So let's start in Switzerland, which may not be a place you first think of when you're looking for bargains. But I visited the Graduate Institute of Geneva last summer and was just completely blown away. We have a blog about it that you can read more on it in, but a couple of highlights are that 90% of their students find relevant work within four months of graduating. They're located right around the corner from the UN headquarters, and Kofi Annan is an alum. They have a master's degree program. They have several, but the one I want to tell you about is called International and Developmental Studies. 
So all students in the first year of the program take the same classes as the other students in this International and Developmental Studies program. They take classes about professional skills, research classes and some around sociology, anthropology, international economics, international relations and political science, international law, international history and politics. So these classes are taught around the themes of sustainability, democracy and inequality, fairness and justice, digital and emerging technologies, global governance and education. And then during the second year, students choose either one or two specializations and focus on that area. They can choose between conflict, peace and security, or environment and sustainability. There's gender, race and diversity, there's global health, mobilities, migrations and boundaries, sustainable trade and finance, or human rights and humanitarianism. So the program takes two years to complete, and it's €7,040 per year. So that's right around US$7,775, so around $15,550 total tuition. 
So the next one I want to tell you about is an Erasmus Mundus program, Erasmus Mundus programs were established to promote student mobility, and they provide integrated study programs at the master's degree level. So not only do you study in more than one country during the program, but you graduate with a degree from all the participating universities. So there are actually a lot of really cool programs under the umbrella of Erasmus. And we have a previous podcast and blogs about those options as well. But this program I want to tell you about is called the International Humanitarian Action program. It is a two year program that is €6000 per year. 
So the first semester of the two years, you establish your home university and you can choose -- for the English-taught track. There's one in Germany, there's one in Ireland, there's one in Sweden, one in the Netherlands, one in Poland, and one in Malta. So this is a foundation semester and you studied things related to humanitarian action, like politics, public health, culture, law and management, as they pertain to humanitarian action. And then the second semester needs to be at a school that was different from your first semester, and is based on the specialty you choose. You can study humanitarian policy and practice in Germany, you can study societies in transition in Ireland, forced migration and human security in Malta, humanitarian analysis and intervention design in the Netherlands, armed conflict and humanitarian action in Poland, or conflict, peacebuilding and religion in Sweden. 
So that's cool enough on its own, but then the third semester is even cooler, which is a regional training study at a university in Jordan, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Japan, Australia, Colombia, or the US, or work placement, so that's incredibly cool. And then, you return to your home university for the fourth semester to work on your thesis. I mean, this is just amazing.
Then we have -- gosh, we have so many, you guys. I mean, if I were to tell you details about all of these programs that are on Sam's list, we would be here all day, and I do want to get to our guest soon. So I just want to tell you some of these schools that are on this list. There's a joint program between the University of Barcelona and UPF, which is in Barcelona. It's one year, so €11,000, and it's an international relations program with different specializations, including international security. There's Dublin City University, which is a one year program for €15,000, and it's the International Security and Conflict Studies. There are a couple of good options that would fit Sam's interest in Milan at the Catholic University of Sacred Heart. There's a Middle Eastern Studies program that's one year and €7,500. And there's an Advanced Global Studies that's one year and €10,000. 
And then, let's see, there's Berlin School of Economics and Law, which is zero euros a year for tuition -- of course, there are still living expenses. It takes two years to complete the International Security Management program. Oslo, Norway is another country that has free tuition for international students, and the University of Oslo has a Theory and Practice of Human Rights program, two years, zero euros a year. If he decided to stay in the Czech Republic, Charles University has a two year International Relations program with a number of really cool specializations. And that one is US$6,835 per year. 
Another really cool city in the Czech Republic -- most people just think of Prague -- but Brno is a really, really cool city and holds a number of awesome universities, one of which is Masaryk. And there's a Conflict and Democracy Studies program that's two years for just €3,000 per year, and the cost of living is incredibly reasonable there. And then, if you wanted to go back to the Netherlands, VU in Amsterdam has a Law and Politics of International Security program. It's one year to complete and €14,762. 
So this is just a small sampling. I don't know where Sam's going to end up, he might take time to work before going to get his master's. And he's actually spending this summer, you know, going over his options. But I did have an incredible conversation with one of our members, who was getting his master's degree in Europe in Brussels -- well, right outside of Brussels. We actually did this interview back in the fall of 2021. But that was right before we moved from Portugal. And in the midst of the craziness with the move, I had difficulty finding that recording. I'm a neat freak in my house, but the organization on my computer is just a mess. 
So today, you're going to hear from Sean Dempsey, who just graduated from this school in Belgium. I recently caught up with him to find out what he's up to. I learned he has moved to Madrid and he is doing work for two separate organizations. One specializes in transatlantic business consulting. It's a business based in Spain. And the other is an NGO, which sends doctors and medical supplies to war-stricken areas around the world like the Ukraine, Yemen, and places like that. So really cool. And we're going to hear from him right after this break.
Testimonial: Hi, I'm Maclan and I'm in my second year studying at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Before I began my degree, my sister started university in the Czech Republic, which inspired me to explore my options of going to school in Europe. But I was still lost at what exactly I needed to do in order to attend university abroad. This is where Beyond the States stepped in. My sister had previously worked with them. They built a best fit list of universities for her to consider. Over time, Beyond the States has expanded its options. I was able to take advantage of the personalized approach to explore what I found most useful. I was a part of the first On Your Mark master class where I learned what I found to be most exciting to study, where my interests aligned, and what universities I was most interested in. Before the master class, I was lost and overwhelmed with what to focus on. Beyond the States gave me a sense of direction. Before, I was only following my sister's path. Through their help and support system, studying in Europe was able to become a reality for me. The class is offered three times a year and fills up every time. Check the show notes for more information and to sign up for the next session.
Jenn Viemont: So today, I'm talking to Sean Dempsey. He is 26 years old and he's from Iowa. He got his bachelor's at Luther College in Iowa, and now he's finishing up his master's in European Studies from KU Leuven. So before we start talking to Sean, I want to tell you a little bit about his school and his program so you have a frame of reference when we're talking about these things. First of all, KU Leuven is right outside of Brussels, and it's consistently ranked in the top 100 universities globally, often in the top 50, depending on which ranking system you're looking at. Yet Sean's tuition as an international student is just €3900 a year, which is crazy. So in his program -- it's again European Studies -- and students choose a major and a minor, and elective from the following: European history, integration and political order, European diversity and cultural policy, European governance, European external relations, globalizing Europe, European and global economy, social Europe and European welfare states, sustainability in Europe, comparative American-European Studies, Europe and its eastern neighborhoods, Europe and its southern neighborhoods, and Europe and Asia. 
So I just wanted to give you a little context as Sean and I start talking about his school and his program and his experiences. So Sean, thank you so much for being here today.
Sean Dempsey: Thank you, Jennifer. I'm excited to come.
Jenn Viemont: Yeah, I am too. So can you tell me -- I mean, wherever you want to start, really -- why you chose Europe, why you chose KU Leuven? If I'm mispronouncing it, even though I've been there, and why you chose this program?
Sean Dempsey: Yeah. Also, I had graduated -- as you mentioned, I graduated from a small school in Iowa, Luther, and I had been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study abroad in Spain, Seville for just a semester. That was kind of a last minute decision, and I'm so glad that I did. And I really, really wanted to continue with a more permanent stay somewhere abroad. I actually met my girlfriend there as well. That was five years ago.
So things got a little sidetracked. I took an internship in DC and ended up working there for three years with my Iowa congressman, and things just worked out. He was retiring in 2020. And so, it was a great time to just reevaluate, and I knew I wanted to go back to school. And as you mentioned, the tuition was just a huge motivator to come, you know, for a fraction of the cost the equal program would be in the US. Yeah. Of course, it's been a unique year, the past year. I'm still with the online classes, but I'm just finishing out my thesis. I'll be done here pretty soon, so.
Jenn Viemont: So which of the majors and minors did you choose? So your kind of specialty areas?
Sean Dempsey: Yeah, I chose History as my major; History of Integration. And then, I chose the External Relations one. My rationale is like, as an American, you know, you're coming in having to learn, like, at least two times more about the context of -- when you to do a program like European Studies. So I really wanted to have a good strong foundation, you know, the history of the EU. And then the External Relations as a minor, that's a very popular one for the students. People all want to work at the Commission or EU Commission or Council or some diplomatic post. But that was my second choice. I thought I wanted to take a few classes with that.
**Jenn Viemont: **So are your classmates primarily European or really from around the world?
**Sean Dempsey: **And that's been probably the most amazing part, is really from everywhere. Of course, very strongly slanted toward the EU. But I think we have -- they showed us in the very beginning, but definitely representation from almost every EU member state. There are a few Americans. I think some of them still had to do it digitally. But I think we're still four, I think, in -- it's like an 80 person program.
Jenn Viemont: Oh, that's a good percentage.
Sean Dempsey: Yeah, yeah. So it's still good, well represented. And then, Hong Kong and China I think were the other furthest away from the EU students.
Jenn Viemont: So what does this not only prepare you for, but prepare students for? So as an American student or as an international student, you need to have a background in politics. Is that what you plan on pursuing? Do you think you'll pursue it there? What are your thoughts on that?
**Sean Dempsey: **Well, I'm always hoping that -- because that's a question that I get all the time from Europeans. Like, "Whoa, why did you come here to study European Studies?" And I think that it's a unique route, which is strong -- you know, we're all, in job searches and schools, we're all trying to differentiate ourselves from other candidates. So I think to have a level of expertise, hopefully, hopefully bodes well for some future job offers. But it really prepares you, because a lot of people don't know -- a lot of Europeans don't know how the EU really works. And so, coming out of this program, you get down to the nitty gritty of, you know, how all these regulations advance. And so, many of my friends and students, the other students in the program, are trying to end up in Brussels. I would say that is the place people are really, really wanting to end up. But I mean, I don't know, I don't want to do this, but I think if you wanted to do a State Department position at some point, which I know a lot of people have dreams about coming here and learning in depth about, you know, another governmental system is a really good thing to do.
Jenn Viemont: It must have been interesting this year -- you know, we moved to Portugal this year, so it's also our first kind of chance living in a different country. And seeing how the EU has and has not dealt with COVID, and kind of learning how it functions, or doesn't function, through a crisis time has been really interesting. And I imagine if you're in the classroom, kind of learning those things that are relevant could be incredibly interesting as well.
Sean Dempsey: Definitely. Yeah, that was kind of cool, because I took a lot of history classes, but there were -- I took a current issues class, I think, and the whole point of the course was seeing how the EU responds to crisis. They love talking about their crises over here. And, of course, we had just like Exhibit A, COVID...
Jenn Viemont: Yeah, right.
Sean Dempsey: ...Which we were just analyzing real time. It's been -- you know, it's changing constantly. When I first arrived in September 2020, it was like a different world. Because coming from DC, we were in the midst of one of our -- you know, that summer was really bad with COVID, and they had rolled back a lot of their restrictions. And then of course, it kind of flip flopped as the US started vaccinating more, but it seems like we're coming out of it here, but not definitely out of -- you know, I wish it would have been in person, but they really did well, adjusting to the current circumstances.
Jenn Viemont: So it's hard to compare because of the unique online circumstances this year. But, you know, keeping that in mind, what would you say the biggest differences in either the educational approach -- and I know it's hard to compare bachelor's and master's, you know, they are two different things. But you know, I did both in the US, and it was somewhat similar in terms of approach and expectations. What would you say the biggest differences are that you see from the US system?
Sean Dempsey: Yeah. Well, definitely, first and foremost the exam system. It's mainly one big exam at the end of the semester for each course. And really no busy work. Like for some courses, you didn't -- I mean, the professor, you'd be in class with him and you'd be participating in the course, but there was never any like hand in anything. I know some people struggle with that, because they need something each week. But for me, it was really good because I struggle with the busy work, turning it in. So to be able to have like one big goal at the end was great. 
And then, I should explain, it's much easier to fail then, I guess you could say. Well, the grading system was 1 through 20 in KU Leuven so you need to get a 10 or higher to pass the course. But if you fail, then you have a retake, period. And our retake period is August. So if you would fail that course, you would take both from first semester or second semester in August. So it takes a lot of the pressure off. I mean, it's still pressure, but to have a second chance at it, I think. Because, you know, if you -- like if you're talking about failing a course in the US, like, it's kind of the end of the world. You have to make some changes or do something else, so.
Jenn Viemont: It's interesting. I think that's a big adjustment, not only for students in Europe, but also parents, because there's so much grade inflation in the US. And there's not that grade inflation in Europe. And not only that, but in many countries -- and you can speak to whether this is the case at Leuven -- like A's are not the expectation. It's getting, you know, a 9 or a 10 on the duct system. So I guess that'd be like a 19 or 20 is fairly unheard of. And it is more about even though it's not pass/fail, it's more about, okay, am I going to pass? And many students, especially for a bachelor's, which is longer, will fail at least one class and have to do a reset, when they never failed anything in high school. And that can be a big mindset shift need for students and parents. Have you found that too? Did you have higher expectations of yourself? Or were you able to kind of embrace this?
Sean Dempsey: I had tried to I tried to look into this before. Like I had been asking people and there were people that were such strong students, and they told me like, "Hey, I failed," you know. It's not something to be -- I don't know, I think we're sometimes ashamed if we're in the US. And it's really not -- like, yeah, what you had mentioned, I had one professor that I think he let it slip to a student that he had never given out 19, let alone a 20. Like full percentage for points, you know, really unheard of. I can give you an average of 9 for an 18. In KU Leuven, you get a personal acknowledgement from the exam staff. That's so rare, and that's just 18 out of 20.
Jenn Viemont: Which is like a B. Which is like a B if we're going to convert it. So if you get an average of a B, they're like, "Hey, let's have a parade for you." So yeah, it's really a shift.
Sean Dempsey: Definitely, definitely. I've enjoyed it, but I know it's different. It's totally different, that's for sure.
Jenn Viemont: Yeah, it really is. So what do you plan on doing next? What's next on your agenda?
Sean Dempsey: Yeah. Well, I kind of not mentioned it, but apart from like the great education and the tuition, a big motivator was my longtime girlfriend, she's Spanish. So that's where I'm at right now. I mean, I'm going back in Seville. It's really, really hot.
Jenn Viemont: And no air conditioning, right? 
Sean Dempsey: Yeah, they do fans usually.
Jenn Viemont: Yeah. Yeah, that's how it is in Portugal.
Sean Dempsey: So that's an adjustment as well. But I'd like to end up in Brussels as well. I'm working on getting a residency through a partnership. And then, I think with Leuven, a lot of my non-EU colleagues, I guess -- those other students that are non-EU are really excited because Belgium might pass a bill in this next calendar year that would allow non-EU students to job search for nine months. I know other European states have it, and the Netherlands I believe has it, but you probably know better than I, Jennifer. But that would be great. So give us time to try to find some job in Brussels, Oh, I didn't specify. It would be more -- I'm thinking like think tanks. There's a lot of like focused on transatlantic relations between the US. So I would hope to use my dual expertise here, if I could call it that, with the US and Europe to find something. 
**Jenn Viemont: **For sure. So how long do you have? Is it six months or three months that you have if they don't pass this, to look for a job after?
Sean Dempsey: Yeah. So I think all the visas expire after October 31st. So that's over a year. I got here September 2020. And so, it'd be like 13, 14 months, whatever that is. So October 31st, if I don't get this residency through another avenue, then I would have to go back to the US or figure something out.
Jenn Viemont: When do you technically graduate?
Sean Dempsey: If I get my thesis in, which I need good thoughts on that right now, but I should graduate in September.
Jenn Viemont: You might want to look into it. I'll actually look into it and email you later. Because most countries have something for after. Like the one that you're talking about, the nine month thing, it's shorter. You know, it's like three or six months, So I'll look at that and I'll email you after. We have that in our database. 
So speaking of that, so you were a Beyond the States member. Your brother was a Beyond the States member and just graduated from a school in Prague. And my understanding is he's also in Spain, right? 
Sean Dempsey: He's on his way. Yeah, he's going to be in Madrid. 
Jenn Viemont: And then your parents are in Iowa, yeah?
Sean Dempsey: Yep, yep. My mom is in Iowa with my stepdad and my dad's in Southern California.
Jenn Viemont: How are they adjusting to both of you intending to settle in Europe?
Sean Dempsey: I think it's -- I mean, it's definitely tough. I know they get a lot of questions about this from other worrying parents, like how could you ever let them go? But I think they're really excited for us. I know that they know that both my brother and I wanted something, an experience like this. And they're excited about the tuition, that's for sure.
And I mean, so thank God, the vaccinations are coming through. So my mom is actually going to visit this month my brother in Prague, and then my dad later in August. So I mean, we're lucky in that sense that they're able to do that. But again, like, you know, FaceTime, what we're doing right now, that helps. We can stay really close.
Jenn Viemont: It really does. I mean, though there's a time difference to deal with on phone calls, I feel like when I talk to my son in the Netherlands, whether it was from the US or not, like I know what his room looks like, I've met his friends. It's not much different than if he were in school or living in a different state, other than the time difference. But yeah, my mom has the same thing; myself and my two brothers all live in Europe. So she gets the questions too, like what did you do wrong?
Sean Dempsey: Exactly, exactly.
Jenn Viemont: Interesting. Well, this has been really, really helpful. I'm so excited for you and I'm excited for your future, and I can't wait to hear what's next on your life.
Sean Dempsey: Yeah. Well, thank you for this. And then also, really your work, I hope to get the ball rolling, because it I know can be intimidating when you come to this, you know, idea of "Oh, I want to go." So I appreciate it. I appreciate all that you do. 
Jenn Viemont: Absolutely. Thanks for being here. 
So I usually put the Special of the Month at the end of the episode, but I'm just too excited to wait. So we're spending this summer beefing up our masters membership resources. They're already substantial; we have webinars, our member Facebook group, the database of more than 1,000 master's degree programs, our office hours, but we're also going to be adding a separate member Facebook group just for our masters members, programs for the month about these graduate programs, blogs with master's students experiences, classes, and more. 
So in the meantime, we've lowered our price for our masters membership, probably until the fall, to $49 a month. And this month, for one of our monthly specials, we're offering a 50% discount on the first month of your masters membership. So use the code 50offmasters, all one word, to receive your discount. And if you're driving and you can't write that down, no worries, we're going to have that in the show notes as well. 
We also have our bachelors-related special of the month too. We're calling it the Almost Crunch Time Special. We have a really popular offering that we offer in the fall and spring of each -- well winter of each year for students who are applying for the upcoming fall. And this one is a modification of this, this would be for students who are applying for fall of 2023. So rising seniors mostly, and it includes a best fit list, it includes consultation time with me. It includes video lessons around the admissions process, and then a call with me after to narrow down the list and to make an admission strategy and all of that, and just everything you need to have all of your ducks in a row by the time school starts in the fall, so you can just apply with ease. So we'll have the link to that in our show notes as well, which you can find at the beyondthestates.com monthly special. 
So you guys, it's summer. So we just moved into our house in Durham here in North Carolina, and I'm really enjoying nesting after the last few years that was just full of moves. Sam is home from Prague for the summer, and he really found his academic groove this year, which has been great to see. He'll go back in the fall for his final year. He'll have an internship and a thesis so it'll be a busy one for him. And then Ellie is going to be just 30 minutes away at NC State this fall. 
So summer is a super busy time for all of us and scheduling interviews during this time is never easy. So we're going to take a break from the podcast for the fall, but we would love to hear if there are topics you'd like us to cover, or guests you'd like us to interview. Please do send us your suggestions. You can send those to members@beyondthestates.com. Have a fantastic summer.

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From California to France: Meet Jacob, Now Studying at Toulouse Business School

Before university, in California I worked full time and didn’t want to jump into the rest of my life too soon, so I decided to once again enroll in school but this time overseas.

Hello, my name is Jacob Zeidberg and I’m from Monterey, California. I’m currently in my first year working towards my Bachelors in Management at Toulouse Business School in Toulouse, France. Before university, in California I worked full time and didn’t want to jump into the rest of my life too soon, so I decided to once again enroll in school but this time overseas. 
The enrollment process was a bit different from what I’m accustomed to. For starters, they didn’t ask for my SAT or ACT scores, which was quite good for me. All that they required was my high school grades plus grades from any schooling done after high school. To get to know me better, I had an interview where I was asked typical entrance questions like “What’s your greatest achievement?”, “Who inspires you?”, and “Why TBS and how will it be a good fit for you?”.
The school itself is a small, triple accredited business school by AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS with campuses In Toulouse, Barcelona, Casablanca, and Paris. The Bachelors in Management degree is a three year degree where students are trained to be professionals in a management setting in an increasingly interconnected world.
Students take classes ranging from accounting to fundamentals of marketing in their first semester to build a foundation of skills to refer to in their future endeavors. The classes themselves are in either one and a half hour, two hour, or three hour periods, and are held once or twice a week depending on the length of the periods. Students’ efforts are graded on a scale from one to twenty and anything above a ten is a passing grade. As an American who is accustomed to the A to F scale, this took some getting used to. The homework is not too overbearing, however, you are expected to spend a lot, if not most of your free time studying for the various multiple choice quizzes you will most likely have throughout the week. Also, the way that multiple choice quizzes are graded in France is quite unique. If you don’t answer a question nothing happens, it neither helps nor harms your grade. If you get a question correct, that is plus three points, but if you get a question wrong that is minus one point, which means that it is possible to get negative points on a quiz which I found out the hard way. Each year students are required to complete an eight week minimum internship at a company of their choosing to put their newly acquired skills to use.
The school is composed of both French and international students and classes are offered in both French and English. There are also a myriad of resources for students to utilize if they need help with anything, ranging from tech support to language services. There are also lots of parties hosted by the school’s welcome team which provide plenty of opportunities to interact and make new friends.
Overall, TBS provides an excellent education and plenty of different opportunities for its students. Since first arriving in September I’ve greatly expanded my knowledge of the business world and have made numerous meaningful connections. Toulouse has proved to be the community I was lacking back in the United States and has quickly become a second home for me.

Hello, my name is Jacob Zeidberg and I’m from Monterey, California. I’m currently in my first year working towards my Bachelors in Management at Toulouse Business School in Toulouse, France. Before university, in California I worked full time and didn’t want to jump into the rest of my life too soon, so I decided to once again enroll in school but this time overseas. 
The enrollment process was a bit different from what I’m accustomed to. For starters, they didn’t ask for my SAT or ACT scores, which was quite good for me. All that they required was my high school grades plus grades from any schooling done after high school. To get to know me better, I had an interview where I was asked typical entrance questions like “What’s your greatest achievement?”, “Who inspires you?”, and “Why TBS and how will it be a good fit for you?”.
The school itself is a small, triple accredited business school by AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS with campuses In Toulouse, Barcelona, Casablanca, and Paris. The Bachelors in Management degree is a three year degree where students are trained to be professionals in a management setting in an increasingly interconnected world.
Students take classes ranging from accounting to fundamentals of marketing in their first semester to build a foundation of skills to refer to in their future endeavors. The classes themselves are in either one and a half hour, two hour, or three hour periods, and are held once or twice a week depending on the length of the periods. Students’ efforts are graded on a scale from one to twenty and anything above a ten is a passing grade. As an American who is accustomed to the A to F scale, this took some getting used to. The homework is not too overbearing, however, you are expected to spend a lot, if not most of your free time studying for the various multiple choice quizzes you will most likely have throughout the week. Also, the way that multiple choice quizzes are graded in France is quite unique. If you don’t answer a question nothing happens, it neither helps nor harms your grade. If you get a question correct, that is plus three points, but if you get a question wrong that is minus one point, which means that it is possible to get negative points on a quiz which I found out the hard way. Each year students are required to complete an eight week minimum internship at a company of their choosing to put their newly acquired skills to use.
The school is composed of both French and international students and classes are offered in both French and English. There are also a myriad of resources for students to utilize if they need help with anything, ranging from tech support to language services. There are also lots of parties hosted by the school’s welcome team which provide plenty of opportunities to interact and make new friends.
Overall, TBS provides an excellent education and plenty of different opportunities for its students. Since first arriving in September I’ve greatly expanded my knowledge of the business world and have made numerous meaningful connections. Toulouse has proved to be the community I was lacking back in the United States and has quickly become a second home for me.

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Why Less Hand Holding in Europe Fosters Stronger Student Independence

It’s important to appreciate that colleges in Europe do far less hand-holding when compared to those in the states.

No doubt, being independent is one of the most important qualities needed if you plan to study in Europe. Navigating in a foreign country, on your own, demands a large degree of self-reliance and pliancy, and it’s important to appreciate that colleges in Europe do far less hand-holding when compared to those in the states. 
This topic never goes out of style, and is always shifting and fluid with the culture, such as now in the wake of the pandemic. With that in mind, Jenn revisits and updates a past podcast episode from 2018, geared toward parents, titled Fostering Student Independence. Listen in on how Jenn has helped her own children develop these skills over the years, and get ideas for things you can do at home, and while traveling, for your own family.

“Many of us underestimate the resilience our kids have, but by underestimating this and trying to protect them from uncomfortable situations we prevent them from developing more resilience and independence that’s going to help them through life.” –Jenn

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: I've been thinking a lot about independence lately, and how different it is these days than when I was growing up. So my dad and his brothers, they grew up in both Sendai, Japan and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. So when I was growing up, one of my uncles and his family, and my grandparents still lived there. So when I was about 12, and my brother was nine, my parents sent us there to visit them. You might have heard me talk about this before, but bear with me. So we flew internationally there by ourselves without the unaccompanied minor sign around our neck, we changed airports. And then, when we got to Tokyo, we had to find our way by ourselves to the bullet train to take to Sendai where our grandparents would meet us. 
It's really hard to imagine this happening these days. In fact, Ellie's doing a group trip through GLA, which I'll talk about in just a little bit. She's going to Thailand, and parents of the trip are trying to coordinate flights with others. They don't know these people, they're just trying to coordinate with other parents through a group chat so that their kids won't be alone on the last leg or two of the flight. And these are 15 to 18 year olds. Actually, one of the parents in the group was trying to find out if she could get the unaccompanied minor service for her 15 year old. I cannot imagine anything more humiliating for a 15 year old. You guys, my brother and I managed to navigate this. There was nothing traumatizing about it beyond the fact that my brother thrived on embarrassing me with you know, things like making farting sounds behind me as I walked. Actually, you know, 35 years later, more than 35 years later, and he still thrives on this. 
So I was thinking about this experience for a few reasons. One is that I, along with much of the country, I'm loving the Netflix show called "Old Enough." So this was a series that was popular in Japan. They just brought us Netflix here and it shows little kids. I mean, we're talking about two and three year olds going on errands in Japan by themselves. And I'm not talking about, you know, getting a cup of sugar from a neighbor. I'm talking about getting five different items from the fish market, and crossing a busy street on the way, or figuring out how to pull a huge cabbage from a field, because one little girl didn't see that her grandma had already picked one and left it for her. It's absolutely incredible. 
So we went back to Japan to stay with my uncle when our kids were little. And Ellie was about five; I guess she was in kindergarten then, and I remember seeing kids younger than her by themselves on the train. Some of them would have a little notation on the little caps that they wore that showed the stop that they were supposed to get off on. And that way, if they fell asleep, or they were distracted or whatever, another passenger would alert them or wake them up so they got off on the right stop. 
So whether or not two is too young to run to the fish market or not isn't the point I want to make here. It's that it's a lot harder to instill this independence at our kids here than it is there. And actually, in these days than it was, you know, a few decades ago. 
Here's an example. Ellie recently turned 18. So our dentist, we've seen him for many, many years and absolutely trust him, referred her to a specific oral surgeon to discuss getting her wisdom teeth out. So as far as I was concerned, there was no reason for me to go to this consultation. Ellie's 18, it was a consultation. A person who we trusted referred her to this person. So if he said to get them out, then we'd schedule it, whether I was there or not. So Ellie's at this appointment by herself, and he insists on calling me to tell me the same thing he told her, which is that they need to come out. But I mean, the thing is, okay, fine, call me. I didn't mind taking the time, but what message does this send to Ellie about her capability to take care of herself?
Another difference I'm seeing is around communication from universities. Not once in the three years Sam has been studying in Europe have I received parental correspondence from any of Sam's universities. Even the invoice goes to him and he assists in that to me. Now with COVID in and such, some communication would have been nice, but it went directly to him, and it was up to him to pass it on to me as he deemed fit. He is seen as the adult in that situation. So Ellie just recently accepted her spot at NC State, and I am bombarded with emails almost daily. And I'm consciously trying to step back and have Ellie take charge of the process herself.
So the topic of independence has been on my mind. And because of this, I'm replaying an episode from 2018 with specific suggestions today, but there are a couple of additions I want to make before we get to that. In the episode we're about to play, we talk about independent international experiences, and there are a few companies that I didn't mention in that one I want to tell you about. So at least on programs through GLA, it's Global Leadership Adventures. And their company models their programs from the Peace Corp, but of course, they're modified to make them age appropriate. And she had initially signed up a couple of years ago for a trip to Thailand where they spend a week at an elephant sanctuary. And this is a real legit one, not one of those you hear about where, you know, they're abusing the animals for tourists. And then, they spent a week teaching English in a Northern Thai village. 
And that was canceled of course due to COVID. And then last year, it was running again, but had this extensive quarantine period. So last year, she did a program with them in the Galapagos Islands, that involved working with conservationists at a tortoise refuge center. And then she's making it to Thailand this year, and she's just thrilled. We have another member whose son use Carpe Diem for a gap year. And he was also able to get college credits from Portland State University with this program, which is nice. He was in India, spending time on a permaculture camp on the Indian Ocean. And then he spent the second semester in North Bali, working with a nonprofit building artificial reefs. And I have to tell you, neither this student or Ellie plan to pursue related fields in college, but having that firsthand experience really affects how they see their role as it pertains to protecting the earth and their role in the world. 
Now, both of these programs are fairly pricey, and I have heard about a program called Workaway, which is much less expensive. It would be best for like a gap year, not during high school because well, you have to be 18. And also, it's not a structured program like the others. But there are opportunities that are not as pricey. So maybe these types of experiences aren't feasible, but you do travel as a family. So I talked about in the episode allowing our kids to have independence when we travel, even if, and actually maybe, especially if it leads to mistakes or problems. And I want to give you an example of this.
A few years ago, I think Ellie was a freshman, she came with me on a Beyond the States trip. We were in Vienna, and I had a meeting at a university after we had lunch together. So we took the train to the meeting so she'd know how it worked; you know, the stops and the protocol. So she was going to take the train back to the Airbnb and wait for me there. 
So every country does public transportation a little differently. In most cities in the US, they're like turnstiles or gate type things, and you have to enter your ticket to get through. And this is the case in some places in Europe too. But in other places, it's the honor system, and in some places, you have to scan your card at a designated place when you get on or off, off the train. So when I'm taking public transportation for the first time, if I haven't researched the system, I generally look around and see what other people are doing. 
We were going to lunch that day, and we were in a little bit of a rush. So we got our tickets, and I looked around, and I didn't see any sort of a scanner. I didn't see anybody doing anything special with their ticket, so I assumed it was the honor system. First problem. 
So after we have lunch, Ellie gets her ticket and gets on the train. A few stops in, she's stopped by the Transit Police and they're asking her for a ticket. So she showed it to them, you know, thinking she's fine. And they told her it wasn't valid because it wasn't scanned. So she explained that we just got to the city the day before and she didn't know, but they told her that she would be fined because, "In Austria, we have rules." 
Now Ellie is my rule follower child. So this definitely did shake her. She also didn't have €100 with her, clearly. And they were at her stop so they got off the train and they detained her there, you know, on the platform. And she called me crying, of course. I tried to talk to them over the phone, but they were kind of jerks to me too. So I told them I was on my way. Fortunately, I had some time to kill before my meeting, just sitting outside reading, enjoying the beautiful day in Austria, but, you know, jumped to it, hightailing it over there. Ellie's crying in the station with them, and eventually they just let her go before I get there. 
So I talked to people in Vienna about this when we were there, and it sounds like some people go their entire life without seeing the ticket checkers. But they're known to be really difficult, and they often target tourists as well. So was this an extremely uncomfortable situation for Ellie? Absolutely. Was she ever in physical danger? No. Was she traumatized? No. In fact, I asked her if she wanted to come back with me and wait on campus while I had the interview, and she opted just to head to the Airbnb by herself. And you know what? She now always checks the public transportation ticket validation rules when we're in a new city.
That's just to say I think many of us underestimate the resilience our kids have. And in underestimating this and trying to protect them from uncomfortable situations, we prevent them from developing more resilience and independence that's going to help them through life. So we're going to take a quick break and come back with an episode that discusses specific ways we could help them with this.
Testimonial: Hi, I'm Maclan and I'm in my second year studying at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Before I began my degree, my sister started university in the Czech Republic, which inspired me to explore my options of going to school in Europe. But I was still lost at what exactly I needed to do in order to attend university abroad. This is where Beyond the States stepped in. My sister had previously worked with them. They built a best fit list of universities for her to consider. Over time, Beyond the States has expanded its options. I was able to take advantage of the personalized approach to explore what I found most useful. I was a part of the first On Your Mark master class where I learned what I found to be most exciting to study, where my interests aligned, and what universities I was most interested in. Before the master class, I was lost and overwhelmed with what to focus on. Beyond the States gave me a sense of direction. Before, I was only following my sister's path. Through their help and support system, studying in Europe was able to become a reality for me. The class is offered three times a year and fills up every time. Check the show notes for more information and to sign up for the next session.
Jenn Viemont: We recently heard from a listener who told us that her son had always planned to do a gap year before college. She saw benefits around the gains and independence a gap year can provide, not to mention the opportunities for travel, and she was wondering how taking a gap year works with admissions in Europe. Her question got me thinking about independence as a whole. It's definitely one of the qualities that's needed if you plan to study in Europe. I feel like my kids have a lot fewer natural opportunities that help them become independent than I did when I was growing up. Part of this is a difference in the environment. I grew up in a city, which allows at least for independent mobility, either walking or public transportation, which my kids don't have.
The other hindering factor, though, is just the parenting culture these days. There's an expectation for involvement well beyond that of my parents when I was growing up. When you choose not to participate in that culture, even if you're doing so for conscious reasons, it's easy to doubt yourself. I've told this story before, probably in a blog, but one of the things we liked when we bought our house is that it's walking distance from the elementary and middle school. It's right around half a mile, there are sidewalks all the way, lots of people walking, and there's a crossing guard at the one busy street. My son went on to middle school when my daughter was in third grade, and I had her walk to and from school by herself. I mean, not really by herself, it just wasn't with me. She still had friends that she met up with along the way, but she was literally the only kid who didn't have an adult walking with them. Even now, I see parents walking with fifth graders, and even one who walks from middle school or to school. 
Now I don't think that all these parents are walking with their kids because they doubt their own kid's ability. Maybe the parents are walking so they can talk with other parents. Maybe it's a nice time to chat with their kids without electronic distractions. Maybe they have to walk the dog, anyway. However, the reason we want our kids to be exposed to opportunities for independence is so that they can gain confidence in their abilities. Walking half a mile in a very safe area without adult supervision is a great place to start. The coordination and supervision of their life starts really young, with things like organized playdates, and it continues on through their lives. One would hope that by high school, we could start to ease up and allow them to learn from their mistakes. But academically, the stakes are so high that many parents feel that they have to stay totally on top of things, because mistakes can prevent future opportunities for your kids.
So if you listen to our admissions podcast, you know this is not the case for kids applying to school in Europe. A lot of things that matter in the admissions process here don't matter there. Furthermore, as I mentioned, it's super important for kids to have successfully experienced independence before they go. As parents of kids who are planning to go to school in Europe, we both can and should do what we can to foster independence. 
So let's talk about things we can do for this. Well, we'll start by talking about things that can be done locally, or at little to no expense. An after school job is a great way to develop these skills. When I was in high school, I worked at the Gap. My son Sam is now working as a cashier at a grocery store. Do either of these jobs have anything to do with our future careers? No. Nor were they about enrichment. But the skills they teach that pertained to independence are huge. Sam has had to be a lot more conscious about time management, for instance. He has to plan ahead for assignments if he knows he's working. He's also learning to manage his money and learning that if he uses all of his check buying excessive amounts of Nutella, which he has, he won't have money to use when he hangs out with his friends. I also think that a big part of independence is knowing how to get your needs met using resources and asking for help. This is really hard for him academically, but he has no choice but to do so at work. He has to ask about things like his schedule, taking time off and such. I'm hopeful that the skill will transfer over into him feeling more comfortable seeking academic resources when he's needed, because you have to start somewhere. 
Another somewhat easy thing to do is to assign cooking nights. You can have your teenager be responsible for the planning, the shopping -- with a budget -- and cooking once a week or so. This one is particularly important since college students in Europe cook for themselves a lot more than they use cafeterias. The use of public transportation is another important independence-related skill. If you live in a city, your teenager is -- they're probably already well versed in this and you can fast forward a little bit. If not, you need to be a little bit more creative. Maybe you live outside of a city or you have a trip planned where this could be practiced. The inclination would be to go to a city and teach them how to use it, how to navigate the whole system. But I encourage you to take it a step further; further takes him to a city and try to teach him. I can tell you, I'd see a lot of eye rolls and I know moms. 
So here's what I suggest; write up a list of resources and information about public transit in that city where it's going to be practiced. Maybe it's a website with a route planner, maybe it's about an info about which app on their phone would give them a route. I really suggest that you let them know that it's crucial that they know the last destination of the train or bus that they want to get on so that they know they're going the right way. Then, when you get to whatever city it is, tell them where they need to get you. Now, in an ideal world, you'd be able to just go to that destination and wait for them to get there. But I know that a lot of you wouldn't be comfortable doing that. The main suggestion I make here is that you don't correct any mistakes they make or give them any help. Let them figure it out. Even if it means getting on the wrong train the first time. If you help, it's not going to provide the confidence that they need. If they asked for help, you can remind them that there are probably other people in the station they could ask. If you have the opportunity to do this in a foreign country, all the better. When Sam and I recently were in The Hague, I'd tell him the place and time he needed to meet me, and he'd figured out how to get there and what time he needed to leave.
So navigating air travel is another thing you can do. If your teenager doesn't have the opportunity to fly alone, put them in charge of getting you to the correct gate at a layover, using the same rules you did for public trans. If they do have the opportunity to fly by themselves, all the better. Sam recently had to navigate his first solo international layover. It was a tight connection and I was more nervous than he was. It went fine and I had to keep telling myself that even if he missed his flight, we could have figured it out.
So most of these are activities that are still guided by us as parents. What's even more powerful are those that don't involve us. Sometimes, it's a simple trip to stay with family or friends who live elsewhere, and with our teen going without us. Sometimes, it's a sleepover camp experience. But what I think is really incredible are the opportunities that also incorporate some sort of international exposure. As a matter of fact, I've met a lot of American students in Europe, both Beyond the States members and those through my school visits, and I'm having trouble thinking of any of them who haven't had an international experience through something like this. There are a ton of options that range in cost from free and affordable to very expensive, and also vary from programs that are just a couple of weeks long, to a summer, to a full academic year. But I do want to go through a few of these options with you because they're really exciting. 
So the first one that comes to mind is the Rotary Youth Exchange. This is a really low cost option. It's usually just travel costs and spending money, and they send kids for a homestay in over 100 countries. And this range -- they have programs that range from short term to a full academic year. Another option is something called the NSLI program. It's run by the State Department and they have summer and academic year programs to encourage critical languages. They have programs for Mandarin, Hindi, Russian, Persian, Turkish, Arabic and Korean. And kids stay in a homestay situation and they have intensive language training, full scholarship. So it's a free program, but it's really, really competitive and hard to get into. Often, there are trips through schools as well. If your teenager is taking a language in school, sometimes the French club will take a group of students somewhere, or if they're in an AP class, sometimes they have opportunities to do that as well. And these are often affordable options with ways to fundraise for them. It's generally through just the language you're studying at school so it's somewhat limited, but still a great opportunity.
So there's also this great program I recently heard about from one of our members called Projects Abroad, and they have programs that are two or four weeks long where teenagers go and do volunteer programs in Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Ghana, Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Mongolia -- don't worry, I'm at M, so I'm halfway through -- Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Samoa, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo and Vietnam. Man, okay! So they have programs in all of those countries. And the options include working with kids, teaching English, conservation work, sports coaching, archeology work, building, forming and work with the arts. So not only does this provide a really incredible international experience and international exposure, but many high schools do have a volunteer requirement for graduating. And this also can meet that. 
So there's also a program called CIEE -- a company called CIEE, and they have options for programs that focus on language and culture, on service and leadership, and on global discovery. Sam is actually doing one this summer in Rabat, looking at Arabic language and culture, but they also have opportunities for Spanish in Spain, Chile and the Dominican Republic, Mexico or Peru. Italy, you can study Italian. Germany. They also have options for Japanese and Mandarin language learning as well. So they have also, in addition to the language and culture programs, they have these really cool options like Botswananan or Australian wildlife conservation. Or there's a program on promoting children's rights and education in Ghana, or the Dominican Republic. They have a world government program in Belgium and an environmental awareness program in Thailand. That's just a few of them.I mean, there are a number of other options too, but just to give you a little taste of their options. 
Another option I'd like to tell you about, also one of our members told me about, is called Where There Be Dragons. And it sounds really incredible. I wish they had adult programs. They have programs in Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Laos, Madagascar, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Peru, Senegal and Thailand. So when Theo, the member that I work with who was talking about it, he talked about how great it is because they really emphasize getting to know the people and the cultures and appreciating these huge differences. So here's an example. They have a program called the Silk Road, and in it, the way they describe it is that you will explore the diversity of China's people and cultural transition. Live with yak herding families on the Tibetan Plateau, trek through -- a word I can't pronounce -- Krygyz village, high in the Pamir Mountains, learn about their Krygier culture and the history of Islam in China. And I know I butchered some of those words and I apologize for it. But how cool is that, that you could live with a yak herding family in Tibet. I mean, that's just incredible to me. 
And they also have language intensives. They have peacebuilding and conservation in Cambodia. Here's a really cool one called community and conservation in Indonesia where you live with sea nomads, harvest coffee, and learn about efforts to protect the world's most extraordinary coral reefs. So do you see why, as I was reading through this, I wish they had adult options? I'll tell you this, every student I've talked to who's done these high school international experience programs, whether it's Rotary, or a trip through school, or you know, living with sea nomads, they've come back completely changed, not just in terms of independence and confidence, but with a thirst for more international experiences, as they've really had this incredible experience of life as a global citizen. 
So back to the original question from our listener about gap years. One benefit of doing a gap year is that it opens up Sweden as an option. In Sweden, you can't apply during your senior year of high school. Most universities don't allow you to defer admissions in Europe, but you can still apply during the gap year. So there's nothing that would prevent you from going to school in Europe if you do a gap year. But one reason students have done gap years in the past is that it does provide this opportunity to travel and experience the world. As a student in Europe though, it's easy to hop on a train and be in another country in just a few hours. Your classmates are from all around the world, so visiting their hometowns with them is an easy possibility. 
Further, doing a semester abroad is common and sometimes required, like studying abroad while you study abroad. The possibilities here include schools throughout Europe with the Erasmus program, and even different continents through bilateral agreements with no additional tuition costs. So even if our kids aren't at the optimal level of independence when they leave, they're going to gain it quickly. They're gonna have to cook their own meals, cafeterias aren't open every meal of the day and week. They're gonna have to deal with getting their residence permit, dealing with language barriers and seeking out resources as there's not as much spoon feeding as there is here. These are the opportunities that will really allow them to grow and to develop the skills that they need to be successful in life. I'm really excited by the opportunities for my own children for years in this. Thanks for joining.

No doubt, being independent is one of the most important qualities needed if you plan to study in Europe. Navigating in a foreign country, on your own, demands a large degree of self-reliance and pliancy, and it’s important to appreciate that colleges in Europe do far less hand-holding when compared to those in the states. 
This topic never goes out of style, and is always shifting and fluid with the culture, such as now in the wake of the pandemic. With that in mind, Jenn revisits and updates a past podcast episode from 2018, geared toward parents, titled Fostering Student Independence. Listen in on how Jenn has helped her own children develop these skills over the years, and get ideas for things you can do at home, and while traveling, for your own family.

“Many of us underestimate the resilience our kids have, but by underestimating this and trying to protect them from uncomfortable situations we prevent them from developing more resilience and independence that’s going to help them through life.” –Jenn

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: I've been thinking a lot about independence lately, and how different it is these days than when I was growing up. So my dad and his brothers, they grew up in both Sendai, Japan and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. So when I was growing up, one of my uncles and his family, and my grandparents still lived there. So when I was about 12, and my brother was nine, my parents sent us there to visit them. You might have heard me talk about this before, but bear with me. So we flew internationally there by ourselves without the unaccompanied minor sign around our neck, we changed airports. And then, when we got to Tokyo, we had to find our way by ourselves to the bullet train to take to Sendai where our grandparents would meet us. 
It's really hard to imagine this happening these days. In fact, Ellie's doing a group trip through GLA, which I'll talk about in just a little bit. She's going to Thailand, and parents of the trip are trying to coordinate flights with others. They don't know these people, they're just trying to coordinate with other parents through a group chat so that their kids won't be alone on the last leg or two of the flight. And these are 15 to 18 year olds. Actually, one of the parents in the group was trying to find out if she could get the unaccompanied minor service for her 15 year old. I cannot imagine anything more humiliating for a 15 year old. You guys, my brother and I managed to navigate this. There was nothing traumatizing about it beyond the fact that my brother thrived on embarrassing me with you know, things like making farting sounds behind me as I walked. Actually, you know, 35 years later, more than 35 years later, and he still thrives on this. 
So I was thinking about this experience for a few reasons. One is that I, along with much of the country, I'm loving the Netflix show called "Old Enough." So this was a series that was popular in Japan. They just brought us Netflix here and it shows little kids. I mean, we're talking about two and three year olds going on errands in Japan by themselves. And I'm not talking about, you know, getting a cup of sugar from a neighbor. I'm talking about getting five different items from the fish market, and crossing a busy street on the way, or figuring out how to pull a huge cabbage from a field, because one little girl didn't see that her grandma had already picked one and left it for her. It's absolutely incredible. 
So we went back to Japan to stay with my uncle when our kids were little. And Ellie was about five; I guess she was in kindergarten then, and I remember seeing kids younger than her by themselves on the train. Some of them would have a little notation on the little caps that they wore that showed the stop that they were supposed to get off on. And that way, if they fell asleep, or they were distracted or whatever, another passenger would alert them or wake them up so they got off on the right stop. 
So whether or not two is too young to run to the fish market or not isn't the point I want to make here. It's that it's a lot harder to instill this independence at our kids here than it is there. And actually, in these days than it was, you know, a few decades ago. 
Here's an example. Ellie recently turned 18. So our dentist, we've seen him for many, many years and absolutely trust him, referred her to a specific oral surgeon to discuss getting her wisdom teeth out. So as far as I was concerned, there was no reason for me to go to this consultation. Ellie's 18, it was a consultation. A person who we trusted referred her to this person. So if he said to get them out, then we'd schedule it, whether I was there or not. So Ellie's at this appointment by herself, and he insists on calling me to tell me the same thing he told her, which is that they need to come out. But I mean, the thing is, okay, fine, call me. I didn't mind taking the time, but what message does this send to Ellie about her capability to take care of herself?
Another difference I'm seeing is around communication from universities. Not once in the three years Sam has been studying in Europe have I received parental correspondence from any of Sam's universities. Even the invoice goes to him and he assists in that to me. Now with COVID in and such, some communication would have been nice, but it went directly to him, and it was up to him to pass it on to me as he deemed fit. He is seen as the adult in that situation. So Ellie just recently accepted her spot at NC State, and I am bombarded with emails almost daily. And I'm consciously trying to step back and have Ellie take charge of the process herself.
So the topic of independence has been on my mind. And because of this, I'm replaying an episode from 2018 with specific suggestions today, but there are a couple of additions I want to make before we get to that. In the episode we're about to play, we talk about independent international experiences, and there are a few companies that I didn't mention in that one I want to tell you about. So at least on programs through GLA, it's Global Leadership Adventures. And their company models their programs from the Peace Corp, but of course, they're modified to make them age appropriate. And she had initially signed up a couple of years ago for a trip to Thailand where they spend a week at an elephant sanctuary. And this is a real legit one, not one of those you hear about where, you know, they're abusing the animals for tourists. And then, they spent a week teaching English in a Northern Thai village. 
And that was canceled of course due to COVID. And then last year, it was running again, but had this extensive quarantine period. So last year, she did a program with them in the Galapagos Islands, that involved working with conservationists at a tortoise refuge center. And then she's making it to Thailand this year, and she's just thrilled. We have another member whose son use Carpe Diem for a gap year. And he was also able to get college credits from Portland State University with this program, which is nice. He was in India, spending time on a permaculture camp on the Indian Ocean. And then he spent the second semester in North Bali, working with a nonprofit building artificial reefs. And I have to tell you, neither this student or Ellie plan to pursue related fields in college, but having that firsthand experience really affects how they see their role as it pertains to protecting the earth and their role in the world. 
Now, both of these programs are fairly pricey, and I have heard about a program called Workaway, which is much less expensive. It would be best for like a gap year, not during high school because well, you have to be 18. And also, it's not a structured program like the others. But there are opportunities that are not as pricey. So maybe these types of experiences aren't feasible, but you do travel as a family. So I talked about in the episode allowing our kids to have independence when we travel, even if, and actually maybe, especially if it leads to mistakes or problems. And I want to give you an example of this.
A few years ago, I think Ellie was a freshman, she came with me on a Beyond the States trip. We were in Vienna, and I had a meeting at a university after we had lunch together. So we took the train to the meeting so she'd know how it worked; you know, the stops and the protocol. So she was going to take the train back to the Airbnb and wait for me there. 
So every country does public transportation a little differently. In most cities in the US, they're like turnstiles or gate type things, and you have to enter your ticket to get through. And this is the case in some places in Europe too. But in other places, it's the honor system, and in some places, you have to scan your card at a designated place when you get on or off, off the train. So when I'm taking public transportation for the first time, if I haven't researched the system, I generally look around and see what other people are doing. 
We were going to lunch that day, and we were in a little bit of a rush. So we got our tickets, and I looked around, and I didn't see any sort of a scanner. I didn't see anybody doing anything special with their ticket, so I assumed it was the honor system. First problem. 
So after we have lunch, Ellie gets her ticket and gets on the train. A few stops in, she's stopped by the Transit Police and they're asking her for a ticket. So she showed it to them, you know, thinking she's fine. And they told her it wasn't valid because it wasn't scanned. So she explained that we just got to the city the day before and she didn't know, but they told her that she would be fined because, "In Austria, we have rules." 
Now Ellie is my rule follower child. So this definitely did shake her. She also didn't have €100 with her, clearly. And they were at her stop so they got off the train and they detained her there, you know, on the platform. And she called me crying, of course. I tried to talk to them over the phone, but they were kind of jerks to me too. So I told them I was on my way. Fortunately, I had some time to kill before my meeting, just sitting outside reading, enjoying the beautiful day in Austria, but, you know, jumped to it, hightailing it over there. Ellie's crying in the station with them, and eventually they just let her go before I get there. 
So I talked to people in Vienna about this when we were there, and it sounds like some people go their entire life without seeing the ticket checkers. But they're known to be really difficult, and they often target tourists as well. So was this an extremely uncomfortable situation for Ellie? Absolutely. Was she ever in physical danger? No. Was she traumatized? No. In fact, I asked her if she wanted to come back with me and wait on campus while I had the interview, and she opted just to head to the Airbnb by herself. And you know what? She now always checks the public transportation ticket validation rules when we're in a new city.
That's just to say I think many of us underestimate the resilience our kids have. And in underestimating this and trying to protect them from uncomfortable situations, we prevent them from developing more resilience and independence that's going to help them through life. So we're going to take a quick break and come back with an episode that discusses specific ways we could help them with this.
Testimonial: Hi, I'm Maclan and I'm in my second year studying at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Before I began my degree, my sister started university in the Czech Republic, which inspired me to explore my options of going to school in Europe. But I was still lost at what exactly I needed to do in order to attend university abroad. This is where Beyond the States stepped in. My sister had previously worked with them. They built a best fit list of universities for her to consider. Over time, Beyond the States has expanded its options. I was able to take advantage of the personalized approach to explore what I found most useful. I was a part of the first On Your Mark master class where I learned what I found to be most exciting to study, where my interests aligned, and what universities I was most interested in. Before the master class, I was lost and overwhelmed with what to focus on. Beyond the States gave me a sense of direction. Before, I was only following my sister's path. Through their help and support system, studying in Europe was able to become a reality for me. The class is offered three times a year and fills up every time. Check the show notes for more information and to sign up for the next session.
Jenn Viemont: We recently heard from a listener who told us that her son had always planned to do a gap year before college. She saw benefits around the gains and independence a gap year can provide, not to mention the opportunities for travel, and she was wondering how taking a gap year works with admissions in Europe. Her question got me thinking about independence as a whole. It's definitely one of the qualities that's needed if you plan to study in Europe. I feel like my kids have a lot fewer natural opportunities that help them become independent than I did when I was growing up. Part of this is a difference in the environment. I grew up in a city, which allows at least for independent mobility, either walking or public transportation, which my kids don't have.
The other hindering factor, though, is just the parenting culture these days. There's an expectation for involvement well beyond that of my parents when I was growing up. When you choose not to participate in that culture, even if you're doing so for conscious reasons, it's easy to doubt yourself. I've told this story before, probably in a blog, but one of the things we liked when we bought our house is that it's walking distance from the elementary and middle school. It's right around half a mile, there are sidewalks all the way, lots of people walking, and there's a crossing guard at the one busy street. My son went on to middle school when my daughter was in third grade, and I had her walk to and from school by herself. I mean, not really by herself, it just wasn't with me. She still had friends that she met up with along the way, but she was literally the only kid who didn't have an adult walking with them. Even now, I see parents walking with fifth graders, and even one who walks from middle school or to school. 
Now I don't think that all these parents are walking with their kids because they doubt their own kid's ability. Maybe the parents are walking so they can talk with other parents. Maybe it's a nice time to chat with their kids without electronic distractions. Maybe they have to walk the dog, anyway. However, the reason we want our kids to be exposed to opportunities for independence is so that they can gain confidence in their abilities. Walking half a mile in a very safe area without adult supervision is a great place to start. The coordination and supervision of their life starts really young, with things like organized playdates, and it continues on through their lives. One would hope that by high school, we could start to ease up and allow them to learn from their mistakes. But academically, the stakes are so high that many parents feel that they have to stay totally on top of things, because mistakes can prevent future opportunities for your kids.
So if you listen to our admissions podcast, you know this is not the case for kids applying to school in Europe. A lot of things that matter in the admissions process here don't matter there. Furthermore, as I mentioned, it's super important for kids to have successfully experienced independence before they go. As parents of kids who are planning to go to school in Europe, we both can and should do what we can to foster independence. 
So let's talk about things we can do for this. Well, we'll start by talking about things that can be done locally, or at little to no expense. An after school job is a great way to develop these skills. When I was in high school, I worked at the Gap. My son Sam is now working as a cashier at a grocery store. Do either of these jobs have anything to do with our future careers? No. Nor were they about enrichment. But the skills they teach that pertained to independence are huge. Sam has had to be a lot more conscious about time management, for instance. He has to plan ahead for assignments if he knows he's working. He's also learning to manage his money and learning that if he uses all of his check buying excessive amounts of Nutella, which he has, he won't have money to use when he hangs out with his friends. I also think that a big part of independence is knowing how to get your needs met using resources and asking for help. This is really hard for him academically, but he has no choice but to do so at work. He has to ask about things like his schedule, taking time off and such. I'm hopeful that the skill will transfer over into him feeling more comfortable seeking academic resources when he's needed, because you have to start somewhere. 
Another somewhat easy thing to do is to assign cooking nights. You can have your teenager be responsible for the planning, the shopping -- with a budget -- and cooking once a week or so. This one is particularly important since college students in Europe cook for themselves a lot more than they use cafeterias. The use of public transportation is another important independence-related skill. If you live in a city, your teenager is -- they're probably already well versed in this and you can fast forward a little bit. If not, you need to be a little bit more creative. Maybe you live outside of a city or you have a trip planned where this could be practiced. The inclination would be to go to a city and teach them how to use it, how to navigate the whole system. But I encourage you to take it a step further; further takes him to a city and try to teach him. I can tell you, I'd see a lot of eye rolls and I know moms. 
So here's what I suggest; write up a list of resources and information about public transit in that city where it's going to be practiced. Maybe it's a website with a route planner, maybe it's about an info about which app on their phone would give them a route. I really suggest that you let them know that it's crucial that they know the last destination of the train or bus that they want to get on so that they know they're going the right way. Then, when you get to whatever city it is, tell them where they need to get you. Now, in an ideal world, you'd be able to just go to that destination and wait for them to get there. But I know that a lot of you wouldn't be comfortable doing that. The main suggestion I make here is that you don't correct any mistakes they make or give them any help. Let them figure it out. Even if it means getting on the wrong train the first time. If you help, it's not going to provide the confidence that they need. If they asked for help, you can remind them that there are probably other people in the station they could ask. If you have the opportunity to do this in a foreign country, all the better. When Sam and I recently were in The Hague, I'd tell him the place and time he needed to meet me, and he'd figured out how to get there and what time he needed to leave.
So navigating air travel is another thing you can do. If your teenager doesn't have the opportunity to fly alone, put them in charge of getting you to the correct gate at a layover, using the same rules you did for public trans. If they do have the opportunity to fly by themselves, all the better. Sam recently had to navigate his first solo international layover. It was a tight connection and I was more nervous than he was. It went fine and I had to keep telling myself that even if he missed his flight, we could have figured it out.
So most of these are activities that are still guided by us as parents. What's even more powerful are those that don't involve us. Sometimes, it's a simple trip to stay with family or friends who live elsewhere, and with our teen going without us. Sometimes, it's a sleepover camp experience. But what I think is really incredible are the opportunities that also incorporate some sort of international exposure. As a matter of fact, I've met a lot of American students in Europe, both Beyond the States members and those through my school visits, and I'm having trouble thinking of any of them who haven't had an international experience through something like this. There are a ton of options that range in cost from free and affordable to very expensive, and also vary from programs that are just a couple of weeks long, to a summer, to a full academic year. But I do want to go through a few of these options with you because they're really exciting. 
So the first one that comes to mind is the Rotary Youth Exchange. This is a really low cost option. It's usually just travel costs and spending money, and they send kids for a homestay in over 100 countries. And this range -- they have programs that range from short term to a full academic year. Another option is something called the NSLI program. It's run by the State Department and they have summer and academic year programs to encourage critical languages. They have programs for Mandarin, Hindi, Russian, Persian, Turkish, Arabic and Korean. And kids stay in a homestay situation and they have intensive language training, full scholarship. So it's a free program, but it's really, really competitive and hard to get into. Often, there are trips through schools as well. If your teenager is taking a language in school, sometimes the French club will take a group of students somewhere, or if they're in an AP class, sometimes they have opportunities to do that as well. And these are often affordable options with ways to fundraise for them. It's generally through just the language you're studying at school so it's somewhat limited, but still a great opportunity.
So there's also this great program I recently heard about from one of our members called Projects Abroad, and they have programs that are two or four weeks long where teenagers go and do volunteer programs in Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Ghana, Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Mongolia -- don't worry, I'm at M, so I'm halfway through -- Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Samoa, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo and Vietnam. Man, okay! So they have programs in all of those countries. And the options include working with kids, teaching English, conservation work, sports coaching, archeology work, building, forming and work with the arts. So not only does this provide a really incredible international experience and international exposure, but many high schools do have a volunteer requirement for graduating. And this also can meet that. 
So there's also a program called CIEE -- a company called CIEE, and they have options for programs that focus on language and culture, on service and leadership, and on global discovery. Sam is actually doing one this summer in Rabat, looking at Arabic language and culture, but they also have opportunities for Spanish in Spain, Chile and the Dominican Republic, Mexico or Peru. Italy, you can study Italian. Germany. They also have options for Japanese and Mandarin language learning as well. So they have also, in addition to the language and culture programs, they have these really cool options like Botswananan or Australian wildlife conservation. Or there's a program on promoting children's rights and education in Ghana, or the Dominican Republic. They have a world government program in Belgium and an environmental awareness program in Thailand. That's just a few of them.I mean, there are a number of other options too, but just to give you a little taste of their options. 
Another option I'd like to tell you about, also one of our members told me about, is called Where There Be Dragons. And it sounds really incredible. I wish they had adult programs. They have programs in Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Laos, Madagascar, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Peru, Senegal and Thailand. So when Theo, the member that I work with who was talking about it, he talked about how great it is because they really emphasize getting to know the people and the cultures and appreciating these huge differences. So here's an example. They have a program called the Silk Road, and in it, the way they describe it is that you will explore the diversity of China's people and cultural transition. Live with yak herding families on the Tibetan Plateau, trek through -- a word I can't pronounce -- Krygyz village, high in the Pamir Mountains, learn about their Krygier culture and the history of Islam in China. And I know I butchered some of those words and I apologize for it. But how cool is that, that you could live with a yak herding family in Tibet. I mean, that's just incredible to me. 
And they also have language intensives. They have peacebuilding and conservation in Cambodia. Here's a really cool one called community and conservation in Indonesia where you live with sea nomads, harvest coffee, and learn about efforts to protect the world's most extraordinary coral reefs. So do you see why, as I was reading through this, I wish they had adult options? I'll tell you this, every student I've talked to who's done these high school international experience programs, whether it's Rotary, or a trip through school, or you know, living with sea nomads, they've come back completely changed, not just in terms of independence and confidence, but with a thirst for more international experiences, as they've really had this incredible experience of life as a global citizen. 
So back to the original question from our listener about gap years. One benefit of doing a gap year is that it opens up Sweden as an option. In Sweden, you can't apply during your senior year of high school. Most universities don't allow you to defer admissions in Europe, but you can still apply during the gap year. So there's nothing that would prevent you from going to school in Europe if you do a gap year. But one reason students have done gap years in the past is that it does provide this opportunity to travel and experience the world. As a student in Europe though, it's easy to hop on a train and be in another country in just a few hours. Your classmates are from all around the world, so visiting their hometowns with them is an easy possibility. 
Further, doing a semester abroad is common and sometimes required, like studying abroad while you study abroad. The possibilities here include schools throughout Europe with the Erasmus program, and even different continents through bilateral agreements with no additional tuition costs. So even if our kids aren't at the optimal level of independence when they leave, they're going to gain it quickly. They're gonna have to cook their own meals, cafeterias aren't open every meal of the day and week. They're gonna have to deal with getting their residence permit, dealing with language barriers and seeking out resources as there's not as much spoon feeding as there is here. These are the opportunities that will really allow them to grow and to develop the skills that they need to be successful in life. I'm really excited by the opportunities for my own children for years in this. Thanks for joining.

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The Workplace of the Future Demands These Soft Skills, and They're Rarely Seen in the US

This week’s episode certainly aligns with a common theme this season addressed by many of our guests, and that is the critical importance of cultivating “soft skills” in the up-and-coming workforce.

This week’s episode certainly aligns with a common theme this season addressed by many of our guests, and that is the critical importance of cultivating “soft skills” in the up-and-coming workforce. These skills, like assertiveness, resilience, self-direction, empathy, cooperation, diversity awareness, and adaptability are simply not versed (even discouraged) in traditional education in the US. In the current US college admissions game alone, it appears there is no room (or reflected value) for failure.

“Though I don’t believe college in Europe is the route for everyone, I do truly believe that it’s an incredible way to ensure our kids are developing these crucial skills while having these life-changing experiences.” –Jenn 
Our guest this week, Colleen Bordeaux, a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting in LA, joins us in discussion on this hot topic, speaking from an employer’s point of view. You’ll hear her pressing for today’s youth and graduates to see the value in getting out of comfort zones, of taking and seeing the advantage of experiences and failures, since these are some of the opportunities where important human skills can begin to take shape; these are the skills that matter more-than-ever for professional success.  
Up to 40% of the jobs that we know have the potential to be automated and done by technology. And there are millions of new jobs that are being created that people have never done before. And so it is calling on us to really think differently about what are the skills and capabilities we've got as humans that can endure and help us adapt in the fast-changing workplace." –Colleen Bordeaux

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: So today a little bit later on the episode, we're going to talk to Coleen Bordeaux. She's a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting in Los Angeles. We did this recording a while back and I hadn't aired it yet, because there were some audio issues that we had to deal with actually, funny. We edited this part out but right in the middle of our interview, Colleen husband's cooking set off the fire alarm in the kitchen, she rolled with it like a pro, and she called me back from outside until he got it under control. 
Anyhow, because the interview was a while back, I listened to it again. And here's what struck me. There's such a common message from almost all of the experts we've heard from this season. Along with Colleen, they're all saying that there are certain qualities, capabilities, skills, whatever you want to call them, that are needed for success and they aren't being cultivated by traditional education in the US. In fact, in some cases, the education system in the US actively discourages the cultivation of the qualities. All of these experts have talked about the important qualities that develop through experiencing failure, for instance, this is something that is unheard of through high school. In order to play the US admissions game, students were led to believe that there can be no failure. And as we learned in the episode with William Dershowitz, this mindset carries over into college as well. We've also learned that students need to get out of their comfort zone.
Colleen puts it well, she talks about putting yourself in situations where you don't have the answers and where there isn't a rulebook. And we've talked about the need for students to be able to demonstrate that they're able to effectively communicate and work with people from all different backgrounds and perspectives. I really don't know how employers are teaching these skills. I mean, I'm sure there's some really well researched and thought out, you know, curriculum and such. But how do you teach empathy to young adults? How do you teach them to get out of their comfort zone? I can think of a couple of ways that might help for a few of these. I mean, Colleen talks about how her job as a waitperson helped with a lot of these skills. Having waitressed myself at college, I completely agree with her on this one. We've had other guests talk about how jobs like this job my son had at a grocery store, also great for many of these skills. Jobs, where you're working alongside and also serving people who have different backgrounds, different goals, different education than you do. 
We have a masterclass. That includes a lesson about learning what skills you need to develop, that are going to help you when you're living abroad. Now, I grew up in Chicago in the city, where I was taking the number six Jeffrey express bus with friends, even in elementary school. I understand, of course, that things are a little different now and that many of our students don't live in a place that's conducive to public transportation. So one suggestion I sometimes make, is for the students and the parents, if needed, to take a trip to a nearby city, and have the students figure out on their own how they're going to get from point A to point B on public transportation, and the parents aren't able to make any suggestions or help. So what does this teach? It teaches navigating, literally and figuratively, unfamiliar circumstances. It also often teaches failure. I mean, when we travel, my husband still makes the mistake of getting on the platform that's going on the wrong way, often, and if they do fail, it teaches them that it's not the end of the world. They simply get off the train when they realize they made a mistake and figure out how to rectify. 
If they fully go through this exercise, the lessons can really be applied to other areas of life. However, more often than not the parents don't let them fail to that point. Well meaning suggestions to you know, check the sign to determine what platform they want to be on. And other again, well meaning suggestions interfere with the failure experience. I've been guilty of this in my own life, as you all know. But now that seems in Europe, there are a number of failures that I couldn't prevent him from experiencing if I tried. But now in year three, I see the incredible growth he's made and the lessons he's learned. It was certainly painful, as a parent, to watch him learn those lessons, and stressful, but I've never seen him in a better place than he is now. Though I know College in Europe is not the route for everyone, I do truly believe that it's an incredible way to ensure that our kids develop these crucial skills while having these life changing experiences. Let's take a quick break and see what Colleen has to tell us.
Testimonial: I'm Tati. I'm from Atlanta, and I'm in my third year of study at Hans University in the Netherlands, and I found my university through my Beyond the State's membership. I'd been interested in studying in Europe before I joined Beyond the States, but the research my mom and I did on our own often resulted in misinformation or information that didn't apply to me as a native English speaker from an American High School. Nobody at my high school knew how to advise me either. With the help of the BTS database and membership resources, I was able to explore my different options and get advice from Jen about admission strategies. Membership includes more these days than when I was a member. The private member Facebook group includes students and families at all stages of the process. When students go to Europe, we and our parents can stay in the group. Not only does this mean we can answer questions from members who are exploring, but we can get information and resources during our study. My mom is still in the group and has found it helpful, especially connecting with other parents during the height of COVID. If you're interested in studying in Europe, I suggest that you join beyond the States for at least a month, I don't think you'll regret it at all. Check the show notes for details and a link or visit the Services Page at beyondthestates.com.
Jenn Viemont:** **Today, I'm talking to Colleen Bordeaux, she's a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting in Los Angeles, where she helps organizations cultivate positive human experiences in the context of their workforce and customer engagement. She speaks and writes on the subject of human potential in the workplace, employability, the value of soft skills, and the future of work. She's also the founder and co-leader of a startup called Growth Incorporated, that advocates for and supports professional women as leaders in their fields. Wow, that's a lot. Thanks so much for being here today Colleen.
Colleen Bordeaux: Thank you for having me.
Jenn Viemont: So I was reading a Deloitte paper that you contributed to, and I thought it was just fascinating. It was the Closing the Employability Skills Gap paper. And there's some terms that are used around this topic in general, that I think a lot of us who like myself or older Gen X, or like young boomers, don't really understand. So I'm finally wrapping my brain around a number of them, but came across a term I was less familiar with. So I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about what the fourth industrial revolution means and how it impacts college age students.
Colleen Bordeaux: That absolutely, so the fourth industrial revolution is a term that researchers and economists have given to the rapidly accelerating pace of change to technology, and how it's impacting the way we work, and the way that we live, and the way that we interact as human beings, and to bring that to life for you. In all of human history, we have been accustomed to linear change, which means that we make an advancement, we learn from that advancement, apply what we learn, and then come up with something new. And it's a slower pace of change than what we are in right now. Which is called exponential change, which means that we are on an exponential growth curve. And if you feel like the world is changing faster than ever before, that's because it actually is. And the analogy that I heard is that you are kind of taking linear steps, if you take kind of linear steps across a football field, you know, like that will get you take you, you know, maybe an hour takes, I think it was like three linear steps, 30 Linear steps. And if you take 30 exponential steps, you'll like go around the world, like multiple times. So it's this idea that, you know, the world is changing around us faster and faster than it ever had. But our human nature is staying the same. But I think we're all feeling that sense of overwhelm with how quickly our world is changing, and trying to kind of bring it back to us as individuals. And what do we do with all of this? And how do we set ourselves up to survive and thrive as we move forward?
Jenn Viemont: Interesting, because I think that the workforce wasn't that different from my parents from when I went to college. But I do think it's so different for my kids than when I was in college, there was a great David Sedaris, quote, I wish I had in front of me, it's hysterical, where he talks about how we used to eavesdrop on people, and like, he'd know what they were talking about. And now when they're talking about their professions, he just has no idea what he's even eavesdropping on. And that's what I feel like too, like, there's just so much difference, and I'm not addled. So it was good to know that that's not my imagination.
Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah, definitely not. And that's the change in jobs. I know. It's something that you were emailing, kind of really thinking about, I think one of the biggest impacts on work when it relates to this rapid pace of change to technology, is that technology is taking on cognitive capabilities that we are accustomed to paying a human to do in the workplace. And it's estimated that up to 40% of the jobs that we know and work today, have the potential to be automated and done by technology. And there's millions of new jobs that are being created that people have never done before. And so it's calling on us to really think differently about what is the value we bring as human beings and what are the skills and capabilities we've got as humans that we can endure and help us to adapt and continue to add value in the workplace, in the workforce, even as technology kind of accelerates its ability to help us get work done.
Jenn Viemont: Interesting. So in a very simplistic term, because that's how I think about technology. That's the only way I can deal with technology. I guess what I'm thinking about are like bots, you know, when a customer service bot as opposed to a person. So what could a person do that this bot couldn't is sort of what we're talking about. Very basic level?
Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah. That’s a hundred percent right. And I think, oh sorry, one more thing to that when it comes to like AI technology and robotic process engineering and a lot of the like next gen technologies that are already available, and already kind of doing work that we're used to paying humans to do. A lot of the conversation around what technology can do, what is repetitive and role based work that is easy to program, versus work that requires you to connect dots across functions and read nuance and context that technology is less able to do. So you know, fields like finance are really well primed for it to be automated, because it's repetitive and role based, versus some of the other kinds of avenues that require us to input behavior and think how people think are less likely to be, you know, impacted by technology.
Jenn Viemont: So that kind of ties into one of the things that the paper also said, which was that many organizations are reevaluating their talent profile. So can you tell me a little bit about what they're looking for now that’s different than what they used to be looking for?
Colleen Bordeaux: Absolutely. So there's always going to be those kind of hard skills that you need to get the job done. And as you mentioned, that there's lots of new jobs coming that we aren't accustomed to doing and a big example of kind of a hard skill that many of our clients and organizations are looking at, is this concept of digital fluency and data fluency. And data fluency is a great example. Because I think we think about data as the ability to get data and to create reports, but how do you actually derive insight from multiple different data sets and do it in a way that allows organizations to take more meaningful action? And digital fluency is, you know, the ability to use digital tools and platforms as new tools come on the scene. How do we use that to get that work done better and more effectively, more efficiently? And also operate in digital virtual environments in ways that get work done in really effective ways. And then there's a second kind of bucket of skills that have been less of a focus in learning and development programs and in organizational kind of learning programs. But they're what we traditionally call social and emotional skills. And I mentioned that there's a lot of technology trends driving the future of work. But there's other trends happening, kind of in conjunction with technology. And one example is the rise of diversity in the workplace. And this is both driven by generational diversity, we now have more than four generations in the workforce at the same time with wildly different preferences, norms, behaviors and ways of working. 
We also, because of technology, have the ability to work across border, across culture. And this need for engaging with people who don't look, or act, or sound like you is becoming table stakes to getting work done. And then, I think there's a couple of additional trends too, that are really focused on kind of this, move away from the three-part life series where you've got education, career, and retirement to the 100 year life and the lifelong learning that requires you to sustain yourself over the course of your lifetime. And so the skills that are needed in that environment are really things like empathy, creativity, problem solving, cultural fluency, and they're skilled that in many ways, kind of our innate human capabilities, we just have to think about developing and incentivizing them in different ways that we've had to think about before in the workforce.
Jenn Viemont: Interesting, I want to go to that kind of cross cultural communication piece that you were talking about, because I think a lot of people might think that that is something that they could do and maybe it's not. I mean, I lived in Portugal for a couple of years, and I would have considered myself very good at cross cultural communication. And there were absolutely times, there was a meeting I had with somebody in Estonia, where I was sure that she just thought I was an idiot, but it was more just you know, and I later found out, you know, we enjoyed each other a lot and we were friendly and it was more just me not knowing culturally, you know, the communication norms. Can you give me an example about how that might look in the workforce? How it might look to need that cross cultural communication skills or how it might be kind of messed up by somebody who's lacking those skills?
Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, I think the first piece to this is like, we have so many organizations that are standing up functions that, you know, get work done in a different country, like in Poland or in India, and recognizing that, if you're leading a team that is based in multiple different geographies and multiple different countries, lacking cultural fluency would be to come in with the expectation that the way work will get done, the way that you manage meetings, the way that you manage a team is going to be consistent with the way that you've always done it. And so in that instance, that would be, you know, potentially leading to really negative experiences of members of your team who feel potentially excluded from the conversation because you're not making space to listen and understand where they're coming from, or potentially not creating flexibility to accommodate different time zones or different holidays and personal needs. And that would obviously drive people out the door of your company, and create kind of negative work outcomes, versus coming in and recognizing that I have a really diverse makeup tonight team. And rather than diving in with assumptions and an old way of doing things, creating that space, to really meet with the team and individual members of the team to get to know them, really listen and understand expectations and preferences, and then own the only issue that we have a lot of different factors to consider here to make this a really positive experience for everyone. And how do we create more opportunities to connect on human levels so that we're able to listen and empathize and learn from one another, and build our culture to get work done and build trust that we can get worked on in really effective ways. That's a really high level example. But that's kind of the, I think, the ultimate to what’s behind it.
Jenn Viemont: No, I think it's a really good concrete example too. It's understandable. Excellent. So the other thing I was reading is, the people were saying that data indicates continued massive deficit of social and emotional capabilities in today's workforce. And I was wondering if you have any thoughts on why that is?
Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah. So at a higher level, I think, we haven't really needed to focus as much on social and emotional capabilities. Because the way that work got done, what workplaces and workforces looked like was much different. And an organization’s, in many ways, operated with what, what I like to call a logic bias, meaning we're focused really explicitly on bottom line impacts and work outcome, at the expense of really understanding some of the kind of emotional data and emotional realities of the experience our human stakeholders are having as they interact with our organization. And organizations had to get smart on that from a customer experience perspective decades ago, right? So if you did not consider the emotional impact of the interactions a customer was having with your organization, you would fail to build trust in that customer and failed to build feelings of loyalty in that customer that would translate into repeat purchases. 
So really going deep on how does this customer feel? What's driving that feeling? How do we influence that to be more positive? The core skill to doing that was empathy, right? Putting the customer, that human at the center, and really using a lot of those skills to deeply understand that emotional sentiment data, and then combining it with some of the more traditional datasets around like, how do we reimagine this customer journey and some of these interactions that build that customer trust and loyalty and translates into repeated purchases and, and do it in a way that also kind of works for our operating model and our strategy. So this is not a new concept. But the world has changed so much that it's calling on us to do that now for workers. And it's both driven by kind of all of those trends we talked about earlier, but also this subtle shift in power between workers and our organizations where the experience a worker has can make it on an open source platform that anybody can back and workers have arguably just as much if not more powered, and packed organizational brand and market performance as their customers. 
And so bringing this set of kind of social and emotional capabilities front and center is table stakes to doing kind of applying that same logic, to creating more positive worker experiences, improving human connection and culture, and making organizations places that workers not only want to work, but are willing to tell their friends, and their families, and our social feeds about their experiences and recommend those places to work. So at the highest level, I think that that's kind of the shift. And, you know, it's becoming an increasing focus in this great resignation world, so many of our organizations are struggling with.
Jenn Viemont: So it sounds like companies are putting a lot of money and resources into training their employees around this. So are they also looking for candidates who already have a number of these skills?
Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah, I'm sure you've heard the term kind of leader at every level. And I think some of the core leadership capability focus, which looks, I think, more formal definitions of leaders, emphasizes social and emotional capabilities, almost above everything else.And so it's translating kind of what's worked in the leadership development states kind of across the board. And I think, in the hiring process, I would say every organization is already screaming for these skills. And better understanding your ability to work with others, to influence others to communicate, to solve problems, to be able to innovate and adapt as your role changes around you. And I think the ability to get those types of skills and apply them and speak to them so that you are positioning yourself better in an interview is super important.
And then also, once you are kind of on the job, I think so much of organizational learning and development programs are kind of shifting and pivoting towards that leading at all levels, and how do you build and develop those social and emotional capabilities at much earlier stages in your career, because you frankly do have to work in situations where you might be required to lead across and above you. And you need the same exact set of skills that you know, a more traditional leader in your organization might have.
Jenn Viemont: Our listeners hear me talk ad nauseam about how living outside of your home country can really lead to a lot of these social and emotional capabilities. We're talking about the soft skill development, you know, learning how to navigate unfamiliar circumstances, being adaptable working in groups of people with completely different perspectives and backgrounds. Are there other life experiences or situations you can think of that can lead to this soft skill development before you enter? Well, I mean, many of them are in the workforce in some way, shape, or form. But until you kind of enter your career life.
Colleen Bordeaux: 100% Yes. I think that traditional education really focuses on being perfect, right? What are the specific steps? The box I plan? And how do I get an A, and advance to the next level? And so I think what traditional education misses is getting you out of your comfort zone, getting you to a place where you're having to take risks and leaps of faith and try things and fail, and have to learn when you do fail. How do you adjust and use that as data to get you where you're going instead of looking at it as something that is a signal to stop or, or slow down? And I think figuring out how do I continue to make myself uncomfortable, put myself in situations where I don't have all of the answers. There's not necessarily a rulebook or a path to follow. And I have to rely on a different way of thinking and operating in order to move forward, and to kind of learn and get where I'm going. And that could be as simple as, you know, starting a side hustle, and really developing kind of a different orientation towards what success looks like. I have to deeply understand kind of my customer and what their needs are. If they run into issues, I have to learn how to address them. It could be taking a job that looks a lot different than a really structured internship and gets you in an environment where you're working with people that you maybe don't necessarily get to interact with day to day in your community and puts you in a position where you have to check some of your own assumptions and biases. So I think that like the biggest thing is just getting out of your box and putting yourself in situations that stretch you and make you uncomfortable, is probably one of the best ways to grow this set of capabilities.
Jenn Viemont: You were talking about that, and I was thinking I recently was talking to an author. He wrote about the American admissions process, and how kids are really, basically told through high school here is the exact path you take, here are all the boxes we need to check, and you really can't make any mistakes, because you have to be the best in all these different areas. And when they get to college, they're sort of programmed that way, to avoid risks, because you can't make mistakes. So I liked the idea you were talking about. Well, what I like is the idea of going to Europe, so you can bypass all of that. But I liked the idea you were talking about of a side hustle, you know, you can do a risk that doesn't have to do with your academics, if you're frightened by doing that. You know, you can take these risks and other areas of your life to gain those skills as well. Yeah, I was also thinking my son, because he wasn't doing the US system. Through high school, he worked at a grocery store. And I think a lot of that, you know, it was, you know, again, it helped him. He was working, crushed generationally, or with different people with different backgrounds and reporting to people with different backgrounds. And yeah, I think it just was such a learning experience. Having that kind of experience as well.
Colleen Bordeaux: Absolutely. I would say one of the most foundational learning experience I had was being a waiter in college and recognizing human nature and how people treat somebody who they feel is beneath them, and how you kind of develop a totally different way of thinking and empathizing with people when you've kind of seen some of that firsthand from working alongside people who, maybe you don't normally get to interact with. So 100% agree with that.
Jenn Viemont: Completely agree, I think that I've had a lot of jobs throughout my career. And I think that waitressing was not only the hardest, but also one that I learned so much about myself and about the world through.
Colleen Bordeaux: Absolutely. And you also learn that you never want to have to clean out that greed pit again, if you can avoid it.
Jenn Viemont: Hopefully you get the job of smearing the ketchup instead of that.
Colleen Bordeaux: Exactly. And also, that's about the value of hard work and this idea that like you're not above or below anybody else. That like, learning how to work hard and how to, you know, get good at your job and add value to your customer, whoever that person might be. The same set of skills and really requires you to listen, and empathize, and problem solve. And, you know, learning how to do that in a service oriented industry, I think is really great education.
Jenn Viemont: I totally agree. Totally agree. So I see, you know, I visit a lot of schools in Europe, and I visit business schools as well. And I, you know, they always have like the plaques of who their big recruiters are. And I see Deloitte as an active recruiter at many of these business schools in Europe. And I'd like to talk about this a little bit, because so many people falsely believed that studying outside of one's home country was going to put them at a disadvantage when they're interviewing or looking for a job. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Colleen Bordeaux: So, I do. I mean, I think that there's a lot of different ways to think about how you position yourself for a job, there are certainly companies, and Deloitte is one, right, that have lists of target schools that they recruit from. Which is one avenue to get a job at a company, that you kind of work or are educated at that school, and you navigate through that schools recruiting relationship with an organization. But that's one of many possible ways to build your career and get employment opportunities. And I think, when you consider all of the choices and options you've got, and how to best position yourself for success, I think it has to come back to like, what matters to me, what do I really value? And how do I lead with that in the choices I make now and how I educate myself and get a well rounded exposure to this world. So that when I'm ready to start making choices, interviewing for jobs that I have a lot of great life experience to draw on, and I'm really well positioning myself for what organizations are looking for. And I think that's the most important part. And I think, you know, from the kind of recruiting that I've been involved in, yeah, a lot of the entry level jobs at Deloitte that are coming through, you know, university relationships. The initial contact might come with the relationship, but the bigger kind of deciding factor is the, frankly, like character experiences, you know, courage and core skills that student brings to the table. And I think also with the rate of change to jobs. I think the average tenure on a job is 18 months and shrinking. That most companies, the majority of people that are coming into their ranks are, they've got experience elsewhere. They're not coming through university. They're coming from wide varieties of different fields and experiences. And that's viewed as such a value. Because when you're thinking about innovating, you've got to be able to break out of your silos and look at things differently, think differently, and have people who work for you that have different lenses and experiences that help kind of shake up the status quo.
Jenn Viemont: Interesting. Interesting. So would internships count? Like, would you guys be looking at internships, even if it were in a different sort of area than where you traditionally recruit from? For employers and 
Colleen Bordeaux: You know, I can't speak to Deloitte’s recruiting policies, because that's not the function that I work in. But I think, what I can speak, is like that, you know, colleagues and network that I have, those internships and experiences are kind of cut across the board, especially when you're younger in your career. I have a multitude of colleagues and peers who came through Teach For America who did Fulbright Scholarships, who left school and took a year off and worked in kind of different capacities in areas of interest and passion, that helped them kind of come back with a clear set of like values for where they wanted to focus their career, and also a much better story around their ability to kind of operate independently and navigate uncertain circumstances and build something on their own. So there's not really like a hard and fast answer. But I think the biggest thing is that there's no longer a prescription or a specific pathway to do this. And it's becoming increasingly important to really get back to what develops me as like a good human being and helps me better understand, like, what are my strengths? What, what matters to me, what do I really value? How do I invest in that, and lead with that, and then use that as a way to market myself to employers who share that similar set of values? 
Jenn Viemont: Yeah, so having the insight into your own values, your own interests, and then not looking for a job with just anybody but looking for a job that's aligned with that, so that you're not trying to kind of, I'm sure there's some analogy about selling something to somebody who doesn't need it that I could use if I knew it, but you know, so you're not trying to fit yourself in a square peg or whatever that is, that you're really able to make that connection.
Colleen Bordeaux: Yep, absolutely. Another thing I will say, too, and this is going to be very pragmatic. But I would be remiss without saying that, I think that if you are coming into the workforce, as a 22 year old. Any organization is looking at, does this person have the ability to work? Are they eager to learn? Are they coachable? Are they smart? Are they passionate? Are they a good person that can build solid relationships that others want to work with, like, just kind of thinking about the first level of inquiry that a recruiter would have on a 22 year old is really important. 
And I think that it certainly helps to be able to demonstrate how you've been able to really apply what you've learned in your life to date to add value to another entity or another organization. And also think about how do I get my foot in the door at an organization that maybe is aspirational for me, and I really want to figure out how to build my network there and get involved and position myself for employment. I think getting creative on like, what are those organizations already investing in, in their corporate social responsibility? And how do I start to think about, you know, building network and connection by volunteering and adding value through some of those channels or positioning myself for internships and figuring out a way to demonstrate your ability to work, your eagerness to learn and build some of those connections, where wherever you are at in your kind of education journey.
Jenn Viemont: Interesting. And all of those you were talking about, you know, many of the words you were using, were to me what I think of as sort of human skills, you know, again, you know, this insight and this values, and all of these different words that have to do with that process are all very human in nature and can't be replaced by technology.
Colleen Bordeaux: That's exactly right.
Jenn Viemont: So I was also wondering, this is a little bit off topic, but I'm really interested in it. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about Growth Incorporated.
Colleen Bordeaux: Yes, I am happy to do that. And by the way, I successfully made it back into my office. Thank you for bearing with me. Yes. So, Growth Inc, I started at the end of a six month sabbatical that I took with Deloitte. And the high level story is that, you know, I had such a great experience at Deloitte. But I always felt like I had this enormous amount of pressure to fit a mold, and be a serious consultant in an Ann Taylor suit, who used words like leverage, and felt like that wasn't a sustainable way to grow my career, because so much of what made me me - all the best parts of myself, my creativity, and my humor, I felt like didn't have a place at my organization. And I felt this, and studying all of the Future of Work topics I mentioned, and feeling like I was a hypocrite, because I was talking at conferences and advising clients about the importance of creativity, and authenticity, and vulnerability, and all of these skills that we talked about. And meanwhile, feeling like I was hiding a big piece of who I was in order to be successful. 
So I took this six months sabbatical, I thought that was a me thing, a me problem. And I was going to, you know, really kind of give myself the space to think about what was next for me, and also study where our organizations kind of more meaningfully tapping to these sort of social and emotional skills, and how might we, you know, learn from that. And I started sabbatical in January 2020, came back six months later, and the world had changed and had created this appetite, I think, at Deloitte to think a little bit differently about it. And so I came back and, you know, share my story, like, here's how I felt. And if I feel this is a super privileged, white woman who'd been very well supported in my career, we've got a much bigger problem to solve for. 
And so I'm in tandem with having that conversation, which I thought would get me fired, but instead, it like, totally transformed my career at Deloitte. I decided what can I do about this at the individual level, and really honed in on the need for the experience that I had as a woman, and recognizing that it wasn't if I had told that story, I had an overwhelming response from other women who resonated with it and felt the same way. 
And I did a bunch of research and learned a few things about the experience of women in professional environments that are more traditionally male dominated. And one of the things I learned was that women, on average, reach peak competence in life at age nine, ya know, they represent the majority of college graduates. They lose some of that ambition to reach the highest levels of leadership within the first couple of years on the job, and that something was happening to women's confidence that was palpable, and I think was, you know, working in a broader environment where there's certainly systemic changes that need to take place. How do I improve the agency of women to change their lives and change their outcome? And I decided to really go deep on confidence and then launched Growth Inc, as a way to help professional women rebuild the mental habits of confidence around. There's actually six habits, it's specific mental habits that most women do not have, because we're socially conditioned to think differently, and rebuild those habits so that they can be leaders of their lives and their careers and kind of change the outcomes around them, instead of changing, and sort of waiting for the world to change around us.
Jenn Viemont: That's so cool. And so you really, I mean, everything we're just talking about up to this point. That's how you've been living your life for the last two years. You've been looking at your own values and how things are aligned with that, and how you can align your life with your values professionally, and otherwise. Okay, just out of curiosity, can you tick off the six habits?
Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah. So, the first habit is the habit of self awareness. And that actually, we'll be talking about values, like, who am I? And what do I value? What gives me energy? What drains my energy? It’s really, really important. 
And then there's the habit of self acceptance, which is like understanding kind of the nuances of who you are, and like accepting that, and accepting your words, and allowing yourself to be enough and instead of kind of comparing and looking elsewhere. 
And then there's the habit of self assertiveness, which is really the ability to articulate what matters to you, what your boundaries are, how do you push back and say no in the right circumstances and situations.
I'm gonna have to pull up my like, I'm going out of order, but the habits actually have a really specific name that is based on the research of Nathaniel Branden. I'm not sure if you've, you've heard of him, but he studied the mental habits of achievers and highly competent people. And recognize that like, we think about competence as this kind of innate set of kind of personality traits, but in reality, it is like they're mental processes that we just, you know, aren't necessarily taught and are kind of counterintuitive in our society. 
So I mentioned like the first three, but the habit of living consciously is a fourth one, that is all about focusing on the reality of the moment and releasing fear. And when you think about, we spend so much time ruminating on the past or dwelling in the future, which creates fear because we don't have control. So how do you start to live more in the moment and practice mindfulness?
And then the habit of living purposefully, which is really that idea of having intentionality to the way that you show up to orient around, kind of the set of values that you've got, and orient around kind of the purpose of what you're doing, day in and day out, and having that sense of purpose. 
And then the last one, which totally resonates with my story is the habit of living with integrity, which is that who I am on the inside is reflected in the version of myself that I show to the world and like operating with integrity, of like who you are, and what you value and what's important to you. And not feeling like you have to apologize for, kind of your identity, your background, your experiences, but using that as really a way to like show up in life as like an integrated person.
Jenn Viemont: So cool. I've saw you, as a woman, as a mother of a teenage daughter, as a former psychotherapist, I love all of what you said so much. And I really, I hope, if there's like a website or anything that you could send that to us, or we could put it on our show notes. I'm sure other people would be interested in that as well.
Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah, of course, I'll give my art Instagram handle. It’s @growthincubator and it has tons of free content if you're interested in those topic areas. And I’ll send the website as well.
Jenn Viemont: Awesome. What is the prize? A little nugget at the end of this conversation! Very cool. Very cool. I really appreciate you talking to us today about all of this, it's great to have a better understanding of, kind of what the world looks like now in terms of employability. And how students can look for organizations that are really aligned with their values, with their personality, with their goals, and not have to try to be something that they're not.
Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Well, so appreciate the opportunity to chat. And, of course, if there's questions or you know, people want more information, feel free to reach back out.
Jenn Viemont: Thanks so much, Colleen. 
Good news, we have put our next two sessions of the On Your Mark masterclass on the calendar. And this month's special offers 75% off. This class is one of our most popular offerings. It's a six week class for the students themselves, where through video lessons, assignments and live group calls, they're guided through the process of finding the schools and programs in Europe that best fit their interests, their goals, their preferences, their qualifications, their budget, all of that. It’s especially powerful, because they are the ones taking the reins of the process, as opposed to the parents. And they become the experts. 
The other cool thing is that they're taking this class with a group of students from around the country who are also exploring these outside of the box options. And since they probably don't know anyone from their score community, looking outside of the US, having this community is really incredible. In fact, two of our members who took this class a few years ago, are now sharing an apartment in Europe. We have a summer session in June and a Fall session on October and we'll put the full information, the link for the full information dates, times, and other logistics, in our show notes or you can go to beyond the states.com/monthlyspecial

This week’s episode certainly aligns with a common theme this season addressed by many of our guests, and that is the critical importance of cultivating “soft skills” in the up-and-coming workforce. These skills, like assertiveness, resilience, self-direction, empathy, cooperation, diversity awareness, and adaptability are simply not versed (even discouraged) in traditional education in the US. In the current US college admissions game alone, it appears there is no room (or reflected value) for failure.

“Though I don’t believe college in Europe is the route for everyone, I do truly believe that it’s an incredible way to ensure our kids are developing these crucial skills while having these life-changing experiences.” –Jenn 
Our guest this week, Colleen Bordeaux, a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting in LA, joins us in discussion on this hot topic, speaking from an employer’s point of view. You’ll hear her pressing for today’s youth and graduates to see the value in getting out of comfort zones, of taking and seeing the advantage of experiences and failures, since these are some of the opportunities where important human skills can begin to take shape; these are the skills that matter more-than-ever for professional success.  
Up to 40% of the jobs that we know have the potential to be automated and done by technology. And there are millions of new jobs that are being created that people have never done before. And so it is calling on us to really think differently about what are the skills and capabilities we've got as humans that can endure and help us adapt in the fast-changing workplace." –Colleen Bordeaux

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: So today a little bit later on the episode, we're going to talk to Coleen Bordeaux. She's a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting in Los Angeles. We did this recording a while back and I hadn't aired it yet, because there were some audio issues that we had to deal with actually, funny. We edited this part out but right in the middle of our interview, Colleen husband's cooking set off the fire alarm in the kitchen, she rolled with it like a pro, and she called me back from outside until he got it under control. 
Anyhow, because the interview was a while back, I listened to it again. And here's what struck me. There's such a common message from almost all of the experts we've heard from this season. Along with Colleen, they're all saying that there are certain qualities, capabilities, skills, whatever you want to call them, that are needed for success and they aren't being cultivated by traditional education in the US. In fact, in some cases, the education system in the US actively discourages the cultivation of the qualities. All of these experts have talked about the important qualities that develop through experiencing failure, for instance, this is something that is unheard of through high school. In order to play the US admissions game, students were led to believe that there can be no failure. And as we learned in the episode with William Dershowitz, this mindset carries over into college as well. We've also learned that students need to get out of their comfort zone.
Colleen puts it well, she talks about putting yourself in situations where you don't have the answers and where there isn't a rulebook. And we've talked about the need for students to be able to demonstrate that they're able to effectively communicate and work with people from all different backgrounds and perspectives. I really don't know how employers are teaching these skills. I mean, I'm sure there's some really well researched and thought out, you know, curriculum and such. But how do you teach empathy to young adults? How do you teach them to get out of their comfort zone? I can think of a couple of ways that might help for a few of these. I mean, Colleen talks about how her job as a waitperson helped with a lot of these skills. Having waitressed myself at college, I completely agree with her on this one. We've had other guests talk about how jobs like this job my son had at a grocery store, also great for many of these skills. Jobs, where you're working alongside and also serving people who have different backgrounds, different goals, different education than you do. 
We have a masterclass. That includes a lesson about learning what skills you need to develop, that are going to help you when you're living abroad. Now, I grew up in Chicago in the city, where I was taking the number six Jeffrey express bus with friends, even in elementary school. I understand, of course, that things are a little different now and that many of our students don't live in a place that's conducive to public transportation. So one suggestion I sometimes make, is for the students and the parents, if needed, to take a trip to a nearby city, and have the students figure out on their own how they're going to get from point A to point B on public transportation, and the parents aren't able to make any suggestions or help. So what does this teach? It teaches navigating, literally and figuratively, unfamiliar circumstances. It also often teaches failure. I mean, when we travel, my husband still makes the mistake of getting on the platform that's going on the wrong way, often, and if they do fail, it teaches them that it's not the end of the world. They simply get off the train when they realize they made a mistake and figure out how to rectify. 
If they fully go through this exercise, the lessons can really be applied to other areas of life. However, more often than not the parents don't let them fail to that point. Well meaning suggestions to you know, check the sign to determine what platform they want to be on. And other again, well meaning suggestions interfere with the failure experience. I've been guilty of this in my own life, as you all know. But now that seems in Europe, there are a number of failures that I couldn't prevent him from experiencing if I tried. But now in year three, I see the incredible growth he's made and the lessons he's learned. It was certainly painful, as a parent, to watch him learn those lessons, and stressful, but I've never seen him in a better place than he is now. Though I know College in Europe is not the route for everyone, I do truly believe that it's an incredible way to ensure that our kids develop these crucial skills while having these life changing experiences. Let's take a quick break and see what Colleen has to tell us.
Testimonial: I'm Tati. I'm from Atlanta, and I'm in my third year of study at Hans University in the Netherlands, and I found my university through my Beyond the State's membership. I'd been interested in studying in Europe before I joined Beyond the States, but the research my mom and I did on our own often resulted in misinformation or information that didn't apply to me as a native English speaker from an American High School. Nobody at my high school knew how to advise me either. With the help of the BTS database and membership resources, I was able to explore my different options and get advice from Jen about admission strategies. Membership includes more these days than when I was a member. The private member Facebook group includes students and families at all stages of the process. When students go to Europe, we and our parents can stay in the group. Not only does this mean we can answer questions from members who are exploring, but we can get information and resources during our study. My mom is still in the group and has found it helpful, especially connecting with other parents during the height of COVID. If you're interested in studying in Europe, I suggest that you join beyond the States for at least a month, I don't think you'll regret it at all. Check the show notes for details and a link or visit the Services Page at beyondthestates.com.
Jenn Viemont:** **Today, I'm talking to Colleen Bordeaux, she's a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting in Los Angeles, where she helps organizations cultivate positive human experiences in the context of their workforce and customer engagement. She speaks and writes on the subject of human potential in the workplace, employability, the value of soft skills, and the future of work. She's also the founder and co-leader of a startup called Growth Incorporated, that advocates for and supports professional women as leaders in their fields. Wow, that's a lot. Thanks so much for being here today Colleen.
Colleen Bordeaux: Thank you for having me.
Jenn Viemont: So I was reading a Deloitte paper that you contributed to, and I thought it was just fascinating. It was the Closing the Employability Skills Gap paper. And there's some terms that are used around this topic in general, that I think a lot of us who like myself or older Gen X, or like young boomers, don't really understand. So I'm finally wrapping my brain around a number of them, but came across a term I was less familiar with. So I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about what the fourth industrial revolution means and how it impacts college age students.
Colleen Bordeaux: That absolutely, so the fourth industrial revolution is a term that researchers and economists have given to the rapidly accelerating pace of change to technology, and how it's impacting the way we work, and the way that we live, and the way that we interact as human beings, and to bring that to life for you. In all of human history, we have been accustomed to linear change, which means that we make an advancement, we learn from that advancement, apply what we learn, and then come up with something new. And it's a slower pace of change than what we are in right now. Which is called exponential change, which means that we are on an exponential growth curve. And if you feel like the world is changing faster than ever before, that's because it actually is. And the analogy that I heard is that you are kind of taking linear steps, if you take kind of linear steps across a football field, you know, like that will get you take you, you know, maybe an hour takes, I think it was like three linear steps, 30 Linear steps. And if you take 30 exponential steps, you'll like go around the world, like multiple times. So it's this idea that, you know, the world is changing around us faster and faster than it ever had. But our human nature is staying the same. But I think we're all feeling that sense of overwhelm with how quickly our world is changing, and trying to kind of bring it back to us as individuals. And what do we do with all of this? And how do we set ourselves up to survive and thrive as we move forward?
Jenn Viemont: Interesting, because I think that the workforce wasn't that different from my parents from when I went to college. But I do think it's so different for my kids than when I was in college, there was a great David Sedaris, quote, I wish I had in front of me, it's hysterical, where he talks about how we used to eavesdrop on people, and like, he'd know what they were talking about. And now when they're talking about their professions, he just has no idea what he's even eavesdropping on. And that's what I feel like too, like, there's just so much difference, and I'm not addled. So it was good to know that that's not my imagination.
Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah, definitely not. And that's the change in jobs. I know. It's something that you were emailing, kind of really thinking about, I think one of the biggest impacts on work when it relates to this rapid pace of change to technology, is that technology is taking on cognitive capabilities that we are accustomed to paying a human to do in the workplace. And it's estimated that up to 40% of the jobs that we know and work today, have the potential to be automated and done by technology. And there's millions of new jobs that are being created that people have never done before. And so it's calling on us to really think differently about what is the value we bring as human beings and what are the skills and capabilities we've got as humans that we can endure and help us to adapt and continue to add value in the workplace, in the workforce, even as technology kind of accelerates its ability to help us get work done.
Jenn Viemont: Interesting. So in a very simplistic term, because that's how I think about technology. That's the only way I can deal with technology. I guess what I'm thinking about are like bots, you know, when a customer service bot as opposed to a person. So what could a person do that this bot couldn't is sort of what we're talking about. Very basic level?
Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah. That’s a hundred percent right. And I think, oh sorry, one more thing to that when it comes to like AI technology and robotic process engineering and a lot of the like next gen technologies that are already available, and already kind of doing work that we're used to paying humans to do. A lot of the conversation around what technology can do, what is repetitive and role based work that is easy to program, versus work that requires you to connect dots across functions and read nuance and context that technology is less able to do. So you know, fields like finance are really well primed for it to be automated, because it's repetitive and role based, versus some of the other kinds of avenues that require us to input behavior and think how people think are less likely to be, you know, impacted by technology.
Jenn Viemont: So that kind of ties into one of the things that the paper also said, which was that many organizations are reevaluating their talent profile. So can you tell me a little bit about what they're looking for now that’s different than what they used to be looking for?
Colleen Bordeaux: Absolutely. So there's always going to be those kind of hard skills that you need to get the job done. And as you mentioned, that there's lots of new jobs coming that we aren't accustomed to doing and a big example of kind of a hard skill that many of our clients and organizations are looking at, is this concept of digital fluency and data fluency. And data fluency is a great example. Because I think we think about data as the ability to get data and to create reports, but how do you actually derive insight from multiple different data sets and do it in a way that allows organizations to take more meaningful action? And digital fluency is, you know, the ability to use digital tools and platforms as new tools come on the scene. How do we use that to get that work done better and more effectively, more efficiently? And also operate in digital virtual environments in ways that get work done in really effective ways. And then there's a second kind of bucket of skills that have been less of a focus in learning and development programs and in organizational kind of learning programs. But they're what we traditionally call social and emotional skills. And I mentioned that there's a lot of technology trends driving the future of work. But there's other trends happening, kind of in conjunction with technology. And one example is the rise of diversity in the workplace. And this is both driven by generational diversity, we now have more than four generations in the workforce at the same time with wildly different preferences, norms, behaviors and ways of working. 
We also, because of technology, have the ability to work across border, across culture. And this need for engaging with people who don't look, or act, or sound like you is becoming table stakes to getting work done. And then, I think there's a couple of additional trends too, that are really focused on kind of this, move away from the three-part life series where you've got education, career, and retirement to the 100 year life and the lifelong learning that requires you to sustain yourself over the course of your lifetime. And so the skills that are needed in that environment are really things like empathy, creativity, problem solving, cultural fluency, and they're skilled that in many ways, kind of our innate human capabilities, we just have to think about developing and incentivizing them in different ways that we've had to think about before in the workforce.
Jenn Viemont: Interesting, I want to go to that kind of cross cultural communication piece that you were talking about, because I think a lot of people might think that that is something that they could do and maybe it's not. I mean, I lived in Portugal for a couple of years, and I would have considered myself very good at cross cultural communication. And there were absolutely times, there was a meeting I had with somebody in Estonia, where I was sure that she just thought I was an idiot, but it was more just you know, and I later found out, you know, we enjoyed each other a lot and we were friendly and it was more just me not knowing culturally, you know, the communication norms. Can you give me an example about how that might look in the workforce? How it might look to need that cross cultural communication skills or how it might be kind of messed up by somebody who's lacking those skills?
Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, I think the first piece to this is like, we have so many organizations that are standing up functions that, you know, get work done in a different country, like in Poland or in India, and recognizing that, if you're leading a team that is based in multiple different geographies and multiple different countries, lacking cultural fluency would be to come in with the expectation that the way work will get done, the way that you manage meetings, the way that you manage a team is going to be consistent with the way that you've always done it. And so in that instance, that would be, you know, potentially leading to really negative experiences of members of your team who feel potentially excluded from the conversation because you're not making space to listen and understand where they're coming from, or potentially not creating flexibility to accommodate different time zones or different holidays and personal needs. And that would obviously drive people out the door of your company, and create kind of negative work outcomes, versus coming in and recognizing that I have a really diverse makeup tonight team. And rather than diving in with assumptions and an old way of doing things, creating that space, to really meet with the team and individual members of the team to get to know them, really listen and understand expectations and preferences, and then own the only issue that we have a lot of different factors to consider here to make this a really positive experience for everyone. And how do we create more opportunities to connect on human levels so that we're able to listen and empathize and learn from one another, and build our culture to get work done and build trust that we can get worked on in really effective ways. That's a really high level example. But that's kind of the, I think, the ultimate to what’s behind it.
Jenn Viemont: No, I think it's a really good concrete example too. It's understandable. Excellent. So the other thing I was reading is, the people were saying that data indicates continued massive deficit of social and emotional capabilities in today's workforce. And I was wondering if you have any thoughts on why that is?
Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah. So at a higher level, I think, we haven't really needed to focus as much on social and emotional capabilities. Because the way that work got done, what workplaces and workforces looked like was much different. And an organization’s, in many ways, operated with what, what I like to call a logic bias, meaning we're focused really explicitly on bottom line impacts and work outcome, at the expense of really understanding some of the kind of emotional data and emotional realities of the experience our human stakeholders are having as they interact with our organization. And organizations had to get smart on that from a customer experience perspective decades ago, right? So if you did not consider the emotional impact of the interactions a customer was having with your organization, you would fail to build trust in that customer and failed to build feelings of loyalty in that customer that would translate into repeat purchases. 
So really going deep on how does this customer feel? What's driving that feeling? How do we influence that to be more positive? The core skill to doing that was empathy, right? Putting the customer, that human at the center, and really using a lot of those skills to deeply understand that emotional sentiment data, and then combining it with some of the more traditional datasets around like, how do we reimagine this customer journey and some of these interactions that build that customer trust and loyalty and translates into repeated purchases and, and do it in a way that also kind of works for our operating model and our strategy. So this is not a new concept. But the world has changed so much that it's calling on us to do that now for workers. And it's both driven by kind of all of those trends we talked about earlier, but also this subtle shift in power between workers and our organizations where the experience a worker has can make it on an open source platform that anybody can back and workers have arguably just as much if not more powered, and packed organizational brand and market performance as their customers. 
And so bringing this set of kind of social and emotional capabilities front and center is table stakes to doing kind of applying that same logic, to creating more positive worker experiences, improving human connection and culture, and making organizations places that workers not only want to work, but are willing to tell their friends, and their families, and our social feeds about their experiences and recommend those places to work. So at the highest level, I think that that's kind of the shift. And, you know, it's becoming an increasing focus in this great resignation world, so many of our organizations are struggling with.
Jenn Viemont: So it sounds like companies are putting a lot of money and resources into training their employees around this. So are they also looking for candidates who already have a number of these skills?
Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah, I'm sure you've heard the term kind of leader at every level. And I think some of the core leadership capability focus, which looks, I think, more formal definitions of leaders, emphasizes social and emotional capabilities, almost above everything else.And so it's translating kind of what's worked in the leadership development states kind of across the board. And I think, in the hiring process, I would say every organization is already screaming for these skills. And better understanding your ability to work with others, to influence others to communicate, to solve problems, to be able to innovate and adapt as your role changes around you. And I think the ability to get those types of skills and apply them and speak to them so that you are positioning yourself better in an interview is super important.
And then also, once you are kind of on the job, I think so much of organizational learning and development programs are kind of shifting and pivoting towards that leading at all levels, and how do you build and develop those social and emotional capabilities at much earlier stages in your career, because you frankly do have to work in situations where you might be required to lead across and above you. And you need the same exact set of skills that you know, a more traditional leader in your organization might have.
Jenn Viemont: Our listeners hear me talk ad nauseam about how living outside of your home country can really lead to a lot of these social and emotional capabilities. We're talking about the soft skill development, you know, learning how to navigate unfamiliar circumstances, being adaptable working in groups of people with completely different perspectives and backgrounds. Are there other life experiences or situations you can think of that can lead to this soft skill development before you enter? Well, I mean, many of them are in the workforce in some way, shape, or form. But until you kind of enter your career life.
Colleen Bordeaux: 100% Yes. I think that traditional education really focuses on being perfect, right? What are the specific steps? The box I plan? And how do I get an A, and advance to the next level? And so I think what traditional education misses is getting you out of your comfort zone, getting you to a place where you're having to take risks and leaps of faith and try things and fail, and have to learn when you do fail. How do you adjust and use that as data to get you where you're going instead of looking at it as something that is a signal to stop or, or slow down? And I think figuring out how do I continue to make myself uncomfortable, put myself in situations where I don't have all of the answers. There's not necessarily a rulebook or a path to follow. And I have to rely on a different way of thinking and operating in order to move forward, and to kind of learn and get where I'm going. And that could be as simple as, you know, starting a side hustle, and really developing kind of a different orientation towards what success looks like. I have to deeply understand kind of my customer and what their needs are. If they run into issues, I have to learn how to address them. It could be taking a job that looks a lot different than a really structured internship and gets you in an environment where you're working with people that you maybe don't necessarily get to interact with day to day in your community and puts you in a position where you have to check some of your own assumptions and biases. So I think that like the biggest thing is just getting out of your box and putting yourself in situations that stretch you and make you uncomfortable, is probably one of the best ways to grow this set of capabilities.
Jenn Viemont: You were talking about that, and I was thinking I recently was talking to an author. He wrote about the American admissions process, and how kids are really, basically told through high school here is the exact path you take, here are all the boxes we need to check, and you really can't make any mistakes, because you have to be the best in all these different areas. And when they get to college, they're sort of programmed that way, to avoid risks, because you can't make mistakes. So I liked the idea you were talking about. Well, what I like is the idea of going to Europe, so you can bypass all of that. But I liked the idea you were talking about of a side hustle, you know, you can do a risk that doesn't have to do with your academics, if you're frightened by doing that. You know, you can take these risks and other areas of your life to gain those skills as well. Yeah, I was also thinking my son, because he wasn't doing the US system. Through high school, he worked at a grocery store. And I think a lot of that, you know, it was, you know, again, it helped him. He was working, crushed generationally, or with different people with different backgrounds and reporting to people with different backgrounds. And yeah, I think it just was such a learning experience. Having that kind of experience as well.
Colleen Bordeaux: Absolutely. I would say one of the most foundational learning experience I had was being a waiter in college and recognizing human nature and how people treat somebody who they feel is beneath them, and how you kind of develop a totally different way of thinking and empathizing with people when you've kind of seen some of that firsthand from working alongside people who, maybe you don't normally get to interact with. So 100% agree with that.
Jenn Viemont: Completely agree, I think that I've had a lot of jobs throughout my career. And I think that waitressing was not only the hardest, but also one that I learned so much about myself and about the world through.
Colleen Bordeaux: Absolutely. And you also learn that you never want to have to clean out that greed pit again, if you can avoid it.
Jenn Viemont: Hopefully you get the job of smearing the ketchup instead of that.
Colleen Bordeaux: Exactly. And also, that's about the value of hard work and this idea that like you're not above or below anybody else. That like, learning how to work hard and how to, you know, get good at your job and add value to your customer, whoever that person might be. The same set of skills and really requires you to listen, and empathize, and problem solve. And, you know, learning how to do that in a service oriented industry, I think is really great education.
Jenn Viemont: I totally agree. Totally agree. So I see, you know, I visit a lot of schools in Europe, and I visit business schools as well. And I, you know, they always have like the plaques of who their big recruiters are. And I see Deloitte as an active recruiter at many of these business schools in Europe. And I'd like to talk about this a little bit, because so many people falsely believed that studying outside of one's home country was going to put them at a disadvantage when they're interviewing or looking for a job. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Colleen Bordeaux: So, I do. I mean, I think that there's a lot of different ways to think about how you position yourself for a job, there are certainly companies, and Deloitte is one, right, that have lists of target schools that they recruit from. Which is one avenue to get a job at a company, that you kind of work or are educated at that school, and you navigate through that schools recruiting relationship with an organization. But that's one of many possible ways to build your career and get employment opportunities. And I think, when you consider all of the choices and options you've got, and how to best position yourself for success, I think it has to come back to like, what matters to me, what do I really value? And how do I lead with that in the choices I make now and how I educate myself and get a well rounded exposure to this world. So that when I'm ready to start making choices, interviewing for jobs that I have a lot of great life experience to draw on, and I'm really well positioning myself for what organizations are looking for. And I think that's the most important part. And I think, you know, from the kind of recruiting that I've been involved in, yeah, a lot of the entry level jobs at Deloitte that are coming through, you know, university relationships. The initial contact might come with the relationship, but the bigger kind of deciding factor is the, frankly, like character experiences, you know, courage and core skills that student brings to the table. And I think also with the rate of change to jobs. I think the average tenure on a job is 18 months and shrinking. That most companies, the majority of people that are coming into their ranks are, they've got experience elsewhere. They're not coming through university. They're coming from wide varieties of different fields and experiences. And that's viewed as such a value. Because when you're thinking about innovating, you've got to be able to break out of your silos and look at things differently, think differently, and have people who work for you that have different lenses and experiences that help kind of shake up the status quo.
Jenn Viemont: Interesting. Interesting. So would internships count? Like, would you guys be looking at internships, even if it were in a different sort of area than where you traditionally recruit from? For employers and 
Colleen Bordeaux: You know, I can't speak to Deloitte’s recruiting policies, because that's not the function that I work in. But I think, what I can speak, is like that, you know, colleagues and network that I have, those internships and experiences are kind of cut across the board, especially when you're younger in your career. I have a multitude of colleagues and peers who came through Teach For America who did Fulbright Scholarships, who left school and took a year off and worked in kind of different capacities in areas of interest and passion, that helped them kind of come back with a clear set of like values for where they wanted to focus their career, and also a much better story around their ability to kind of operate independently and navigate uncertain circumstances and build something on their own. So there's not really like a hard and fast answer. But I think the biggest thing is that there's no longer a prescription or a specific pathway to do this. And it's becoming increasingly important to really get back to what develops me as like a good human being and helps me better understand, like, what are my strengths? What, what matters to me, what do I really value? How do I invest in that, and lead with that, and then use that as a way to market myself to employers who share that similar set of values? 
Jenn Viemont: Yeah, so having the insight into your own values, your own interests, and then not looking for a job with just anybody but looking for a job that's aligned with that, so that you're not trying to kind of, I'm sure there's some analogy about selling something to somebody who doesn't need it that I could use if I knew it, but you know, so you're not trying to fit yourself in a square peg or whatever that is, that you're really able to make that connection.
Colleen Bordeaux: Yep, absolutely. Another thing I will say, too, and this is going to be very pragmatic. But I would be remiss without saying that, I think that if you are coming into the workforce, as a 22 year old. Any organization is looking at, does this person have the ability to work? Are they eager to learn? Are they coachable? Are they smart? Are they passionate? Are they a good person that can build solid relationships that others want to work with, like, just kind of thinking about the first level of inquiry that a recruiter would have on a 22 year old is really important. 
And I think that it certainly helps to be able to demonstrate how you've been able to really apply what you've learned in your life to date to add value to another entity or another organization. And also think about how do I get my foot in the door at an organization that maybe is aspirational for me, and I really want to figure out how to build my network there and get involved and position myself for employment. I think getting creative on like, what are those organizations already investing in, in their corporate social responsibility? And how do I start to think about, you know, building network and connection by volunteering and adding value through some of those channels or positioning myself for internships and figuring out a way to demonstrate your ability to work, your eagerness to learn and build some of those connections, where wherever you are at in your kind of education journey.
Jenn Viemont: Interesting. And all of those you were talking about, you know, many of the words you were using, were to me what I think of as sort of human skills, you know, again, you know, this insight and this values, and all of these different words that have to do with that process are all very human in nature and can't be replaced by technology.
Colleen Bordeaux: That's exactly right.
Jenn Viemont: So I was also wondering, this is a little bit off topic, but I'm really interested in it. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about Growth Incorporated.
Colleen Bordeaux: Yes, I am happy to do that. And by the way, I successfully made it back into my office. Thank you for bearing with me. Yes. So, Growth Inc, I started at the end of a six month sabbatical that I took with Deloitte. And the high level story is that, you know, I had such a great experience at Deloitte. But I always felt like I had this enormous amount of pressure to fit a mold, and be a serious consultant in an Ann Taylor suit, who used words like leverage, and felt like that wasn't a sustainable way to grow my career, because so much of what made me me - all the best parts of myself, my creativity, and my humor, I felt like didn't have a place at my organization. And I felt this, and studying all of the Future of Work topics I mentioned, and feeling like I was a hypocrite, because I was talking at conferences and advising clients about the importance of creativity, and authenticity, and vulnerability, and all of these skills that we talked about. And meanwhile, feeling like I was hiding a big piece of who I was in order to be successful. 
So I took this six months sabbatical, I thought that was a me thing, a me problem. And I was going to, you know, really kind of give myself the space to think about what was next for me, and also study where our organizations kind of more meaningfully tapping to these sort of social and emotional skills, and how might we, you know, learn from that. And I started sabbatical in January 2020, came back six months later, and the world had changed and had created this appetite, I think, at Deloitte to think a little bit differently about it. And so I came back and, you know, share my story, like, here's how I felt. And if I feel this is a super privileged, white woman who'd been very well supported in my career, we've got a much bigger problem to solve for. 
And so I'm in tandem with having that conversation, which I thought would get me fired, but instead, it like, totally transformed my career at Deloitte. I decided what can I do about this at the individual level, and really honed in on the need for the experience that I had as a woman, and recognizing that it wasn't if I had told that story, I had an overwhelming response from other women who resonated with it and felt the same way. 
And I did a bunch of research and learned a few things about the experience of women in professional environments that are more traditionally male dominated. And one of the things I learned was that women, on average, reach peak competence in life at age nine, ya know, they represent the majority of college graduates. They lose some of that ambition to reach the highest levels of leadership within the first couple of years on the job, and that something was happening to women's confidence that was palpable, and I think was, you know, working in a broader environment where there's certainly systemic changes that need to take place. How do I improve the agency of women to change their lives and change their outcome? And I decided to really go deep on confidence and then launched Growth Inc, as a way to help professional women rebuild the mental habits of confidence around. There's actually six habits, it's specific mental habits that most women do not have, because we're socially conditioned to think differently, and rebuild those habits so that they can be leaders of their lives and their careers and kind of change the outcomes around them, instead of changing, and sort of waiting for the world to change around us.
Jenn Viemont: That's so cool. And so you really, I mean, everything we're just talking about up to this point. That's how you've been living your life for the last two years. You've been looking at your own values and how things are aligned with that, and how you can align your life with your values professionally, and otherwise. Okay, just out of curiosity, can you tick off the six habits?
Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah. So, the first habit is the habit of self awareness. And that actually, we'll be talking about values, like, who am I? And what do I value? What gives me energy? What drains my energy? It’s really, really important. 
And then there's the habit of self acceptance, which is like understanding kind of the nuances of who you are, and like accepting that, and accepting your words, and allowing yourself to be enough and instead of kind of comparing and looking elsewhere. 
And then there's the habit of self assertiveness, which is really the ability to articulate what matters to you, what your boundaries are, how do you push back and say no in the right circumstances and situations.
I'm gonna have to pull up my like, I'm going out of order, but the habits actually have a really specific name that is based on the research of Nathaniel Branden. I'm not sure if you've, you've heard of him, but he studied the mental habits of achievers and highly competent people. And recognize that like, we think about competence as this kind of innate set of kind of personality traits, but in reality, it is like they're mental processes that we just, you know, aren't necessarily taught and are kind of counterintuitive in our society. 
So I mentioned like the first three, but the habit of living consciously is a fourth one, that is all about focusing on the reality of the moment and releasing fear. And when you think about, we spend so much time ruminating on the past or dwelling in the future, which creates fear because we don't have control. So how do you start to live more in the moment and practice mindfulness?
And then the habit of living purposefully, which is really that idea of having intentionality to the way that you show up to orient around, kind of the set of values that you've got, and orient around kind of the purpose of what you're doing, day in and day out, and having that sense of purpose. 
And then the last one, which totally resonates with my story is the habit of living with integrity, which is that who I am on the inside is reflected in the version of myself that I show to the world and like operating with integrity, of like who you are, and what you value and what's important to you. And not feeling like you have to apologize for, kind of your identity, your background, your experiences, but using that as really a way to like show up in life as like an integrated person.
Jenn Viemont: So cool. I've saw you, as a woman, as a mother of a teenage daughter, as a former psychotherapist, I love all of what you said so much. And I really, I hope, if there's like a website or anything that you could send that to us, or we could put it on our show notes. I'm sure other people would be interested in that as well.
Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah, of course, I'll give my art Instagram handle. It’s @growthincubator and it has tons of free content if you're interested in those topic areas. And I’ll send the website as well.
Jenn Viemont: Awesome. What is the prize? A little nugget at the end of this conversation! Very cool. Very cool. I really appreciate you talking to us today about all of this, it's great to have a better understanding of, kind of what the world looks like now in terms of employability. And how students can look for organizations that are really aligned with their values, with their personality, with their goals, and not have to try to be something that they're not.
Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Well, so appreciate the opportunity to chat. And, of course, if there's questions or you know, people want more information, feel free to reach back out.
Jenn Viemont: Thanks so much, Colleen. 
Good news, we have put our next two sessions of the On Your Mark masterclass on the calendar. And this month's special offers 75% off. This class is one of our most popular offerings. It's a six week class for the students themselves, where through video lessons, assignments and live group calls, they're guided through the process of finding the schools and programs in Europe that best fit their interests, their goals, their preferences, their qualifications, their budget, all of that. It’s especially powerful, because they are the ones taking the reins of the process, as opposed to the parents. And they become the experts. 
The other cool thing is that they're taking this class with a group of students from around the country who are also exploring these outside of the box options. And since they probably don't know anyone from their score community, looking outside of the US, having this community is really incredible. In fact, two of our members who took this class a few years ago, are now sharing an apartment in Europe. We have a summer session in June and a Fall session on October and we'll put the full information, the link for the full information dates, times, and other logistics, in our show notes or you can go to beyond the states.com/monthlyspecial

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Anglo-American University: An International Relations Program in Prague, Czechia

Hey everyone! My name is Hunter Vaughan and I am a new Beyond the States Ambassador for Anglo-American University (AAU) in Prague, Czechia

Hey everyone! My name is Hunter Vaughan and I am a new Beyond the States Ambassador for Anglo-American University (AAU) in Prague, Czechia. I’m originally from Roxboro, North Carolina and started at AAU a little over a year ago in January 2021 where I am now a second year International Relations major with a concentration in Human Rights. AAU is the oldest private university in the Czech Republic, being founded just in 1990. Just because the school is so new does not mean the academics aren’t stellar. The school has gained many new students over the past two years, in large part thanks to fellow BTS and AAU alum, Liza Miezejeski’s viral TikTok series on how she moved to Prague to complete her college education. While many Europeans would consider AAU’s tuition to be expensive, it is relatively inexpensive by American standards, especially when you realize that AAU’s bachelor’s programs are only 3 years in length compared to the standard 4 years in America. Tuition for any of AAU’s bachelor programs comes out to $4,283 per semester or around $25,700 for the entire degree. This is much less than most private universities and even some public school’s in-state tuition in the US. This not does not include rent which can range from $400-500+/month and living costs which can entirely depend on the person. Overall, Prague is one of the most affordable cities for university students.
When I first arrived in Prague last year, I was staying in the student housing that AAU recommends, Zeitraum. While it is not on campus housing, many other AAU students were living there, as AAU has a contract with the housing company and it is also very easy to arrange in advance and get your confirmation of accommodation that you will need when applying for your Czech student visa. I would recommend to anyone considering AAU, though, to book rooms directly through Zeitraum’s website instead of through AAU as they are much cheaper that way. While Zeitraum was a perfect way to start off at university, especially by meeting most of my now-closest friends, you eventually want a bigger space and a kitchen that you don’t have to share with an entire floor, so most people moved out after their first or second semester. In Prague it is a lot easier to find apartments on Facebook as there are many groups and that way you don’t have to pay realtor and commission fees.
In regards to the program structure at AAU, I am currently in the school of International Relations and have a concentration in Human Rights. The way bachelor’s programs at AAU work is you can either choose to have an extended major, concentration, or minor. For example, you could simply have an International Relations degree with the extended major and you get to choose 5 IR electives yourself whereas having a concentration in an area such as Global Affairs or Human Rights, those IR electives are selected for you. My Human Rights Concentration Classes include:

  • Human Rights
  • History of Racism and Anti-Semitism
  • Moot Court
  • Humanitarian Law and Criminal Justice
  • Gender Equality in Politics
  • Business Ethics
  • Race and Civil Rights in Modern America
    In place of both of those you could also choose to minor in another subject including business, journalism, and humanities. With AAU’s three year degree program, getting a choice in classes other than electives is difficult to accomplish. Within the IR major, it is also highly recommended to take a language class of either Spanish, French, German, or Russian.
    Regardless of your major at AAU, students are required to complete both an internship and a senior thesis to graduate. For your internship, you can either take the internship course at AAU where the Career Center will help to place you in an internship during the semester or you could do an internship in your own time over the summer or winter break. You will be required to write a detailed paper about what your internship was and what you did. During your final year fall semester at AAU you will be placed into a Thesis Seminar course in which you have the opportunity to do a lot of research, select a thesis advisor, and submit a thesis proposal at the end of the semester. This course will make completing your thesis in the Spring much less daunting.
    One of the biggest reasons a lot of students choose AAU is because the school offers both an EU and US accredited degree, meaning you will graduate with a degree valid in both countries. However, there is a catch. Every student is automatically enrolled in the US degree however to be eligible for the Czech degree, you must go through a process called nostrification in which the Czech government decides if your high school education is equivalent to the Czech education. If they find it is not, which has been the case for many AAU students (myself included), you will have to take oral exams in subjects ranging from Computer Information Systems, Geography, Physics, Biology, etc. These exams are conducted in Czech high schools and you will need an interpreter to bring with you. If you pass the exams, you will get your nostrification certificate and if you are like myself and do not pass, you will have to withdraw from the Czech degree at AAU and just stick with the American path. Personally, I do not mind not being in the Czech program as I plan to get a masters degree in Europe anyway and will get my EU degree that way. However if it is extremely important for you to get the Czech degree the nostrification process could be a big hurdle. I have many friends who have passed their exams and I also have friends who decided to not even attempt theirs. It is truly up to you what you want to do. I will say that even without nostrification, being AAU is an amazing experience and the education you get will still be great.
    If you are interested in applying to Anglo-American University please check out the admissions requirements on their website: aauni.edu . I have personally loved my time in Prague and would not change it for anything. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me on Instagram @huntervaughann . I wish you the best of luck on your European college search!

Hey everyone! My name is Hunter Vaughan and I am a new Beyond the States Ambassador for Anglo-American University (AAU) in Prague, Czechia. I’m originally from Roxboro, North Carolina and started at AAU a little over a year ago in January 2021 where I am now a second year International Relations major with a concentration in Human Rights. AAU is the oldest private university in the Czech Republic, being founded just in 1990. Just because the school is so new does not mean the academics aren’t stellar. The school has gained many new students over the past two years, in large part thanks to fellow BTS and AAU alum, Liza Miezejeski’s viral TikTok series on how she moved to Prague to complete her college education. While many Europeans would consider AAU’s tuition to be expensive, it is relatively inexpensive by American standards, especially when you realize that AAU’s bachelor’s programs are only 3 years in length compared to the standard 4 years in America. Tuition for any of AAU’s bachelor programs comes out to $4,283 per semester or around $25,700 for the entire degree. This is much less than most private universities and even some public school’s in-state tuition in the US. This not does not include rent which can range from $400-500+/month and living costs which can entirely depend on the person. Overall, Prague is one of the most affordable cities for university students.
When I first arrived in Prague last year, I was staying in the student housing that AAU recommends, Zeitraum. While it is not on campus housing, many other AAU students were living there, as AAU has a contract with the housing company and it is also very easy to arrange in advance and get your confirmation of accommodation that you will need when applying for your Czech student visa. I would recommend to anyone considering AAU, though, to book rooms directly through Zeitraum’s website instead of through AAU as they are much cheaper that way. While Zeitraum was a perfect way to start off at university, especially by meeting most of my now-closest friends, you eventually want a bigger space and a kitchen that you don’t have to share with an entire floor, so most people moved out after their first or second semester. In Prague it is a lot easier to find apartments on Facebook as there are many groups and that way you don’t have to pay realtor and commission fees.
In regards to the program structure at AAU, I am currently in the school of International Relations and have a concentration in Human Rights. The way bachelor’s programs at AAU work is you can either choose to have an extended major, concentration, or minor. For example, you could simply have an International Relations degree with the extended major and you get to choose 5 IR electives yourself whereas having a concentration in an area such as Global Affairs or Human Rights, those IR electives are selected for you. My Human Rights Concentration Classes include:

  • Human Rights
  • History of Racism and Anti-Semitism
  • Moot Court
  • Humanitarian Law and Criminal Justice
  • Gender Equality in Politics
  • Business Ethics
  • Race and Civil Rights in Modern America
    In place of both of those you could also choose to minor in another subject including business, journalism, and humanities. With AAU’s three year degree program, getting a choice in classes other than electives is difficult to accomplish. Within the IR major, it is also highly recommended to take a language class of either Spanish, French, German, or Russian.
    Regardless of your major at AAU, students are required to complete both an internship and a senior thesis to graduate. For your internship, you can either take the internship course at AAU where the Career Center will help to place you in an internship during the semester or you could do an internship in your own time over the summer or winter break. You will be required to write a detailed paper about what your internship was and what you did. During your final year fall semester at AAU you will be placed into a Thesis Seminar course in which you have the opportunity to do a lot of research, select a thesis advisor, and submit a thesis proposal at the end of the semester. This course will make completing your thesis in the Spring much less daunting.
    One of the biggest reasons a lot of students choose AAU is because the school offers both an EU and US accredited degree, meaning you will graduate with a degree valid in both countries. However, there is a catch. Every student is automatically enrolled in the US degree however to be eligible for the Czech degree, you must go through a process called nostrification in which the Czech government decides if your high school education is equivalent to the Czech education. If they find it is not, which has been the case for many AAU students (myself included), you will have to take oral exams in subjects ranging from Computer Information Systems, Geography, Physics, Biology, etc. These exams are conducted in Czech high schools and you will need an interpreter to bring with you. If you pass the exams, you will get your nostrification certificate and if you are like myself and do not pass, you will have to withdraw from the Czech degree at AAU and just stick with the American path. Personally, I do not mind not being in the Czech program as I plan to get a masters degree in Europe anyway and will get my EU degree that way. However if it is extremely important for you to get the Czech degree the nostrification process could be a big hurdle. I have many friends who have passed their exams and I also have friends who decided to not even attempt theirs. It is truly up to you what you want to do. I will say that even without nostrification, being AAU is an amazing experience and the education you get will still be great.
    If you are interested in applying to Anglo-American University please check out the admissions requirements on their website: aauni.edu . I have personally loved my time in Prague and would not change it for anything. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me on Instagram @huntervaughann . I wish you the best of luck on your European college search!
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What Transparent Admissions Requirements Really Mean, and Why US Admissions are Disturbing

It’s that time of year again… College admissions are on the minds of many students who have attempted to get into their choice schools across the US; it can be a deeply confusing and stressful time for many.

It’s that time of year again… College admissions are on the minds of many students who have attempted to get into their choice schools across the US; it can be a deeply confusing and stressful time for many. Jenn begins the episode this week by sharing a disturbing, first-hand look at the US admissions process through her daughter (Ellie) and Ellie’s friends’ experiences, and provides an update on Ellie’s plans for the fall and how she eventually came to the decision to study in the US.
As well, although it is true that college in Europe is not for everyone (as evidenced by the fact that Jenn’s daughter will be attending school in the states), it is important to understand how the transparent and objective admissions criteria is in surprising contrast to that in the US. With that, we decided to revisit an important episode from 2017 with Maarten Dikhoff, an administrator from Groningen University who explains the admissions approach and process in the Netherlands and Europe. Ultimately, we’ll see how this approach is wholly refreshing, compared to the problematic one in the states. (Spoiler alert - they don’t care about your SAT scores or extracurricular activities!) Tune in and find out more!

"It's not where you go to college, but how you go to college that matters." -- Jenn
“We basically do our selection during the first year. Students can all get the chance to study at a university in the Netherlands, but in the first year they need to show they are capable of doing so.”, Martin

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: **So I had a different episode scheduled for today, but I really felt compelled to talk about admissions instead today. If you have high schoolers, you probably know that the schools in the US have now completed their admissions decisions and students have been notified. Now this has been trickling in for a while with early decision, early action, rolling admissions or different notification dates. So despair over rejection has been delayed for a lot of students because they knew that they were still waiting for other schools to get their decision. 
** **So my daughter Ellie tells me a lot more about her friends than Sam ever did. So this whole time of year has hit home more this year. I see with her friends these really smart and accomplished kids. These are kids who played the admissions game by the book, who didn't get into the schools that they wanted to. And the thing that really bums me out about this, is that they think that it's because they didn't do something right or that they could have or should have done something different that would have resulted in being accepted. And what bums me out even more is that they really believe that their life is going to be negatively impacted by attending their safety school. I want to send them all the research we've talked about in previous episodes about how it's not where you go to college, it's how you go to college that matters. I want to send them book after book I've read about the flaws with the admissions process in the US. And even more importantly, I want to send them article after article about why they should dismiss anything the US News and World Report rating say. 
** **By the way, side note, Malcolm Gladwell has a really interesting take on the recent news about the Columbia ratings. I highly recommend checking it out. However, I know that sending that unsolicited information to her friends would be inappropriate. So instead, I moved the podcast episodes around so I could talk about it here. 
** **So in just a little bit, what we're going to do is we're going to revisit an interview I did with one of my favorite administrators, Maarten Dikhoff, from one of my favorite Dutch universities, Groningen University, because in this one -- this is back from 2017, I think -- he explains in a really clear way, the most refreshing admissions policy used by Dutch universities in which for most programs, if you meet the admissions requirements, then you're in, period. And we're talking about highly ranked universities. 
** **Before that though, I want to tell you a little bit more about my firsthand experience as a parent in the US admissions process, something I thought I had successfully avoided until this year. So as you may remember from an episode earlier this season, my daughter, Ellie is a senior, and she was admitted to Maynooth University in Ireland. She decided that wasn't the route she was going to take this fall after she was admitted. And when I had recorded that episode, she was still in the process of sort of gaining insight into what she wanted to do and why. We thought it might be a gap year at that point, but she decided that she did want to apply to some US universities for this coming school year, for the 2022 school year.
** **And guys, I mentioned in the other episode, I was asked on a podcast many years ago, she was probably at middle school at that time, what I would do if my daughter decided she wanted to go to college in the US. And my response was something like, "Well, I'm sure that would never happen, but I wanted to really explore and explain why she would make that choice." Yeah, I'll tell you that came back to bite me in the butt. Anyway, that is the approach we took. 
** **So one of the issues we had when Ellie was applying to schools in Europe, so there were only a few English-taught programs that focused on criminology, which is what she was interested in. So she was left with options for liberal arts, or sociology that sort of included some criminology, but without the true kind of pure focus, or there were a few programs in Ireland that offered it as well. So she knew she wanted that focus. So she looked at the schools in Ireland and was admitted into the arts program at Maynooth, and this would allow her to study both criminology and psychology. 
** **So she had some interactions with the admissions office that had sort of left a bad taste in her mouth, but they weren't, in my mind, enough reason to disqualify it entirely. But we also knew that there was a program in Cork, one of my favorite schools, that she could apply to and get into if she decided to go back to the European route. But first, she had to explore the US route. So my parameters were that the school had to have a criminology-specific major, because she'd get that elsewhere, and that was something important to her. And that the tuition would need to be comparable to what we would pay for school in Ireland. So she was in luck there because Irish schools are the most expensive in our database and we would be paying about $15,000 a year in tuition, US dollars, and the program is about three years. 
However, Cork was going to be more expensive and had a four year pathway. So instead of saying $15,000 per year times three is her budget, since Cork was more expensive and had a four year pathway, I said I was willing to go up to 15,000 per year for tuition. 
So my other criteria for her was that she would need to be able to articulate why these particular schools would be a better or even just a comparable choice for her to make. So like her mother, she's very project-oriented, so she jumped right on it. Luckily, I mean, in terms of scope of the project, her budget limited her to in-state, or possibly schools that gave a high amount of aid. And her major isn't the most popular, so those two criteria narrowed it down a lot. And she did gain the insight that I was hoping she would get, she narrowed it down to four schools, two in-state and two out-of-state. And the criminology programs had more of the specific focus she was looking than the Maynooth program, and she was not even deterred by the Gen Ed requirements. I was sure that the PE requirement would be a deal breaker for her, but no such luck. So let's even call it academic content comparable. 
** **For Ellie, it turned out to be sort of more of an emotional need that attending in the US with me. We lived out of the country for more than two years of her high school life. And there were some experiences she really feels like she missed out on. She just recently went to her first college basketball game, which in this part of North Carolina is unheard of. And among the friends she has a history with, she really spent her time in high school, much of her high school years, doing something incredibly different than them. She has a real desire to have this like shared experience with her friends of applying to US schools. Yeah, it might sound silly, but I certainly remember how valuable those shared experiences were as a teen. She also had already had the experience of living abroad and she achieved many of the skills and the awareness and the overall growth that I think is so important as an outcome of living abroad. 
So fine, we decided to apply, but we weren't attached to any outcomes yet. I actually wasn't confident that she'd get into any of the schools. She hadn't been prepping for this game at all. She had four APs because that's what she would need in Europe, she had an okay SAT score, a good GPA, but nothing really stand out academically. And of course, between moving and COVID, she didn't really have any school-related extracurriculars. She did, however, relate her essays to her international experiences. So part of my work while she was doing the applications was to let her know that it was very possible that she wouldn't get accepted because we had opted out of that game. 
Now, Ellie didn't apply to the most selective schools; that wasn't part of her criteria. Her first choice school was NC State. They have a really strong criminology program, and they actually have a required internship, which I really like. And she was admitted, and that's where she's gonna attend in the fall. The schools she applied to were all around a 50% selectivity rate. She was accepted to three and waitlisted to one. Here's what's crazy, I happen to know for a fact that some of her friends who were either waitlisted or rejected from some of these same schools have stronger academic records, be it more APs, more extracurriculars, better GPA, better SAT or ACT scores. And what I really believe helped Ellie was her unique international experiences and her insights into the impact those experiences had on her. 
** **And this is one of those things we've heard from so many of our guests this season about employability, that having the international experience helps these kids stand out from the other applicants, particularly when they can articulate the impact of these experiences. So this is all to say that I recognize that Europe is not for everyone, as evidenced by the fact that my own daughter is going a different route. That said, there is an entirely different and transparent way to do admissions that is certainly what I prefer. We're gonna take a quick break and come back to learn about that with the interview that was pulled from an episode that aired in 2017.
**Testimonial: **Hello, my name is Hannah. I'm from Indiana and I'm entering my third year study at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands. I'll never forget the date that I got my best fit list from Jenn. It was so exciting to read about all these really cool schools with amazing programs that were related to my academic interests, within my budget, and that I would more likely than not be accepted to. Since I was a member of Beyond the States, they had a lot of other services that we could also use. One service that I think is so cool is the On Your Mark masterclass. I didn't know anyone else in my school or even my city here in America who's applying to college in Europe. So the fact that students in this class get to know others around the country who are doing the same thing is great. It's a six week course with video lessons each week that walks students through specific steps and exercises to choose their area of study and then narrowed down to 3,000 options to create a best fit list for themselves. Jenn helps answer their questions along the way in their Sunday afternoon calls and also goes over the assignments to make sure that there aren't any programs they missed, or let them know about schools on their list she has concerns about. Not only do they get to know each other in the calls, but students are also in an Instagram group to answer each other's questions and also get questions answered by student ambassadors like me. The class is held three times a year and always fills up. So sign up soon if you're interested. Check the show notes for details and a link or visit the Services page at beyondthestates.com. I'll see you guys in the Instagram group.
**Jenn Viemont: **Hello, and thanks for joining me today. We'll be talking to Maarten in just a bit. But let's start by touching down on some of the problems with the admissions processes here in the States. There are a ton of books written on this topic. I've been reading a number of them over the last couple of years. And I'll be referencing them throughout this episode. But just so you know, the information on all of these resources will be in our show notes. 
So my two main stressors around higher education before we knew about college in Europe were cost and admissions. The increase in the number of very selective schools is something that's changed dramatically in the last few decades, not only due to changes in birth rates, but due to the growth in the influence of the US News and World Report rankings, which actually didn't begin until the mid 80s. So now it's not just the elite Ivys with crazy low acceptance rates. Places I've never heard of like College of the Ozarks in Missouri and Alice Lloyd in Kentucky have lower acceptance rates than even Brown University, which is crazy low at 8.7%. Due to funding issues and such, state schools aren't able to grow to keep up with the demand. So there are many like the SUNY schools or UCLA that are under 20% acceptance rates, and even Fort Valley State in Georgia, never heard of it, is at 21%. 
** **In a previous episode, I talked about how Middlebury in Vermont might be a good fit for our son Sam's interests, if it weren't cost prohibitive. Well, even if we won the lottery, he'd have trouble getting in with their 17% acceptance rate. I want to say right off the bat that I have no problem with hard work and busyness. I really value hard work so long as it's meaningful. "Race to Nowhere" came out before Sam was in high school, and guys, it scared me. One thing I really love are our family dinners together, which happened most weeknights. Now, I might not enjoy it during the actual meal while Sam and Ellie are arguing about something or someone's complaining about having salmon again. I'm also not making claims about frequent meaningful conversations that happen during this time, but it's a time where we take a break from our other activities, and we put down our electronics, and make each other a priority for just a small amount of time. These meals together are just one of the sacrifices that would likely have to be made if we were playing the US admissions game. 
** **Vicki Abeles, who was the filmmaker behind "Race to Nowhere" noted that by the time many students reach high school, their daily routine will include seven or more hours of school, plus two hours of school-sponsored sports or activities, plus the inevitable third shift; three or four, or even five hours of homework at night. You guys, that stresses me out just even, even reading it, much less living it. And because the college admissions process is holistic, if you could see me right now, you'd see that I was putting air quotes around "holistic." Kids are pushed to excel in every area to outshine the other applicants. 
** **The book "Beyond Measure" noted that in the US, there is a school culture, a community culture, in which there is this reverberating message "More is always better. Do more, accomplish more, achieve more." And the book "Losing Our Minds" put it great, they said, "The only point of having more is having more than everybody else." Nobody needed 20,000 atomic warheads until the other side had 19,000. Nobody needs 11 extracurriculars either. What purpose does having them actually serve unless the other guy has 10? So due to these, this culture and these expectations, kids are choosing activities and classes around whether they can show up on college applications. The accomplishments have to be quantifiable, measurable, and chosen based on that, as opposed to exploring interests or discovering interests. 
** **So take AP classes, for instance, kids are encouraged to take as many as possible for the college admissions process. There's another applicant with a higher SAT score. Maybe your extra APs will weigh more than that and help you out. However, the learning in AP courses has been criticized lately as superficial in its content and in not allowing for intellectual exploration. What I found really interesting is a study done by Dartmouth University in which incoming freshmen who scored a 5.0 on the AP psych test took a version of the Intro to Psych final. Ninety percent of those students failed, even though they got a 5.0 on the AP psych test. Further, the students who failed and then enrolled in the class didn't do any better than those who didn't take AP psych in high school at all. 
** **There's this great book called "Crazy You." I highly recommend it; very, very readable. And they talked about how the typical college admissions counselor spends an average of just five minutes reading each application. And since there are so many highly qualified applicants, admissions counselors often have to look for reasons not to admit somebody, whether it's that the applicant didn't have enough AP classes, their class ranking isn't high enough, their SAT/ACT scores are mediocre. They don't have enough extracurricular activities, with leadership roles preferably, or their summers aren't filled with sufficient enrichment. But wait, too many extracurriculars may indicate that the applicant lacks focus. Also, the applicant shouldn't focus on just one type of extracurricular, where it might look like he doesn't have a diversity of interest. 
The list of reasons not to admit an applicant goes on and on. I can't even imagine how I would cope with that if we had to navigate that system. It's called a holistic process, but often has seemingly arbitrary results. Frank Bruni hit it right on the money when he said the admission game is too flawed and too rigged to be given so much credit. But like the high cost, I thought this was fairly inescapable. Also like cost, this is an area that is dramatically different in Europe. Now, I do want to note that we're talking about an entire continent, and there are differences from country to country and school to school. Generally speaking though, schools have a set of criteria that they feel are needed in order to be successful in their program. And if you have those criteria, if you meet that criteria and apply, when there's still space in the program, you're in. That's it. These are also, again, generally speaking, fairly objective in nature, and also not negotiable. If they say you need a minimum score of 29 in your ACT and you have a 28, then you know not to apply, no matter how high your GPA is. 
** **Now I will tell you that there are a small handful of countries that require American students applying for Bachelors programs to have a certain number of AP scores that are 3.0 or higher. The research universities in the Netherlands require four AP scores. The school Sam is interested in is one of those, so he will take exactly four AP classes. Would it help him to have seven AP scores? Nope. He just needs the four. More won't help, but less will disqualify him. 
** **I want to point out though, that there are many universities in the Netherlands, and also throughout Europe, that don't have an AP requirement. Most actually don't have that requirement. I'm noting that because we're about to speak to an administrator about the Netherlands, and I don't want you to think that if you don't have the AP requirements, then you won't qualify anywhere in the Netherlands. 
** **Now let's talk to our guest who can explain more about this. Maarten Dikhoff is the International Marketing Coordinator focusing on North, Central, and South America at Groningen University. Groningen is a top 100 university founded in 1614 in the northern Netherlands. They have over 30 English-taught bachelor's and over 100 masters that are taught in English. Not only is this one of my own personal favorite schools and cities, every one of our members who's visited absolutely loves it. 
So Maarten, thanks for joining us today. 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Thank you. 
**Jenn Viemont: **So I first visited Groningen -- and I know I'm not saying it right -- and I've tried to roll my G, and I can't do it. So can you pronounce it the correct way? 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yeah, it's pronounced "Groningen." 
**Jenn Viemont: **Yeah. 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **It's with a very hard G, which is almost impossible to learn when you're a native English speaker.
**Jenn Viemont: **So is it okay if I call it Groningen? 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yeah, that's fine. That's fine. We're not so difficult about it. 
**Jenn Viemont: **So I first visited Groningen a couple of years ago when I was doing research about Beyond the States. And I didn't know a whole lot and I was trying to just learn about the differences between countries. And I'll never forget, I was sitting with your colleague, Judith, and we were having a cup of coffee in the academy building, which is this beautiful building right in the middle of Groningen, when she told me about non-selective enrollment. And I had her explain this to me so many times, she must have just thought I was an idiot, because I could not understand it. And it's a concept that took me a long time to wrap my brain around, and that a lot of Americans are having trouble understanding. So can you explain it to our listeners?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yeah. Well, basically, we don't really have a word for non-selective enrollment. We just have enrollment, and we have certain programs that have a selection procedure. But most of the programs, basically, the general rule is that if you have a high school diploma with four APs and a GPA of either 3.0 or 4.0, you are admissible to our programs. And there are no further things you have to do, there are no further rules besides the apparent rules of, for example, if you want to apply for the math or mathematics bachelor program, you need to have an AP in mathematics.
**Jenn Viemont: **So four AP courses. I think it's a score of 3 or higher and a 3.0 GPA, and that's all?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yes. Of course, we are a top 100 university so our quality of education is quite high, so there is a catch. And the catch is called the Binding Study Advice. And this is a very important thing that Americans and international students should understand, is that we basically do our selection during the first year. So the philosophy is that it's compared to American universities where it's very hard to get into the first year because they look at your grades and your achievements and your extracurricular achievements. With us, it's relatively easy to get into our program, but that first year is really tough. 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **And the way it works is that you can get 60 credits by doing exams, the year is divided in four blocks. So each block of seven weeks, you get classes, and then you get two weeks where you do your exams, and do a total of 60 credits in a year. The important thing to remember is that a student has to achieve 45 credits or more in that first year, or else, they will get a so-called negative binding study advice, which is basically legal speak for that you can't continue the program. And then you are kicked out of that program, and then you can't apply for that program for the next two years. 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **So that is the way we do it. And the reasoning behind it, or at least the way I always explain it, is that students all get a chance to study at our university, or at a university in the Netherlands. And the philosophy is that they can do that, but in the first year they have to show that they are capable of doing so. So that's the reason why the entry requirements are different.
**Jenn Viemont: **So that's really cool to me. First of all, it's cool to me because I think of so many high school kids who don't want to play the admission game, you know, who don't want to join clubs that don't matter to them. Or maybe they just struggled, they took a little bit of time, it took them until junior or senior year to figure out how to, you know, manage their time or that school mattered. I mean, junior year, you're just 16 years old. I think that's really cool. But I do have a couple of questions about Binding Study Advice. Do they have to have a certain grade or is it passing the test?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Basically, you do exams that can either be pass or fail, or you get a grade. If you get -- in general, it can depend a bit on the program and the professor. But in general, if you get a 5.5, 55% basically, then it's a pass.
**Jenn Viemont: **And if you pass, that's all you need for Binding Study Advice after the first... 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yes, because after they pass and get their 45 credits, they stay in the program. And then in the second year, the Binding Study Advice doesn't count anymore. So it's really that first year that is important.
**Maarten Dikhoff: **So let me ask you this, because some people might be listening to this thinking, Oh no, you know, does that mean that I'll be kicked out after the first year, or my child will be kicked out after the first year? So let's pretend that a student takes her first round of exams. That's probably what, like around Christmas time?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yeah. Usually around the beginning of December, yeah.
**Jenn Viemont: **Do you have kind of study advisors or anything that are looking at these grades? How about these students who are sort of struggling after their first year?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yeah. That's the nice thing about the system that we have, is that you don't have exams at the end of the year where you have to do everything at once and then know if you passed or failed. Basically, with us, it's four times per year, so four blocks. And what happens is that when students do their first exams at the beginning of December and start failing already, the study advisors will notice, because they have a system where all the grades are kept. And they will notice and they will contact the students and offer support to help them write the study plan, help them write or help them with studying, give them tips, or they can do additional courses in mathematics or statistics, if needed. So there is a very good support system for our students because it's also important to us that our students perform well.
**Maarten Dikhoff: **That's awesome. So I know you've said you don't call it non-selective enrollment, but that's what I call it, for lack of a better word. But then there's also selective enrollment. So are these programs that you have that are selective enrollment, are they better, and that's why they're selective enrollment?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **No. All our programs are excellent. There is no difference in quality between non-selective programs or selective programs. The reason why there are -- that some programs are selective is because there's a very high demand for it and they're very popular, and we simply don't have enough professors to teach everybody who wants to do these programs. So in our case, the selective programs are psychology -- it's all bachelor programs. So it's psychology, international relations and the two medicine programs.
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Correct me if I'm wrong, but the selective enrollment, they just add other things. It's not like for a selective enrollment program, that you then need 10 APs. It's that you have to have a motivation letter, correct?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Well, for the medicine program, of course, it's a different story. They might need APs in chemistry, biology, mathematics and physics. But in general, for example, for the International Relations program, there is an additional part where you have to fill out a motivation form, which you can do online, which is also not the same as you are used to in the US where it's like a personal statement describing all your wonderful extracurricular things that you did. 
**Jenn Viemont: **The deepest, darkest emotions. 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yes, yes. Yeah. Exactly. 
**Jenn Viemont: **You don't care about their emotion, huh?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **We don't care about that, no. 
**Jenn Viemont: **And the master's degree programs, they look towards more of the subjective things too, right? Like a reference letter and a motivation letter?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yeah. For the master's programs, it's important that you have a bachelor's degree in -- I always call it "linear master's," which basically means that if you want to, for example, do a bachelor's or a master's degree in psychology, you need to have a bachelor's degree in psychology or related fields.
**Jenn Viemont: **So I can't have a bachelor's in like international relations, and then go for a master's in psychology?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **No. That's not possible. You could maybe do -- have a bachelor's in international relations and do a master's program in international law, for example. **Jenn Viemont: **Right. 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **There's a certain overlap. But for -- let's say you have a bachelor degree in literature, it is impossible to do a master's degree in psychology.
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Let's talk about those more subjective factors. What I love about the non-selective enrollment is that it's completely objective; 3.0 GPA, four APS with 3 or higher. And then the selective enrollment, they do have these more subjective factors like a reference letter and a motivation letter. And I can tell you, our listeners are going to be stressed about how that's assessed. You know, kind of what are you looking for so they can do it. How are those assessed in the admission process?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **It's hard to assess a motivation. So it's basically, what we are looking for when you write a motivation letter is we are looking for the ideal student for this program. So what we are looking for is a student who knows what the program is about, who has an understanding of what the program is, and explains to us why he should be the student that should be in our program. That's basically the motivation that we are looking for. And like...
**Jenn Viemont: **You're looking for fit? Because it sounds like you're looking for a student who's a good fit for the program, and the program is a good fit for the student. Is that correct? 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yeah, exactly. 
**Jenn Viemont: **I've been doing rapid fires for our podcast. So I thought what we'd do for our rapid fire today is I'll go through a list of factors that matter in the US admissions process, and you can say matters or doesn't matter in terms of if it matters in your admissions department. Okay?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yes.
**Jenn Viemont: **So let's say the applicant has a 25 on their ACT?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Doesn't matter.
**Jenn Viemont: **The applicant has a 35 on their ACT?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Doesn't matter. 
**Jenn Viemont: **The applicant was president of five clubs?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **We don't care.
**Jenn Viemont: **The applicant was active in sports?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Doesn't matter. 
**Jenn Viemont: **The applicant was in no clubs and enjoys playing video games in their spare time?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Doesn't matter. 
**Jenn Viemont: **The applicant has 10 AP classes?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **We would love to have him as a student, but it doesn't matter. 
**Jenn Viemont: **An applicant for a graduate program has a perfect GPA?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Doesn't matter. 
**Jenn Viemont: **An applicant has poor GMAT or GRE scores?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Depends on the program they are applying for. We have some programs like in the Faculty of Economics, for example, where it is important to have a GMAT or a GRE score if you are not in a university that is one of our partners. So for all non-EU students who want to study a master's at our Faculty of Economics and Business have to have a GMAT or a GRE score. For the rest of the programs, it doesn't matter.
**Jenn Viemont: **This is just so crazy to me. As a top 100 school, I cannot imagine a top 100 school in the US that doesn't matter about your ACT scores, or how many clubs you were in. It's just so refreshing, I can't even tell you. I think what people really need to understand is that in Europe -- here, people see selectivity rates as an indicator of quality of education. If the school is hard to get into, it must be a better education. And you see that, you see selectivity rate is often -- when schools are written up, you see the selectivity rate, I can't tell you...
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Right. The higher the tuition fees are, the better the school. Yeah. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely! You pay more and it's hard to get in, it must be better. Which isn't the case, as we know. We're doing some episodes about the quality of education. So it's so great to have this that you can be a strong student and get a good education that's also affordable. It's just one of the greatest things I've ever heard.
**Maarten Dikhoff: **In a country where everybody basically speaks English, although with a funny accent.
**Maarten Dikhoff: **So I'm going to tell you a little bit about how this has played out in my own house. And I want to hear what you think on this. So you know, we've talked about my son Sam, he is entering his junior year. And last year, his sophomore year, he took one AP course and he got a 3. He's going to take two his junior year, and he's going to take one his senior year. Other than his graduation requirements, his other classes are made up of courses he's interested in. He's not taking the ones that he thinks that colleges will look highly on. He's just taking the ones he's interested in. In order to make sure his options are open, he will take the SAT or ACT. He did okay on his -- whatever that pre-ACT class test is called. So we're not going to do any of these prep courses that so many people do. I'll probably buy him a book and he won't crack it. But you know, that's life. 
**Jenn Viemont: **But really, what I find most important is that Sam's able to explore his interests and he can try things out without feeling like he needs to make them a hobby or a commitment for college admissions department. So last year, he did a two week kayaking trip on the Outer Banks. And this summer, he did two weeks hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains. And I have to tell you, his laundry was so disgusting. I felt like I needed a hazmat suit for that. But anyway, other than the laundry, the growth he had on these trips was really remarkable, and there was a huge value for him not having electronics for those weeks too. It wouldn't be so quantifiable on college applications though, but that didn't matter. 
**Jenn Viemont: **He's also pursuing Arabic on his own. Our school district only offered it for one year. So now he's doing it himself. That's not going to be on his transcripts, but it's a goal that's important to him, as opposed to one that's being forced on him by the admissions process. So he has a life that allows him to explore his interests, spend way too much time playing video games, spend time with his friends, get a job, have family dinners, travel and get enough sleep, at least when I take his phone away at night. And that's really what I feel like the teen years should be about. 
**Jenn Viemont: **So Maarten, given the description of how he's choosing his courses and how he's spending his time, assuming he has a 3.0 GPA, which he should and the four AP courses, would these choices we're making reduce his chance of being admitted to your school? 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **No.
**Jenn Viemont: **No? I mean, guys, this is crazy. This could be your life too. And that's what I think is so incredible. And again, what are your tuition ranges for non-EU students?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **It depends a bit on the program, but it's somewhere between let's say -- I have to convert it to dollars. So that's around between $8,500 per year to around $12,000 for most of the programs, except for medicine, which is more expensive.
**Jenn Viemont: **Certainly, certainly. 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **So it's $8,000 to $13,000 I'd say per year. 
**Jenn Viemont: **And guys, what's incredible further is that these are, like we talked about last week, these bachelor's programs are three years. So let's even go at the middle of that and say $10,000 a year, you're looking at $30,000 for your entire degree, which is dramatically less than one year tuition at many out-of-state and private universities in the US. It's just crazy to me. 
**Jenn Viemont: **So Maarten, thanks so much for being here today. We're going to have information about the English top programs in Groningen on our show notes. We also have a number of blogs with more information about the school and the city. You can find those on our website. I really feel like you've given encouragement to a lot of families and students about the accessibility of these great English-taught options throughout Europe, and especially at Groningen University. Thanks so much for being here. 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Thank you. 
**Jenn Viemont: **There are a couple of big takeaways tonight. The first is that schools in Europe don't use admissions rates for selectivity as an indicator of well, anything. The reputation of the school is not linked to how selective it is. The other thing to remind yourself is that you have a way to opt out of this process in the US if you want it. You can have an affordable, high quality education in Europe without all the hoops to jump through that you have here. 
** **So future episodes on our podcast are going to cover topics like how studying in Europe helps your employment prospects, how to assess quality beyond global rankings. We'll talk about housing, student life, global citizenship, travel opportunities. We'll talk to American bachelor's and master's degree students about their experiences in Europe. We'll talk to some non-traditional students in Europe and we will cover the upcoming college visit trip I'm taking with Sam. I've been visiting schools for a couple of years now on my own, but this is going to be a really different experience as the mother of a prospective student. And Sam will also be talking to us about his experience visiting these schools. 
** **I'm also totally open to suggestions if there's a topic you'd like us to cover that's either about some of the issues with higher education here or the solutions with the English top programs in Europe. Or if there's a question you'd like us to answer on future episodes, please do just let us know. Thanks again for joining me today. 
Good news, we have put our next two sessions of the On Your Mark masterclass on the calendar. And this month's special offers 75% off. This class is one of our most popular offerings. It's a six week class for the students themselves where through video lessons, assignments and live group calls, they're guided through the process of finding the schools and programs in Europe that best fit their interests, their goals, their preferences, their qualifications, their budget, all of that.
** **It's especially powerful because they are the ones taking the reins of the process as opposed to the parents, and they become the experts. The other cool thing is that they're taking this class with a group of students from around the country who are also exploring these outside of the box options. And since they probably don't know anyone from their school or community looking outside of the US, having this community is really incredible. In fact, two of our members who took this class a few years ago are now sharing an apartment in Europe. We have a summer session in June and a fall session in October and we'll put the full information, the link for the full information, dates, times, other logistics in our show notes, or you can go to beyondthestates.com/monthly special.

It’s that time of year again… College admissions are on the minds of many students who have attempted to get into their choice schools across the US; it can be a deeply confusing and stressful time for many. Jenn begins the episode this week by sharing a disturbing, first-hand look at the US admissions process through her daughter (Ellie) and Ellie’s friends’ experiences, and provides an update on Ellie’s plans for the fall and how she eventually came to the decision to study in the US.
As well, although it is true that college in Europe is not for everyone (as evidenced by the fact that Jenn’s daughter will be attending school in the states), it is important to understand how the transparent and objective admissions criteria is in surprising contrast to that in the US. With that, we decided to revisit an important episode from 2017 with Maarten Dikhoff, an administrator from Groningen University who explains the admissions approach and process in the Netherlands and Europe. Ultimately, we’ll see how this approach is wholly refreshing, compared to the problematic one in the states. (Spoiler alert - they don’t care about your SAT scores or extracurricular activities!) Tune in and find out more!

"It's not where you go to college, but how you go to college that matters." -- Jenn
“We basically do our selection during the first year. Students can all get the chance to study at a university in the Netherlands, but in the first year they need to show they are capable of doing so.”, Martin

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: **So I had a different episode scheduled for today, but I really felt compelled to talk about admissions instead today. If you have high schoolers, you probably know that the schools in the US have now completed their admissions decisions and students have been notified. Now this has been trickling in for a while with early decision, early action, rolling admissions or different notification dates. So despair over rejection has been delayed for a lot of students because they knew that they were still waiting for other schools to get their decision. 
** **So my daughter Ellie tells me a lot more about her friends than Sam ever did. So this whole time of year has hit home more this year. I see with her friends these really smart and accomplished kids. These are kids who played the admissions game by the book, who didn't get into the schools that they wanted to. And the thing that really bums me out about this, is that they think that it's because they didn't do something right or that they could have or should have done something different that would have resulted in being accepted. And what bums me out even more is that they really believe that their life is going to be negatively impacted by attending their safety school. I want to send them all the research we've talked about in previous episodes about how it's not where you go to college, it's how you go to college that matters. I want to send them book after book I've read about the flaws with the admissions process in the US. And even more importantly, I want to send them article after article about why they should dismiss anything the US News and World Report rating say. 
** **By the way, side note, Malcolm Gladwell has a really interesting take on the recent news about the Columbia ratings. I highly recommend checking it out. However, I know that sending that unsolicited information to her friends would be inappropriate. So instead, I moved the podcast episodes around so I could talk about it here. 
** **So in just a little bit, what we're going to do is we're going to revisit an interview I did with one of my favorite administrators, Maarten Dikhoff, from one of my favorite Dutch universities, Groningen University, because in this one -- this is back from 2017, I think -- he explains in a really clear way, the most refreshing admissions policy used by Dutch universities in which for most programs, if you meet the admissions requirements, then you're in, period. And we're talking about highly ranked universities. 
** **Before that though, I want to tell you a little bit more about my firsthand experience as a parent in the US admissions process, something I thought I had successfully avoided until this year. So as you may remember from an episode earlier this season, my daughter, Ellie is a senior, and she was admitted to Maynooth University in Ireland. She decided that wasn't the route she was going to take this fall after she was admitted. And when I had recorded that episode, she was still in the process of sort of gaining insight into what she wanted to do and why. We thought it might be a gap year at that point, but she decided that she did want to apply to some US universities for this coming school year, for the 2022 school year.
** **And guys, I mentioned in the other episode, I was asked on a podcast many years ago, she was probably at middle school at that time, what I would do if my daughter decided she wanted to go to college in the US. And my response was something like, "Well, I'm sure that would never happen, but I wanted to really explore and explain why she would make that choice." Yeah, I'll tell you that came back to bite me in the butt. Anyway, that is the approach we took. 
** **So one of the issues we had when Ellie was applying to schools in Europe, so there were only a few English-taught programs that focused on criminology, which is what she was interested in. So she was left with options for liberal arts, or sociology that sort of included some criminology, but without the true kind of pure focus, or there were a few programs in Ireland that offered it as well. So she knew she wanted that focus. So she looked at the schools in Ireland and was admitted into the arts program at Maynooth, and this would allow her to study both criminology and psychology. 
** **So she had some interactions with the admissions office that had sort of left a bad taste in her mouth, but they weren't, in my mind, enough reason to disqualify it entirely. But we also knew that there was a program in Cork, one of my favorite schools, that she could apply to and get into if she decided to go back to the European route. But first, she had to explore the US route. So my parameters were that the school had to have a criminology-specific major, because she'd get that elsewhere, and that was something important to her. And that the tuition would need to be comparable to what we would pay for school in Ireland. So she was in luck there because Irish schools are the most expensive in our database and we would be paying about $15,000 a year in tuition, US dollars, and the program is about three years. 
However, Cork was going to be more expensive and had a four year pathway. So instead of saying $15,000 per year times three is her budget, since Cork was more expensive and had a four year pathway, I said I was willing to go up to 15,000 per year for tuition. 
So my other criteria for her was that she would need to be able to articulate why these particular schools would be a better or even just a comparable choice for her to make. So like her mother, she's very project-oriented, so she jumped right on it. Luckily, I mean, in terms of scope of the project, her budget limited her to in-state, or possibly schools that gave a high amount of aid. And her major isn't the most popular, so those two criteria narrowed it down a lot. And she did gain the insight that I was hoping she would get, she narrowed it down to four schools, two in-state and two out-of-state. And the criminology programs had more of the specific focus she was looking than the Maynooth program, and she was not even deterred by the Gen Ed requirements. I was sure that the PE requirement would be a deal breaker for her, but no such luck. So let's even call it academic content comparable. 
** **For Ellie, it turned out to be sort of more of an emotional need that attending in the US with me. We lived out of the country for more than two years of her high school life. And there were some experiences she really feels like she missed out on. She just recently went to her first college basketball game, which in this part of North Carolina is unheard of. And among the friends she has a history with, she really spent her time in high school, much of her high school years, doing something incredibly different than them. She has a real desire to have this like shared experience with her friends of applying to US schools. Yeah, it might sound silly, but I certainly remember how valuable those shared experiences were as a teen. She also had already had the experience of living abroad and she achieved many of the skills and the awareness and the overall growth that I think is so important as an outcome of living abroad. 
So fine, we decided to apply, but we weren't attached to any outcomes yet. I actually wasn't confident that she'd get into any of the schools. She hadn't been prepping for this game at all. She had four APs because that's what she would need in Europe, she had an okay SAT score, a good GPA, but nothing really stand out academically. And of course, between moving and COVID, she didn't really have any school-related extracurriculars. She did, however, relate her essays to her international experiences. So part of my work while she was doing the applications was to let her know that it was very possible that she wouldn't get accepted because we had opted out of that game. 
Now, Ellie didn't apply to the most selective schools; that wasn't part of her criteria. Her first choice school was NC State. They have a really strong criminology program, and they actually have a required internship, which I really like. And she was admitted, and that's where she's gonna attend in the fall. The schools she applied to were all around a 50% selectivity rate. She was accepted to three and waitlisted to one. Here's what's crazy, I happen to know for a fact that some of her friends who were either waitlisted or rejected from some of these same schools have stronger academic records, be it more APs, more extracurriculars, better GPA, better SAT or ACT scores. And what I really believe helped Ellie was her unique international experiences and her insights into the impact those experiences had on her. 
** **And this is one of those things we've heard from so many of our guests this season about employability, that having the international experience helps these kids stand out from the other applicants, particularly when they can articulate the impact of these experiences. So this is all to say that I recognize that Europe is not for everyone, as evidenced by the fact that my own daughter is going a different route. That said, there is an entirely different and transparent way to do admissions that is certainly what I prefer. We're gonna take a quick break and come back to learn about that with the interview that was pulled from an episode that aired in 2017.
**Testimonial: **Hello, my name is Hannah. I'm from Indiana and I'm entering my third year study at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands. I'll never forget the date that I got my best fit list from Jenn. It was so exciting to read about all these really cool schools with amazing programs that were related to my academic interests, within my budget, and that I would more likely than not be accepted to. Since I was a member of Beyond the States, they had a lot of other services that we could also use. One service that I think is so cool is the On Your Mark masterclass. I didn't know anyone else in my school or even my city here in America who's applying to college in Europe. So the fact that students in this class get to know others around the country who are doing the same thing is great. It's a six week course with video lessons each week that walks students through specific steps and exercises to choose their area of study and then narrowed down to 3,000 options to create a best fit list for themselves. Jenn helps answer their questions along the way in their Sunday afternoon calls and also goes over the assignments to make sure that there aren't any programs they missed, or let them know about schools on their list she has concerns about. Not only do they get to know each other in the calls, but students are also in an Instagram group to answer each other's questions and also get questions answered by student ambassadors like me. The class is held three times a year and always fills up. So sign up soon if you're interested. Check the show notes for details and a link or visit the Services page at beyondthestates.com. I'll see you guys in the Instagram group.
**Jenn Viemont: **Hello, and thanks for joining me today. We'll be talking to Maarten in just a bit. But let's start by touching down on some of the problems with the admissions processes here in the States. There are a ton of books written on this topic. I've been reading a number of them over the last couple of years. And I'll be referencing them throughout this episode. But just so you know, the information on all of these resources will be in our show notes. 
So my two main stressors around higher education before we knew about college in Europe were cost and admissions. The increase in the number of very selective schools is something that's changed dramatically in the last few decades, not only due to changes in birth rates, but due to the growth in the influence of the US News and World Report rankings, which actually didn't begin until the mid 80s. So now it's not just the elite Ivys with crazy low acceptance rates. Places I've never heard of like College of the Ozarks in Missouri and Alice Lloyd in Kentucky have lower acceptance rates than even Brown University, which is crazy low at 8.7%. Due to funding issues and such, state schools aren't able to grow to keep up with the demand. So there are many like the SUNY schools or UCLA that are under 20% acceptance rates, and even Fort Valley State in Georgia, never heard of it, is at 21%. 
** **In a previous episode, I talked about how Middlebury in Vermont might be a good fit for our son Sam's interests, if it weren't cost prohibitive. Well, even if we won the lottery, he'd have trouble getting in with their 17% acceptance rate. I want to say right off the bat that I have no problem with hard work and busyness. I really value hard work so long as it's meaningful. "Race to Nowhere" came out before Sam was in high school, and guys, it scared me. One thing I really love are our family dinners together, which happened most weeknights. Now, I might not enjoy it during the actual meal while Sam and Ellie are arguing about something or someone's complaining about having salmon again. I'm also not making claims about frequent meaningful conversations that happen during this time, but it's a time where we take a break from our other activities, and we put down our electronics, and make each other a priority for just a small amount of time. These meals together are just one of the sacrifices that would likely have to be made if we were playing the US admissions game. 
** **Vicki Abeles, who was the filmmaker behind "Race to Nowhere" noted that by the time many students reach high school, their daily routine will include seven or more hours of school, plus two hours of school-sponsored sports or activities, plus the inevitable third shift; three or four, or even five hours of homework at night. You guys, that stresses me out just even, even reading it, much less living it. And because the college admissions process is holistic, if you could see me right now, you'd see that I was putting air quotes around "holistic." Kids are pushed to excel in every area to outshine the other applicants. 
** **The book "Beyond Measure" noted that in the US, there is a school culture, a community culture, in which there is this reverberating message "More is always better. Do more, accomplish more, achieve more." And the book "Losing Our Minds" put it great, they said, "The only point of having more is having more than everybody else." Nobody needed 20,000 atomic warheads until the other side had 19,000. Nobody needs 11 extracurriculars either. What purpose does having them actually serve unless the other guy has 10? So due to these, this culture and these expectations, kids are choosing activities and classes around whether they can show up on college applications. The accomplishments have to be quantifiable, measurable, and chosen based on that, as opposed to exploring interests or discovering interests. 
** **So take AP classes, for instance, kids are encouraged to take as many as possible for the college admissions process. There's another applicant with a higher SAT score. Maybe your extra APs will weigh more than that and help you out. However, the learning in AP courses has been criticized lately as superficial in its content and in not allowing for intellectual exploration. What I found really interesting is a study done by Dartmouth University in which incoming freshmen who scored a 5.0 on the AP psych test took a version of the Intro to Psych final. Ninety percent of those students failed, even though they got a 5.0 on the AP psych test. Further, the students who failed and then enrolled in the class didn't do any better than those who didn't take AP psych in high school at all. 
** **There's this great book called "Crazy You." I highly recommend it; very, very readable. And they talked about how the typical college admissions counselor spends an average of just five minutes reading each application. And since there are so many highly qualified applicants, admissions counselors often have to look for reasons not to admit somebody, whether it's that the applicant didn't have enough AP classes, their class ranking isn't high enough, their SAT/ACT scores are mediocre. They don't have enough extracurricular activities, with leadership roles preferably, or their summers aren't filled with sufficient enrichment. But wait, too many extracurriculars may indicate that the applicant lacks focus. Also, the applicant shouldn't focus on just one type of extracurricular, where it might look like he doesn't have a diversity of interest. 
The list of reasons not to admit an applicant goes on and on. I can't even imagine how I would cope with that if we had to navigate that system. It's called a holistic process, but often has seemingly arbitrary results. Frank Bruni hit it right on the money when he said the admission game is too flawed and too rigged to be given so much credit. But like the high cost, I thought this was fairly inescapable. Also like cost, this is an area that is dramatically different in Europe. Now, I do want to note that we're talking about an entire continent, and there are differences from country to country and school to school. Generally speaking though, schools have a set of criteria that they feel are needed in order to be successful in their program. And if you have those criteria, if you meet that criteria and apply, when there's still space in the program, you're in. That's it. These are also, again, generally speaking, fairly objective in nature, and also not negotiable. If they say you need a minimum score of 29 in your ACT and you have a 28, then you know not to apply, no matter how high your GPA is. 
** **Now I will tell you that there are a small handful of countries that require American students applying for Bachelors programs to have a certain number of AP scores that are 3.0 or higher. The research universities in the Netherlands require four AP scores. The school Sam is interested in is one of those, so he will take exactly four AP classes. Would it help him to have seven AP scores? Nope. He just needs the four. More won't help, but less will disqualify him. 
** **I want to point out though, that there are many universities in the Netherlands, and also throughout Europe, that don't have an AP requirement. Most actually don't have that requirement. I'm noting that because we're about to speak to an administrator about the Netherlands, and I don't want you to think that if you don't have the AP requirements, then you won't qualify anywhere in the Netherlands. 
** **Now let's talk to our guest who can explain more about this. Maarten Dikhoff is the International Marketing Coordinator focusing on North, Central, and South America at Groningen University. Groningen is a top 100 university founded in 1614 in the northern Netherlands. They have over 30 English-taught bachelor's and over 100 masters that are taught in English. Not only is this one of my own personal favorite schools and cities, every one of our members who's visited absolutely loves it. 
So Maarten, thanks for joining us today. 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Thank you. 
**Jenn Viemont: **So I first visited Groningen -- and I know I'm not saying it right -- and I've tried to roll my G, and I can't do it. So can you pronounce it the correct way? 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yeah, it's pronounced "Groningen." 
**Jenn Viemont: **Yeah. 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **It's with a very hard G, which is almost impossible to learn when you're a native English speaker.
**Jenn Viemont: **So is it okay if I call it Groningen? 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yeah, that's fine. That's fine. We're not so difficult about it. 
**Jenn Viemont: **So I first visited Groningen a couple of years ago when I was doing research about Beyond the States. And I didn't know a whole lot and I was trying to just learn about the differences between countries. And I'll never forget, I was sitting with your colleague, Judith, and we were having a cup of coffee in the academy building, which is this beautiful building right in the middle of Groningen, when she told me about non-selective enrollment. And I had her explain this to me so many times, she must have just thought I was an idiot, because I could not understand it. And it's a concept that took me a long time to wrap my brain around, and that a lot of Americans are having trouble understanding. So can you explain it to our listeners?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yeah. Well, basically, we don't really have a word for non-selective enrollment. We just have enrollment, and we have certain programs that have a selection procedure. But most of the programs, basically, the general rule is that if you have a high school diploma with four APs and a GPA of either 3.0 or 4.0, you are admissible to our programs. And there are no further things you have to do, there are no further rules besides the apparent rules of, for example, if you want to apply for the math or mathematics bachelor program, you need to have an AP in mathematics.
**Jenn Viemont: **So four AP courses. I think it's a score of 3 or higher and a 3.0 GPA, and that's all?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yes. Of course, we are a top 100 university so our quality of education is quite high, so there is a catch. And the catch is called the Binding Study Advice. And this is a very important thing that Americans and international students should understand, is that we basically do our selection during the first year. So the philosophy is that it's compared to American universities where it's very hard to get into the first year because they look at your grades and your achievements and your extracurricular achievements. With us, it's relatively easy to get into our program, but that first year is really tough. 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **And the way it works is that you can get 60 credits by doing exams, the year is divided in four blocks. So each block of seven weeks, you get classes, and then you get two weeks where you do your exams, and do a total of 60 credits in a year. The important thing to remember is that a student has to achieve 45 credits or more in that first year, or else, they will get a so-called negative binding study advice, which is basically legal speak for that you can't continue the program. And then you are kicked out of that program, and then you can't apply for that program for the next two years. 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **So that is the way we do it. And the reasoning behind it, or at least the way I always explain it, is that students all get a chance to study at our university, or at a university in the Netherlands. And the philosophy is that they can do that, but in the first year they have to show that they are capable of doing so. So that's the reason why the entry requirements are different.
**Jenn Viemont: **So that's really cool to me. First of all, it's cool to me because I think of so many high school kids who don't want to play the admission game, you know, who don't want to join clubs that don't matter to them. Or maybe they just struggled, they took a little bit of time, it took them until junior or senior year to figure out how to, you know, manage their time or that school mattered. I mean, junior year, you're just 16 years old. I think that's really cool. But I do have a couple of questions about Binding Study Advice. Do they have to have a certain grade or is it passing the test?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Basically, you do exams that can either be pass or fail, or you get a grade. If you get -- in general, it can depend a bit on the program and the professor. But in general, if you get a 5.5, 55% basically, then it's a pass.
**Jenn Viemont: **And if you pass, that's all you need for Binding Study Advice after the first... 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yes, because after they pass and get their 45 credits, they stay in the program. And then in the second year, the Binding Study Advice doesn't count anymore. So it's really that first year that is important.
**Maarten Dikhoff: **So let me ask you this, because some people might be listening to this thinking, Oh no, you know, does that mean that I'll be kicked out after the first year, or my child will be kicked out after the first year? So let's pretend that a student takes her first round of exams. That's probably what, like around Christmas time?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yeah. Usually around the beginning of December, yeah.
**Jenn Viemont: **Do you have kind of study advisors or anything that are looking at these grades? How about these students who are sort of struggling after their first year?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yeah. That's the nice thing about the system that we have, is that you don't have exams at the end of the year where you have to do everything at once and then know if you passed or failed. Basically, with us, it's four times per year, so four blocks. And what happens is that when students do their first exams at the beginning of December and start failing already, the study advisors will notice, because they have a system where all the grades are kept. And they will notice and they will contact the students and offer support to help them write the study plan, help them write or help them with studying, give them tips, or they can do additional courses in mathematics or statistics, if needed. So there is a very good support system for our students because it's also important to us that our students perform well.
**Maarten Dikhoff: **That's awesome. So I know you've said you don't call it non-selective enrollment, but that's what I call it, for lack of a better word. But then there's also selective enrollment. So are these programs that you have that are selective enrollment, are they better, and that's why they're selective enrollment?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **No. All our programs are excellent. There is no difference in quality between non-selective programs or selective programs. The reason why there are -- that some programs are selective is because there's a very high demand for it and they're very popular, and we simply don't have enough professors to teach everybody who wants to do these programs. So in our case, the selective programs are psychology -- it's all bachelor programs. So it's psychology, international relations and the two medicine programs.
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Correct me if I'm wrong, but the selective enrollment, they just add other things. It's not like for a selective enrollment program, that you then need 10 APs. It's that you have to have a motivation letter, correct?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Well, for the medicine program, of course, it's a different story. They might need APs in chemistry, biology, mathematics and physics. But in general, for example, for the International Relations program, there is an additional part where you have to fill out a motivation form, which you can do online, which is also not the same as you are used to in the US where it's like a personal statement describing all your wonderful extracurricular things that you did. 
**Jenn Viemont: **The deepest, darkest emotions. 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yes, yes. Yeah. Exactly. 
**Jenn Viemont: **You don't care about their emotion, huh?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **We don't care about that, no. 
**Jenn Viemont: **And the master's degree programs, they look towards more of the subjective things too, right? Like a reference letter and a motivation letter?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yeah. For the master's programs, it's important that you have a bachelor's degree in -- I always call it "linear master's," which basically means that if you want to, for example, do a bachelor's or a master's degree in psychology, you need to have a bachelor's degree in psychology or related fields.
**Jenn Viemont: **So I can't have a bachelor's in like international relations, and then go for a master's in psychology?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **No. That's not possible. You could maybe do -- have a bachelor's in international relations and do a master's program in international law, for example. **Jenn Viemont: **Right. 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **There's a certain overlap. But for -- let's say you have a bachelor degree in literature, it is impossible to do a master's degree in psychology.
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Let's talk about those more subjective factors. What I love about the non-selective enrollment is that it's completely objective; 3.0 GPA, four APS with 3 or higher. And then the selective enrollment, they do have these more subjective factors like a reference letter and a motivation letter. And I can tell you, our listeners are going to be stressed about how that's assessed. You know, kind of what are you looking for so they can do it. How are those assessed in the admission process?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **It's hard to assess a motivation. So it's basically, what we are looking for when you write a motivation letter is we are looking for the ideal student for this program. So what we are looking for is a student who knows what the program is about, who has an understanding of what the program is, and explains to us why he should be the student that should be in our program. That's basically the motivation that we are looking for. And like...
**Jenn Viemont: **You're looking for fit? Because it sounds like you're looking for a student who's a good fit for the program, and the program is a good fit for the student. Is that correct? 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yeah, exactly. 
**Jenn Viemont: **I've been doing rapid fires for our podcast. So I thought what we'd do for our rapid fire today is I'll go through a list of factors that matter in the US admissions process, and you can say matters or doesn't matter in terms of if it matters in your admissions department. Okay?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Yes.
**Jenn Viemont: **So let's say the applicant has a 25 on their ACT?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Doesn't matter.
**Jenn Viemont: **The applicant has a 35 on their ACT?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Doesn't matter. 
**Jenn Viemont: **The applicant was president of five clubs?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **We don't care.
**Jenn Viemont: **The applicant was active in sports?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Doesn't matter. 
**Jenn Viemont: **The applicant was in no clubs and enjoys playing video games in their spare time?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Doesn't matter. 
**Jenn Viemont: **The applicant has 10 AP classes?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **We would love to have him as a student, but it doesn't matter. 
**Jenn Viemont: **An applicant for a graduate program has a perfect GPA?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Doesn't matter. 
**Jenn Viemont: **An applicant has poor GMAT or GRE scores?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Depends on the program they are applying for. We have some programs like in the Faculty of Economics, for example, where it is important to have a GMAT or a GRE score if you are not in a university that is one of our partners. So for all non-EU students who want to study a master's at our Faculty of Economics and Business have to have a GMAT or a GRE score. For the rest of the programs, it doesn't matter.
**Jenn Viemont: **This is just so crazy to me. As a top 100 school, I cannot imagine a top 100 school in the US that doesn't matter about your ACT scores, or how many clubs you were in. It's just so refreshing, I can't even tell you. I think what people really need to understand is that in Europe -- here, people see selectivity rates as an indicator of quality of education. If the school is hard to get into, it must be a better education. And you see that, you see selectivity rate is often -- when schools are written up, you see the selectivity rate, I can't tell you...
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Right. The higher the tuition fees are, the better the school. Yeah. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely! You pay more and it's hard to get in, it must be better. Which isn't the case, as we know. We're doing some episodes about the quality of education. So it's so great to have this that you can be a strong student and get a good education that's also affordable. It's just one of the greatest things I've ever heard.
**Maarten Dikhoff: **In a country where everybody basically speaks English, although with a funny accent.
**Maarten Dikhoff: **So I'm going to tell you a little bit about how this has played out in my own house. And I want to hear what you think on this. So you know, we've talked about my son Sam, he is entering his junior year. And last year, his sophomore year, he took one AP course and he got a 3. He's going to take two his junior year, and he's going to take one his senior year. Other than his graduation requirements, his other classes are made up of courses he's interested in. He's not taking the ones that he thinks that colleges will look highly on. He's just taking the ones he's interested in. In order to make sure his options are open, he will take the SAT or ACT. He did okay on his -- whatever that pre-ACT class test is called. So we're not going to do any of these prep courses that so many people do. I'll probably buy him a book and he won't crack it. But you know, that's life. 
**Jenn Viemont: **But really, what I find most important is that Sam's able to explore his interests and he can try things out without feeling like he needs to make them a hobby or a commitment for college admissions department. So last year, he did a two week kayaking trip on the Outer Banks. And this summer, he did two weeks hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains. And I have to tell you, his laundry was so disgusting. I felt like I needed a hazmat suit for that. But anyway, other than the laundry, the growth he had on these trips was really remarkable, and there was a huge value for him not having electronics for those weeks too. It wouldn't be so quantifiable on college applications though, but that didn't matter. 
**Jenn Viemont: **He's also pursuing Arabic on his own. Our school district only offered it for one year. So now he's doing it himself. That's not going to be on his transcripts, but it's a goal that's important to him, as opposed to one that's being forced on him by the admissions process. So he has a life that allows him to explore his interests, spend way too much time playing video games, spend time with his friends, get a job, have family dinners, travel and get enough sleep, at least when I take his phone away at night. And that's really what I feel like the teen years should be about. 
**Jenn Viemont: **So Maarten, given the description of how he's choosing his courses and how he's spending his time, assuming he has a 3.0 GPA, which he should and the four AP courses, would these choices we're making reduce his chance of being admitted to your school? 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **No.
**Jenn Viemont: **No? I mean, guys, this is crazy. This could be your life too. And that's what I think is so incredible. And again, what are your tuition ranges for non-EU students?
**Maarten Dikhoff: **It depends a bit on the program, but it's somewhere between let's say -- I have to convert it to dollars. So that's around between $8,500 per year to around $12,000 for most of the programs, except for medicine, which is more expensive.
**Jenn Viemont: **Certainly, certainly. 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **So it's $8,000 to $13,000 I'd say per year. 
**Jenn Viemont: **And guys, what's incredible further is that these are, like we talked about last week, these bachelor's programs are three years. So let's even go at the middle of that and say $10,000 a year, you're looking at $30,000 for your entire degree, which is dramatically less than one year tuition at many out-of-state and private universities in the US. It's just crazy to me. 
**Jenn Viemont: **So Maarten, thanks so much for being here today. We're going to have information about the English top programs in Groningen on our show notes. We also have a number of blogs with more information about the school and the city. You can find those on our website. I really feel like you've given encouragement to a lot of families and students about the accessibility of these great English-taught options throughout Europe, and especially at Groningen University. Thanks so much for being here. 
**Maarten Dikhoff: **Thank you. 
**Jenn Viemont: **There are a couple of big takeaways tonight. The first is that schools in Europe don't use admissions rates for selectivity as an indicator of well, anything. The reputation of the school is not linked to how selective it is. The other thing to remind yourself is that you have a way to opt out of this process in the US if you want it. You can have an affordable, high quality education in Europe without all the hoops to jump through that you have here. 
** **So future episodes on our podcast are going to cover topics like how studying in Europe helps your employment prospects, how to assess quality beyond global rankings. We'll talk about housing, student life, global citizenship, travel opportunities. We'll talk to American bachelor's and master's degree students about their experiences in Europe. We'll talk to some non-traditional students in Europe and we will cover the upcoming college visit trip I'm taking with Sam. I've been visiting schools for a couple of years now on my own, but this is going to be a really different experience as the mother of a prospective student. And Sam will also be talking to us about his experience visiting these schools. 
** **I'm also totally open to suggestions if there's a topic you'd like us to cover that's either about some of the issues with higher education here or the solutions with the English top programs in Europe. Or if there's a question you'd like us to answer on future episodes, please do just let us know. Thanks again for joining me today. 
Good news, we have put our next two sessions of the On Your Mark masterclass on the calendar. And this month's special offers 75% off. This class is one of our most popular offerings. It's a six week class for the students themselves where through video lessons, assignments and live group calls, they're guided through the process of finding the schools and programs in Europe that best fit their interests, their goals, their preferences, their qualifications, their budget, all of that.
** **It's especially powerful because they are the ones taking the reins of the process as opposed to the parents, and they become the experts. The other cool thing is that they're taking this class with a group of students from around the country who are also exploring these outside of the box options. And since they probably don't know anyone from their school or community looking outside of the US, having this community is really incredible. In fact, two of our members who took this class a few years ago are now sharing an apartment in Europe. We have a summer session in June and a fall session in October and we'll put the full information, the link for the full information, dates, times, other logistics in our show notes, or you can go to beyondthestates.com/monthly special.

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How Kyle, a US Student, Turned the Challenge of College in the Netherlands into an Amazing Experience

Deciding to leave everything behind and move to Europe took every ounce of courage I had, but it has been the best decision I’ve ever made. Below, I’ll walk you through the basics for my study program.

Hi, I’m Kyle, I’m from Kennett Square, PA, and currently live in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where I study International Business at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (RUAS). As someone who lived in the United States my whole life, deciding to leave everything behind and move to Europe took every ounce of courage I had, but it has been the best decision I’ve ever made. Below, I’ll walk you through the basics for my study program.
At RUAS, commonly referred to as Hogeschool Rotterdam, students in the IB (International Business) program have the opportunity to study two separate learning lines: the Business and Personal and Academic Skills (PAS) learning lines. This entails a portion of your classes involving all aspects of business, from finance, to accounting to marketing and more. On the other learning line, you can take classes such as intercultural competency and critical thinking. What I enjoy about this method of learning is that each class, regardless of which learning line they’re part of, tie into each other, and your final projects tend to incorporate everything you learned in the block.
This brings me to my next point: the block schedule. In the US, many universities operate on a semester system. While this allows more time to become comfortable with the material you’re learning, you have much more to study when it comes time for exams. At RUAS, we operate with 4 blocks, with a week break in-between the blocks (who doesn’t like extra time off?). I enjoy this form of study because I know that I have 7/8 weeks of hard work ahead, and that after that period, I have some down time to enjoy my hobbies outside of school before diving back into a new group of interesting classes.
My favorite class so far might have been Intercultural Competency (IC). IC is a class that gives students a way to be more open minded about other cultures outside of their own (if you’re unsure about school in Europe, this class would surely make you excited about the prospect). They teach students the 6 steps of becoming interculturally competent, meaning that students who were at one point closed off to other cultures and their ideals, slowly but surely can shift to become people excited about traveling the world and experiencing everything it offers.
At my university, we have both normal classes and lectures. These lectures are small groups of 25 students learning as a class with a teacher who makes the content easy to understand. Being in a small group like this is much more favorable as the teacher is there to help people individually. These are weekly, depending on the class, and cover most of the content you need for your end of block exams. Additionally, you also have regular classes (similar group size and the same content). These classes are used for you and your group mates to work on the all-encompassing group projects that are also due at the end of the block. I enjoy this setup because if you use your class time wisely, you can get your project done easily and this allows you to allocate your last week or two of the block studying for your exams.
University is challenging no matter where you are, but I strongly encourage everyone considering school in Europe to take a chance, and to be challenged in a new environment like the Netherlands.

Hi, I’m Kyle, I’m from Kennett Square, PA, and currently live in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where I study International Business at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (RUAS). As someone who lived in the United States my whole life, deciding to leave everything behind and move to Europe took every ounce of courage I had, but it has been the best decision I’ve ever made. Below, I’ll walk you through the basics for my study program.
At RUAS, commonly referred to as Hogeschool Rotterdam, students in the IB (International Business) program have the opportunity to study two separate learning lines: the Business and Personal and Academic Skills (PAS) learning lines. This entails a portion of your classes involving all aspects of business, from finance, to accounting to marketing and more. On the other learning line, you can take classes such as intercultural competency and critical thinking. What I enjoy about this method of learning is that each class, regardless of which learning line they’re part of, tie into each other, and your final projects tend to incorporate everything you learned in the block.
This brings me to my next point: the block schedule. In the US, many universities operate on a semester system. While this allows more time to become comfortable with the material you’re learning, you have much more to study when it comes time for exams. At RUAS, we operate with 4 blocks, with a week break in-between the blocks (who doesn’t like extra time off?). I enjoy this form of study because I know that I have 7/8 weeks of hard work ahead, and that after that period, I have some down time to enjoy my hobbies outside of school before diving back into a new group of interesting classes.
My favorite class so far might have been Intercultural Competency (IC). IC is a class that gives students a way to be more open minded about other cultures outside of their own (if you’re unsure about school in Europe, this class would surely make you excited about the prospect). They teach students the 6 steps of becoming interculturally competent, meaning that students who were at one point closed off to other cultures and their ideals, slowly but surely can shift to become people excited about traveling the world and experiencing everything it offers.
At my university, we have both normal classes and lectures. These lectures are small groups of 25 students learning as a class with a teacher who makes the content easy to understand. Being in a small group like this is much more favorable as the teacher is there to help people individually. These are weekly, depending on the class, and cover most of the content you need for your end of block exams. Additionally, you also have regular classes (similar group size and the same content). These classes are used for you and your group mates to work on the all-encompassing group projects that are also due at the end of the block. I enjoy this setup because if you use your class time wisely, you can get your project done easily and this allows you to allocate your last week or two of the block studying for your exams.
University is challenging no matter where you are, but I strongly encourage everyone considering school in Europe to take a chance, and to be challenged in a new environment like the Netherlands.

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Life Before, During, and After College, and Does America Have a Top Tier Educational System?

There are some incredible university choices all around the world, including in the US. However, there is a widespread belief that the US higher education system is the best in the world. Jenn summarizes specific studies that debunk this belief.

There are some incredible university choices all around the world, including in the US. However, there is a widespread belief that the US higher education system is the best in the world. Jenn summarizes specific studies that debunk this belief.
Later in the episode, Jenn and her guest discuss other aspects of studying and students’ lives before, during, and after college. Jenn has a conversation with Jeffrey Selingo, the best-selling author of numerous useful books about higher education. Jeff shares some interesting points and situations he faced while collecting and researching data in this field for more than two decades.

“Life is not a straight line. There are going to be failures. Learn from people that you can identify with.”, Jeffrey Selingo

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: **So when I started Beyond the States, I devoured every book and every study I could get my hands on about issues in higher education. In fact, that's actually how I learned about our guest today, is he authored two of my favorites. He wrote, There is Life After College. And he also wrote Who Gets in and Why. So it was through reading his books, and also other books that we'll have in our show notes that I learned more about the problems with the US higher education system. 
Now, I want to start by telling you that I'm not here to slam the US system. I think there are some incredible choices out there all around the world, including the US. And as you know, my daughter has actually chosen to go this route as well. But I can't tell you how often I see comments on social media, about how the US higher education system is the best in the world. I've talked before about how problematic I think this tendency to assign everything in a better than or worse than category is. And it's actually something I tend to see more here in the US than other places in the world. So I think it's important that we look at some of the facts around this.
I've talked a lot about issues with ranking. So I'm not going to spend too much time on that situation in this episode. But I will say that if you're interested, Malcolm Gladwell has an excellent series on his podcast where they uncover the algorithm used by US News and they look at the problems with it. Also, Frank Bruni's book, Where You Go is Not Who You'll Be, has an excellent chapter on the issues with the rankings. 
What I'd like to touch on today, though, are the findings about the educational experience for students once they get on campus. So there was a study done that's cited in just about every book I've read on the topic. It's called Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on Campus. And so this study looked at 2300 students at 24 universities, and they looked at critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing gains over their time in college. 45% of them did not show any significant improvements in the first three years. And a third of them showed no improvement in critical thinking skills after four years. Additionally, more than a third of the students in the study studied less than five hours per week, and half of them said there was not a single class where they ever wrote more than 20 pages. It's just really incredible to me. 
So there's also this related study that I learned about in the book called Fail You. And the study is called Leisure College USA, the decline in student’s study time. So, and they found that students now studied less than half as much as universities claimed to require and that this decline was across the board, every major and every type of four year college, no matter what the selectivity was.
Then there was also this study from 2015. I talked about this one a lot. It was a study done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, they found that US college graduates with a four year bachelor's degree scored below their counterparts in 19 of the 21 participating countries. So there was only Poland and Spain lower than Americans with bachelor's degrees. 
What's even more disturbing is that students from the top three countries, Finland, Japan, and the Netherlands, their high school graduates scored the same as our college graduates. So why is this happening? I think they're well, there are a ton of reasons, but let's look at a few potential ones. 
First of all, rankings don't take into account learning on campus. There's a measure that assesses this called the Nessie that universities all around the countries use. But most schools won't make this information public. So US News couldn't use this as part of their rankings, even if they wanted to. 
There's also this study that the Journal of higher education did, I read about it in something called The Faculty Lounges. And they found that the more time a college professor spends teaching, the less he or she gets paid. And this is in both big research universities. And in small liberal arts colleges. They're incentivized to do research and publications as opposed to teaching. So there's this great description of it in this book called Losing our Minds and they say, “intoxicated by magazine and college guide rankings, most colleges and universities have lost track of learning and the only educational outcome that matters. Other priorities, higher rankings, growing enrollment, winning teams, bigger and better facilities, more revenue from sideline businesses, more research grants, have replaced learning as a primary touchstone for decision making. I mean, I just think that that I mean, that's so spot on. 
And then the other issue, I believe, is that the education model is really not being updated in this country like it is in other countries. Denmark, for instance, started allowing students to have internet access during their national exams. Because in life you have internet access. The content knowledge isn't what they wanted to assess. And the content knowledge is still really being emphasized in the US. 
The issue is that knowledge, it either becomes obsolete, or it could easily be found. So it's more about how to think and what to do with the knowledge that matters. And this is actually the problem that our graduates are having, they aren't developing the critical thinking and the soft skills that employers are looking for. In fact, there was a 2018 survey of more than 650 employers. And they found that three quarters of these employers say that they have a hard time finding graduates with the soft skills their company needs. 
There was also an interesting Gallup Survey done. And it showed that only 9% of the business leaders considered where an applicant went to school as very important. But a third of Americans had a belief that the school attended was very important in the hiring decisions. So, a real big disconnect there.
And then lastly, there was this really cool study I read about, in Frank Bruni's book Where You Go is Not Who You'll Be. And so, what this study did is it looked at the earnings, the difference in earnings between graduates of selective and less selective universities. And so their initial finding was, yes, there is a 7% difference in earnings between those graduates from selective and less selective universities, even if the students had the same SATs and GPAs. However, now this is a cool part, they dug deeper. And for the group of students at less selective schools, they segmented the ones who had applied to more exclusive or selective programs but not attended. And that, when they did that, the earning difference disappeared. So it's not about whether these students even got into the more selective school, much less attended it is that they applied there. This suggests that it's more about the traits of a student who applies to more selective schools, be it confidence or something else. Now, this was examining students who went to school in 1989. And the admissions process was much different then. So I don't know that the outcome would be the same now, you know, students now are encouraged to apply to schools that they would never get into, by the schools in fact. In order to gain the selectivity factors, and of course, the common app makes applying to multiple schools super easy. 
While they may have to figure out different ways to segment the group, or different variables to control, I do think that that outcome would also hold true today. So why are we so resistant to accepting this information? For one? I think it's because it's such a different experience than parents my age and older had in college. The system started changing quite a bit after we graduated. And we tend to base our judgments on the experience we had rather than the current reality, but our experience is outdated. I think the other reason is that so many people don't see real alternatives. And so since you feel like you have to participate in this incredibly expensive system, it's natural to want to turn a blind eye to the problems. But it's kind of a great thing. 
I mean, the fact is, that a key problem is that people are assigning importance to the school name, when success is really about the traits that the student has, and what they make of their educational experience no matter where it is. So if we spend more time cultivating these important traits in our kids, they're going to find success. They might not get into the most selective universities in the US, but they'll find it wherever they land, be it in the US, in Europe, or elsewhere in the world. So let's take a quick break, and then we'll come back with our guests.
**Testimonial: **My name is Tamara, I am from Florida, and I'm in my first year at the Burgundy School of Business in France, and I found my university from the Beyond the State's database and membership. I've always been interested in studying abroad or foreign exchange programs, but I always felt like I never had that opportunity as it was always perceived to be unaffordable. No one I knew or any of my educational advisors understood this process and lacked knowledge on how to make this a possibility. Through my beyond the state's membership. I learned everything I could about how to study abroad. I was actually provided resources and connections to make this process achievable. I found B on the state's through a Tikotok video, and was convinced to invest in the monthly membership plan. And that decision alone changed my life. Through the Q&As, monthly university and country updates, and the Facebook group chat, I've not only been able to get this opportunity to study abroad, but also make some amazing friends who are studying in Europe as well. If you're even slightly interested in studying abroad, I suggest you check out Beyond the States to get started. The free blogs and interest quiz will be enough to make you desire this opportunity and the database access will leave you with no regrets. Check the show notes for details in the link or go to the Services Page on beyondthestates.com.
**Jenn Viemont: **So today I'm talking to Jeff Selingo, who's been writing about higher education for more than two decades. He's the New York Times Bestselling Author of College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students. Also, there's Life After College: What Parents and Students Should Know about Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow. And his latest book was a big favorite of mine. Who Gets in and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions. 
He's a strategic adviser on the future of learning and work, a college admissions and early career expert, contributor to the Atlantic and other publications, and co-hosts a future You Podcast, which features thought leaders in discussion on what's next in higher education. Wow! you're busy. That’s a lot. 
I have to tell you, I was rereading your books. I read them, your two latest ones when they came out. And I was rereading them in preparation for this. And when I first read them, I didn't think I would have any kids. My kids are my son's in college. My daughter's a senior in high school. And I didn't think either of them would be following the college in US Route. So I kind of read them smugly like, Oh, we're dodging this bullet. And as I read them this time, my daughter has recently announced that she would like to consider going to schools in the US as well. She decided this her senior year, when she had not been playing the US admission game. So I was reading Who Gets in and Why, kind of feeling a mix of nausea and anxiety knowing that this is now what we're going through. And I was just shocked by the stories. Like the girl with a 1310 SAT and eight APS who was rejected in three minutes due to her mid year C and AP environmental science. Or the student who worked 20 hours a week, had a 3.7 GPA, 1400 SATs, seven APs, and a recent diagnosis of diabetes, and was rejected to the four Bs he had in sophomore in junior year. So I can't imagine sitting there and watching all this. And I have to hear what it was like listening to these discussions and watching these decisions being made.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **So it was really fascinating. I mean, it's really just kind of it was a fly on the wall of something that you would like to be in the room where it happened. And I was able to be there. And what was interesting to me was I was a little concerned that because I was in the room, you know whether it was in committee, or at a place like Emory, where they had a set of two readers read the application at the same time, that my presence would actually be disruptive, right that it would change the conversation. And maybe in the first couple of minutes it did. IT was something different, that I was in the room. But after a while they had work to do. And they kind of settled into their normal way of doing business. And thus they kind of almost forgot I was there watching all this, reading along with them. So, I was really lucky because it's interesting right now. I'm actually going back into the process, just to see how things change during COVID. And they're doing a lot of this by Zoom now. And it's just not as good as being in that room where, you know, there's a level of emotion was on display where you know, they're constantly eating, you know, their snacks and everything else. It's just different on Zoom.
**Jenn Viemont: **Yeah, I would imagine so. Also your presence, I guess on Zoom is also more you're on that screen there. So it's more noticeable. What would you say was the most disturbing or surprising aspect of the admissions process you found when you were in those rooms?
**Jeffrey Selingo: **The most disturbing part of it was that, and I guess disturbing might be too strong of a word, but the students put so much time, effort, and energy into this. And that a lot of what it comes down to by the way is stuff that happened to them before they ever started even putting their application together, before they even started the college search. As I mentioned many times in the book, the number one piece of information or the two pieces of information that have a lot to do with whether you get in and why, are your high school grades and your high school transcripts. Did you take those tough classes? Did you get good grades in them? 
Well, a lot of that is set in stone many, many years earlier, what you take in middle school depends on what you take in high school. Obviously what you take freshman sophomore year depends on what you do junior year, and you can't erase the grades of freshman year and sophomore year once you decide to apply for college, your junior year. So that was probably the most disturbing, is that I think that students think they have all this control over the process. But there's so much that happens before they even start thinking about college that impacts it. 
The most surprising thing to me was just the breadth and depth of these applicant pools. We're talking 25,000 high schools in the US. You know,a place like Emory got applications from 8000 different high schools. So while students might think they're great at their high school, right, that their ranked pretty high up in their high school, the fact of the matter is, then they're competing against these pools of students from high schools all across the country, and increasingly around the world. And I don't say that to raise the anxiety level of students, but I say it to know, kind of almost as a reality check. So that they know, to look beyond that list of 10 or 12 colleges.
**Jenn Viemont: **For me, I think the most disturbing part was the how much demonstrated interest weighed in the process or in the decision. You know, you can almost understand the rationale behind the transcripts and all of that playing such a big factor. But demonstrated interest, I just don't even understand how that would kind of factor into whether the student would be successful at that university or not. Blew my mind.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Yeah, and it has nothing to do with as I point out early on in the book, college admissions is not about you, the student, it is about the institution and its priorities. And one of the priorities is for some institutions, that students they accept actually show up. They want their yield rate, which is the percentage of students who come who have been accepted. They want that to be as high as possible. And the way they determine whether that will be high, is to get some students, to accept students who they know will likely come if accepted.
**Jenn Viemont: **So a theme in both of your books that really spoke to me is you talk about how success in college is about how you go, not just where you go. Can you speak to that a little bit? Yeah, I mean, I think that
**Jeffrey Selingo: **We put so much effort into training admissions as a game. Hoops to jump through. And one of the hoops is just getting in. But then we spend very little time thinking about what we're going to do with this opportunity. Four years of college. And I think that many students go to college, kind of as spectators to their education and don't really think about how they're going to take advantage of the opportunities once there. How are they going to meet people, how are they going to get to know professors, find mentors? What's their major going to be, and why? And what kind of classes are they going to take? How are they getting engaged in this great experience, that they just spent a lot of time, money, and effort to get into. It is fascinating to me how much time, effort, and energy we spend getting in, but don't really spend a lot of time particularly in those moments. 
So think about all those students right now, who applied early decision and already know that they got in or you might know, usually, you know, by March or April, and usually by May 1, where you're going. And then you have what, four or five months before you actually show up on campus. Great time to start to think about, well, what do I want to do now with this opportunity? What do I want to what do I want to take advantage of and those are the opportunities, again, that the professors you get to know the internships you have, the clubs you participate in the classes you take, those are all the things that ultimately lead to success after college more than just the name on the on the degree.
**Jenn Viemont: **You know, and it's interesting, it seems like even if students started thinking about this before junior year, for instance, it might help them narrow down their search and decide what it is they're looking for. Instead of just, I want to go to an IVR. But to go, my daughter has a friend who applied to 17 schools. So I thought, 17 schools? Like what is it about each of these schools that fits what you're looking for? And I don't know that she could answer that. 
You know, because it's so much about names have given. Your books do a great job of citing research about how it's not, you know, this name recognition is not what people think it is. And there's study, after study, after study about this. Given the evidence to the contrary, why do you think people are so resistant to changing this belief that you know, the big name, whether it's an Ivy League, or whether it's that, you know, their state flagship school, but that their child's success is dependent on going to a particular school?
**Jeffrey Selingo: **I think that we tend to think of elitism in the US as it would conflate it with selectivity. And really, when we think of these prestige, whether you want to call them elite, I don't love to use that word because they're elite by choice, prestigious, whether they are top ranked, and I tend to think we put too much emphasis on the ranking. They're prominent, no doubt about that. Whatever term you want to use, a lot of that is because they are selective, because they have decided as an institutional priority to make what they offer a scarce commodity. And they've decided we're only going to have 1800 seats in the freshman class, even though we're getting 50,000 applications for it. And any admissions officer will tell you, we could fill that class five or six times over without any declining quality. So this has nothing to do with quality. There's definitely enough talent out there around the world to fill these classes, they just don't want to do it. 
**Jenn Viemont: **I really liked how you said that. That they've chosen to make it a scarce commodity. You know, in Europe, the admissions process is quite different, in that most schools don't have an enrollment cap. And so that doesn't mean they have these huge lectures, it means that they don't, because you're applying to a specific major, a specific program at a school, they have more spots than they have applicants. And too many times American students think oh, well, there's not that selectivity. And so it must be subpar. When these are, you know, again, I'm with you on rankings, and even more so on global rankings, I don't think they're important at all. But this is a case of highly globally ranked universities, it just doesn't have to be a scarce commodity. But many of these US schools make it such.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **And then they do, and that's how they become prestigious, and then it just feeds on itself. They get the research dollars, they get the donor money. They invest that in these endowments, in financial products that most people can invest in, they make even more money. Last year, for example, in the middle of a pandemic, these most prestigious institutions, because they're able to invest in hedge funds and other private equity funds that most colleges don't have access to, their returns were 65, 70%. They're already, you know, 10s of billions of dollars here. And they're making all this money.
**Jenn Viemont: **It just makes my skin crawl! So I think this leads to discussion of educational quality. So if we're not going to use the rankings, and we're not going to use selectivity rates, you know, I think so many times people look at those two things about educational quality. What beyond those things should students look for when they're trying to define educational quality or assess it?
**Jeffrey Selingo: **So I think really what they're looking for is, going back to what I said earlier about the experience, particularly the student experience, in terms of quality, you want to look at the outcomes. So do students graduate? Are they retained? You want to look at the retention rate, and the graduation rate? Are you going to be able to most students stay? And do they end up graduating? You want to look at the graduate outcomes. We now know this from the college scorecard. You can look at the salaries of students by major at your school. Salary is not the only outcome that you should look at. But it's definitely an important one, especially if you're going into debt to pay for school. 
But then there are these intangibles. And when I say intangibles, I mean things like faculty members, do they care about you? Will they be a mentor to you? Do they teach? Or is it mostly graduate students who are teaching you?Are your classes going to be small enough, where you get to know students? Is the place welcoming for somebody from your background? Those are the intangibles that I think because most of the educational experience, as we all know, happens, not only in the classroom, but it mostly happens outside the classroom. So is it a place where the student experience is going to be engaging enough that you're going to learn?
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely. And I think it's also that they're engaging to one student might not be engaging to another, you know, there's not just this one definition, I think students need to understand that quality for them, a great fit for them, doesn't mean it's a great fit for everybody, and that there's not just, you know, one right road that students should take.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Right. And I think that's important to know, right? I'm a big fan of the How I Built This podcast. You know, where they talk to entrepreneurs, a big company, you know, that now we're big companies, and how they got started. And there's a theme that goes through almost every single episode. In that there, everybody has false starts. Everybody takes detours, everybody has failures.
**Jenn Viemont: **So that's something you've talked a lot about in There's Life After College, and learning from mistakes and the importance of doing that. And you talk a lot about how US education is in preparing students for employment. And that's a reasonable expectation, you know, given the amount of tuition families are paying, it's reasonable to expect that students would graduate with the skills they need for employment. So what skills do you see that, have you learned that graduates are missing?
**Jeffrey Selingo: **It's mostly what we often refer to as the soft skills, although I hate that word. And it's things like being the ability to communicate, the ability to work in teams, the ability to problem solve. These are all critical thinking, these are all things that most employers want and are not necessarily getting in today's college graduates. And it's largely because I think, many students and parents are so focused on the hard skills, being able to program or being able to know how to do X, Y, or Z in this particular field, that they kind of forget that these other things are just as important.
I always tell this story. Many years ago, before the pandemic, I was having breakfast in Washington, and next to me at the table, with somebody who was being interviewed for a job. And at the end, they just started chatting about their backgrounds and education and so forth. And I'll never forget the interviewer. They're talking about college majors. And the interviewer said, who was a business major as an undergrad, which is the most popular college major said, If I had to do it all over again, I would be an English major, because writing is the most important skill in any job today. Really important.
**Jenn Viemont: **Wow, interesting. And I have to tell you, you know, my son is studying in Europe. And that has been what I've seen, he's really behind from his peers, you know, he went to a good public high school in the US here in Chapel Hill. And he had, you know, mostly A's, but he was just not prepared for the writing aspect and the writing demands of college in Europe. It's been a struggle.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Yeah. And I think that it's much more demanding than it is here in the US, right?
**Jenn Viemont: **Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And less hand holding. I think that's one reason why students, you know, the studies show that students who travel or who study outside of their home country, they are getting those soft skills, because they're learning to navigate unfamiliar circumstances in their day to day life. They're working in groups of people who have different backgrounds and different perspectives. And so they're gaining those skills. And it really does help with employability, which is nice.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Yeah, and I think that's increasingly important. Because there's a lot of these soft skills you don't learn in the classroom, you don't learn through a curriculum, you learn kind of in the day to day living in college. And that is the part of the problem, I think, in American higher education today is that there is a lot of hand holding. And as a result of that hand holding, they're not learning these critical skills. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Right, right. And sort of the life in a bubble aspect of it, too. You know, when you're on campus for four years, you're not finding many unfamiliar circumstances and situations to navigate your way through.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **No, you're not. And many students don't work, outside of, you know, outside of college, in the workforce these days, unlike generations ago, which is a place where you would learn to get along with people of different ages, you will learn to show up on time, you would learn these critical communication and problem solving skills. They don't do that anymore. That was a great place to learn of those soft skills. And again, we're not really exercising those muscles in college either. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Right, right. So you talk about these other roads to take, you know, be it travel or a gap year, or Minerva, which is really interesting and other experiences that students can pursue after high school as opposed to going straight to college. What impact can these experiences have on students, whether it's academic life or soft skills, or the like?
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Well, I think for a lot of students, they need to take a break. I think that we're seeing this during the pandemic, that there's no special sauce that says, a student has to graduate from high school, go right into college, three months later, graduate four years later and go into the workforce. That's really a relic of a different era, by the way, when very, lot fewer students even went to college, you know, speaking of, you know, post world war two generation. And remember, the post world war two generation was coming back from a war where they had really matured in a way that today's students are not. And so I'm a big fan of slowing it down. A little bad. Coming out of high school, big fan of the taking a year off, and I shouldn't say a year off, because you're actually doing something during that time. And really kind of learning about yourself catching up on maybe academic work that you got behind on and in high school, trying to get a sense of what you really want out of college, particularly since college is so expensive. You can also take that time during college and after college, take it all three. I understand, given the expense of raising children, parents really want their children to get on with their life as quickly as possible. But in the long run, you actually might be better off slowing it down because you won't be supporting them when they're 40. Instead, you might be supporting them through 25.6
**Jenn Viemont: **You know that time could be used to develop passions as well. I recently spoke with William Dershowitz for the podcast who wrote excellent sheep and talked about how the admissions process. What he's seen is it really prevents students from learning what they're passionate about. And how do you make a plan if you don't know your passions, how do you follow your passion if you don't have it? So they could take that year and find their passion. It also might prevent extra years in college for students or switching majors as they're, you know, trying on different passions then as opposed to before college.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Yeah, I mean, I think that, first of all, this word passion worries me because I think it leads to the idea that students have a passion or need to find a passion. You know, I'm 25 years after college, and I have some passions, but I'm not quite sure I found my passion. I don't think most people have. And so I think we put a lot of pressure on students to find something that they really want to do at the age of 18. And I think most students don't know it.
**Jenn Viemont: **Interesting. I like that. So maybe we just call it, instead of passion, you know, strong interests. And that it doesn't have to be what they want to do with their career, but to have strong interests that they can then follow in some way, shape or form, can lead them to what they may want to do in their life.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Yeah, and I think that's incredibly important that they get more exposure to jobs, to careers, to people. This is why I'm a big fan of trying to figure out how do we connect people and young adults at the age of 18, 20, 22, with people who have just been through a variety of careers in a variety of life situations. I have a 10 year old and a 12 year old at home. And I mentioned earlier that I am a big fan of the How I Built This Podcast, and we just listened to it in the car on the way to school. And I usually pick those, the episodes where they have a product that they get, right, so we've been listening to the one about Stacey chips right now because they eat Stacy's chips, right? But one thing I want them to learn is that, you know, life is not a straight line, that there's going to be these failures. Learn from people that they now could identify with, in some small way. And that's really what I would hope that we would get more high school again, we're just not getting high school students, young adults in college are just not getting exposure to jobs and to people like this.
**Jenn Viemont: **So how can we? That's a really great point. And I think about it, the jobs that are available to them, are not jobs that many of their parents are active in. I mean, the job force is much different now than when I graduated from college and their careers I've never heard of, you know, I wouldn't even be able to begin to educate my kids on how, how can we expose them to these careers outside of what they know from their family and family? Friends?
**Jeffrey Selingo: **I think that we need to really help them understand what the different jobs are. I think again, exposure, could you even if they don't have exposure in their own home, own college? Could we try to get them to shadow jobs? That maybe you know, somewhere else? I think we put a lot of emphasis on internships. I'm less interested in internships, particularly for college freshmen or even high school students. But could they just get into the workforce and shadow somebody? I think that's one way. I think things like, as I was saying about the How I Built This Podcast, other things where people are talking about their jobs, I think this is a really good public service that many employers could provide. Where you just interview your employees about a day in the life, what is it like to be a sales manager, you know, what is it like to be an analyst, or whatever jobs. And particularly, by the way, not just that we hear a lot of stories about how CEOs made it to where they are. I’m less interested in the C suite, and I'm more interested in the vast majority of jobs that most of these students are going to take one day.
**Jenn Viemont: **That's really interesting. And you're right, it's definitely sort of a gap in what we're teaching our teenagers these days. That's gonna give me some food for thought to think about that. So other than exposure to different jobs, what advice would you give parents of teenagers, as it pertains to helping them decide what they're going to do right after college, whether right after high school, whether that's college, they're going to apply to, whether it's these other opportunities they're going to seek? What would you tell parents?
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Well, I think first, the first thing I would tell them is have patience. And don't pressure your students into, for example, if they don't want to go to college, immediately don't pressure them into it. The research shows for example, which I find very interesting, that students who take a gap year graduate at the same rate as students who don't. So it's not like you're actually putting them behind by having them take a gap year, or allowing them to take a gap year and in fact, we also know that they go to college much more mature. We know this from the research. The other thing is to give them a lot of exposure, as much as you can, to jobs and to colleges as much as possible. Again, the more that parents say, well I, you know, you need to look at these types of colleges because they're in the top 50 of the rankings or whatever the more pressure you're putting on those students.
**Jenn Viemont: **It's interesting, I had to kind of practice what I preach recently with my daughter. Because I often tell parents the opposite. You know, if your kid comes to you and says you're interested in college in Europe, let's explore it. Here, I can help you. I can tell you, you know, research on it. I can tell you statistics on it. It doesn't mean they're committing to it, but keep your field open. You know, don't close off doors before you've explored them. And that's what I had to do myself, with my daughter, when she tells me, you know, just driving along, you know. Even though she's gotten into the school in Ireland already, you know, she'd really like to look at schools in the US. And it's been hard to follow her lead, but I think it’s important when kids are showing some sort of initiative and interest to let them follow that road, you know, certainly with limits or limits for around tuition, you know? But yeah, to explore, because this is their path, ultimately, it's their path, and they'll be the ones following it. So it's hard, though, as a parent, I have to say,
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Yes, I agree. I think that parents have their vision of what colleges, and I think that they feel that. Especially if they went to college, and they went to a particular college, I think a lot of parents put pressure on their kids to do something very similar.
**Jenn Viemont: **So I have to tell you something you said at the beginning of this has me really interested. You said you're doing some follow up work on looking at admissions and how it's changed with COVID. Are you working on a book, on an article?
**Jeffrey Selingo: **So, I'm working on the paperback edition of the book, which will probably come out like late or sometime in 2022, maybe 2023. And so I really want to see how the admissions process that I saw a couple of years ago has changed.
**Jenn Viemont: **Excellent. So is it a new addition? Or are you just putting
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Yeah, it's not going to be there's not gonna be a big change to what we're doing.
**Jenn Viemont: **Okay. Sounds like it could still be worth getting another copy of if you're going to be talking about changes to the playing field this year. Well, I can't tell you how much I appreciate you talking to us today. Like I said, I've been really excited for this interview. I'm a huge fan of your work and have you on kind of the alerts in my Amazon. So I see what you're doing. I look forward to other projects you may take on in the future.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Well, I appreciate your time today. And it was great to be on here.
**Jenn Viemont: **Great! Thanks so much. 
I'm really excited to tell you about the March Special of the Month, because it's something we've never offered before. The Quickstart Package puts all the resources you need right at your fingertips, and it offers a savings of $300. 
The first thing it comes with is our membership. So this includes access to our searchable database, monthly recordings that answer questions that you submit, our incredible Facebook number group, and a host of other members only webinars and resources. 
Then we're adding in all five of our self paced courses. There's a course on choosing a major, one was step by step processes to find the best school for you. One about schools in the Netherlands. One about business programs all across Europe. And another about the admissions process. We're also providing you with a digital copy of the book I wrote in 2018, which highlights 13 different universities in Europe. 
The next two inclusions are what I'm most excited to tell you about. We've compiled a new resource that's only offered here. It’s called the European College Review. This reference pulls all of the important information you need in one place. This includes important blogs, quick tips, collection of the blogs, all the blogs I've written on school visits, as well as all of the past deep dives I've provided through programs of the month. So, those are a lot of DIY resources. But this is not just a DIY package because it also comes with a 30 minute consultation with me. Purchased separately, this package would cost $529, but today we are offering it for $229 for this month actually. Due to my own availability though, we have to limit this to the first 10 subscribers. So you can find the information about this offer in our show notes or you can go to beyondthestates.com/monthlyspecial.

There are some incredible university choices all around the world, including in the US. However, there is a widespread belief that the US higher education system is the best in the world. Jenn summarizes specific studies that debunk this belief.
Later in the episode, Jenn and her guest discuss other aspects of studying and students’ lives before, during, and after college. Jenn has a conversation with Jeffrey Selingo, the best-selling author of numerous useful books about higher education. Jeff shares some interesting points and situations he faced while collecting and researching data in this field for more than two decades.

“Life is not a straight line. There are going to be failures. Learn from people that you can identify with.”, Jeffrey Selingo

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: **So when I started Beyond the States, I devoured every book and every study I could get my hands on about issues in higher education. In fact, that's actually how I learned about our guest today, is he authored two of my favorites. He wrote, There is Life After College. And he also wrote Who Gets in and Why. So it was through reading his books, and also other books that we'll have in our show notes that I learned more about the problems with the US higher education system. 
Now, I want to start by telling you that I'm not here to slam the US system. I think there are some incredible choices out there all around the world, including the US. And as you know, my daughter has actually chosen to go this route as well. But I can't tell you how often I see comments on social media, about how the US higher education system is the best in the world. I've talked before about how problematic I think this tendency to assign everything in a better than or worse than category is. And it's actually something I tend to see more here in the US than other places in the world. So I think it's important that we look at some of the facts around this.
I've talked a lot about issues with ranking. So I'm not going to spend too much time on that situation in this episode. But I will say that if you're interested, Malcolm Gladwell has an excellent series on his podcast where they uncover the algorithm used by US News and they look at the problems with it. Also, Frank Bruni's book, Where You Go is Not Who You'll Be, has an excellent chapter on the issues with the rankings. 
What I'd like to touch on today, though, are the findings about the educational experience for students once they get on campus. So there was a study done that's cited in just about every book I've read on the topic. It's called Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on Campus. And so this study looked at 2300 students at 24 universities, and they looked at critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing gains over their time in college. 45% of them did not show any significant improvements in the first three years. And a third of them showed no improvement in critical thinking skills after four years. Additionally, more than a third of the students in the study studied less than five hours per week, and half of them said there was not a single class where they ever wrote more than 20 pages. It's just really incredible to me. 
So there's also this related study that I learned about in the book called Fail You. And the study is called Leisure College USA, the decline in student’s study time. So, and they found that students now studied less than half as much as universities claimed to require and that this decline was across the board, every major and every type of four year college, no matter what the selectivity was.
Then there was also this study from 2015. I talked about this one a lot. It was a study done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, they found that US college graduates with a four year bachelor's degree scored below their counterparts in 19 of the 21 participating countries. So there was only Poland and Spain lower than Americans with bachelor's degrees. 
What's even more disturbing is that students from the top three countries, Finland, Japan, and the Netherlands, their high school graduates scored the same as our college graduates. So why is this happening? I think they're well, there are a ton of reasons, but let's look at a few potential ones. 
First of all, rankings don't take into account learning on campus. There's a measure that assesses this called the Nessie that universities all around the countries use. But most schools won't make this information public. So US News couldn't use this as part of their rankings, even if they wanted to. 
There's also this study that the Journal of higher education did, I read about it in something called The Faculty Lounges. And they found that the more time a college professor spends teaching, the less he or she gets paid. And this is in both big research universities. And in small liberal arts colleges. They're incentivized to do research and publications as opposed to teaching. So there's this great description of it in this book called Losing our Minds and they say, “intoxicated by magazine and college guide rankings, most colleges and universities have lost track of learning and the only educational outcome that matters. Other priorities, higher rankings, growing enrollment, winning teams, bigger and better facilities, more revenue from sideline businesses, more research grants, have replaced learning as a primary touchstone for decision making. I mean, I just think that that I mean, that's so spot on. 
And then the other issue, I believe, is that the education model is really not being updated in this country like it is in other countries. Denmark, for instance, started allowing students to have internet access during their national exams. Because in life you have internet access. The content knowledge isn't what they wanted to assess. And the content knowledge is still really being emphasized in the US. 
The issue is that knowledge, it either becomes obsolete, or it could easily be found. So it's more about how to think and what to do with the knowledge that matters. And this is actually the problem that our graduates are having, they aren't developing the critical thinking and the soft skills that employers are looking for. In fact, there was a 2018 survey of more than 650 employers. And they found that three quarters of these employers say that they have a hard time finding graduates with the soft skills their company needs. 
There was also an interesting Gallup Survey done. And it showed that only 9% of the business leaders considered where an applicant went to school as very important. But a third of Americans had a belief that the school attended was very important in the hiring decisions. So, a real big disconnect there.
And then lastly, there was this really cool study I read about, in Frank Bruni's book Where You Go is Not Who You'll Be. And so, what this study did is it looked at the earnings, the difference in earnings between graduates of selective and less selective universities. And so their initial finding was, yes, there is a 7% difference in earnings between those graduates from selective and less selective universities, even if the students had the same SATs and GPAs. However, now this is a cool part, they dug deeper. And for the group of students at less selective schools, they segmented the ones who had applied to more exclusive or selective programs but not attended. And that, when they did that, the earning difference disappeared. So it's not about whether these students even got into the more selective school, much less attended it is that they applied there. This suggests that it's more about the traits of a student who applies to more selective schools, be it confidence or something else. Now, this was examining students who went to school in 1989. And the admissions process was much different then. So I don't know that the outcome would be the same now, you know, students now are encouraged to apply to schools that they would never get into, by the schools in fact. In order to gain the selectivity factors, and of course, the common app makes applying to multiple schools super easy. 
While they may have to figure out different ways to segment the group, or different variables to control, I do think that that outcome would also hold true today. So why are we so resistant to accepting this information? For one? I think it's because it's such a different experience than parents my age and older had in college. The system started changing quite a bit after we graduated. And we tend to base our judgments on the experience we had rather than the current reality, but our experience is outdated. I think the other reason is that so many people don't see real alternatives. And so since you feel like you have to participate in this incredibly expensive system, it's natural to want to turn a blind eye to the problems. But it's kind of a great thing. 
I mean, the fact is, that a key problem is that people are assigning importance to the school name, when success is really about the traits that the student has, and what they make of their educational experience no matter where it is. So if we spend more time cultivating these important traits in our kids, they're going to find success. They might not get into the most selective universities in the US, but they'll find it wherever they land, be it in the US, in Europe, or elsewhere in the world. So let's take a quick break, and then we'll come back with our guests.
**Testimonial: **My name is Tamara, I am from Florida, and I'm in my first year at the Burgundy School of Business in France, and I found my university from the Beyond the State's database and membership. I've always been interested in studying abroad or foreign exchange programs, but I always felt like I never had that opportunity as it was always perceived to be unaffordable. No one I knew or any of my educational advisors understood this process and lacked knowledge on how to make this a possibility. Through my beyond the state's membership. I learned everything I could about how to study abroad. I was actually provided resources and connections to make this process achievable. I found B on the state's through a Tikotok video, and was convinced to invest in the monthly membership plan. And that decision alone changed my life. Through the Q&As, monthly university and country updates, and the Facebook group chat, I've not only been able to get this opportunity to study abroad, but also make some amazing friends who are studying in Europe as well. If you're even slightly interested in studying abroad, I suggest you check out Beyond the States to get started. The free blogs and interest quiz will be enough to make you desire this opportunity and the database access will leave you with no regrets. Check the show notes for details in the link or go to the Services Page on beyondthestates.com.
**Jenn Viemont: **So today I'm talking to Jeff Selingo, who's been writing about higher education for more than two decades. He's the New York Times Bestselling Author of College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students. Also, there's Life After College: What Parents and Students Should Know about Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow. And his latest book was a big favorite of mine. Who Gets in and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions. 
He's a strategic adviser on the future of learning and work, a college admissions and early career expert, contributor to the Atlantic and other publications, and co-hosts a future You Podcast, which features thought leaders in discussion on what's next in higher education. Wow! you're busy. That’s a lot. 
I have to tell you, I was rereading your books. I read them, your two latest ones when they came out. And I was rereading them in preparation for this. And when I first read them, I didn't think I would have any kids. My kids are my son's in college. My daughter's a senior in high school. And I didn't think either of them would be following the college in US Route. So I kind of read them smugly like, Oh, we're dodging this bullet. And as I read them this time, my daughter has recently announced that she would like to consider going to schools in the US as well. She decided this her senior year, when she had not been playing the US admission game. So I was reading Who Gets in and Why, kind of feeling a mix of nausea and anxiety knowing that this is now what we're going through. And I was just shocked by the stories. Like the girl with a 1310 SAT and eight APS who was rejected in three minutes due to her mid year C and AP environmental science. Or the student who worked 20 hours a week, had a 3.7 GPA, 1400 SATs, seven APs, and a recent diagnosis of diabetes, and was rejected to the four Bs he had in sophomore in junior year. So I can't imagine sitting there and watching all this. And I have to hear what it was like listening to these discussions and watching these decisions being made.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **So it was really fascinating. I mean, it's really just kind of it was a fly on the wall of something that you would like to be in the room where it happened. And I was able to be there. And what was interesting to me was I was a little concerned that because I was in the room, you know whether it was in committee, or at a place like Emory, where they had a set of two readers read the application at the same time, that my presence would actually be disruptive, right that it would change the conversation. And maybe in the first couple of minutes it did. IT was something different, that I was in the room. But after a while they had work to do. And they kind of settled into their normal way of doing business. And thus they kind of almost forgot I was there watching all this, reading along with them. So, I was really lucky because it's interesting right now. I'm actually going back into the process, just to see how things change during COVID. And they're doing a lot of this by Zoom now. And it's just not as good as being in that room where, you know, there's a level of emotion was on display where you know, they're constantly eating, you know, their snacks and everything else. It's just different on Zoom.
**Jenn Viemont: **Yeah, I would imagine so. Also your presence, I guess on Zoom is also more you're on that screen there. So it's more noticeable. What would you say was the most disturbing or surprising aspect of the admissions process you found when you were in those rooms?
**Jeffrey Selingo: **The most disturbing part of it was that, and I guess disturbing might be too strong of a word, but the students put so much time, effort, and energy into this. And that a lot of what it comes down to by the way is stuff that happened to them before they ever started even putting their application together, before they even started the college search. As I mentioned many times in the book, the number one piece of information or the two pieces of information that have a lot to do with whether you get in and why, are your high school grades and your high school transcripts. Did you take those tough classes? Did you get good grades in them? 
Well, a lot of that is set in stone many, many years earlier, what you take in middle school depends on what you take in high school. Obviously what you take freshman sophomore year depends on what you do junior year, and you can't erase the grades of freshman year and sophomore year once you decide to apply for college, your junior year. So that was probably the most disturbing, is that I think that students think they have all this control over the process. But there's so much that happens before they even start thinking about college that impacts it. 
The most surprising thing to me was just the breadth and depth of these applicant pools. We're talking 25,000 high schools in the US. You know,a place like Emory got applications from 8000 different high schools. So while students might think they're great at their high school, right, that their ranked pretty high up in their high school, the fact of the matter is, then they're competing against these pools of students from high schools all across the country, and increasingly around the world. And I don't say that to raise the anxiety level of students, but I say it to know, kind of almost as a reality check. So that they know, to look beyond that list of 10 or 12 colleges.
**Jenn Viemont: **For me, I think the most disturbing part was the how much demonstrated interest weighed in the process or in the decision. You know, you can almost understand the rationale behind the transcripts and all of that playing such a big factor. But demonstrated interest, I just don't even understand how that would kind of factor into whether the student would be successful at that university or not. Blew my mind.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Yeah, and it has nothing to do with as I point out early on in the book, college admissions is not about you, the student, it is about the institution and its priorities. And one of the priorities is for some institutions, that students they accept actually show up. They want their yield rate, which is the percentage of students who come who have been accepted. They want that to be as high as possible. And the way they determine whether that will be high, is to get some students, to accept students who they know will likely come if accepted.
**Jenn Viemont: **So a theme in both of your books that really spoke to me is you talk about how success in college is about how you go, not just where you go. Can you speak to that a little bit? Yeah, I mean, I think that
**Jeffrey Selingo: **We put so much effort into training admissions as a game. Hoops to jump through. And one of the hoops is just getting in. But then we spend very little time thinking about what we're going to do with this opportunity. Four years of college. And I think that many students go to college, kind of as spectators to their education and don't really think about how they're going to take advantage of the opportunities once there. How are they going to meet people, how are they going to get to know professors, find mentors? What's their major going to be, and why? And what kind of classes are they going to take? How are they getting engaged in this great experience, that they just spent a lot of time, money, and effort to get into. It is fascinating to me how much time, effort, and energy we spend getting in, but don't really spend a lot of time particularly in those moments. 
So think about all those students right now, who applied early decision and already know that they got in or you might know, usually, you know, by March or April, and usually by May 1, where you're going. And then you have what, four or five months before you actually show up on campus. Great time to start to think about, well, what do I want to do now with this opportunity? What do I want to what do I want to take advantage of and those are the opportunities, again, that the professors you get to know the internships you have, the clubs you participate in the classes you take, those are all the things that ultimately lead to success after college more than just the name on the on the degree.
**Jenn Viemont: **You know, and it's interesting, it seems like even if students started thinking about this before junior year, for instance, it might help them narrow down their search and decide what it is they're looking for. Instead of just, I want to go to an IVR. But to go, my daughter has a friend who applied to 17 schools. So I thought, 17 schools? Like what is it about each of these schools that fits what you're looking for? And I don't know that she could answer that. 
You know, because it's so much about names have given. Your books do a great job of citing research about how it's not, you know, this name recognition is not what people think it is. And there's study, after study, after study about this. Given the evidence to the contrary, why do you think people are so resistant to changing this belief that you know, the big name, whether it's an Ivy League, or whether it's that, you know, their state flagship school, but that their child's success is dependent on going to a particular school?
**Jeffrey Selingo: **I think that we tend to think of elitism in the US as it would conflate it with selectivity. And really, when we think of these prestige, whether you want to call them elite, I don't love to use that word because they're elite by choice, prestigious, whether they are top ranked, and I tend to think we put too much emphasis on the ranking. They're prominent, no doubt about that. Whatever term you want to use, a lot of that is because they are selective, because they have decided as an institutional priority to make what they offer a scarce commodity. And they've decided we're only going to have 1800 seats in the freshman class, even though we're getting 50,000 applications for it. And any admissions officer will tell you, we could fill that class five or six times over without any declining quality. So this has nothing to do with quality. There's definitely enough talent out there around the world to fill these classes, they just don't want to do it. 
**Jenn Viemont: **I really liked how you said that. That they've chosen to make it a scarce commodity. You know, in Europe, the admissions process is quite different, in that most schools don't have an enrollment cap. And so that doesn't mean they have these huge lectures, it means that they don't, because you're applying to a specific major, a specific program at a school, they have more spots than they have applicants. And too many times American students think oh, well, there's not that selectivity. And so it must be subpar. When these are, you know, again, I'm with you on rankings, and even more so on global rankings, I don't think they're important at all. But this is a case of highly globally ranked universities, it just doesn't have to be a scarce commodity. But many of these US schools make it such.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **And then they do, and that's how they become prestigious, and then it just feeds on itself. They get the research dollars, they get the donor money. They invest that in these endowments, in financial products that most people can invest in, they make even more money. Last year, for example, in the middle of a pandemic, these most prestigious institutions, because they're able to invest in hedge funds and other private equity funds that most colleges don't have access to, their returns were 65, 70%. They're already, you know, 10s of billions of dollars here. And they're making all this money.
**Jenn Viemont: **It just makes my skin crawl! So I think this leads to discussion of educational quality. So if we're not going to use the rankings, and we're not going to use selectivity rates, you know, I think so many times people look at those two things about educational quality. What beyond those things should students look for when they're trying to define educational quality or assess it?
**Jeffrey Selingo: **So I think really what they're looking for is, going back to what I said earlier about the experience, particularly the student experience, in terms of quality, you want to look at the outcomes. So do students graduate? Are they retained? You want to look at the retention rate, and the graduation rate? Are you going to be able to most students stay? And do they end up graduating? You want to look at the graduate outcomes. We now know this from the college scorecard. You can look at the salaries of students by major at your school. Salary is not the only outcome that you should look at. But it's definitely an important one, especially if you're going into debt to pay for school. 
But then there are these intangibles. And when I say intangibles, I mean things like faculty members, do they care about you? Will they be a mentor to you? Do they teach? Or is it mostly graduate students who are teaching you?Are your classes going to be small enough, where you get to know students? Is the place welcoming for somebody from your background? Those are the intangibles that I think because most of the educational experience, as we all know, happens, not only in the classroom, but it mostly happens outside the classroom. So is it a place where the student experience is going to be engaging enough that you're going to learn?
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely. And I think it's also that they're engaging to one student might not be engaging to another, you know, there's not just this one definition, I think students need to understand that quality for them, a great fit for them, doesn't mean it's a great fit for everybody, and that there's not just, you know, one right road that students should take.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Right. And I think that's important to know, right? I'm a big fan of the How I Built This podcast. You know, where they talk to entrepreneurs, a big company, you know, that now we're big companies, and how they got started. And there's a theme that goes through almost every single episode. In that there, everybody has false starts. Everybody takes detours, everybody has failures.
**Jenn Viemont: **So that's something you've talked a lot about in There's Life After College, and learning from mistakes and the importance of doing that. And you talk a lot about how US education is in preparing students for employment. And that's a reasonable expectation, you know, given the amount of tuition families are paying, it's reasonable to expect that students would graduate with the skills they need for employment. So what skills do you see that, have you learned that graduates are missing?
**Jeffrey Selingo: **It's mostly what we often refer to as the soft skills, although I hate that word. And it's things like being the ability to communicate, the ability to work in teams, the ability to problem solve. These are all critical thinking, these are all things that most employers want and are not necessarily getting in today's college graduates. And it's largely because I think, many students and parents are so focused on the hard skills, being able to program or being able to know how to do X, Y, or Z in this particular field, that they kind of forget that these other things are just as important.
I always tell this story. Many years ago, before the pandemic, I was having breakfast in Washington, and next to me at the table, with somebody who was being interviewed for a job. And at the end, they just started chatting about their backgrounds and education and so forth. And I'll never forget the interviewer. They're talking about college majors. And the interviewer said, who was a business major as an undergrad, which is the most popular college major said, If I had to do it all over again, I would be an English major, because writing is the most important skill in any job today. Really important.
**Jenn Viemont: **Wow, interesting. And I have to tell you, you know, my son is studying in Europe. And that has been what I've seen, he's really behind from his peers, you know, he went to a good public high school in the US here in Chapel Hill. And he had, you know, mostly A's, but he was just not prepared for the writing aspect and the writing demands of college in Europe. It's been a struggle.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Yeah. And I think that it's much more demanding than it is here in the US, right?
**Jenn Viemont: **Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And less hand holding. I think that's one reason why students, you know, the studies show that students who travel or who study outside of their home country, they are getting those soft skills, because they're learning to navigate unfamiliar circumstances in their day to day life. They're working in groups of people who have different backgrounds and different perspectives. And so they're gaining those skills. And it really does help with employability, which is nice.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Yeah, and I think that's increasingly important. Because there's a lot of these soft skills you don't learn in the classroom, you don't learn through a curriculum, you learn kind of in the day to day living in college. And that is the part of the problem, I think, in American higher education today is that there is a lot of hand holding. And as a result of that hand holding, they're not learning these critical skills. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Right, right. And sort of the life in a bubble aspect of it, too. You know, when you're on campus for four years, you're not finding many unfamiliar circumstances and situations to navigate your way through.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **No, you're not. And many students don't work, outside of, you know, outside of college, in the workforce these days, unlike generations ago, which is a place where you would learn to get along with people of different ages, you will learn to show up on time, you would learn these critical communication and problem solving skills. They don't do that anymore. That was a great place to learn of those soft skills. And again, we're not really exercising those muscles in college either. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Right, right. So you talk about these other roads to take, you know, be it travel or a gap year, or Minerva, which is really interesting and other experiences that students can pursue after high school as opposed to going straight to college. What impact can these experiences have on students, whether it's academic life or soft skills, or the like?
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Well, I think for a lot of students, they need to take a break. I think that we're seeing this during the pandemic, that there's no special sauce that says, a student has to graduate from high school, go right into college, three months later, graduate four years later and go into the workforce. That's really a relic of a different era, by the way, when very, lot fewer students even went to college, you know, speaking of, you know, post world war two generation. And remember, the post world war two generation was coming back from a war where they had really matured in a way that today's students are not. And so I'm a big fan of slowing it down. A little bad. Coming out of high school, big fan of the taking a year off, and I shouldn't say a year off, because you're actually doing something during that time. And really kind of learning about yourself catching up on maybe academic work that you got behind on and in high school, trying to get a sense of what you really want out of college, particularly since college is so expensive. You can also take that time during college and after college, take it all three. I understand, given the expense of raising children, parents really want their children to get on with their life as quickly as possible. But in the long run, you actually might be better off slowing it down because you won't be supporting them when they're 40. Instead, you might be supporting them through 25.6
**Jenn Viemont: **You know that time could be used to develop passions as well. I recently spoke with William Dershowitz for the podcast who wrote excellent sheep and talked about how the admissions process. What he's seen is it really prevents students from learning what they're passionate about. And how do you make a plan if you don't know your passions, how do you follow your passion if you don't have it? So they could take that year and find their passion. It also might prevent extra years in college for students or switching majors as they're, you know, trying on different passions then as opposed to before college.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Yeah, I mean, I think that, first of all, this word passion worries me because I think it leads to the idea that students have a passion or need to find a passion. You know, I'm 25 years after college, and I have some passions, but I'm not quite sure I found my passion. I don't think most people have. And so I think we put a lot of pressure on students to find something that they really want to do at the age of 18. And I think most students don't know it.
**Jenn Viemont: **Interesting. I like that. So maybe we just call it, instead of passion, you know, strong interests. And that it doesn't have to be what they want to do with their career, but to have strong interests that they can then follow in some way, shape or form, can lead them to what they may want to do in their life.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Yeah, and I think that's incredibly important that they get more exposure to jobs, to careers, to people. This is why I'm a big fan of trying to figure out how do we connect people and young adults at the age of 18, 20, 22, with people who have just been through a variety of careers in a variety of life situations. I have a 10 year old and a 12 year old at home. And I mentioned earlier that I am a big fan of the How I Built This Podcast, and we just listened to it in the car on the way to school. And I usually pick those, the episodes where they have a product that they get, right, so we've been listening to the one about Stacey chips right now because they eat Stacy's chips, right? But one thing I want them to learn is that, you know, life is not a straight line, that there's going to be these failures. Learn from people that they now could identify with, in some small way. And that's really what I would hope that we would get more high school again, we're just not getting high school students, young adults in college are just not getting exposure to jobs and to people like this.
**Jenn Viemont: **So how can we? That's a really great point. And I think about it, the jobs that are available to them, are not jobs that many of their parents are active in. I mean, the job force is much different now than when I graduated from college and their careers I've never heard of, you know, I wouldn't even be able to begin to educate my kids on how, how can we expose them to these careers outside of what they know from their family and family? Friends?
**Jeffrey Selingo: **I think that we need to really help them understand what the different jobs are. I think again, exposure, could you even if they don't have exposure in their own home, own college? Could we try to get them to shadow jobs? That maybe you know, somewhere else? I think we put a lot of emphasis on internships. I'm less interested in internships, particularly for college freshmen or even high school students. But could they just get into the workforce and shadow somebody? I think that's one way. I think things like, as I was saying about the How I Built This Podcast, other things where people are talking about their jobs, I think this is a really good public service that many employers could provide. Where you just interview your employees about a day in the life, what is it like to be a sales manager, you know, what is it like to be an analyst, or whatever jobs. And particularly, by the way, not just that we hear a lot of stories about how CEOs made it to where they are. I’m less interested in the C suite, and I'm more interested in the vast majority of jobs that most of these students are going to take one day.
**Jenn Viemont: **That's really interesting. And you're right, it's definitely sort of a gap in what we're teaching our teenagers these days. That's gonna give me some food for thought to think about that. So other than exposure to different jobs, what advice would you give parents of teenagers, as it pertains to helping them decide what they're going to do right after college, whether right after high school, whether that's college, they're going to apply to, whether it's these other opportunities they're going to seek? What would you tell parents?
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Well, I think first, the first thing I would tell them is have patience. And don't pressure your students into, for example, if they don't want to go to college, immediately don't pressure them into it. The research shows for example, which I find very interesting, that students who take a gap year graduate at the same rate as students who don't. So it's not like you're actually putting them behind by having them take a gap year, or allowing them to take a gap year and in fact, we also know that they go to college much more mature. We know this from the research. The other thing is to give them a lot of exposure, as much as you can, to jobs and to colleges as much as possible. Again, the more that parents say, well I, you know, you need to look at these types of colleges because they're in the top 50 of the rankings or whatever the more pressure you're putting on those students.
**Jenn Viemont: **It's interesting, I had to kind of practice what I preach recently with my daughter. Because I often tell parents the opposite. You know, if your kid comes to you and says you're interested in college in Europe, let's explore it. Here, I can help you. I can tell you, you know, research on it. I can tell you statistics on it. It doesn't mean they're committing to it, but keep your field open. You know, don't close off doors before you've explored them. And that's what I had to do myself, with my daughter, when she tells me, you know, just driving along, you know. Even though she's gotten into the school in Ireland already, you know, she'd really like to look at schools in the US. And it's been hard to follow her lead, but I think it’s important when kids are showing some sort of initiative and interest to let them follow that road, you know, certainly with limits or limits for around tuition, you know? But yeah, to explore, because this is their path, ultimately, it's their path, and they'll be the ones following it. So it's hard, though, as a parent, I have to say,
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Yes, I agree. I think that parents have their vision of what colleges, and I think that they feel that. Especially if they went to college, and they went to a particular college, I think a lot of parents put pressure on their kids to do something very similar.
**Jenn Viemont: **So I have to tell you something you said at the beginning of this has me really interested. You said you're doing some follow up work on looking at admissions and how it's changed with COVID. Are you working on a book, on an article?
**Jeffrey Selingo: **So, I'm working on the paperback edition of the book, which will probably come out like late or sometime in 2022, maybe 2023. And so I really want to see how the admissions process that I saw a couple of years ago has changed.
**Jenn Viemont: **Excellent. So is it a new addition? Or are you just putting
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Yeah, it's not going to be there's not gonna be a big change to what we're doing.
**Jenn Viemont: **Okay. Sounds like it could still be worth getting another copy of if you're going to be talking about changes to the playing field this year. Well, I can't tell you how much I appreciate you talking to us today. Like I said, I've been really excited for this interview. I'm a huge fan of your work and have you on kind of the alerts in my Amazon. So I see what you're doing. I look forward to other projects you may take on in the future.
**Jeffrey Selingo: **Well, I appreciate your time today. And it was great to be on here.
**Jenn Viemont: **Great! Thanks so much. 
I'm really excited to tell you about the March Special of the Month, because it's something we've never offered before. The Quickstart Package puts all the resources you need right at your fingertips, and it offers a savings of $300. 
The first thing it comes with is our membership. So this includes access to our searchable database, monthly recordings that answer questions that you submit, our incredible Facebook number group, and a host of other members only webinars and resources. 
Then we're adding in all five of our self paced courses. There's a course on choosing a major, one was step by step processes to find the best school for you. One about schools in the Netherlands. One about business programs all across Europe. And another about the admissions process. We're also providing you with a digital copy of the book I wrote in 2018, which highlights 13 different universities in Europe. 
The next two inclusions are what I'm most excited to tell you about. We've compiled a new resource that's only offered here. It’s called the European College Review. This reference pulls all of the important information you need in one place. This includes important blogs, quick tips, collection of the blogs, all the blogs I've written on school visits, as well as all of the past deep dives I've provided through programs of the month. So, those are a lot of DIY resources. But this is not just a DIY package because it also comes with a 30 minute consultation with me. Purchased separately, this package would cost $529, but today we are offering it for $229 for this month actually. Due to my own availability though, we have to limit this to the first 10 subscribers. So you can find the information about this offer in our show notes or you can go to beyondthestates.com/monthlyspecial.

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International Studies vs. International Relations at Leiden University – What's the Difference?

Because our programs are two of the most popular English programs at Leiden University and on the surface level may seem similar, we want to break down some of the ways they are distinct.

Hey everyone! We’re Max and Macklin, two BTS student ambassadors who are second years at Leiden University at The Hague campus in the Netherlands. After hearing we were living in the same student housing via the BTS Facebook group, we met online just after our arrival in the Netherlands last August during a mandatory quarantine. This year we live together in an apartment with one of our friends who also studies at Leiden University. 
Our bachelor programs are International Studies (IS) and International Relations and Organizations (IRO), respectively. Because our programs are two of the most popular English programs at Leiden University and on the surface level may seem similar, we want to break down some of the ways they are distinct. In fact, many students at Leiden will switch between the two programs after their first year due to the widespread confusion about what we study!

Max’s Experience With IS

I’m Max and I grew up near Chicago, Illinois. I’m a second year International Studies student at Leiden. I’m also involved in university politics at Leiden University where I manage social media and election campaigns for the only party on campus that represents non-Dutch students. 
First, let’s dive into what International Studies looks like at Leiden! The most important thing to know about IS is that it’s a humanities program, which means that we study international trends from a “people-centric” view. In other words, we study culture, language, and history rather than institutions and organizations. International Studies students also study politics and economics but from a human level rather than using statistics or normative theories. Most students’ favorite part of IS is that starting in the second semester of the first year you pick a region and language from that region to focus on. The regions you can pick are North America, East Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Russia/Eurasia, South/South-East Asia, and Latin America. Some of the most popular languages are Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, French, Swahili, and Korean. I chose Latin America and Portuguese because I heard amazing things about the lecturers and I’ve always been interested in Latino culture and the region’s politics. IS general courses place an emphasis on both self-study as well as small groups that meet every other week and language courses meet up to three times a week. From this description, you may have noticed that the International Studies program is extremely broad. We study a wide variety of topics and by the end students gain an interdisciplinary view of the world using their region of choice as a case study to apply their knowledge. As a result of the program being so broad, what comes after the bachelor is definitely up to each student. If you’re looking for a bachelor that’s going to prepare you for a career right out of university, this is definitely not the program for you. This means extra-curriculars (e.g. minors, honours programs, internships) are vital for applying to master’s programs and jobs after you graduate. Luckily, being at the political center of the Netherlands and the city of peace and justice, The Hague has plenty of opportunities to boost your CV.

Macklin’s Experience With IRO

Hi! I’m Macklin, I’m a second year student studying IRO. Originally from Connecticut, I moved to The Hague in August of 2020. You have seen my video showing a day in the life as a student in the Netherlands. In this blog post, I hope to go further in depth on the specifics of IRO and how it is different from IS.
In contrast to IS, IRO has a social sciences approach and is under the Political Sciences institute at Leiden. Due to this difference, within IRO there is more of an emphasis on theory and a scientific understanding of international relations. Rather than semester-long classes, the academic year is divided into four blocks that are eight weeks long with an exam week at the end of each block. Students will instead have two to three classes each block allowing the possibility to become immersed in a few subjects at a time and gain a deep understanding of the content. IRO emphasizes self-study rather than going to workgroups. Most contact hours will be during lectures and grades for a class can range from a few papers to only considering the exam. There is a wide range of subjects covered throughout IRO, such as economics, world history, the EU, and comparative politics. Although there is no ability to choose a region or language for IRO, the program prepares students for many career opportunities through its more specific, political science approach. There are courses on statistics and quantitative theory, especially in the first year, which may deter some students. However, it allows a broader understanding of international relations and politics beyond the cultural factors, which are also touched upon in the program. Due to the lack of flexibility, it is important to consider if political science is the right program for you, if so, it provides plenty of opportunities for masters both in the humanities and the social sciences due to covering both topics. Similar to IS there are opportunities outside of the study to enhance the university experience, such as honours programs, student organizations, internships, and beyond. Being at the political heart of the Netherlands provides plenty of opportunities to maximize the experience and tailor it right for you!

More About Leiden University

Both IS and IRO have a semester built into their structure for an internship, minor, or study abroad program in the first semester of the third year and a bachelor thesis in the second semester. The admission system is similar for both programs requiring 3 AP scores of 4+ or 4 AP scores of 3+, alternatively, the international baccalaureate (IB) is also accepted. Additionally, IRO is a “numerus fixus” program which means students are selected based upon a motivation letter and short test of some of the content that will be taught in the program. Overall, both programs benefit from being located in The Hague which is a great city for international students. Great parks, modern classrooms, and people from all over the world make Leiden University campus The Hague a great place to study. Rotterdam and Amsterdam are accessible in under an hour by train and Leiden, our University’s main campus and a charming student city, is only 15 minutes away. 
Other Leiden University programs based in The Hague are Urban Studies, Security Studies, and LUC (a living-learning community liberal arts track). If you are worried about meeting the requirements for admission but want to study in The Hague, there are great programs with no AP requirements at The Hague School of Applied Science. There are so many benefits to studying in Holland from bike culture to the prevalence of English in everyday life! Reach out to either of us if you have any questions about our programs, experience in The Netherlands, or studying in Europe in general! We are both in the Beyond the States student Facebook group.
Wishing you the best of luck on your search,
Max Adams and Macklin Miezejeski

Hey everyone! We’re Max and Macklin, two BTS student ambassadors who are second years at Leiden University at The Hague campus in the Netherlands. After hearing we were living in the same student housing via the BTS Facebook group, we met online just after our arrival in the Netherlands last August during a mandatory quarantine. This year we live together in an apartment with one of our friends who also studies at Leiden University. 
Our bachelor programs are International Studies (IS) and International Relations and Organizations (IRO), respectively. Because our programs are two of the most popular English programs at Leiden University and on the surface level may seem similar, we want to break down some of the ways they are distinct. In fact, many students at Leiden will switch between the two programs after their first year due to the widespread confusion about what we study!

Max’s Experience With IS

I’m Max and I grew up near Chicago, Illinois. I’m a second year International Studies student at Leiden. I’m also involved in university politics at Leiden University where I manage social media and election campaigns for the only party on campus that represents non-Dutch students. 
First, let’s dive into what International Studies looks like at Leiden! The most important thing to know about IS is that it’s a humanities program, which means that we study international trends from a “people-centric” view. In other words, we study culture, language, and history rather than institutions and organizations. International Studies students also study politics and economics but from a human level rather than using statistics or normative theories. Most students’ favorite part of IS is that starting in the second semester of the first year you pick a region and language from that region to focus on. The regions you can pick are North America, East Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Russia/Eurasia, South/South-East Asia, and Latin America. Some of the most popular languages are Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, French, Swahili, and Korean. I chose Latin America and Portuguese because I heard amazing things about the lecturers and I’ve always been interested in Latino culture and the region’s politics. IS general courses place an emphasis on both self-study as well as small groups that meet every other week and language courses meet up to three times a week. From this description, you may have noticed that the International Studies program is extremely broad. We study a wide variety of topics and by the end students gain an interdisciplinary view of the world using their region of choice as a case study to apply their knowledge. As a result of the program being so broad, what comes after the bachelor is definitely up to each student. If you’re looking for a bachelor that’s going to prepare you for a career right out of university, this is definitely not the program for you. This means extra-curriculars (e.g. minors, honours programs, internships) are vital for applying to master’s programs and jobs after you graduate. Luckily, being at the political center of the Netherlands and the city of peace and justice, The Hague has plenty of opportunities to boost your CV.

Macklin’s Experience With IRO

Hi! I’m Macklin, I’m a second year student studying IRO. Originally from Connecticut, I moved to The Hague in August of 2020. You have seen my video showing a day in the life as a student in the Netherlands. In this blog post, I hope to go further in depth on the specifics of IRO and how it is different from IS.
In contrast to IS, IRO has a social sciences approach and is under the Political Sciences institute at Leiden. Due to this difference, within IRO there is more of an emphasis on theory and a scientific understanding of international relations. Rather than semester-long classes, the academic year is divided into four blocks that are eight weeks long with an exam week at the end of each block. Students will instead have two to three classes each block allowing the possibility to become immersed in a few subjects at a time and gain a deep understanding of the content. IRO emphasizes self-study rather than going to workgroups. Most contact hours will be during lectures and grades for a class can range from a few papers to only considering the exam. There is a wide range of subjects covered throughout IRO, such as economics, world history, the EU, and comparative politics. Although there is no ability to choose a region or language for IRO, the program prepares students for many career opportunities through its more specific, political science approach. There are courses on statistics and quantitative theory, especially in the first year, which may deter some students. However, it allows a broader understanding of international relations and politics beyond the cultural factors, which are also touched upon in the program. Due to the lack of flexibility, it is important to consider if political science is the right program for you, if so, it provides plenty of opportunities for masters both in the humanities and the social sciences due to covering both topics. Similar to IS there are opportunities outside of the study to enhance the university experience, such as honours programs, student organizations, internships, and beyond. Being at the political heart of the Netherlands provides plenty of opportunities to maximize the experience and tailor it right for you!

More About Leiden University

Both IS and IRO have a semester built into their structure for an internship, minor, or study abroad program in the first semester of the third year and a bachelor thesis in the second semester. The admission system is similar for both programs requiring 3 AP scores of 4+ or 4 AP scores of 3+, alternatively, the international baccalaureate (IB) is also accepted. Additionally, IRO is a “numerus fixus” program which means students are selected based upon a motivation letter and short test of some of the content that will be taught in the program. Overall, both programs benefit from being located in The Hague which is a great city for international students. Great parks, modern classrooms, and people from all over the world make Leiden University campus The Hague a great place to study. Rotterdam and Amsterdam are accessible in under an hour by train and Leiden, our University’s main campus and a charming student city, is only 15 minutes away. 
Other Leiden University programs based in The Hague are Urban Studies, Security Studies, and LUC (a living-learning community liberal arts track). If you are worried about meeting the requirements for admission but want to study in The Hague, there are great programs with no AP requirements at The Hague School of Applied Science. There are so many benefits to studying in Holland from bike culture to the prevalence of English in everyday life! Reach out to either of us if you have any questions about our programs, experience in The Netherlands, or studying in Europe in general! We are both in the Beyond the States student Facebook group.
Wishing you the best of luck on your search,
Max Adams and Macklin Miezejeski

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How Can Students Overcome Executive Functioning Struggles, Gain Motivation, and Learn Time Management Skills

Jenn is joined with Jenna Prada, the creator, and director of Private Prep's Executive Functioning Programs. Jenna shares some of her strategies for helping students to overcome common executive functioning struggles, gain motivation, and learn time management skills.

Jenn’s son, Sam has been struggling with implementing and sticking with organizational systems since his 5th grade. Even though the question of whether Sam suffers from ADHD remains unsolved, one is for sure, he lacks Executive Functioning skills. Therefore, in today’s episode, Jenn is joined with Jenna Prada, the creator, and director of Private Prep's Executive Functioning Programs. Jenna shares some of her strategies for helping students to overcome common executive functioning struggles, gain motivation, and learn time management skills.
Moreover, you will learn why it is counterproductive to protect your teens from failure, when parents should reach for professional help, why do we have executive dysfunctions as adults, and how to solve them later in life. Tune in and find out more!
_ “There is no kid that grows into their adult life and doesn’t need any systems. Even if you can get your way through college, adulting is hard. We all need systems.”, _Jenna Prada

**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: **Most of you have heard me talk before about my son Sam, who is about to turn 21 and is attending school in Prague. So when he was in fifth grade, he had a teacher who was really invested in him. And even though he wasn't struggling academically, she saw he was easily distracted. And she thought it was important for him to get accommodations in place through a 504 plan before he got to middle school. So he went through testing outside of school and received a diagnosis. And though his teacher and I had to fight hard because of the diagnosis of ADHD, he got a 504 plan. 
Once he got to middle school, though, he rarely used the accommodations, they really didn't speak to the struggles that he had. He tried medication on and off through middle and high school. But that really wasn't a solution for me, either. So Sam, and I currently agree that we have no idea whether he does or doesn't have ADHD. And in his situation, it really doesn't matter. What we know is that he struggles with executive functioning skills, things like implementing and sticking with the organizational systems is super hard for him. Getting started on tasks, planning, time management, study strategies, learning from mistakes, so he doesn't repeat the same ones over and over again, these are his difficulties. Having extra time on a test or taking tests in a separate room, or medication, those who aren't going to help him with these specific struggles he has. So for a while through high school, I made the mistake of being over involved trying to, you know, serve as a good executive functioning skills for him. He would call it nagging, and he wouldn't really be wrong. 
I don't know how many of you have PowerSchool Access. So basically, with Power School, it's a system set up through his school and many other school districts through the US. I could sign in at any point and see all of his grades up to date. So I would know when he didn't turn something in, I would know when he had a zero. And his school allowed students to turn late work in and they would just get points off. So instead of getting a zero, you know, if they turned it in three days late, you know, they might have an 80. So I would make them do the late work, I would look at the assignments his teachers posted and ask him if he had them done. I would ask him if he had whatever assignment was due in his backpack before he was going out the door. This was like major micromanaging, and it was a huge mistake. 
So, a lot of the guests I've spoken with on the podcast have talked about the importance of students or people just in general, experiencing failure, and how kids are currently protected from this to their own detriment. And this was a problem. I wasn't letting Sam fail. So, because he never really felt the consequences beyond the artificial ones I put in place through grounding, or you know what a brother punishment he had for not doing his work. But because he didn't feel true natural consequences, he didn't develop strategies. He also didn't really feel like developing the skills himself is important because you know what he had me taking care of it for him. 
So then he goes off to college. And not only does he not have these important skills, because I compensated for him. But he also has a false sense of confidence, because between me, micromanaging, and the school system of both grade inflation and also letting them turn in late work, he never really experienced failure academically. In fact, he graduated high school with a really strong GPA. But I should tell you, college in Europe, particularly the Netherlands is no joke. There's really not the handholding. There are resources for students to have for help. But students have to be proactive and seek these resources out themselves, which is of course another one of Sam struggles. 
Failing a class is really not rare. In fact, last year, we did a roundtable with our student ambassadors, and most of them had failed at some point since they'd been students in Europe. So Sam really did have an awakening that year when he failed a class. COVID restrictions went into place in the spring of his first year. So these restrictions are actually pretty beneficial to him because he had less social distractions, and was able to short term do what he needed to do to pass the year. So after his first year, he had some awareness that he has some deficiencies, but still not the skills. So then he goes into another year with similar difficulties along with the obstacles created by a year with COVID restrictions on your classes. It was after this year, after his second year that he finally realized or at least, he agreed to appease me, that he would get help. 
As you may know, I'm a former therapist. I'm a licensed clinical social worker not practicing, though. So I knew that we could probably get insurance to cover therapy. But I also knew that the approach like medicine or 504 accommodations really wouldn't provide him with what he needed. So I started looking into executive functioning coaches, and we found Private Prep. So Sam has an executive functioning coach, Eliza, and he works with her twice a week. Together, they have implemented strategies around studying, around planning, time management, you name it. And these aren't just, you know, the same strategies that she gives all of her clients who work with her. These are strategies that she and Sam developed together, ones that work for his own individual way of functioning. 
So, of course, we know how much executive functioning skills are needed for academics. But let's look at adult life, especially adult life living abroad. Sam moved to Prague at the end of January, when we finally got his visa in place. He'd been studying online here from home for the first semester while we got all those ducks in a row that he needed for the visa. So one of the many tasks he needs to do when he got to Prague was to open a bank account. Because, you know, those international transaction fees add up like crazy. So think about the planning involved with opening a bank account in a foreign country. First, you need to identify a bank that either has English speakers, or find someone who speaks check to go with you. And that septet task in itself takes planning, you then need to find out if you need an appointment, and if so make one. Possibly coordinating with the person who might be going with you to translate. Then you need to make sure you have all the documents, you're going to need to open the account, and also figure out how to have the money that you need to open the account. I can tell you having done this myself in Portugal is really not an easy task, even for an adult with pretty strong executive functioning skills. But it's processes like this, in addition to academic, of course, that Sam and Eliza work on together. It's not only academic success and skills, but important life skills that this is helping with.
Executive functioning skills come easily for some of us. My daughter, for instance, has been developing and implementing strategies, you know, since she could read and write. Probably before then actually, I don't even know how to sign into her PowerSchool Access, I've never needed to. But this part of the brain doesn't fully develop until people are in their mid 20s. So, some people might struggle as young adults and then be fine later in life and, you know, just develop slower. But I'll tell you, my husband is in his mid 50s. And he still struggles with executive functioning skills. When we were dating, he had a pile of unpaid bills, not because he didn't have the money, but because he didn't have a system for paying them on time. He also missed a flight once due to plan, and this is also when we're dating. He missed a flight because he didn't plan well. He didn't manage his time well, he's missed them more than once. But this particular time, we were meeting in LA for vacation. And this was, you know, before the time of cellphones. So there I am waiting for him at the gate where he's supposed to get off. I had landed before him. And I had no idea. You know, the last of the pilots ends up getting off. Tom didn't get off the flight. I had no idea when or if he would even make it there. So suffice it to say, that trip did not start out well at all. But in seeing the progress that Sam has made with Eliza, Tom's also planning to work with them as well in the coming months. I'll tell you, is it cheap? No. But it's been worth every penny. And I wish we had done this in high school. So I'm excited for you to hear from Jenna Prada today, she helped develop this program at Private Prep. So we're gonna take a quick break and come back with the interview.
**Testimonial: **I'm Taylor and I'm from Washington State and entering my second year of study at HU University in the Netherlands. I learned about my Beyond the States because my family originally had membership for my older sister who ended up attending a university in Prague. Even though that experience gave them a great understanding of college in Europe, my sister and I have different interests and goals, so they knew that they would return when it was time for me to check for the options.
Both me and my sister use the Best Fit List Service along with a membership. I filled out a form that had questions about things I like to do, my academic areas of interest, preference about my location, my academics, budget, and so much more. And I sent it to Jen. Jen uses information to come up with four of the best options specifically for me. This wasn't just a list with the names of schools. She gave information about things like courses in the program, the location, admissions information, and why this specific program was a great fit for me. Without this list, I may not have had this program on my radar, or found this school. The best Fit Lists will save you so much time and prevents you from making mistakes in your selection. It's super fun to explore the database, but felt less pressured after giving this list. If you're a junior, or especially if you're a senior, I highly recommend you to order the best fit list. Check out the show notes for details in a link or visit the Services Page at beyondthestates.com.
**Jenn Viemont: **Today, I am talking to Jenna Prada. Jenna is a New York State licensed teacher and administrator with a decade of experience working in some of New York City's most successful schools as both a teacher and administrator. Her experience and education are extensive and include tutoring, teaching, as well as work around behavioral and academic interventions for grades six through 12 at the Institute for collaborative education, where she worked with a variety of learners including those with ADHD, SLD, anxiety, and processing disorders. She had left her career with the New York City Department of Education after her first child was born and has since built a new career at Private Prep, where she is currently the director of executive functioning of special education. She has served as the Director of Tutor Experience and the Director of Tutor Development. And she is also the creator and director of their Executive Functioning Program, which has impacted my life so much and my son's life, and what we'll be talking to her about today. Jenna, thanks so much for being here.
**Jenna Prada: **My pleasure. I'm excited!
**Jenn Viemont: **So can you tell our listeners what executive functioning skills are?
**Jenna Prada: **Yeah, I think the easiest way to describe them is executive functioning skills are the skills we use to set goals, make plans to achieve them, and follow through. Right. And that sounds simple at first. But when you start to break it down, there's a lot involved with that. So, if we think of a student who wants to do well to eventually get into a college they're excited about, right. So, one we have to define what kind of college am I excited about? Right, then we have to say, Okay, what will it take for me to get accepted into that college? Wonderful. I'm a sophomore, that's several years away. Right? What do I have to do today to get there? I might be able to make the plan. I have lots of students who make a plan. And it's a good plan, but they have no sense of time. So when they go to execute on the plan, it kind of falls apart. And so then there's the time management piece, there's the motivation piece, there's the like, where is the thing I need to do that piece?
**Jenn Viemont: **Right. Resourceful then too. 
**Jenna Prada: **Absolutely, yeah. So we do a lot of self advocacy work with students learning to ask for help, and kind of because we need to ask for help to get the things we need, right, to follow through on our plans and reach those goals.
**Jenn Viemont: **Right, right. And organization.
**Jenna Prada: **Organization planning, we do a lot of calendaring. We also do a lot of, people don't think of prioritization in the context of information as well as tasks, right? So we do a lot of also like teaching students how to annotate or taking notes and knowing like when I leave a lecture, what were the most important ideas from that lecture?
**Jenn Viemont: **Interesting. So prioritizing the information you receive, not just prioritizing your day or your tasks. Interesting, interesting. And what's important and what's not.
So how do these skills just generally develop in people? And is there a time in which the development of these skills is generally achieved?
**Jenna Prada: **Yes, right. Generally short, right. And so I think we think of the brain as having two major growth spurts, right, it grows for a long time. So the first is when we're born up until about three, right? And you see development of some executive functioning skills at that point, right, we start to have a little bit of response inhibition, right, you start to see young children have goals, right? Like if you've ever seen the kid like fake cry to get mom's attention, they had a goal, they made a plan and they executed. Awesome for the mom. 
And then the next growth spurt in the brain happens somewhere. Numbers are scary, cause I feel like there's a parent that's listening to this that like, has a 12 year old and I’m about to say it could start at 11, and I'm gonna make them freak out. Alright. The next growth spurt starts somewhere normally between the ages of 11 and 13. It's closer to the 13th end for boys. And it can get delayed by two to three years for students who have certain developmental disorders or difficulties. So like ADHD, often results in a delay of two to three years in our prefrontal lobe development, which is where the executive functioning skills live. And then that development continues through our like mid 20s. 
Right. And so, you know, we see education respond to these different stages in different ways, right? There's a big step up, often, like in middle school, which corresponds with that 11 to 13. Start of developmental skills, right? And then it's interesting, right, because we have lots of expectations that continue to pile on for our kids through adolescence. And the reality is, no one who graduates high school has a fully developed brain. And so there's a lot of part of our job, that's also expectation setting with parents, right, and sort of just reminding them of what's developmentally appropriate, and they're still working on this and who, when they get to college. This is why college have lots of supports, because we're just not there yet.
**Jenn Viemont: **So basically, so they start somewhere between 11 and 15, depending on gender, depending on other challen, and continue developing until the mid 20s. So what about my husband's in his 50s and doesn't have a lot of these skills? What about that? Are they things that just sort of innately happen? Or do people need to learn these skills? How does that work?
**Jenna Prada: **It's a bit of both and proposition, I would say, right? So just as there's different cognitive profiles that affects the development of our prefrontal lobe, right, there's also we all have different cognitive profiles. Right. And so you said, your husband, I'll say, my husband, hopefully. He has ADHD. And we know that his brain struggles to transition, it is a fact we have the EEG data to prove it. And that just is. So hopefully what happens as you're an adult, right, is that you learn about your brain, and you've experimented with a number of strategies. And you sort of have figured out how you, as an individual, function in the world. And so I think there's a lot of trial and error to successful executive functioning skills. You know, I myself, this is what I do every year. I'm like, why don't I try this new thing? I could improve? Here's, I mean, it's a podcast. But if I turned my computer around and showed you my desk, like it's not great. And so, yeah, it's definitely a lot of learning as we go.
**Jenn Viemont: **You mentioned ADHD. And I'm a former therapist, I'm a licensed clinical social worker. And when you're going through some of the executive functioning skills, certainly a lot of them relate to diagnostic criteria for attention deficit disorder, can you talk about that overlap? And can a person struggle with EF skills without having attention deficit disorder, and vice versa?
**Jenna Prada: **I'll say this, I have never met someone who has ADHD and doesn't struggle with executive functions. Right? And it might not be every aspect of executive functioning, but focus is an executive functioning skill, response inhibition is an executive functioning skill. Right? And so, you know, referring to the diagnostic criteria for ADHD, like those are two of the big ones. And then as far as can someone struggle with executive functioning and not have a diagnosed something? Yes. Right. I mean, I think it is true, that when we get into the extremes, lots of times those difficulties in executive functioning are connected to something else, right, you think of like, an extreme of someone who can prioritize and organize like that person is a hoarder. But again, I'm not a hoarder. And I am very good at setting up an organizational system as far as my physical things, but it's difficult for me to maintain. You know, there are lots of people who just resist kind of having a to do list or using an app to support them, right? And that manifests in difficulties with executive functioning because if you're not using something to help, you keep track of your life you drop a ball you don't plan well because oh my god, there's this thing. But that's not pathological. Right? That's not anything we're going to diagnose. That's like, just get something to help yourself you can't remember it all.
**Jenn Viemont: **You know, it's really interesting. You say that, you know, and as our listeners know, my son uses your services not directly with you, but one of your coaches and it's so interesting how having that accountability and hearing from it, someone who's not his mother has impacted him. I mean, I assure you, I have talked to him about tools and resources until he's ready to rip his ears off. But then Eliza, his coach, is like why don’t you try this. And he's like, Yeah, that's a great idea. And then having to go into the call next week and say, Yeah, you know, I did try this. And here it is. It's really incredible, the impact that can have.
**Jenna Prada: **Yeah, I think it's interesting. That's so true. That observation of kind of just the value sometimes of a different human. Yeah, that's real. Right? And I think, you know, when kids are growing up, there's so much we're telling them as parents, my kids are young, I've got a five year old and an eight year old. Right? And I can imagine, like, by the time, they're 12, or 13, they need to start managing themselves more like, they're pretty sick of hearing my voice telling them what to do, and giving them ideas. Right, and so just a different person has a lot of value.
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely. And someone who is seen, you know, I mean, my kids don't see me as an expert in much. You know? And I think that's normal. And Sam's growing out of that. So I'm, he's 20, my daughter's 17. And I still know nothing, according to her, you know, as somebody who can be seen as an expert in an area.
**Jenna Prada: **Yeah. And I think somebody who just has, you know, there's so much out there, right. Like, I’ll meet with a kid and sort of have in my head, like, oh, this is the planner this kid needs, right? Because we're all very individual and what our needs are, right, and what our strengths are. And I can still go down like the planner rabbit hole for literally hours. And so you know, our executive functioning coaches have a list of like, here's our 20 favorite planners and why.
**Jenn Viemont: **Oh, that's awesome. That's awesome!
**Jenna Prada: **Right. So like, I think there's also just like, you don't have time for that. Right? So it's, you like, you could do it. But not everyone needs to have a list of 20 planners.
**Jenn Viemont: **Right? Absolutely. So how do you, with Sam was pretty clear cut for us, you know, he through high school, he was able to coast by even without strong executive functioning skills, he could, you know, blow off a class all semester, and then make it up at the end, you know, with makeup work and extra credit and still get good grades. And so he could function without these skills and did well in high school. And then when he got to college, it was especially college in Europe, where the hand holding is not there, the grade inflation is not there. And the expectations are high. He really, it was genuinely hard for him which high school wasn't. And so it was very clear for us and for him at that point. Okay, now I need some different systems. So because it was such a struggle, it was clear to everyone. But how can a parent know, especially when kids are in high school and can squeak by?
**Jenna Prada: **Kids make me nervous. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Totally, totally. So how can they know whether okay, you know what, they're fine, they'll be fine when they get to college, or we should get some systems in place, and maybe some assistance with this now?
**Jenna Prada: **I mean, okay, I'm gonna give like, two answers. Doing it. Yeah, totally. My answer is, first and foremost, like, if they don't have systems that you or they can identify, they need them. Right, right. There is no kid that grows into their adult life and doesn't need any systems. Right? Now convincing the kid of that, different story. Right, but you know, we're actually now I've got a couple kids, kids, clients, adults, it's interesting that I'm working with, who are transitioning from college to work. Oh, right. So like, even if you can grit your way through college, adulting is hard, is what one of the kids said to me. And I was like, that is true. So you know, that's like the cop out answer is we all need these systems. If you think of yourself, I'm sure you have a system right? Like your calendar sent me a number of automated reminders that I'm sure you set up. And then the less cop out right the like, How can I tell if my kid’s actually not doing very well because of this or if this is the thing that's underpinning the struggles I see across the board. Right. I think that's what the question you actually wanted me to answer. 
The way we think about it at Private Prep is if someone comes to us and they say, I'm having trouble in, and they can name a subject area. Right? What they need is a subject tutor. Right? But when a parent calls us and says, I need a Spanish tutor, and a Bio tutor, and a Math tutor, and also someone who can write essays, our first thought is like, probably you need an executive functioning coach, right? Because most students don't have real content knowledge gaps across the gamut of subjects. And also, most students don't have like, five teachers who aren't able to teach. Right? And so it tends to be sort of the foundational organizational executive functioning skills that are lacking if you feel like you're struggling across the board.
**Jenn Viemont: **I love actually, the first answer you gave, I love how you talked about if they can't identify a system, then there's a problem, you know, and how that's for life, too. And I liked how you talked about that going into careers, students in Europe have so many more life skills that they need systems for than students in the US, because you do have to worry about getting your visa and getting your residence permit. And you get there my son's about to leave for the Czech Republic. Hopefully, if his visa gets here before next week, we're still waiting on that. But even with that, he had to have the skills to call the embassy. And then today, he had to call the Ministry of the Interior in the Czech Republic. So he had to set his alarm, he had think about the time difference, you know, all of those skills needed around these life skills that students in the US don't need. And again, it was, I started thinking before his last call of the Lysa about a number of these things like oh, he needs to see if the student residents come through a sheet so we can order sheets. And I started thinking about all this. And I said, instead of going through this with him, because I would get a I know mom, you know, a good mom. I was like, hey, why don’t you talk to Eliza about this? Right, absolutely. Where they can create a system. But maybe that's also the question that parents asked students because I think even, you know, a college age, they can be so resistant to help, or even admitting deficiencies or things like that. Maybe that's the question. Okay. What's your system then? Tell me your system.
**Jenna Prada: **Yeah, no. That's what I advise parents to do is just ask questions. Right, as opposed to providing solutions. One, because asking the question seems to be less annoying. Right? To the kid. Two, maybe they have an answer that you just don't know, right. And that's an exciting outcome. Right? And Three, the very process of asking the questions, helps them develop their metacognitive skills.
**Jenn Viemont: **Yes. Oh, see, I was so sick of me saying metacognition, I said that probably every day to him last year. Yes. Yes, I agree. Can you tell?
**Jenna Prada: **Yeah. Right. And it's just more effective. And it’s harder, I get it, it's harder. Because if you're, you know, we go back to your like, are there sheets in the residency? Like, it is possibly easier for you to just look that up and tell him, “hey, buddy, you need sheets,” than it is to ask the question that gets him to think “do I need sheets” and then get him to follow through. Right? If we want kids who have these systems, we have to resist the impulse to solve the problems for them or to anticipate for them. And that requires a certain level of comfort with like, small failures. Right? Like my suggestion isn't let your kid fail out of high school or let them fail out of college, right? Or, I often try to convince parents like look, if they miss a homework, because they didn't plan well enough or because they forgot it or, like, that's okay.
**Jenn Viemont: **Right? And they get a bare mattress
**Jenna Prada: **And they end up in the college where they will feel successful, right? Or even like with my kids, you know, like they've got their checklist. And if my son forgets a snack, like he gets whatever the school gets him he's not gonna die. Right? He's just gonna, like get a little less and that's okay.
**Jenn Viemont: **Right, right, which is what metacognition is, it's learning your son, it would be like your son learning, “Oh, I didn't like the school snack because I forgot to pack mine.” And then so next time, he remembers to. He learns from that mistake,
**Jenna Prada: **Right, and he's able to reflect on potentially again, we're asking a lot, he's five, but you know, an older kid who kind of has a similar experience is able to reflect on what led to me forgetting that snack. Right? Perhaps I need to, I do need to wake up five minutes earlier when my alarm goes off, because once I'm rushing, probably I forget all of that, as opposed to you being like you're rushing, you're gonna forget something I told you to get up earlier. Right? Like the experience leads them hopefully, to that same conclusion. And it feels like their own conclusion, it feels real. And it produces action in a way that us telling them the answer does not.
**Jenn Viemont: **I think that's a real I know, it's a struggle for me as a parent of a 20 year old, who struggles with executive functioning because of metacognition is not as strong as you hoped it would be. Because again, that's one of the executive functioning skills that's deficient. So it's sort of like this learned behavior as a parent that I have to fight the instinct. Because he won't learn that you won't learn as quickly. He will learn. He won't learn as quickly as other students who have the metacognition. “Oh, when I do this, it leads to a negative outcome. So I'm going to do things differently this time.” It takes like, 10 different times of doing this before the change we made, which can be really hard to see as a parent.
**Jenna Prada: **Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I'm not gonna. That was possible. I think so. Right. So what can we do? I guess, becomes the question then, right. Like, how can we as parents feel like we're not totally impotent in this situation? And one of the things that we do as executive functioning coaches that parents can also absolutely do, is to help kids develop what I call metacognitive scripts. Right? And so you know, your son very well, right. And all parents know their children quite well, right? And so we kind of know, where are the places that are recurring struggles. And if you can have a series of questions, that is the same series every time and just kind of ask that, like, “hey, what do you have coming up this week?” “Did you check this place? And also this place?” Right? “What are the three most difficult things? And how are you planning them out?” Again, maybe that's not your kid script, right? But those are useful questions. And you just ask those over and over, what happens is the repetition of the same questions in the same order becomes something that your kid will generalize across their life, not because they want to necessarily, right, like they're not making a conscious decision, like, “Oh, mom's asking me these really great questions, I will do the same,” but it just happens. Right?
And so that's also a lot of the value of executive functioning, coaching, right, as a lot of times, we'll meet with kids three times a week for 15 minutes. And it really is, we just have set goals together. And we know what the obstacles are to those goals. And so we ask questions, each time we see the kid that address those obstacles, and prompt the kid to reflect on those things. Right? Because the other piece of metacognition, right, and the learning is that, as a society, we're so busy, right? And then when we're not busy, we're so absorbed in our phones, that there's not the quiet time where we naturally shift into reflecting. Right? 
Like, if you're in the supermarket line, you know, and you're just standing there bored, because you forgot your phone somewhere. Probably what starts to happen is you think about what's going well, this week, what do I have coming up? What do I need to be keeping track of? What's that thing that occurred? Right? But that doesn't happen. Because you've got your phone, not you whoever, right? And we take it out, what's on the news? Did I get an email? Can I respond to that text? And so, and even more so for kids writing or doing the social piece, and so, just doing something to create the space to reflect, right? And again, if it's not with an executive functioning coach and realize it's a hard ask, so many things are hard ask, right? Like if as a family, I tell people, like if you plan parent, like set up a weekly planning time where like, everyone sits at the kitchen table, and you just sort of look at what's coming up. Right? Or just like, make a family habit of every night. Hey, what do we all have going on tomorrow? How can we help each other? Right, and sort of subtly infusing the space for reflection and planning and metacognition.
**Jenn Viemont: **And those are things that especially if you start young, it just becomes part of the kid's routine. I could see having teenagers being resistant to an implementation of a weekly planning. But you know, for me, it's what's been so great for me is that, you know, in the beginning, I couldn't see I'm sort of working with Eliza this semester, you know, we did the intake together, and I said, very clear, I want this to be you guys just thing. I'm stepping out, you know, he's almost 21 years old, this is here. But because I'm the parent, because I'm paying, I do get little summaries. Say get little summaries of just vaguely what they worked on nothing, you know, and it's not therapy, it's, you know, just we worked on this. And so in the beginning, I would get stressed about something that I didn't feel like was on his radar and touch utilize a little message, you know, saying, “hey, just so you know,” you know, and what I love seeing is now there'll be something that I was worried about, not the sheets, he's not talked about the sheets in the Student Residence yet. But there'll be something that I'm worried that isn't on his radar, but I'm not responding to her, you know, not sending it to her. And then I see on the summary, oh, we talked about, you know, what he needs to do to get ready to go to Prague. And so it's, it's really nice to see that developing. And for me to be able to unlearn some of those behaviors that I learned over these years as well, that haven't been necessarily good for him. But I wonder, I think about my daughter, who is very much like me, like checklists, and systems, and all of that are definitely a part of how she works. Even at a young age, you know, she'd made a little checklist for herself. And that's how she would remember what to do around the day. And then of course, there's Sam, who really struggles in these areas. And so I wonder, why does it just come sort of naturally easier for some people, and harder for others? Like, are there certain factors, or gender, or groups of people, or that are more inclined to struggle with these skills than others? 
**Jenna Prada: **So it's interesting, I have some answers to this, we are approaching the end of my scope, right? Because when we start getting into like, brain structure, now we're talking like, neuroscience and neuropsychology. But it happens that I work very closely with some neuropsychologists. So I'm gonna say the things I'm confident in, and then I'm gonna be done. Okay. That's podcasts, you'll have another psychologist. 
So women do have more, on you're gonna see, I don't even know the technical words, right? I just have the like, understanding, there's a type of tissue that is connected between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which facilitates executive functioning, right, because executive functioning is very much about this part of the brain communicating with that part of the brain, and where's the knowledge and we pull it here? And so women have more of that connective tissue? Interesting, right? Like that is true. And then outside of that, right, we come into, again, the cognitive profiles, right? And so if you do a functional EEG, on a number of people, right, you'll see that different people have different parts of their brain that are hyperactive, or they're less active, or they have more beta rays, or more gamma waves, right. And those things, all impact. Right. And so that is the end.
**Jenn Viemont: **Okay. I did that! That's probably as much as I would have been able to understand anyway. So that's a good thing. So you work with different ages of students? What are the executive functioning skills that are particularly important for college students to have?
**Jenna Prada: **All of them. I think, so with college, I don't know that it becomes more important, it just becomes the one that has the biggest transition, I'll say, in most cases is the time management piece. Right? Because in high school, their lives are so incredibly structured, right? Like they're in the school building for seven hours, six hours, right? There's the travel to and from most years. It's funny that we need that caveat now. Right? Many of them have a club or a sport. And the homework for the most part is pretty short term. Right? Like there's a test coming up every once in a while there's a paper but mostly, it's like this was assigned on Monday. It's due on Tuesday or possibly Wednesday. Right, but you get to college, and the majority of the time is unstructured. And the majority of the assignments are over several weeks with very little check ins in between. And so kids, just while they're as many are able to break down the steps of an essay, but they don't have a concept really, of how long does that take them to do. Right? Or they're like, “oh, I have a reading.” And I'm like, Well, did you look at how many pages like how many hours a week like when I asked the college? Can how many hours a week do you think we need to put on your I like to make an ideal schedule? So we put their classes in, you go to class, right? That's non negotiable. I almost dropped my coffee. I don’t know why I hooted there. And then I’ll ask them, “Okay, so we should put in some study time, agreed? It's College. How many hours do you think you need in a week?” And a lot will be like, “four.” I felt like, “I don't think that's enough.” Right? And so to kind of work with them, right? Because if I say, like, closer to 20, right, that then we're back at like, I gave them the answer, right? And they think it's four. So maybe they'll do six. But if I put 20 on their calendar, they aren't showing up for that. Right? And so that conversation, right, like the bridging and the really understanding the time piece.
**Jenn Viemont: **You know, it's interesting, in Europe, the credit system is very different. So you know, in the US college credits are based on how many hours you spend in the classroom. So usually full time is 12 to 15 hours. In Europe. The credit system is such that it accounts for the hours you're supposed to spend on the class in and outside of the classroom. The full time is 30. So that kind of sets the expectation there to Okay, let's see, if I'm in class for 10 hours a week, that means that they're expecting me to do 20 hours of studying a week, most students will think that's crazy. So even if that means that they're doing 10, you know, then then it's, I like that system. I think it sets the expectation well.
**Jenna Prada: **I just want throw out just because it’s my favorite college tip, which is it, it supports this, it's not a time management tip, which is why it didn't come out that other answer, if anyone is listening to this, and they're going to set up that study time, I highly encourage breaking it into like, daily study time. This is the reading that's due for next class, this is the thing I have to give to my professor this week, and long term study time, right? And distinguishing that so that you don't get behind the eight ball, right. And so during that long term time, you know, even if the paper is not due for three weeks, you better be at the library working on it, right? If there's, you know, midterms or eight weeks away, at the start of the semester, you better be reviewing your notes, really naming the time to not lose track of that longer term piece. It’s huge.
**Jenn Viemont: **That's really interesting, because it could go to either or extreme. You can either focus too much on the short term, or focus too much on the long term. And they're both so important in college. So I think you provided a good understanding of how executive functioning coaching is different than content tutoring. How is it different from therapy?
**Jenna Prada: **Oh, yeah, this is when we talk about a lie, as a team, because kids will come with things where like, “Oh, that's not for me,” And so the easiest way for us to distinguish and it still gets gray, if I'm being honest, is we are always looking forward. Right? So we're not trying to resolve traumas from the past, we might ask what happened this week? But the follow up question is “And what do we learn from that to go forward?” Right. And so someone and I wish I could give them credit. And I can't remember who this is not my metaphor, okay. Talks about executive functioning coaching, if you're driving a car as always working looking out the windshield, and therapy is looking out the rearview mirror.
**Jenn Viemont: **That makes sense, that makes sense. And I think it speaks to the outcomes, then, you know, the outcome is goal oriented. It's not necessarily just insight, its action, you know, you're going to have this insight, but what are you got to do with it? Very interesting. So, if someone's looking for help, and I know there's so many people, you know, I just have been talking about Sam on our podcasts and blogs for many, many years. And as he hates but, um, so I'll get a lot of parents who contact me who are like, Oh my gosh, you know, Sam totally reminds me of my kid and some of the struggles he has, or some of the interests he has, or some of the goals he has, whatever. So, I have met a lot of parents who have kids going to college in Europe who are concerned about the executive functioning piece of things and their students. So if someone is looking for executive functioning help, I know there are tons of services out there. I personally weeded through many myself before I found you guys. What is it that people should look for in a company that offers these services or in an individual that offers this coaching?
**Jenna Prada: **Yeah, so I think I would say the big long, two things actually not the biggest one is that their approach is fully individualized. There's definitely a lot of companies and a lot of individuals that sort of have the like, my name system. And I think, you know, again, if we surveyed a bunch of successful adults, we all have a different system. And so to try and pose something, pre-fabbed on our kids seems not the right way to go to me. And so I would ask about that. 
And then I think the other thing is to just ask about the background. Look, and I think there are lots of backgrounds that can be appropriate. But executive functioning, coaching is not a regulated thing, right? There are certifications, but it's like a random company over here, you pay them $1,000 certification, right? So even saying like, I'm a certified executive functioning coach, my response is like, I don't know what that means. Right? So I think, to my mind, kinds of people that make sense as executive functioning coaches, educators make sense. If you have a student that has a learning disability, or ADHD, or any of those things, you might ask specifically about the coach's comfort level or experience with working with other people who have those same struggles. We actually have a couple of people on our team whose background is in social work. And I think sometimes that makes sense, right? We reorient again to the future orientation. But that background sometimes makes sense. Those to me are the main sort of flows into it right? And I've said social work, I could have said therapy, right.
**Jenn Viemont: **No, and I really liked what you said about the individualized approach. Because a system that sounds crazy to me, might really work for somebody else. And if it works, and who cares if I think it sounds crazy.
**Jenna Prada: **Yeah, I think that's the thing, right? And I think that's a huge message too for parents, right? And I struggle with this, like, I preach this all day. And then my kids do something, I'm like, No, you have to do it my way. But I tell people to really think about focus on the function, right? So like, kids don't need a planner, they need a way to know what's coming up. Right? They don't need an organized desk, right? They need to be able to find their things, right. So what's the function? And that's what we really need to focus on. I have one student and this is like, how much I'm like, whatever function he literally uses as his planner, a post it notepad, and I was like, “This is the worst idea.” They're gonna tear off in your pocket. They're gonna be all over the place. But I was like, well, let them try, right? Like, if it works wonderful. And he thought of it, and if it doesn’t, like he will very quickly see that, and it works. So he writes on a post it note, and he tears off the post it note at night, and transfers anything to the next post it note, and this is what he does. 
**Jenn Viemont: **It's a system. It's a system. And that's what you said, do they have a system? He has a system.
**Jenna Prada: **He has a system. Yeah. Exactly. So function and it functions.
**Jenn Viemont: **Right. Very interesting. So I think it's really about this was something I talked a lot about, in terms of just students exploring different options for colleges, and in Europe and the US and anywhere in the world. It's just about recognizing that there's not one bright path for everyone. There's not one right system for everyone. There's also not one thing that comes naturally to everyone. And I truly believe that if there are people in place, if there are services in place, like you guys, or like what we do that can, you know, cut down to trial and error that can you know, give that list of 20 planners that you've researched, or provide systems in place or provide information about college in Europe, or you know, you take your mechanic, you take your car to a mechanic because they have information about your car and how it can run properly. And, you know, there are so many resources in the world that we use, and then many that we don't either know about, or that we don't know how they work. And so I'm just really excited that you were here today to tell us about this great resource that you guys provide. And like I said, it's been just a real game changer in our house, and I appreciate everything you guys do.
**Jenna Prada: **Amazing. Thanks so much for having me. I had fun. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely.
I'm really excited to tell you about the March Special of the month, because it's something we've never offered before. The Quickstart Package puts all the resources you need right at your fingertips, and it offers a savings of $300. 
The first thing it comes with is our membership. So this includes access to our searchable database, monthly recordings that answer questions that you submit, our incredible Facebook number group, and a host of other members only webinars and resources. 
Then we're adding in all five of our self paced courses. There's a course on choosing a major, one was step by step processes to find the best school for you. One about schools in the Netherlands. One about business programs all across Europe. And another about the admissions process. We're also providing you with a digital copy of the book I wrote in 2018, which highlights 13 different universities in Europe. 
The next two inclusions are what I'm most excited to tell you about. We've compiled a new resource that's only offered here. It’s called the European College Review. This reference pulls all of the important information you need in one place. This includes important blogs, quick tips, collection of the blogs, all the blogs I've written on school visits, as well as all of the past deep dives I've provided through programs of the month. So, those are a lot of DIY resources. But this is not just a DIY package because it also comes with a 30 minute consultation with me. Purchased separately, this package would cost $529, but today we are offering it for $229 for this month actually. Due to my own availability though, we have to limit this to the first 10 subscribers. So you can find the information about this offer in our show notes or you can go to beyondthestates.com/monthlyspecial.

Jenn’s son, Sam has been struggling with implementing and sticking with organizational systems since his 5th grade. Even though the question of whether Sam suffers from ADHD remains unsolved, one is for sure, he lacks Executive Functioning skills. Therefore, in today’s episode, Jenn is joined with Jenna Prada, the creator, and director of Private Prep's Executive Functioning Programs. Jenna shares some of her strategies for helping students to overcome common executive functioning struggles, gain motivation, and learn time management skills.
Moreover, you will learn why it is counterproductive to protect your teens from failure, when parents should reach for professional help, why do we have executive dysfunctions as adults, and how to solve them later in life. Tune in and find out more!
_ “There is no kid that grows into their adult life and doesn’t need any systems. Even if you can get your way through college, adulting is hard. We all need systems.”, _Jenna Prada

**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: **Most of you have heard me talk before about my son Sam, who is about to turn 21 and is attending school in Prague. So when he was in fifth grade, he had a teacher who was really invested in him. And even though he wasn't struggling academically, she saw he was easily distracted. And she thought it was important for him to get accommodations in place through a 504 plan before he got to middle school. So he went through testing outside of school and received a diagnosis. And though his teacher and I had to fight hard because of the diagnosis of ADHD, he got a 504 plan. 
Once he got to middle school, though, he rarely used the accommodations, they really didn't speak to the struggles that he had. He tried medication on and off through middle and high school. But that really wasn't a solution for me, either. So Sam, and I currently agree that we have no idea whether he does or doesn't have ADHD. And in his situation, it really doesn't matter. What we know is that he struggles with executive functioning skills, things like implementing and sticking with the organizational systems is super hard for him. Getting started on tasks, planning, time management, study strategies, learning from mistakes, so he doesn't repeat the same ones over and over again, these are his difficulties. Having extra time on a test or taking tests in a separate room, or medication, those who aren't going to help him with these specific struggles he has. So for a while through high school, I made the mistake of being over involved trying to, you know, serve as a good executive functioning skills for him. He would call it nagging, and he wouldn't really be wrong. 
I don't know how many of you have PowerSchool Access. So basically, with Power School, it's a system set up through his school and many other school districts through the US. I could sign in at any point and see all of his grades up to date. So I would know when he didn't turn something in, I would know when he had a zero. And his school allowed students to turn late work in and they would just get points off. So instead of getting a zero, you know, if they turned it in three days late, you know, they might have an 80. So I would make them do the late work, I would look at the assignments his teachers posted and ask him if he had them done. I would ask him if he had whatever assignment was due in his backpack before he was going out the door. This was like major micromanaging, and it was a huge mistake. 
So, a lot of the guests I've spoken with on the podcast have talked about the importance of students or people just in general, experiencing failure, and how kids are currently protected from this to their own detriment. And this was a problem. I wasn't letting Sam fail. So, because he never really felt the consequences beyond the artificial ones I put in place through grounding, or you know what a brother punishment he had for not doing his work. But because he didn't feel true natural consequences, he didn't develop strategies. He also didn't really feel like developing the skills himself is important because you know what he had me taking care of it for him. 
So then he goes off to college. And not only does he not have these important skills, because I compensated for him. But he also has a false sense of confidence, because between me, micromanaging, and the school system of both grade inflation and also letting them turn in late work, he never really experienced failure academically. In fact, he graduated high school with a really strong GPA. But I should tell you, college in Europe, particularly the Netherlands is no joke. There's really not the handholding. There are resources for students to have for help. But students have to be proactive and seek these resources out themselves, which is of course another one of Sam struggles. 
Failing a class is really not rare. In fact, last year, we did a roundtable with our student ambassadors, and most of them had failed at some point since they'd been students in Europe. So Sam really did have an awakening that year when he failed a class. COVID restrictions went into place in the spring of his first year. So these restrictions are actually pretty beneficial to him because he had less social distractions, and was able to short term do what he needed to do to pass the year. So after his first year, he had some awareness that he has some deficiencies, but still not the skills. So then he goes into another year with similar difficulties along with the obstacles created by a year with COVID restrictions on your classes. It was after this year, after his second year that he finally realized or at least, he agreed to appease me, that he would get help. 
As you may know, I'm a former therapist. I'm a licensed clinical social worker not practicing, though. So I knew that we could probably get insurance to cover therapy. But I also knew that the approach like medicine or 504 accommodations really wouldn't provide him with what he needed. So I started looking into executive functioning coaches, and we found Private Prep. So Sam has an executive functioning coach, Eliza, and he works with her twice a week. Together, they have implemented strategies around studying, around planning, time management, you name it. And these aren't just, you know, the same strategies that she gives all of her clients who work with her. These are strategies that she and Sam developed together, ones that work for his own individual way of functioning. 
So, of course, we know how much executive functioning skills are needed for academics. But let's look at adult life, especially adult life living abroad. Sam moved to Prague at the end of January, when we finally got his visa in place. He'd been studying online here from home for the first semester while we got all those ducks in a row that he needed for the visa. So one of the many tasks he needs to do when he got to Prague was to open a bank account. Because, you know, those international transaction fees add up like crazy. So think about the planning involved with opening a bank account in a foreign country. First, you need to identify a bank that either has English speakers, or find someone who speaks check to go with you. And that septet task in itself takes planning, you then need to find out if you need an appointment, and if so make one. Possibly coordinating with the person who might be going with you to translate. Then you need to make sure you have all the documents, you're going to need to open the account, and also figure out how to have the money that you need to open the account. I can tell you having done this myself in Portugal is really not an easy task, even for an adult with pretty strong executive functioning skills. But it's processes like this, in addition to academic, of course, that Sam and Eliza work on together. It's not only academic success and skills, but important life skills that this is helping with.
Executive functioning skills come easily for some of us. My daughter, for instance, has been developing and implementing strategies, you know, since she could read and write. Probably before then actually, I don't even know how to sign into her PowerSchool Access, I've never needed to. But this part of the brain doesn't fully develop until people are in their mid 20s. So, some people might struggle as young adults and then be fine later in life and, you know, just develop slower. But I'll tell you, my husband is in his mid 50s. And he still struggles with executive functioning skills. When we were dating, he had a pile of unpaid bills, not because he didn't have the money, but because he didn't have a system for paying them on time. He also missed a flight once due to plan, and this is also when we're dating. He missed a flight because he didn't plan well. He didn't manage his time well, he's missed them more than once. But this particular time, we were meeting in LA for vacation. And this was, you know, before the time of cellphones. So there I am waiting for him at the gate where he's supposed to get off. I had landed before him. And I had no idea. You know, the last of the pilots ends up getting off. Tom didn't get off the flight. I had no idea when or if he would even make it there. So suffice it to say, that trip did not start out well at all. But in seeing the progress that Sam has made with Eliza, Tom's also planning to work with them as well in the coming months. I'll tell you, is it cheap? No. But it's been worth every penny. And I wish we had done this in high school. So I'm excited for you to hear from Jenna Prada today, she helped develop this program at Private Prep. So we're gonna take a quick break and come back with the interview.
**Testimonial: **I'm Taylor and I'm from Washington State and entering my second year of study at HU University in the Netherlands. I learned about my Beyond the States because my family originally had membership for my older sister who ended up attending a university in Prague. Even though that experience gave them a great understanding of college in Europe, my sister and I have different interests and goals, so they knew that they would return when it was time for me to check for the options.
Both me and my sister use the Best Fit List Service along with a membership. I filled out a form that had questions about things I like to do, my academic areas of interest, preference about my location, my academics, budget, and so much more. And I sent it to Jen. Jen uses information to come up with four of the best options specifically for me. This wasn't just a list with the names of schools. She gave information about things like courses in the program, the location, admissions information, and why this specific program was a great fit for me. Without this list, I may not have had this program on my radar, or found this school. The best Fit Lists will save you so much time and prevents you from making mistakes in your selection. It's super fun to explore the database, but felt less pressured after giving this list. If you're a junior, or especially if you're a senior, I highly recommend you to order the best fit list. Check out the show notes for details in a link or visit the Services Page at beyondthestates.com.
**Jenn Viemont: **Today, I am talking to Jenna Prada. Jenna is a New York State licensed teacher and administrator with a decade of experience working in some of New York City's most successful schools as both a teacher and administrator. Her experience and education are extensive and include tutoring, teaching, as well as work around behavioral and academic interventions for grades six through 12 at the Institute for collaborative education, where she worked with a variety of learners including those with ADHD, SLD, anxiety, and processing disorders. She had left her career with the New York City Department of Education after her first child was born and has since built a new career at Private Prep, where she is currently the director of executive functioning of special education. She has served as the Director of Tutor Experience and the Director of Tutor Development. And she is also the creator and director of their Executive Functioning Program, which has impacted my life so much and my son's life, and what we'll be talking to her about today. Jenna, thanks so much for being here.
**Jenna Prada: **My pleasure. I'm excited!
**Jenn Viemont: **So can you tell our listeners what executive functioning skills are?
**Jenna Prada: **Yeah, I think the easiest way to describe them is executive functioning skills are the skills we use to set goals, make plans to achieve them, and follow through. Right. And that sounds simple at first. But when you start to break it down, there's a lot involved with that. So, if we think of a student who wants to do well to eventually get into a college they're excited about, right. So, one we have to define what kind of college am I excited about? Right, then we have to say, Okay, what will it take for me to get accepted into that college? Wonderful. I'm a sophomore, that's several years away. Right? What do I have to do today to get there? I might be able to make the plan. I have lots of students who make a plan. And it's a good plan, but they have no sense of time. So when they go to execute on the plan, it kind of falls apart. And so then there's the time management piece, there's the motivation piece, there's the like, where is the thing I need to do that piece?
**Jenn Viemont: **Right. Resourceful then too. 
**Jenna Prada: **Absolutely, yeah. So we do a lot of self advocacy work with students learning to ask for help, and kind of because we need to ask for help to get the things we need, right, to follow through on our plans and reach those goals.
**Jenn Viemont: **Right, right. And organization.
**Jenna Prada: **Organization planning, we do a lot of calendaring. We also do a lot of, people don't think of prioritization in the context of information as well as tasks, right? So we do a lot of also like teaching students how to annotate or taking notes and knowing like when I leave a lecture, what were the most important ideas from that lecture?
**Jenn Viemont: **Interesting. So prioritizing the information you receive, not just prioritizing your day or your tasks. Interesting, interesting. And what's important and what's not.
So how do these skills just generally develop in people? And is there a time in which the development of these skills is generally achieved?
**Jenna Prada: **Yes, right. Generally short, right. And so I think we think of the brain as having two major growth spurts, right, it grows for a long time. So the first is when we're born up until about three, right? And you see development of some executive functioning skills at that point, right, we start to have a little bit of response inhibition, right, you start to see young children have goals, right? Like if you've ever seen the kid like fake cry to get mom's attention, they had a goal, they made a plan and they executed. Awesome for the mom. 
And then the next growth spurt in the brain happens somewhere. Numbers are scary, cause I feel like there's a parent that's listening to this that like, has a 12 year old and I’m about to say it could start at 11, and I'm gonna make them freak out. Alright. The next growth spurt starts somewhere normally between the ages of 11 and 13. It's closer to the 13th end for boys. And it can get delayed by two to three years for students who have certain developmental disorders or difficulties. So like ADHD, often results in a delay of two to three years in our prefrontal lobe development, which is where the executive functioning skills live. And then that development continues through our like mid 20s. 
Right. And so, you know, we see education respond to these different stages in different ways, right? There's a big step up, often, like in middle school, which corresponds with that 11 to 13. Start of developmental skills, right? And then it's interesting, right, because we have lots of expectations that continue to pile on for our kids through adolescence. And the reality is, no one who graduates high school has a fully developed brain. And so there's a lot of part of our job, that's also expectation setting with parents, right, and sort of just reminding them of what's developmentally appropriate, and they're still working on this and who, when they get to college. This is why college have lots of supports, because we're just not there yet.
**Jenn Viemont: **So basically, so they start somewhere between 11 and 15, depending on gender, depending on other challen, and continue developing until the mid 20s. So what about my husband's in his 50s and doesn't have a lot of these skills? What about that? Are they things that just sort of innately happen? Or do people need to learn these skills? How does that work?
**Jenna Prada: **It's a bit of both and proposition, I would say, right? So just as there's different cognitive profiles that affects the development of our prefrontal lobe, right, there's also we all have different cognitive profiles. Right. And so you said, your husband, I'll say, my husband, hopefully. He has ADHD. And we know that his brain struggles to transition, it is a fact we have the EEG data to prove it. And that just is. So hopefully what happens as you're an adult, right, is that you learn about your brain, and you've experimented with a number of strategies. And you sort of have figured out how you, as an individual, function in the world. And so I think there's a lot of trial and error to successful executive functioning skills. You know, I myself, this is what I do every year. I'm like, why don't I try this new thing? I could improve? Here's, I mean, it's a podcast. But if I turned my computer around and showed you my desk, like it's not great. And so, yeah, it's definitely a lot of learning as we go.
**Jenn Viemont: **You mentioned ADHD. And I'm a former therapist, I'm a licensed clinical social worker. And when you're going through some of the executive functioning skills, certainly a lot of them relate to diagnostic criteria for attention deficit disorder, can you talk about that overlap? And can a person struggle with EF skills without having attention deficit disorder, and vice versa?
**Jenna Prada: **I'll say this, I have never met someone who has ADHD and doesn't struggle with executive functions. Right? And it might not be every aspect of executive functioning, but focus is an executive functioning skill, response inhibition is an executive functioning skill. Right? And so, you know, referring to the diagnostic criteria for ADHD, like those are two of the big ones. And then as far as can someone struggle with executive functioning and not have a diagnosed something? Yes. Right. I mean, I think it is true, that when we get into the extremes, lots of times those difficulties in executive functioning are connected to something else, right, you think of like, an extreme of someone who can prioritize and organize like that person is a hoarder. But again, I'm not a hoarder. And I am very good at setting up an organizational system as far as my physical things, but it's difficult for me to maintain. You know, there are lots of people who just resist kind of having a to do list or using an app to support them, right? And that manifests in difficulties with executive functioning because if you're not using something to help, you keep track of your life you drop a ball you don't plan well because oh my god, there's this thing. But that's not pathological. Right? That's not anything we're going to diagnose. That's like, just get something to help yourself you can't remember it all.
**Jenn Viemont: **You know, it's really interesting. You say that, you know, and as our listeners know, my son uses your services not directly with you, but one of your coaches and it's so interesting how having that accountability and hearing from it, someone who's not his mother has impacted him. I mean, I assure you, I have talked to him about tools and resources until he's ready to rip his ears off. But then Eliza, his coach, is like why don’t you try this. And he's like, Yeah, that's a great idea. And then having to go into the call next week and say, Yeah, you know, I did try this. And here it is. It's really incredible, the impact that can have.
**Jenna Prada: **Yeah, I think it's interesting. That's so true. That observation of kind of just the value sometimes of a different human. Yeah, that's real. Right? And I think, you know, when kids are growing up, there's so much we're telling them as parents, my kids are young, I've got a five year old and an eight year old. Right? And I can imagine, like, by the time, they're 12, or 13, they need to start managing themselves more like, they're pretty sick of hearing my voice telling them what to do, and giving them ideas. Right, and so just a different person has a lot of value.
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely. And someone who is seen, you know, I mean, my kids don't see me as an expert in much. You know? And I think that's normal. And Sam's growing out of that. So I'm, he's 20, my daughter's 17. And I still know nothing, according to her, you know, as somebody who can be seen as an expert in an area.
**Jenna Prada: **Yeah. And I think somebody who just has, you know, there's so much out there, right. Like, I’ll meet with a kid and sort of have in my head, like, oh, this is the planner this kid needs, right? Because we're all very individual and what our needs are, right, and what our strengths are. And I can still go down like the planner rabbit hole for literally hours. And so you know, our executive functioning coaches have a list of like, here's our 20 favorite planners and why.
**Jenn Viemont: **Oh, that's awesome. That's awesome!
**Jenna Prada: **Right. So like, I think there's also just like, you don't have time for that. Right? So it's, you like, you could do it. But not everyone needs to have a list of 20 planners.
**Jenn Viemont: **Right? Absolutely. So how do you, with Sam was pretty clear cut for us, you know, he through high school, he was able to coast by even without strong executive functioning skills, he could, you know, blow off a class all semester, and then make it up at the end, you know, with makeup work and extra credit and still get good grades. And so he could function without these skills and did well in high school. And then when he got to college, it was especially college in Europe, where the hand holding is not there, the grade inflation is not there. And the expectations are high. He really, it was genuinely hard for him which high school wasn't. And so it was very clear for us and for him at that point. Okay, now I need some different systems. So because it was such a struggle, it was clear to everyone. But how can a parent know, especially when kids are in high school and can squeak by?
**Jenna Prada: **Kids make me nervous. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Totally, totally. So how can they know whether okay, you know what, they're fine, they'll be fine when they get to college, or we should get some systems in place, and maybe some assistance with this now?
**Jenna Prada: **I mean, okay, I'm gonna give like, two answers. Doing it. Yeah, totally. My answer is, first and foremost, like, if they don't have systems that you or they can identify, they need them. Right, right. There is no kid that grows into their adult life and doesn't need any systems. Right? Now convincing the kid of that, different story. Right, but you know, we're actually now I've got a couple kids, kids, clients, adults, it's interesting that I'm working with, who are transitioning from college to work. Oh, right. So like, even if you can grit your way through college, adulting is hard, is what one of the kids said to me. And I was like, that is true. So you know, that's like the cop out answer is we all need these systems. If you think of yourself, I'm sure you have a system right? Like your calendar sent me a number of automated reminders that I'm sure you set up. And then the less cop out right the like, How can I tell if my kid’s actually not doing very well because of this or if this is the thing that's underpinning the struggles I see across the board. Right. I think that's what the question you actually wanted me to answer. 
The way we think about it at Private Prep is if someone comes to us and they say, I'm having trouble in, and they can name a subject area. Right? What they need is a subject tutor. Right? But when a parent calls us and says, I need a Spanish tutor, and a Bio tutor, and a Math tutor, and also someone who can write essays, our first thought is like, probably you need an executive functioning coach, right? Because most students don't have real content knowledge gaps across the gamut of subjects. And also, most students don't have like, five teachers who aren't able to teach. Right? And so it tends to be sort of the foundational organizational executive functioning skills that are lacking if you feel like you're struggling across the board.
**Jenn Viemont: **I love actually, the first answer you gave, I love how you talked about if they can't identify a system, then there's a problem, you know, and how that's for life, too. And I liked how you talked about that going into careers, students in Europe have so many more life skills that they need systems for than students in the US, because you do have to worry about getting your visa and getting your residence permit. And you get there my son's about to leave for the Czech Republic. Hopefully, if his visa gets here before next week, we're still waiting on that. But even with that, he had to have the skills to call the embassy. And then today, he had to call the Ministry of the Interior in the Czech Republic. So he had to set his alarm, he had think about the time difference, you know, all of those skills needed around these life skills that students in the US don't need. And again, it was, I started thinking before his last call of the Lysa about a number of these things like oh, he needs to see if the student residents come through a sheet so we can order sheets. And I started thinking about all this. And I said, instead of going through this with him, because I would get a I know mom, you know, a good mom. I was like, hey, why don’t you talk to Eliza about this? Right, absolutely. Where they can create a system. But maybe that's also the question that parents asked students because I think even, you know, a college age, they can be so resistant to help, or even admitting deficiencies or things like that. Maybe that's the question. Okay. What's your system then? Tell me your system.
**Jenna Prada: **Yeah, no. That's what I advise parents to do is just ask questions. Right, as opposed to providing solutions. One, because asking the question seems to be less annoying. Right? To the kid. Two, maybe they have an answer that you just don't know, right. And that's an exciting outcome. Right? And Three, the very process of asking the questions, helps them develop their metacognitive skills.
**Jenn Viemont: **Yes. Oh, see, I was so sick of me saying metacognition, I said that probably every day to him last year. Yes. Yes, I agree. Can you tell?
**Jenna Prada: **Yeah. Right. And it's just more effective. And it’s harder, I get it, it's harder. Because if you're, you know, we go back to your like, are there sheets in the residency? Like, it is possibly easier for you to just look that up and tell him, “hey, buddy, you need sheets,” than it is to ask the question that gets him to think “do I need sheets” and then get him to follow through. Right? If we want kids who have these systems, we have to resist the impulse to solve the problems for them or to anticipate for them. And that requires a certain level of comfort with like, small failures. Right? Like my suggestion isn't let your kid fail out of high school or let them fail out of college, right? Or, I often try to convince parents like look, if they miss a homework, because they didn't plan well enough or because they forgot it or, like, that's okay.
**Jenn Viemont: **Right? And they get a bare mattress
**Jenna Prada: **And they end up in the college where they will feel successful, right? Or even like with my kids, you know, like they've got their checklist. And if my son forgets a snack, like he gets whatever the school gets him he's not gonna die. Right? He's just gonna, like get a little less and that's okay.
**Jenn Viemont: **Right, right, which is what metacognition is, it's learning your son, it would be like your son learning, “Oh, I didn't like the school snack because I forgot to pack mine.” And then so next time, he remembers to. He learns from that mistake,
**Jenna Prada: **Right, and he's able to reflect on potentially again, we're asking a lot, he's five, but you know, an older kid who kind of has a similar experience is able to reflect on what led to me forgetting that snack. Right? Perhaps I need to, I do need to wake up five minutes earlier when my alarm goes off, because once I'm rushing, probably I forget all of that, as opposed to you being like you're rushing, you're gonna forget something I told you to get up earlier. Right? Like the experience leads them hopefully, to that same conclusion. And it feels like their own conclusion, it feels real. And it produces action in a way that us telling them the answer does not.
**Jenn Viemont: **I think that's a real I know, it's a struggle for me as a parent of a 20 year old, who struggles with executive functioning because of metacognition is not as strong as you hoped it would be. Because again, that's one of the executive functioning skills that's deficient. So it's sort of like this learned behavior as a parent that I have to fight the instinct. Because he won't learn that you won't learn as quickly. He will learn. He won't learn as quickly as other students who have the metacognition. “Oh, when I do this, it leads to a negative outcome. So I'm going to do things differently this time.” It takes like, 10 different times of doing this before the change we made, which can be really hard to see as a parent.
**Jenna Prada: **Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I'm not gonna. That was possible. I think so. Right. So what can we do? I guess, becomes the question then, right. Like, how can we as parents feel like we're not totally impotent in this situation? And one of the things that we do as executive functioning coaches that parents can also absolutely do, is to help kids develop what I call metacognitive scripts. Right? And so you know, your son very well, right. And all parents know their children quite well, right? And so we kind of know, where are the places that are recurring struggles. And if you can have a series of questions, that is the same series every time and just kind of ask that, like, “hey, what do you have coming up this week?” “Did you check this place? And also this place?” Right? “What are the three most difficult things? And how are you planning them out?” Again, maybe that's not your kid script, right? But those are useful questions. And you just ask those over and over, what happens is the repetition of the same questions in the same order becomes something that your kid will generalize across their life, not because they want to necessarily, right, like they're not making a conscious decision, like, “Oh, mom's asking me these really great questions, I will do the same,” but it just happens. Right?
And so that's also a lot of the value of executive functioning, coaching, right, as a lot of times, we'll meet with kids three times a week for 15 minutes. And it really is, we just have set goals together. And we know what the obstacles are to those goals. And so we ask questions, each time we see the kid that address those obstacles, and prompt the kid to reflect on those things. Right? Because the other piece of metacognition, right, and the learning is that, as a society, we're so busy, right? And then when we're not busy, we're so absorbed in our phones, that there's not the quiet time where we naturally shift into reflecting. Right? 
Like, if you're in the supermarket line, you know, and you're just standing there bored, because you forgot your phone somewhere. Probably what starts to happen is you think about what's going well, this week, what do I have coming up? What do I need to be keeping track of? What's that thing that occurred? Right? But that doesn't happen. Because you've got your phone, not you whoever, right? And we take it out, what's on the news? Did I get an email? Can I respond to that text? And so, and even more so for kids writing or doing the social piece, and so, just doing something to create the space to reflect, right? And again, if it's not with an executive functioning coach and realize it's a hard ask, so many things are hard ask, right? Like if as a family, I tell people, like if you plan parent, like set up a weekly planning time where like, everyone sits at the kitchen table, and you just sort of look at what's coming up. Right? Or just like, make a family habit of every night. Hey, what do we all have going on tomorrow? How can we help each other? Right, and sort of subtly infusing the space for reflection and planning and metacognition.
**Jenn Viemont: **And those are things that especially if you start young, it just becomes part of the kid's routine. I could see having teenagers being resistant to an implementation of a weekly planning. But you know, for me, it's what's been so great for me is that, you know, in the beginning, I couldn't see I'm sort of working with Eliza this semester, you know, we did the intake together, and I said, very clear, I want this to be you guys just thing. I'm stepping out, you know, he's almost 21 years old, this is here. But because I'm the parent, because I'm paying, I do get little summaries. Say get little summaries of just vaguely what they worked on nothing, you know, and it's not therapy, it's, you know, just we worked on this. And so in the beginning, I would get stressed about something that I didn't feel like was on his radar and touch utilize a little message, you know, saying, “hey, just so you know,” you know, and what I love seeing is now there'll be something that I was worried about, not the sheets, he's not talked about the sheets in the Student Residence yet. But there'll be something that I'm worried that isn't on his radar, but I'm not responding to her, you know, not sending it to her. And then I see on the summary, oh, we talked about, you know, what he needs to do to get ready to go to Prague. And so it's, it's really nice to see that developing. And for me to be able to unlearn some of those behaviors that I learned over these years as well, that haven't been necessarily good for him. But I wonder, I think about my daughter, who is very much like me, like checklists, and systems, and all of that are definitely a part of how she works. Even at a young age, you know, she'd made a little checklist for herself. And that's how she would remember what to do around the day. And then of course, there's Sam, who really struggles in these areas. And so I wonder, why does it just come sort of naturally easier for some people, and harder for others? Like, are there certain factors, or gender, or groups of people, or that are more inclined to struggle with these skills than others? 
**Jenna Prada: **So it's interesting, I have some answers to this, we are approaching the end of my scope, right? Because when we start getting into like, brain structure, now we're talking like, neuroscience and neuropsychology. But it happens that I work very closely with some neuropsychologists. So I'm gonna say the things I'm confident in, and then I'm gonna be done. Okay. That's podcasts, you'll have another psychologist. 
So women do have more, on you're gonna see, I don't even know the technical words, right? I just have the like, understanding, there's a type of tissue that is connected between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which facilitates executive functioning, right, because executive functioning is very much about this part of the brain communicating with that part of the brain, and where's the knowledge and we pull it here? And so women have more of that connective tissue? Interesting, right? Like that is true. And then outside of that, right, we come into, again, the cognitive profiles, right? And so if you do a functional EEG, on a number of people, right, you'll see that different people have different parts of their brain that are hyperactive, or they're less active, or they have more beta rays, or more gamma waves, right. And those things, all impact. Right. And so that is the end.
**Jenn Viemont: **Okay. I did that! That's probably as much as I would have been able to understand anyway. So that's a good thing. So you work with different ages of students? What are the executive functioning skills that are particularly important for college students to have?
**Jenna Prada: **All of them. I think, so with college, I don't know that it becomes more important, it just becomes the one that has the biggest transition, I'll say, in most cases is the time management piece. Right? Because in high school, their lives are so incredibly structured, right? Like they're in the school building for seven hours, six hours, right? There's the travel to and from most years. It's funny that we need that caveat now. Right? Many of them have a club or a sport. And the homework for the most part is pretty short term. Right? Like there's a test coming up every once in a while there's a paper but mostly, it's like this was assigned on Monday. It's due on Tuesday or possibly Wednesday. Right, but you get to college, and the majority of the time is unstructured. And the majority of the assignments are over several weeks with very little check ins in between. And so kids, just while they're as many are able to break down the steps of an essay, but they don't have a concept really, of how long does that take them to do. Right? Or they're like, “oh, I have a reading.” And I'm like, Well, did you look at how many pages like how many hours a week like when I asked the college? Can how many hours a week do you think we need to put on your I like to make an ideal schedule? So we put their classes in, you go to class, right? That's non negotiable. I almost dropped my coffee. I don’t know why I hooted there. And then I’ll ask them, “Okay, so we should put in some study time, agreed? It's College. How many hours do you think you need in a week?” And a lot will be like, “four.” I felt like, “I don't think that's enough.” Right? And so to kind of work with them, right? Because if I say, like, closer to 20, right, that then we're back at like, I gave them the answer, right? And they think it's four. So maybe they'll do six. But if I put 20 on their calendar, they aren't showing up for that. Right? And so that conversation, right, like the bridging and the really understanding the time piece.
**Jenn Viemont: **You know, it's interesting, in Europe, the credit system is very different. So you know, in the US college credits are based on how many hours you spend in the classroom. So usually full time is 12 to 15 hours. In Europe. The credit system is such that it accounts for the hours you're supposed to spend on the class in and outside of the classroom. The full time is 30. So that kind of sets the expectation there to Okay, let's see, if I'm in class for 10 hours a week, that means that they're expecting me to do 20 hours of studying a week, most students will think that's crazy. So even if that means that they're doing 10, you know, then then it's, I like that system. I think it sets the expectation well.
**Jenna Prada: **I just want throw out just because it’s my favorite college tip, which is it, it supports this, it's not a time management tip, which is why it didn't come out that other answer, if anyone is listening to this, and they're going to set up that study time, I highly encourage breaking it into like, daily study time. This is the reading that's due for next class, this is the thing I have to give to my professor this week, and long term study time, right? And distinguishing that so that you don't get behind the eight ball, right. And so during that long term time, you know, even if the paper is not due for three weeks, you better be at the library working on it, right? If there's, you know, midterms or eight weeks away, at the start of the semester, you better be reviewing your notes, really naming the time to not lose track of that longer term piece. It’s huge.
**Jenn Viemont: **That's really interesting, because it could go to either or extreme. You can either focus too much on the short term, or focus too much on the long term. And they're both so important in college. So I think you provided a good understanding of how executive functioning coaching is different than content tutoring. How is it different from therapy?
**Jenna Prada: **Oh, yeah, this is when we talk about a lie, as a team, because kids will come with things where like, “Oh, that's not for me,” And so the easiest way for us to distinguish and it still gets gray, if I'm being honest, is we are always looking forward. Right? So we're not trying to resolve traumas from the past, we might ask what happened this week? But the follow up question is “And what do we learn from that to go forward?” Right. And so someone and I wish I could give them credit. And I can't remember who this is not my metaphor, okay. Talks about executive functioning coaching, if you're driving a car as always working looking out the windshield, and therapy is looking out the rearview mirror.
**Jenn Viemont: **That makes sense, that makes sense. And I think it speaks to the outcomes, then, you know, the outcome is goal oriented. It's not necessarily just insight, its action, you know, you're going to have this insight, but what are you got to do with it? Very interesting. So, if someone's looking for help, and I know there's so many people, you know, I just have been talking about Sam on our podcasts and blogs for many, many years. And as he hates but, um, so I'll get a lot of parents who contact me who are like, Oh my gosh, you know, Sam totally reminds me of my kid and some of the struggles he has, or some of the interests he has, or some of the goals he has, whatever. So, I have met a lot of parents who have kids going to college in Europe who are concerned about the executive functioning piece of things and their students. So if someone is looking for executive functioning help, I know there are tons of services out there. I personally weeded through many myself before I found you guys. What is it that people should look for in a company that offers these services or in an individual that offers this coaching?
**Jenna Prada: **Yeah, so I think I would say the big long, two things actually not the biggest one is that their approach is fully individualized. There's definitely a lot of companies and a lot of individuals that sort of have the like, my name system. And I think, you know, again, if we surveyed a bunch of successful adults, we all have a different system. And so to try and pose something, pre-fabbed on our kids seems not the right way to go to me. And so I would ask about that. 
And then I think the other thing is to just ask about the background. Look, and I think there are lots of backgrounds that can be appropriate. But executive functioning, coaching is not a regulated thing, right? There are certifications, but it's like a random company over here, you pay them $1,000 certification, right? So even saying like, I'm a certified executive functioning coach, my response is like, I don't know what that means. Right? So I think, to my mind, kinds of people that make sense as executive functioning coaches, educators make sense. If you have a student that has a learning disability, or ADHD, or any of those things, you might ask specifically about the coach's comfort level or experience with working with other people who have those same struggles. We actually have a couple of people on our team whose background is in social work. And I think sometimes that makes sense, right? We reorient again to the future orientation. But that background sometimes makes sense. Those to me are the main sort of flows into it right? And I've said social work, I could have said therapy, right.
**Jenn Viemont: **No, and I really liked what you said about the individualized approach. Because a system that sounds crazy to me, might really work for somebody else. And if it works, and who cares if I think it sounds crazy.
**Jenna Prada: **Yeah, I think that's the thing, right? And I think that's a huge message too for parents, right? And I struggle with this, like, I preach this all day. And then my kids do something, I'm like, No, you have to do it my way. But I tell people to really think about focus on the function, right? So like, kids don't need a planner, they need a way to know what's coming up. Right? They don't need an organized desk, right? They need to be able to find their things, right. So what's the function? And that's what we really need to focus on. I have one student and this is like, how much I'm like, whatever function he literally uses as his planner, a post it notepad, and I was like, “This is the worst idea.” They're gonna tear off in your pocket. They're gonna be all over the place. But I was like, well, let them try, right? Like, if it works wonderful. And he thought of it, and if it doesn’t, like he will very quickly see that, and it works. So he writes on a post it note, and he tears off the post it note at night, and transfers anything to the next post it note, and this is what he does. 
**Jenn Viemont: **It's a system. It's a system. And that's what you said, do they have a system? He has a system.
**Jenna Prada: **He has a system. Yeah. Exactly. So function and it functions.
**Jenn Viemont: **Right. Very interesting. So I think it's really about this was something I talked a lot about, in terms of just students exploring different options for colleges, and in Europe and the US and anywhere in the world. It's just about recognizing that there's not one bright path for everyone. There's not one right system for everyone. There's also not one thing that comes naturally to everyone. And I truly believe that if there are people in place, if there are services in place, like you guys, or like what we do that can, you know, cut down to trial and error that can you know, give that list of 20 planners that you've researched, or provide systems in place or provide information about college in Europe, or you know, you take your mechanic, you take your car to a mechanic because they have information about your car and how it can run properly. And, you know, there are so many resources in the world that we use, and then many that we don't either know about, or that we don't know how they work. And so I'm just really excited that you were here today to tell us about this great resource that you guys provide. And like I said, it's been just a real game changer in our house, and I appreciate everything you guys do.
**Jenna Prada: **Amazing. Thanks so much for having me. I had fun. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely.
I'm really excited to tell you about the March Special of the month, because it's something we've never offered before. The Quickstart Package puts all the resources you need right at your fingertips, and it offers a savings of $300. 
The first thing it comes with is our membership. So this includes access to our searchable database, monthly recordings that answer questions that you submit, our incredible Facebook number group, and a host of other members only webinars and resources. 
Then we're adding in all five of our self paced courses. There's a course on choosing a major, one was step by step processes to find the best school for you. One about schools in the Netherlands. One about business programs all across Europe. And another about the admissions process. We're also providing you with a digital copy of the book I wrote in 2018, which highlights 13 different universities in Europe. 
The next two inclusions are what I'm most excited to tell you about. We've compiled a new resource that's only offered here. It’s called the European College Review. This reference pulls all of the important information you need in one place. This includes important blogs, quick tips, collection of the blogs, all the blogs I've written on school visits, as well as all of the past deep dives I've provided through programs of the month. So, those are a lot of DIY resources. But this is not just a DIY package because it also comes with a 30 minute consultation with me. Purchased separately, this package would cost $529, but today we are offering it for $229 for this month actually. Due to my own availability though, we have to limit this to the first 10 subscribers. So you can find the information about this offer in our show notes or you can go to beyondthestates.com/monthlyspecial.

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Finding the Perfect European Degree for You, and Why 'Best' Doesn't Mean What You Think it Means

Generally speaking, something doesn't have to be “better than” or “worst than”, it can just be defined as different. Moreover, something is very rarely universally “better than” or “worse than”, rather, it is a matter of the specific person's preferences.

Why are certain places a perfect choice for some people but a mistake for others?
Generally speaking, something doesn't have to be “better than” or “worst than”, it can just be defined as different. Moreover, something is very rarely universally “better than” or “worse than”,** **rather, it is a matter of the specific person's preferences. Whether we are talking about food and fashion or homes and education. Hence, how to make choices that match your personality and expectations when it comes to living and studying abroad?
Jenn and her guest discuss this topic. She is joined with Tim Leffel, a writer, an editor, a publisher, and an author of numerous books about traveling. Stay tuned as Tim shares his rich experience of traveling to many countries and also suggests the importance of setting the right priorities when choosing a country to stay.
**_“You need to know what is crucial for you to have in your life ahead of a time and to be prepared for cultural differences.”, _**Tim Leffel

**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: **You guys, I am so super excited about our guest today. It's author Tim Leffel, and he has had such a direct impact on my family's life. So as I've mentioned before, we just got back after spending two years in Portugal. We had originally planned to move to Malaysia, but due to some constraints with Tom's job, we moved to Portugal instead. It was through Tim's book and his blogs that I really learned about living in both of these places. So when we were developing our plan about moving abroad, Ellie and I spent six weeks in Malaysia. We spent time in two different cities, Penang and KL, and we were looking at things like apartments to see what we could get with our budget, visiting international schools that Ellie could attend, and experiencing other aspects of day-to-day life. 
** **And this trip was so helpful. Of course, we visited a number of tourist sites when we were there. I mean, there's some incredible places to visit. But the majority of our time was spent living as we would if we were residents, not tourists. You know, Ellie did her online school during the day, I worked. We experienced grocery shopping, traffic, public transportation, all sorts of other things that relate to how life works when you live somewhere. 
** **So because of this, had we moved there, I feel like we wouldn't have been surprised or disappointed by certain things, you know, things like the excessive heat, the crazy traffic, or the haze during burning season that really just gets to your eyes and your throat. And we experienced all these things so we knew what we were walking into. We didn't really have this as much with Portugal. But my brother does live there and kind of gave us a lot of information. And we had been to Portugal a couple of times as well. So these things, along with the frequent trips I take to Europe for Beyond the States definitely gave us an idea of what we were getting into. 
** **So Tim's book is all about -- the title says it all -- "A Better Life for Half the Price." And Tim does a great job pointing out in his book, that this isn't just a cheaper version of your current life. And that you do need to know what's crucial for you to have in your life ahead of time, and to be prepared for cultural differences. 
And this is really what I want to parallel to college in Europe as well. While it's certainly more affordable than out-of-state and private higher education in the US, it's not just a cheaper version of these schools. You have to be aware of and interested in the differences, and also ready to deal with the downsides as well. So it would be a little bit like if I said I wanted to move to Eastern Europe say just because of the affordability. And I was looking for a house that costs less than my current one here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I want a fenced-in yard for my dogs. I want a store like Target that has, you know, everything you might need, easily accessible. Also, a large supermarket, an English-speaking high school for Ellie, and an English-speaking Pilates studio for myself. And oh yeah, I'd like central air and heat, as well as a clothes dryer. Not going to happen. 
** **It's the same when someone tells me that they want to study in a specific country in Europe, that they want to pay less than in-state tuition, attend a medium-sized university, have a centralized campus with a dorm. They want to major in Literature and minor in Political Science, and they want to play, I don't know, softball competitively for the school. Not gonna happen. 
** **So it's important to know that there are a lot of differences between European universities and American universities. Certainly, the program structure is different than the majors and minors and Gen Ed requirements in the US. And except for Ireland, and a few exceptions, most campuses are decentralized. This means that the various departments of the university are all throughout the city. They're not in one central campus. Now, your classes are all going to be held in your academic department. They call it academic departments faculty. So you don't have to get from, you know, one part of town to another to get to your classes because you're not going to have those Gen Ed requirements that are held in different academic departments. 
** **Student Housing is not generally owned by universities. There are dorms, they're called student residences, but they generally house students from a variety of different schools in the city. So because of these two factors, your student life is often more tied to the city than the school. And now, that's not to say that there aren't opportunities for student life within the school, but it's not confined to that. 
Sports are different too, of course. We have a podcast episode done earlier this year about a student who actually plays baseball in the Netherlands. But this is done at the league level, not connected to the university. School size considerations are different as well. Small schools are worth considering since so much of your student life occurs outside of the school. And larger schools are worth considering too since your academic life is pretty confined to your smaller academic department. Getting lost in the shuffle is less likely, and you can usually find all of the student resources you need at this level; at the faculty level, the academic department level, as well. 
So these are just a few of the differences. One thing I'm working on with myself is not automatically seeing a difference about anything, not just countries or schools, and automatically defining something is better than or worse than. For one, something doesn't have to be better than or worse than, it can just be defined as different. Second, something is very rarely universally better than or worse than. It's really more a matter of the specific person's preferences, their goals, their interests, their tastes. Whether we're talking about food, or fashion, or homes, or education, or countries, I have to tell you, I'm a lot more likely to look at something with an open mind, if I'm thinking about it as different, as opposed to better or worse. Even going into thinking that the options in Europe are better can really shoot you in the foot, as you might not be prepared for some of the obstacles. When you look at the differences with an open mind, you can decide if there are differences that would fit you as a person as well as your personal situation. Having the mindset that you will, or even having the mindset that you should get the same experience outside of the US that you get in the US is really going to set you up for a lot of disappointment. 
We offer a number of master classes throughout the year in which students have group calls with each other, and also with myself. So we do spend time talking about concerns. It's really important, I think, not to gloss over them. So one student mentioned that he's really active in marching band in high school. And though there are a ton of differences in Europe that he's really excited about, he's concerned that he won't be able to continue with marching band. Now, I really have no idea how marching band works outside of the US, like whether there are, I don't know, marching bands that perform at parades or things like that. So his first step is to explore this through Google, which he – you’re so lucky. I would have had to like consult an encyclopedia or something if it were my day. 
But anyway, so he's going to research and see if there is something similar, or even the same, you know, some sort of marching band that would be interesting to him. There might not be. And if not, he's going to weigh whether that's a deal breaker or a preference, or whether there are ways for him to pursue that interest during summers, or other outside of the box solutions. It may be that he decides it's a deal breaker, and that's okay. The recognition that there are differences, neither good nor bad, but that simply have to be evaluated along with his own personal needs, that's going to help him make an informed decision. 
So we're going to take a quick break and talk to Tim who knows more about these differences and how to evaluate them than anyone I've ever encountered. We'll be right back.
**Testimonial: **Hey, guys. I'm Izzy from Wisconsin. I'm entering my third year of study at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. If you've been listening to the last few episodes of the podcast, you might think that Beyond the States is mostly for Dutch schools. There are a lot of members here particularly because other than Ireland, of course, the Netherlands has the greatest number of English-taught bachelor's degree programs. There are actually Beyond the States members in Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, Italy, and France, and Spain, and Belgium, and even Cyprus. Each country is different when it comes to their admission requirements, educational approaches, the types of universities and types of programs they offer and more. 
This is just one reason why Beyond the States is so helpful. They have information about all of these different countries and make it easy to understand and navigate them. I'm actually a dual citizen, and my parents grew up and started their higher education in Poland. They later moved to the US to finish their higher levels of education. Even though they have an understanding of these higher educations in the US, they didn't want me to be limited to just those options, especially since I'm eligible for EU tuition in all of Europe. Except for Ireland, of course. Our Beyond the States membership helped me learn about so many options all around Europe that would be a good fit for me. 
I would really encourage you to not limit your options to just one country. For example, when I was looking, I looked not only at the Netherlands but also Portugal, Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic. Beyond the States makes that easy to do, especially with their membership. Check the show notes or service page at beyondthestates.com for information on how to join. 
**Jenn Viemont: **So today I'm joined by Tim Leffel, who is the true original travel influencer. He's an award-winning travel writer and author, and an expert who's regularly quoted in major media. He's written and edited thousands of articles, online and in print, and authored five books: Travel Writing 2.0, The World’s Cheapest Destinations, Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune, the Traveler’s Tool Kit, and my personal favorite, A Better Life for Half the Price. 
Tim, I can't even tell you how excited I am to have you here today. We just spent the last two years living abroad in Portugal, and our exploration of different places and how to approach the search and the considerations and all of that were a result of your incredible book, and I can't even tell you the impact it had on our life. And I'm so glad you're here to share your wisdom with our listeners.
**Tim Leffel: **Well, thank you, Jennifer. That means a lot. I love to hear when people read something that I wrote and acted on it because yeah, that's the purpose really, to help people do it with fewer headaches and less hassle, and hopefully, less money as well.
**Jenn Viemont: **Well, and it's really interesting, I was reviewing a lot of your work over the past week in preparation for this call. And particularly during these times when travel is limited, it's so exciting to read about the possibilities for when it's not. I was reading – I'm going to be honest – South America has been on my lower list of places to go, on my lower priority list, but I was reading about a place that you talked about in Argentina that's like Switzerland, and I can't get it off my mind. And it has moved up to, you know, the top five in my list of places I want to go.
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, that would probably be Bariloche. It's kind of a weird place because there's lots of Germans and Swiss Germans there and chocolate shops and all. It feels kind of strange when you're in South America, but beautiful, beautiful scenery around there.
**Jenn Viemont: **Wow. So you're an expert both on moving abroad and traveling on the cheap. And our students who are studying in Europe – and actually, some of their parents are moving abroad the students for three to four years, sometimes more if they decide to go to grad school or pursue work there. And of course, students are interested in affordable places to go. So I'd like to talk about both, but I do have a question about something I just recently learned this week in my research, which was that you had your first international travel experience at the age of 30, after establishing a career and buying a house and all that. So I'm wondering if you can tell me a little bit about your journey from there to here?
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, that was partly because I was following the path that we're all told to follow, which is, you know, get good grades and go to college and get a corporate job, and then move your way up the ladder. And I'd sort of done all that. Sort of following the script, I guess. And I had taken some vacations and been on business trips, like in Canada, and I'd been to Jamaica and whatever, but I hadn't gone anywhere for more than a week, I don't think. I traveled a lot in the US. But basically, my now wife, then girlfriend, said she wanted to go travelling around the world and, you know, go backpacking around the globe, and she would like me to go with her. But if I didn't, she was gonna go anyway. So that was kind of the impetus. And, you know, it kind of just – you know, they say that out of the box thinking, you know, it just totally put me out of my box, and I started thinking, “Well, why not? It's like I love this job I’m in.” I had this boss that I hated, and you know, it was a very stressful job. And so, it was a fun one, but very stressful. I worked in the music business, and so did my wife, and that's how we met. 
But anyway, so we started making plans, and I rented out my condo. I didn't sell my car. I think I parked it at my parents house and we just like sold a bunch of stuff, got rid of, you know, everything we could, and then took off. And we didn't really have enough money to last us an entire year, so we got certified to teach English. We took a month-long course in Bangkok, and we ended up teaching in Turkey for about five months on that trip. And then later, we taught English in Korea. So I would advise that for people who are looking to live somewhere. It's a good way to, you know, fund your living abroad experience because at the worst, you get paid enough to live on. But if you're in a country like Korea, you can actually save a lot of money. So we did, and then we went traveling some more. So in all, it was about three years abroad on that trip. And yeah, I started travel writing then, just doing some odd articles here and there, and realized I didn't really want to go back to an office job. I mean, I did for a while when we came back, because I had a kid and I had I guess a steady income. But I kept the travel writing going, and eventually, it became my full time job.
**Jenn Viemont: **Wow, that's awesome. And you live in Mexico now, correct? 
**Tim Leffel: **Yes, I do. I live in a city called Guanajuato, which is right smack in the middle, and it's in the center of the country, but it's 6,500 feet up in the mountains. And so, the weather's really nice, and it's sunny all the time.
**Jenn Viemont: **Nice. So you have personal experience around living abroad. And then of course, all your research around it. So I wanted to start there, with actually living abroad. And I think a lot of people think that the savings, when they think of savings, it's just like rent and food. Can you tell me about some of the other areas or the other sources of savings that people might not think about right off the top of their head?
**Tim Leffel: **Well, first of all, there's this underlying principle that people don't realize until they're out there for a while, which is the faster you move, the more you're gonna spend. So if you're trying to do like seven countries in two weeks, you know, you're gonna spend a fortune, no matter where you go, just because you're gonna spend so much on transportation. And also, when you're in a certain place for a while, you figure out where the cheap restaurants are, and where the best grocery store is, and what free events are going on, and all that kind of stuff. So it definitely pays to go deeper instead of wider. 
And the other thing is there's a massive difference in just the day-to-day costs in different countries, whether that's, you know, a hostel or a hotel or lodging, but also just a bus or taxi or, you know, basic food things, and to go out to see a museum or to go on some activity. I mean, it can literally quadruple when you cross the border. I mean, that happens when you go from Hungary to Austria, for instance, or the Czech Republic to Germany. I mean, their neighbors, you know, they're closer than US states, and smaller, but the economic differences can be huge. And so, there are some places like Bulgaria that are as cheap as Southeast Asia, for example, or Central America. But then, you know, if you go to Switzerland or Norway, you're going to spend way more than you would in the United States. And so, there's just a massive range there, even in Europe. And so, it pays to do some research. That's why I put out that book, The World's Cheapest Destinations. Because when I wrote it, there was nothing out there like that, and it was really hard to find, you know, apples to apples comparison. So I just kind of put out this guide and said, “I'll see if anybody buys it.”
Jenn Viemont: And they did.
Tim Leffel: And people did. And so, now it's in its fifth edition, so it's been a while.
**Jenn Viemont: **I also think for us when we lived abroad, a big part of the savings that really shook us every day was how much less healthcare was.
**Tim Leffel: **Oh yeah, that’s a big one.
**Jenn Viemont: **You know, than in the US. And also, I think there's this sort of false belief that the care you get in the US is the best, you know, it must be, you pay so much, and doctors pay so much to become doctors. And I was extremely impressed with the level of care we got for -- we chose to get private insurance, but we didn't have to after we had residency. So you know, it was under $200 for the three of us each month for insurance. We didn't have a deductible, I could talk to my doctor on the phone. I mean, it was just -- and then my son who is in the Netherlands broke his wrist, and he was just on student insurance, had to have surgery. And we kept calling the hospital to say, “Okay, you know, how much is out of pocket?” and calling the insurance, you know, trying to think like he just had surgery, we must -- you know, we're gonna pay an arm and a leg. And they were very off put by all these calls -- you know, we’ll get to you when we get to you! It was zero, is what we had to pay out of pocket. It was crazy.
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, I hear stories like that all the time. And it just is so foreign to us, coming from the US system that’s so ridiculously expensive. And we have catastrophe insurance, but it's mostly because we need it when we go back to the US. But when we're here, we pay out of pocket in Mexico and it's $40 to $60, depending on the doctor, and they give you their cell phone number. That's private doctors, of course, you know. And if we went to the public system, it would be maybe nothing. And my dentist trained in Texas, my dermatologist speaks fluent English, you know. And so, she's at the high end, that's the $60 one, you know, but it's like, still, it's nothing, you know? It’s like less than you spend on dinner at Applebee's or something. 
So you know, it's not something we ever worry about here. And like you said, a lot of European countries, and Argentina is like this too. They don't even know how to charge you. It's basically, you know, they give the care and send you on your way [laughs].
**Jenn Viemont: **Yeah, yeah. It's really incredible. I mean, being back in the US now and seeing how much my husband is now no longer self-employed, and he works for a company and seeing how much of his check is going towards health insurance, you know, you think like, oh, you work for a company, you're covered. No, it's just a lot of it's coming out of his paycheck. You know? 
Tim Leffel: Yeah, exactly. 
**Jenn Viemont: **It's really incredible, that difference.
**Tim Leffel: **And just back to your question again, lodging usually is your biggest expense, or one of the biggest expenses. So there are ways out there that you can cut that down by, you know, doing volunteer work, or couch surfing, or home exchange, or working in a hospital for two weeks or whatever. You know, you can get creative with those things. But you know, still, when you're planning a budget, it's better to just assume you're gonna have to pay for it, and then get a surprise to the upside if you work something else out.
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely. So I was rereading a number of your blogs, like I said, and one thing I really liked that you said -- I can't remember if it was a blog or a book, but you said, “As a travel writer who visits 10 to 12 countries each year, I often asked myself when visiting a new place, could I live here? Usually the answer is no for some very specific, factual reason.” And you also talk about the reasons that you might not want to live someplace or a reason that somebody else might want to live someplace, you know, there's not just one right answer. So I want to talk about that more. But just out of curiosity, can you tell me another place, besides Mexico, where the answer is, yes, I could live here? And maybe a place that you love to visit, but you wouldn't want to live?
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, I could live in Portugal, which you have lots of experience with. I probably wouldn't live in Lisbon. I’d live somewhere smaller, more manageable. But I do like that country a lot. And there's other places I've been in Europe where I could live. But I do have to say the language can be a problem like someplace like Hungary or Bulgaria or Czech Republic. I like those places, but I think I would find it difficult not, you know, having any mastery of the language. And I would live in Argentina, and we actually thought about it for pretty seriously for a while, but we decided it was just way too far. And you know, getting back and forth to see family was going to be too difficult. And also, they go out to eat at like 11 or 12 at night, which is if you got a kid, that's hard to deal with. 
So there were a few reasons there. But yeah, there's -- I mean, it's also a matter of how long are you going to live there. Like if you go live somewhere for three months, that's a whole different thing than if you're gonna go there for the rest of your life. And so, that's one of the great things about being a digital nomad, which a lot of people have, you know, sort of found their way into because they're working remote, or they own their own business, and they can go where they want. And so, three months is kind of like a visa limit in a lot of places. So you know, a lot of nomads will go somewhere for three months and then move on. Sometimes you can get six. And I think that's a really nice situation, because you don't really get sick of a place in that amount of time, you know? And all the things that are getting on your nerves haven't totally freaked your nerves yet. So yeah, it's kind of a different thing. I mean, there are a lot of places I could live for six months easily. But I don't know if I would want to live there for years on end. And I kind of feel that way with most of Southeast Asia too, just because that heat gets really stifling, that tropical heat. I was just in Belize for two weeks, and I loved it, but I got so tired of spraying bug spray on all the time, and I still got a load of bites, you know. And I don't miss that [laughs].
**Jenn Viemont: **Oh no. When we were in Malaysia, that was the only thing that got to me. Even though there's air conditioning everywhere, even like on the sidewalks.
Tim Leffel: Yeah.
Jenn Viemont: You know, that heat where you need to change clothes a few times during the day.
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, I remember the first place we landed was Japan when we went traveling around the world, but then we landed in Bangkok, and it was the hottest time of the year. And we were sucking down bottles of water all day long and never going to the bathroom. And I realized, you know, there's something not quite right about this.
**Jenn Viemont: **But I like what you said about three to six months, I could live somewhere, like our students, I could live somewhere for three to four years, if there was sort of a reason. You know, if I were being compelled by great education at a great price. And knowing there's an end date. Then if you know there's an end date, you know, okay, I have to deal with this nonsense of whatever nonsense it is you find for three to four years. I can suck it up for that long. And I often do get students who come to me and they say, oh, I want to study in Paris or Barcelona, or Rome or a handful of other well known places, because, you know, they vacation there. And it's so different vacationing somewhere versus living somewhere.
Tim Leffel: Yeah.
**Jenn Viemont: **So if you were talking to a college student who would be living somewhere for three to four years, what would you suggest that they look at when it comes to -- you talked about deal breakers about location I talk about the same when it comes to school considerations. So what would you suggest they look at when they're thinking about their deal breakers around location or what they should or shouldn't include in those?
**Tim Leffel: **Well, I think for anyone moving abroad, you know, weather matters. You know, how much and how well are you able to put up with winter, or extreme heat and bugs, like we were talking about.
**Jenn Viemont: **Or darkness.
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, darkness. I mean, if you go live in Norway, I mean, it's gonna be, you know, dark all day, sometimes, you know, in the middle of the winter. And it's great in the summer, because you know, you can be out at 3am. And everybody's still eating outside and cafes and it's light. But you know, you get the opposite in the wintertime. So that matters, the cost of living matters. If you're broke all the time, that's no fun. I mean, even if you've got the university support system there and a meal plan or whatever, you're still going to leave campus sometimes. Yeah, and so. And then just the culture. I mean, if I've heard people say that they studied in Russia, and they got really frustrated, because everybody was just kind of cranky and frowning all the time, and you know, just in a bad mood, and that can wear on you after a while, you know, and they're also sort of social norms around the world. I mean, it can be difficult to live in Japan or Korea, because there are very conformist social norms that, you know, if you step outside of the circle, you're really ostracized. And so if you're kind of a rebellious person with tattoos in those rings and purple hair, you're probably not going to do so well, there maybe in the middle of Tokyo, but not the rest of the places. So yeah, it's just kind of a self assessment more than anything, you know, what matters to you? What's important, what, what do you hate? You know, that's as important as what do you like and, and back to your point about the big cities, I do think it can be advantageous to go to a smaller place, I mean, a really university town instead of a big city. My wife studied in England, and she went to Norwich, University of East Anglia, Anglia. And one thing I think she got way more interaction with with British people that way. And also, you know, it was a lot cheaper, and she was able to do a lot more, rather than being right in the middle of London.
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely. And there's, it's not like these are necessarily small towns. I mean, there's Toulouse in France, which is a great student city, there's Utrecht in in the Nether, Bruno and Czech Republic or Paich. In in Hungary, I mean, they're, they're not like tiny, little small towns, I think people also think of small towns outside of the US, like small towns are in the US. And it's so different, right? So what do you think the biggest obstacles people face? When they're moving outside of their home country? What are some of the hardest things you had to adjust to that people should anticipate?
**Tim Leffel: **Well, I think the people that adjust the easiest are the ones that are open minded, and appreciate other cultures and understand that, you know, the place you grew up, doesn't necessarily get it right all the time, either. Like, being willing to just kind of go with the flow and see what's expected of you in a place and, and how you fit in and how you get things done. I mean, this is kind of a blanket statement. But in most of Latin America, things move very slowly, and family comes first. And you know, nobody's a workaholic, and you've got to just kind of get used to those things. And because if you try to fight them, you know, you're going to be in a fight day after day. And, you know, if you expect your contractor to show up at 10 o'clock on the dot, every morning, to do work on your house, you're gonna go through many contractors, because we're gonna do that consistently. And it's just part of the culture, you know, and it's super noisy, where I live, there's like fireworks and mariachi bands and dogs on the roof and everything. And you know, if that kind of thing is going to drive you crazy, then this is not the place to live. And so I always tell people to do a trial run because you know, try to go live in a real neighborhood, don't stay in a high rise tourist hotel, you know, rent an apartment somewhere and where the locals live and kind of try it out. Because then you get a real sense of what it's like to live there. Instead of like you said, the tourist experience, which is very different.
**Jenn Viemont: **Totally, totally. For me, I think the biggest The hardest thing for me to adjust to that I had to do all sorts of self talk about was just dealing with the bureaucracy, you know, your residence permit your driver's license, all those things. And what I had to remind myself is, that sucks everywhere. Like even in the when you live somewhere, you so rare, you know, for like, what you get your driver's license renewed every 10 years here in the US passport renewed about that. So you're not dealing with it on a daily basis, like you are in your first year in another country. So it might seem like it's worse, but it's not. You're just dealing with it more.
**Tim Leffel: **I hear people complain about the process they have to go through to get residency in Mexico and like, maybe they had to go to the office a second time because they didn't you know, they were missing a document. It's like, Do you realize how much effort people have to go through to go the other direction? It takes us 10 years to get residency in the US. You know, it's not a big deal if you have to go back again.
**Jenn Viemont: **No, for sure. I hear a lot of people and I hate to use this word because it sounds judgy but I but I hear this more from Americans and Then students and families from other countries, it's almost like a sense of entitlement of like wanting to be in this new country. And wanting you know, the convenience, I had a hard time with the convenience as to and not having a whole display of hummus to choose from, or to, you know, 10 different stores to get 10 different items. But like, I'm not entitled to that living in a different country, you know, yeah,
**Tim Leffel: **You're a guest there is their country. Yep. And yeah, the US is the land of convenience and choice. And people need to understand, like no other place in the world lives up to that standard. And whether that's a good thing or not, you know, we can get anything we wanted anytime, almost. But that's not the case in most of the world.
**Jenn Viemont: **Right. And I think it really is, like you were just saying whether it's good or not, is not necessarily having to define everything as better or worse, just recognizing that there's this category called different, and it doesn't have to be better or worse and qualified in that way.
**Tim Leffel: **And there are plenty of areas where the US is way behind other parts of the world, you know, public transportation, healthcare, we already talked about. I mean, the US healthcare system is great if you have some rare disease, and you need like, the best surgeon in the world and things like that, you know, but for normal day to day health care, it's pretty lousy, and you know, our, our transportation system, the roads are great, but if you need to get from A to B, without a car, it's pretty tough. Whereas in most of the world, you can do that quite easily. And so, yeah, there's plenty of areas and you know, you can get, we can talk about our political system for days. And you know, there's our education system, there's plenty of flaws that we could point to where we grew up, no matter where we grew up.
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely, absolutely. And that ties to one of my other questions, which is, there was this one blog, I was reading of yours, that talks about the negativity people get from other people, you know, people who are moving outside of their home country, the negativity they might get from friends or families, or for you, we're talking about sort of internet trolls. And a lot of the families I work with deal with this as well, you know, you're gonna send your kid, you know, to another country, these are families who may live on the east coast, and wouldn't hesitate to send their children to California. But sitting there from the East Coast to, you know, some place in Western Europe, they're baffled. And I see it also on our Facebook ad posts, you know, people will comment on the ad with a statement as if it's a fax, but as either something that is no longer true, or has never been true. You say I'll quote, I'm not sure whether these attackers feel threatened or patriotic to the extreme, or just grumpy that they're stuck where they are. But it's a common tendency I deal with every month. So I'm wondering if you could tell us when it deal when it comes to dealing with these objections, not from the internet trolls, but from, you know, well, meaning people, family, friends, school counselors, whatever. Do you have advice on what to say to them?
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, it depends on who I'm talking to, you know, some people are just hopeless, I think you're, you're never gonna change their mind, you just say, we, we have a really good life there, when we enjoy where we are. And we're able to, you know, have a lot money, a lot more money leftover at the end of the month that we can spend on other things, or save or whatever. But, you know, sometimes I'll just get into the specifics and say, Okay, we have a housekeeper, we have a four bedroom house that's paid for, you know, we don't have a mortgage, we take a taxi across town for $3, we can go buy more groceries that we can carry for $40. You know, so why wouldn't I live there, I have sunshine all year, you know, it's 70 some degrees every day is beautiful. So, you know, understand if you don't want to move, but we had a lot of good reasons to move and, and besides, I can speak Spanish now too, which I never managed to do when I was just studying from a textbook. But once people step outside and travel a lot, they understand it, but the people who have not traveled at all outside their own country. I think it's a lost cause, you know, to try to talk about anything besides maybe the economics in the weather, like I mentioned.
**Jenn Viemont: **You know, this is really true. I mentioned to you that for a while we were on route to move to Malaysia, and my 17 year old daughter, she was 15 at the time, and she was so excited about this. We did a trip to Malaysia scouting, you know, it was playing, we were moving to Malaysia. And people would ask her, why Malaysia? Now, I want to just tell you that we watched the episode of House Hunters International Well, after this plan was put into place, but it was like, Oh, we're gonna go visit their list. Watch this episode in House Hunters International. And she was telling people Oh, because we saw it on House Hunters International. I'm like, Please don't tell people that she's not they don't care that they don't tax on on global income. Don't care about those things. It's just easy to say.
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, that's funny. I do want to put a caveat out there because people bring up that show a lot. It's not completely true. You have to understand but the prices are accurate. So watch out for that.
**Jenn Viemont: **It's nice to kind of get a look at like, you know what housing looks like they're putting bass where we're telling that so I knew who I need to do damage control with.
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, it's funny.
**Jenn Viemont: **So D, so our students are in Europe, you know, in EU and EEA countries is where the students we work with are. So, you know, that doesn't have to be Europe, it can be you know, it's my son went to Morocco, from from Amsterdam very easily. But what would you say are hotspots for affordable travel for students who are living in UAE countries?
**Tim Leffel: **Well, there's two basic clusters. So that makes it easy to remember what we used to call Eastern Europe, the Iron Curtain countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union. Those are pretty universally still a bargain. So I'm just gonna run down I'm real quick Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania. Yeah, there's one or two missing there. But I guess Moldova, maybe but, and then there's Georgia, which is way over on the other side of the, the, the red, the Black Sea. But anyway, you know, those are all good deal. Bulgaria is sort of the Balkans, sort of Eastern Europe, depending on who you ask, but the Balkans is the other cluster. So that would be you know, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, those are all a really good deal. And in all those cases, it's just because the amount that the local people make is just not what it is in France or Italy. And that trickles down to everything, you know, real estate, transportation, or your rent, or hotels or whatever. So those places are just drastically cheaper than going to, you know, the greatest hits of Europe. And, and I would say, you're not really taking a step down in quality either in some of those, I mean, the Czech Republic is just a fantastic place to visit. And Slovakia is very similar, because they used to be one country. You know, but I mean, just fairy tale castles and historic cities. And I mean, Prague might just be the, you know, the most historic city in Europe, because it didn't really get destroyed during World War Two, like a lot of them. So a lot of people have discovered Hungary because of the river trip, river cruise tours and things like that, and just, you know, walked away raving about it, because it's a beautiful place, and, you know, good food and, and you can just do pretty much everything you want to do in those countries for a fraction of what you would spend in, you know, England, or Holland or France or wherever. And so I just feel like you have a lot better time when you're there because you don't have to be watching every dollar and be concerned about, you know, breaking the budget every day.
**Jenn Viemont: **Right? Right. My son is changing to a school, from the Netherlands to Prague, and great, and he did a trip to Prague and was blown away by like the beer cost compared to
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, the best beer in the world and the best price. Right?
**Jenn Viemont: **Right. Right. Yeah, it's those countries are, I'm dying to go to Montenegro to I met with some students in Budapest one year and the international student group or whatever, they were planning a weekend trip for students who wanted to go to Montenegro. And for the entire trip, it was something like 200 euros, you know, for food for lodging, everything to probably stayed different accommodations in these students. But, but it looks beautiful. Yeah,
**Tim Leffel: **That's a great deal. Yeah, it's beautiful there and but you know, just to say if somebody is hell bent on going to Western Europe than where you were in Portugal is probably the best value and Spain's not so bad either. And you can drink good wine for cheap in both of these places, which is good for students, I guess. So, you know, if you are going to go to Western Europe, head south, and then also you can take a quick trip from Spain over to Morocco, which is again, a quite reasonable place. It's a different continent, but not by much.
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely, absolutely. I was actually looking at just flight times, and was impressive. My son and I went to Jordan one year many years ago and and just mind blowing experiences, things that like I didn't think would have an effect on me. I didn't think that Wadi Rum, you know, being in a desert like fine. Oh, good, right. No, but like, I mean, just mind blowing in ways I could never explain. So it's probably good. I'm not a travel writer. And that's actually not too far from Europe either. Getting to that world.
**Tim Leffel: **Yes, all those Mediterranean countries that are pretty short hop by plane and then Morocco, you can actually get to on a ferry, which makes it really easy. But yeah, so if anybody's wondering what Wadi Rum is like, you've probably seen it in many a movie including the new dune one.
**Jenn Viemont: **Watch the new Doom one.
**Tim Leffel: **It's quite good. It's great. I can't see it in the theater.
**Jenn Viemont: **Well, I'll talk I have my new I'm trying to up my cardio. I hate cardio and the new thing I'm doing though I hate cardio. And I'm not a video game person is I'm doing that virtual reality Oculus thing. Oh, wow. And it has these workouts called supernatural. And they're like a 3d virtual reality of these places around the world, like Petra like Wadi wrote, where I'm like, Oh, I've been there. But it also shows me other places. And I'm like, Oh, that's beautiful. I'd love to go there some time, is kind of satisfying my travel itch right now, not long term, but for now, it'll satisfy it. So tell me this. Are there places around the world for travel or for moving that you haven't been yet but that are on your radar that, you know, with COVID travel stuff not happening as much or whatever they that you're hoping to check out pretty soon?
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, I have not been to Georgia, which I mentioned earlier, the country? Of course, not the state, right. Yeah, that's become a real digital nomad hotspot, because basically, you can go there for a year on a tourist visa. And on top of that, they have a digital nomad visa that you can get. So it's not the greatest in terms of weather, I mean, they have, they have a real winter there, but it's not too bad, it's kind of mild. And then you can go skiing, which is, you know, always nice if you have to put up with winter. So it's a big wine, it's like the oldest wine region in the world. And so there's lots and lots of wineries there. And, you know, mountains, and there is a bit of a beach area. And so, and it's very cheap, I mean, you can rent a two bedroom apartment there for 600 bucks in the capital city. And it'll be pretty nice. And so a lot of people who had to leave Bali, or Chiang Mai or wherever ended up there. So I feel like I've kind of missed out, I was gonna go there and 2020. And then we all know what happened then. And so hopefully, I'll get there in the next year or two. Otherwise, I mean, I think I've been to most of the places where where people end up moving, I haven't spent much time in Spain. And you know, Barcelona has been kind of a hotspot for a long time. But, you know, I don't know if I would live in a city like that. Anyway, I don't really like living in a big huge city as much. Like I love to go to Bangkok for a week, but I wouldn't want to live there all the time. And I want to spend some more time in Argentina. And I was telling you before we started that I've got a trip planned down there in March to Patagonia. And hopefully that all works out. And I'm going to scope it out a little bit. I've got a few expat friends that live there that I'm going to hopefully connect with. And there's some other spots that, you know, this happens a lot where the political winds kind of change and they it becomes not as good as pot as it used to be. And I kind of feel that way about a few spots right now when I'm one of those Nicaragua, one of them's Turkey. And both for similar reasons. They've got a kind of a dictator for life in place, and that nobody can seem to get rid of, you know, a lot of personal freedoms have been eroded. So I would be scared to death to buy in either those places, but again, for three months, you know, what could happen? It's maybe not so bad. But I have not been back to Turkey for about 10 years. And I do love the place, but I'm not real thrilled about the environment right now.
**Jenn Viemont: **It's interesting. You talk about the three months I had a parent asked me recently, I am a total fan of Estonia. I'm such a fan of Estonia.
**Tim Leffel: **I haven't been there. I should mention, I haven't been to that one. And they have that EV subprogram which is nice. Yeah,
**Jenn Viemont: **It's cool. And Latvia, I also love they're not as digital nomad friendly, but, but um, Estonia is fantastic. And they have some great schools, very internationalized. And one mother asked me, you know, do I think that's a good idea, given the issues with Russia and Ukraine and all that right now? And that's basically what I said to her. I said, you know, as a, as an American citizen, I would absolutely send my American citizen kids there for a degree program, because if things got dicey, they can leave. Would I buy property there? Maybe not right now. But certainly for three years when you can leave? I absolutely would. And I feel most places. I mean, Poland doesn't have the best political situation right now. Hungary doesn't have the best political situation right now. But right, let's get dicey. You can leave.
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And that brings up a larger point. I think for most people, it doesn't make sense to buy in a country unless you know, you're going to be there for the long term. Or unless you're just buying like a cheap vacation beach house or something which I did that once in Mexico, where it's such a low price that like what the downside was, you know, so miniscule that I didn't really worry about like, if I lost all that money wouldn't be the end of the world. But you know, some people put their whole life savings into a house and like they sell something in the US for 600,000 They put it all into a mansion somewhere and that to me seems incredibly risky, especially if you haven't lived there already. Some people do that house owners international style back to that, you know, without even like spending any time in the place and so then you don't know the real values. You don't know what people are at See pain, you don't know what the best neighborhoods are, you don't know how well that town is going to hold its value what's on the way. And so yeah, I would tell people to be cautious about that, unless they're just taking a flyer with you know, a minimal 10% of their net worth or whatever, then you, you don't have much to worry about, but just rent for a while you can rent a fabulous place for less than you would spend on, you know, a monthly mortgage in the US in a cheap place. So just enjoy it.
**Jenn Viemont: **And even in a not cheap place, we lived in cash cash, which is just outside of Lisbon. It's like an ocean town. And we paid much less than our mortgage for a place that was, you know, five minute walk from the ocean. So I could walk on the ocean every single day. We had a horrible, horrible landlord. That was you know, and it was a third floor walk up and third floor, European third floor. So really fourth floor. But you know what that counteracted the effects of some of the pest Delta nada and wine and cheese, we were having so much of definitely pay off a trade offs.
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, and if anybody if you ever want to get an idea what the rent prices are, just pull up Airbnb and check the monthly rates, and that's gonna be the highest. I mean, that's, you know, the top end, you'll probably find something cheaper if you're there on the ground and looking around. But that'll give you an idea. And you can search in a place like Tirana Albania, for instance, to see, like penthouse apartments for 500 bucks a month on Airbnb, you know, really nice places. And so you know, if you go there, you're probably going to spend less than that. And sometimes that's utilities included. So that's your monthly nut, and you've got nothing else to worry about. So why would you buy a place? You know, like, it doesn't make sense. Unless you see the future, and you know, you're gonna take a great investment ride?
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely. Man, my list is growing and growing through this conversation with you Georgia was already on my list. But now there are a few more on my list as well. And from reading your blogs, so So can you tell our listeners a little bit about the resources, the blogs of books, how you help people who are interested in cheap travel or cheap living abroad?
**Tim Leffel: **Yes, I have a book out called a better life for half the price. And it's in its second edition right now. That was my pandemic project. When travel shut down for a while I spent a few months interviewing people for the second edition, this book because it was really easy to get hold of people. And so, you know, got a lot of expats stories in their actual prices of what people are paying, and, you know, the kind of goods and Bad's I mean, one criticism of some of the expat publications and websites out there is they kind of, you know, make everything look rah, rah, wonderful all the time. And I'm trying not to do that, because there are downsides to every place. And you need to, you know, be aware of those and, and know before going in, so you don't get a nasty surprise. But, you know, most people who live abroad are willing to take that in stride, and they're happy, you know, they're there. And they usually say, I wish I'd done it earlier, you know, because they their expenses have gone down, they're living a happier life, they're not as stressed, they're eating better. So you know, all these things can really make your whole life feel better. I have a blog called The cheapest destinations blog that I've had since 2003. So I'm one of the pioneers, I guess. That's about cheap travel and living abroad, just you know how to travel well, for less or, and how to live abroad for less. And I have a few other publications where where I'm editor, I'll just shout out to one. It's called perceptive travel. And it's all narrative stories from book authors. So that's kind of a more literary side of travel, as opposed to the how to stuff which is most of what I end up working on. But sometimes it's good to tell a longer, more in depth story about a place or a story. So those are some of the things I work on. And yeah, if you're just a traveler, I have a book out called the world's cheapest destinations, and I updated every few years. And that'll give you some real prices in different locations. And I want to stress one thing real quick, that you should take advantage of if you're a student, you have access to a student visa, so that makes life so much easier. If you try to go somewhere as an adult to get a residency visa, it's a whole lot harder than getting a student visa. So take advantage of it while you can.
**Jenn Viemont: **For sure, for sure. And I just have to encourage all of our listeners to check out we're gonna have links to all these in the show notes. But really, I mean very few people who I don't know have inspired action in my life like like you and your resources have so I mean even still, we're not going to be living abroad now but reading your blogs and coming up with next places I want to go I sent my son your blog about the cheapest places for beer. I mean there is fantastic resources that continue to excite and expire so i i hope that not expire just as far Inspire. But I do hope that everybody will check it out and I really Really appreciate you being here today.
**Tim Leffel: **Well, thanks for having me on, Jennifer. It's good talking with you. And I might hit you up for what you paid in Portugal later.
**Jenn Viemont: **For sure. Thanks so much for listening today, before we end up like to tell you about a crunch time pack. So I only offered this twice a year. And it's for students who are going to be applying for the fall of 22 and are feeling behind on the research and it's a personalized and comprehensive package this really hands on with me to make sure that you know, all the ducks are in a row. So the first thing that comes with is a best fit list. This is a service we offer where I personally handpick three to five programs that fit the student's qualifications, budget, interests, preferences, all of that, that they provide to me through a form that's emailed to you after ordering. It also includes a line jumper pass, the turnaround time for best fit list is off in about three weeks or so because we get so many of them. And with the line jumper paths, you'll get your best fit list just 10 days after submitting. It also comes after you get your best fit list back we'll have a one hour consultation. And we do this to formulate your admissions plan. And also answer any questions you might have. After that, I create a custom admissions calendar for you with all the deadlines you know when you need to ask whichever teacher for a recommendation when you need to write your motivation letter by all of those are going to be on a calendar specifically for you based on the schools you're applying to. And then it comes with email check ins that I'll send you around those dates saying hey, you got that reference letter yet or you know, just to follow up. And for some accountability, which I know helps a lot of people including myself also comes with a motivation letter review, where I will go through the letter you write for admissions and give you suggestions about organization structure, content, etc. And it also comes with a Facebook group membership, which is only usually available to our month to month members, which of course if you're about to apply, you might not need a full membership, but you do get access to our incredible community of families. So a lot of the services you can't purchase separately, I don't offer the calendar. For instance, I don't offer email check ins, for instance without this package. But if you were to add up the cost of the other services that we do offer, the cost of this package is $525 less than if you paid for the available services separately. Because it's such a personalized service. I only accept five students at a time. So you're going to want to make sure to sign up really soon. If you're interested. You can find a link to this special and also more information about this episode in our show notes. And you'll find a ton of other information on our site, which is beyond the states.com you'll find blogs, some by me others are written by our student ambassadors, they have both written and video blogs. You'll find links to our old podcast episodes that we did back in 2017, which is a great starting point. And you'll also learn more about our various services and our incredible community. We'd love for you to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. If you have suggestions for future episodes, just shoot us a message there. And finally, if you enjoyed the podcast we'd really appreciate if you'd leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher. Thanks again for listening.

Why are certain places a perfect choice for some people but a mistake for others?
Generally speaking, something doesn't have to be “better than” or “worst than”, it can just be defined as different. Moreover, something is very rarely universally “better than” or “worse than”,** **rather, it is a matter of the specific person's preferences. Whether we are talking about food and fashion or homes and education. Hence, how to make choices that match your personality and expectations when it comes to living and studying abroad?
Jenn and her guest discuss this topic. She is joined with Tim Leffel, a writer, an editor, a publisher, and an author of numerous books about traveling. Stay tuned as Tim shares his rich experience of traveling to many countries and also suggests the importance of setting the right priorities when choosing a country to stay.
**_“You need to know what is crucial for you to have in your life ahead of a time and to be prepared for cultural differences.”, _**Tim Leffel

**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: **You guys, I am so super excited about our guest today. It's author Tim Leffel, and he has had such a direct impact on my family's life. So as I've mentioned before, we just got back after spending two years in Portugal. We had originally planned to move to Malaysia, but due to some constraints with Tom's job, we moved to Portugal instead. It was through Tim's book and his blogs that I really learned about living in both of these places. So when we were developing our plan about moving abroad, Ellie and I spent six weeks in Malaysia. We spent time in two different cities, Penang and KL, and we were looking at things like apartments to see what we could get with our budget, visiting international schools that Ellie could attend, and experiencing other aspects of day-to-day life. 
** **And this trip was so helpful. Of course, we visited a number of tourist sites when we were there. I mean, there's some incredible places to visit. But the majority of our time was spent living as we would if we were residents, not tourists. You know, Ellie did her online school during the day, I worked. We experienced grocery shopping, traffic, public transportation, all sorts of other things that relate to how life works when you live somewhere. 
** **So because of this, had we moved there, I feel like we wouldn't have been surprised or disappointed by certain things, you know, things like the excessive heat, the crazy traffic, or the haze during burning season that really just gets to your eyes and your throat. And we experienced all these things so we knew what we were walking into. We didn't really have this as much with Portugal. But my brother does live there and kind of gave us a lot of information. And we had been to Portugal a couple of times as well. So these things, along with the frequent trips I take to Europe for Beyond the States definitely gave us an idea of what we were getting into. 
** **So Tim's book is all about -- the title says it all -- "A Better Life for Half the Price." And Tim does a great job pointing out in his book, that this isn't just a cheaper version of your current life. And that you do need to know what's crucial for you to have in your life ahead of time, and to be prepared for cultural differences. 
And this is really what I want to parallel to college in Europe as well. While it's certainly more affordable than out-of-state and private higher education in the US, it's not just a cheaper version of these schools. You have to be aware of and interested in the differences, and also ready to deal with the downsides as well. So it would be a little bit like if I said I wanted to move to Eastern Europe say just because of the affordability. And I was looking for a house that costs less than my current one here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I want a fenced-in yard for my dogs. I want a store like Target that has, you know, everything you might need, easily accessible. Also, a large supermarket, an English-speaking high school for Ellie, and an English-speaking Pilates studio for myself. And oh yeah, I'd like central air and heat, as well as a clothes dryer. Not going to happen. 
** **It's the same when someone tells me that they want to study in a specific country in Europe, that they want to pay less than in-state tuition, attend a medium-sized university, have a centralized campus with a dorm. They want to major in Literature and minor in Political Science, and they want to play, I don't know, softball competitively for the school. Not gonna happen. 
** **So it's important to know that there are a lot of differences between European universities and American universities. Certainly, the program structure is different than the majors and minors and Gen Ed requirements in the US. And except for Ireland, and a few exceptions, most campuses are decentralized. This means that the various departments of the university are all throughout the city. They're not in one central campus. Now, your classes are all going to be held in your academic department. They call it academic departments faculty. So you don't have to get from, you know, one part of town to another to get to your classes because you're not going to have those Gen Ed requirements that are held in different academic departments. 
** **Student Housing is not generally owned by universities. There are dorms, they're called student residences, but they generally house students from a variety of different schools in the city. So because of these two factors, your student life is often more tied to the city than the school. And now, that's not to say that there aren't opportunities for student life within the school, but it's not confined to that. 
Sports are different too, of course. We have a podcast episode done earlier this year about a student who actually plays baseball in the Netherlands. But this is done at the league level, not connected to the university. School size considerations are different as well. Small schools are worth considering since so much of your student life occurs outside of the school. And larger schools are worth considering too since your academic life is pretty confined to your smaller academic department. Getting lost in the shuffle is less likely, and you can usually find all of the student resources you need at this level; at the faculty level, the academic department level, as well. 
So these are just a few of the differences. One thing I'm working on with myself is not automatically seeing a difference about anything, not just countries or schools, and automatically defining something is better than or worse than. For one, something doesn't have to be better than or worse than, it can just be defined as different. Second, something is very rarely universally better than or worse than. It's really more a matter of the specific person's preferences, their goals, their interests, their tastes. Whether we're talking about food, or fashion, or homes, or education, or countries, I have to tell you, I'm a lot more likely to look at something with an open mind, if I'm thinking about it as different, as opposed to better or worse. Even going into thinking that the options in Europe are better can really shoot you in the foot, as you might not be prepared for some of the obstacles. When you look at the differences with an open mind, you can decide if there are differences that would fit you as a person as well as your personal situation. Having the mindset that you will, or even having the mindset that you should get the same experience outside of the US that you get in the US is really going to set you up for a lot of disappointment. 
We offer a number of master classes throughout the year in which students have group calls with each other, and also with myself. So we do spend time talking about concerns. It's really important, I think, not to gloss over them. So one student mentioned that he's really active in marching band in high school. And though there are a ton of differences in Europe that he's really excited about, he's concerned that he won't be able to continue with marching band. Now, I really have no idea how marching band works outside of the US, like whether there are, I don't know, marching bands that perform at parades or things like that. So his first step is to explore this through Google, which he – you’re so lucky. I would have had to like consult an encyclopedia or something if it were my day. 
But anyway, so he's going to research and see if there is something similar, or even the same, you know, some sort of marching band that would be interesting to him. There might not be. And if not, he's going to weigh whether that's a deal breaker or a preference, or whether there are ways for him to pursue that interest during summers, or other outside of the box solutions. It may be that he decides it's a deal breaker, and that's okay. The recognition that there are differences, neither good nor bad, but that simply have to be evaluated along with his own personal needs, that's going to help him make an informed decision. 
So we're going to take a quick break and talk to Tim who knows more about these differences and how to evaluate them than anyone I've ever encountered. We'll be right back.
**Testimonial: **Hey, guys. I'm Izzy from Wisconsin. I'm entering my third year of study at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. If you've been listening to the last few episodes of the podcast, you might think that Beyond the States is mostly for Dutch schools. There are a lot of members here particularly because other than Ireland, of course, the Netherlands has the greatest number of English-taught bachelor's degree programs. There are actually Beyond the States members in Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, Italy, and France, and Spain, and Belgium, and even Cyprus. Each country is different when it comes to their admission requirements, educational approaches, the types of universities and types of programs they offer and more. 
This is just one reason why Beyond the States is so helpful. They have information about all of these different countries and make it easy to understand and navigate them. I'm actually a dual citizen, and my parents grew up and started their higher education in Poland. They later moved to the US to finish their higher levels of education. Even though they have an understanding of these higher educations in the US, they didn't want me to be limited to just those options, especially since I'm eligible for EU tuition in all of Europe. Except for Ireland, of course. Our Beyond the States membership helped me learn about so many options all around Europe that would be a good fit for me. 
I would really encourage you to not limit your options to just one country. For example, when I was looking, I looked not only at the Netherlands but also Portugal, Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic. Beyond the States makes that easy to do, especially with their membership. Check the show notes or service page at beyondthestates.com for information on how to join. 
**Jenn Viemont: **So today I'm joined by Tim Leffel, who is the true original travel influencer. He's an award-winning travel writer and author, and an expert who's regularly quoted in major media. He's written and edited thousands of articles, online and in print, and authored five books: Travel Writing 2.0, The World’s Cheapest Destinations, Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune, the Traveler’s Tool Kit, and my personal favorite, A Better Life for Half the Price. 
Tim, I can't even tell you how excited I am to have you here today. We just spent the last two years living abroad in Portugal, and our exploration of different places and how to approach the search and the considerations and all of that were a result of your incredible book, and I can't even tell you the impact it had on our life. And I'm so glad you're here to share your wisdom with our listeners.
**Tim Leffel: **Well, thank you, Jennifer. That means a lot. I love to hear when people read something that I wrote and acted on it because yeah, that's the purpose really, to help people do it with fewer headaches and less hassle, and hopefully, less money as well.
**Jenn Viemont: **Well, and it's really interesting, I was reviewing a lot of your work over the past week in preparation for this call. And particularly during these times when travel is limited, it's so exciting to read about the possibilities for when it's not. I was reading – I'm going to be honest – South America has been on my lower list of places to go, on my lower priority list, but I was reading about a place that you talked about in Argentina that's like Switzerland, and I can't get it off my mind. And it has moved up to, you know, the top five in my list of places I want to go.
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, that would probably be Bariloche. It's kind of a weird place because there's lots of Germans and Swiss Germans there and chocolate shops and all. It feels kind of strange when you're in South America, but beautiful, beautiful scenery around there.
**Jenn Viemont: **Wow. So you're an expert both on moving abroad and traveling on the cheap. And our students who are studying in Europe – and actually, some of their parents are moving abroad the students for three to four years, sometimes more if they decide to go to grad school or pursue work there. And of course, students are interested in affordable places to go. So I'd like to talk about both, but I do have a question about something I just recently learned this week in my research, which was that you had your first international travel experience at the age of 30, after establishing a career and buying a house and all that. So I'm wondering if you can tell me a little bit about your journey from there to here?
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, that was partly because I was following the path that we're all told to follow, which is, you know, get good grades and go to college and get a corporate job, and then move your way up the ladder. And I'd sort of done all that. Sort of following the script, I guess. And I had taken some vacations and been on business trips, like in Canada, and I'd been to Jamaica and whatever, but I hadn't gone anywhere for more than a week, I don't think. I traveled a lot in the US. But basically, my now wife, then girlfriend, said she wanted to go travelling around the world and, you know, go backpacking around the globe, and she would like me to go with her. But if I didn't, she was gonna go anyway. So that was kind of the impetus. And, you know, it kind of just – you know, they say that out of the box thinking, you know, it just totally put me out of my box, and I started thinking, “Well, why not? It's like I love this job I’m in.” I had this boss that I hated, and you know, it was a very stressful job. And so, it was a fun one, but very stressful. I worked in the music business, and so did my wife, and that's how we met. 
But anyway, so we started making plans, and I rented out my condo. I didn't sell my car. I think I parked it at my parents house and we just like sold a bunch of stuff, got rid of, you know, everything we could, and then took off. And we didn't really have enough money to last us an entire year, so we got certified to teach English. We took a month-long course in Bangkok, and we ended up teaching in Turkey for about five months on that trip. And then later, we taught English in Korea. So I would advise that for people who are looking to live somewhere. It's a good way to, you know, fund your living abroad experience because at the worst, you get paid enough to live on. But if you're in a country like Korea, you can actually save a lot of money. So we did, and then we went traveling some more. So in all, it was about three years abroad on that trip. And yeah, I started travel writing then, just doing some odd articles here and there, and realized I didn't really want to go back to an office job. I mean, I did for a while when we came back, because I had a kid and I had I guess a steady income. But I kept the travel writing going, and eventually, it became my full time job.
**Jenn Viemont: **Wow, that's awesome. And you live in Mexico now, correct? 
**Tim Leffel: **Yes, I do. I live in a city called Guanajuato, which is right smack in the middle, and it's in the center of the country, but it's 6,500 feet up in the mountains. And so, the weather's really nice, and it's sunny all the time.
**Jenn Viemont: **Nice. So you have personal experience around living abroad. And then of course, all your research around it. So I wanted to start there, with actually living abroad. And I think a lot of people think that the savings, when they think of savings, it's just like rent and food. Can you tell me about some of the other areas or the other sources of savings that people might not think about right off the top of their head?
**Tim Leffel: **Well, first of all, there's this underlying principle that people don't realize until they're out there for a while, which is the faster you move, the more you're gonna spend. So if you're trying to do like seven countries in two weeks, you know, you're gonna spend a fortune, no matter where you go, just because you're gonna spend so much on transportation. And also, when you're in a certain place for a while, you figure out where the cheap restaurants are, and where the best grocery store is, and what free events are going on, and all that kind of stuff. So it definitely pays to go deeper instead of wider. 
And the other thing is there's a massive difference in just the day-to-day costs in different countries, whether that's, you know, a hostel or a hotel or lodging, but also just a bus or taxi or, you know, basic food things, and to go out to see a museum or to go on some activity. I mean, it can literally quadruple when you cross the border. I mean, that happens when you go from Hungary to Austria, for instance, or the Czech Republic to Germany. I mean, their neighbors, you know, they're closer than US states, and smaller, but the economic differences can be huge. And so, there are some places like Bulgaria that are as cheap as Southeast Asia, for example, or Central America. But then, you know, if you go to Switzerland or Norway, you're going to spend way more than you would in the United States. And so, there's just a massive range there, even in Europe. And so, it pays to do some research. That's why I put out that book, The World's Cheapest Destinations. Because when I wrote it, there was nothing out there like that, and it was really hard to find, you know, apples to apples comparison. So I just kind of put out this guide and said, “I'll see if anybody buys it.”
Jenn Viemont: And they did.
Tim Leffel: And people did. And so, now it's in its fifth edition, so it's been a while.
**Jenn Viemont: **I also think for us when we lived abroad, a big part of the savings that really shook us every day was how much less healthcare was.
**Tim Leffel: **Oh yeah, that’s a big one.
**Jenn Viemont: **You know, than in the US. And also, I think there's this sort of false belief that the care you get in the US is the best, you know, it must be, you pay so much, and doctors pay so much to become doctors. And I was extremely impressed with the level of care we got for -- we chose to get private insurance, but we didn't have to after we had residency. So you know, it was under $200 for the three of us each month for insurance. We didn't have a deductible, I could talk to my doctor on the phone. I mean, it was just -- and then my son who is in the Netherlands broke his wrist, and he was just on student insurance, had to have surgery. And we kept calling the hospital to say, “Okay, you know, how much is out of pocket?” and calling the insurance, you know, trying to think like he just had surgery, we must -- you know, we're gonna pay an arm and a leg. And they were very off put by all these calls -- you know, we’ll get to you when we get to you! It was zero, is what we had to pay out of pocket. It was crazy.
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, I hear stories like that all the time. And it just is so foreign to us, coming from the US system that’s so ridiculously expensive. And we have catastrophe insurance, but it's mostly because we need it when we go back to the US. But when we're here, we pay out of pocket in Mexico and it's $40 to $60, depending on the doctor, and they give you their cell phone number. That's private doctors, of course, you know. And if we went to the public system, it would be maybe nothing. And my dentist trained in Texas, my dermatologist speaks fluent English, you know. And so, she's at the high end, that's the $60 one, you know, but it's like, still, it's nothing, you know? It’s like less than you spend on dinner at Applebee's or something. 
So you know, it's not something we ever worry about here. And like you said, a lot of European countries, and Argentina is like this too. They don't even know how to charge you. It's basically, you know, they give the care and send you on your way [laughs].
**Jenn Viemont: **Yeah, yeah. It's really incredible. I mean, being back in the US now and seeing how much my husband is now no longer self-employed, and he works for a company and seeing how much of his check is going towards health insurance, you know, you think like, oh, you work for a company, you're covered. No, it's just a lot of it's coming out of his paycheck. You know? 
Tim Leffel: Yeah, exactly. 
**Jenn Viemont: **It's really incredible, that difference.
**Tim Leffel: **And just back to your question again, lodging usually is your biggest expense, or one of the biggest expenses. So there are ways out there that you can cut that down by, you know, doing volunteer work, or couch surfing, or home exchange, or working in a hospital for two weeks or whatever. You know, you can get creative with those things. But you know, still, when you're planning a budget, it's better to just assume you're gonna have to pay for it, and then get a surprise to the upside if you work something else out.
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely. So I was rereading a number of your blogs, like I said, and one thing I really liked that you said -- I can't remember if it was a blog or a book, but you said, “As a travel writer who visits 10 to 12 countries each year, I often asked myself when visiting a new place, could I live here? Usually the answer is no for some very specific, factual reason.” And you also talk about the reasons that you might not want to live someplace or a reason that somebody else might want to live someplace, you know, there's not just one right answer. So I want to talk about that more. But just out of curiosity, can you tell me another place, besides Mexico, where the answer is, yes, I could live here? And maybe a place that you love to visit, but you wouldn't want to live?
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, I could live in Portugal, which you have lots of experience with. I probably wouldn't live in Lisbon. I’d live somewhere smaller, more manageable. But I do like that country a lot. And there's other places I've been in Europe where I could live. But I do have to say the language can be a problem like someplace like Hungary or Bulgaria or Czech Republic. I like those places, but I think I would find it difficult not, you know, having any mastery of the language. And I would live in Argentina, and we actually thought about it for pretty seriously for a while, but we decided it was just way too far. And you know, getting back and forth to see family was going to be too difficult. And also, they go out to eat at like 11 or 12 at night, which is if you got a kid, that's hard to deal with. 
So there were a few reasons there. But yeah, there's -- I mean, it's also a matter of how long are you going to live there. Like if you go live somewhere for three months, that's a whole different thing than if you're gonna go there for the rest of your life. And so, that's one of the great things about being a digital nomad, which a lot of people have, you know, sort of found their way into because they're working remote, or they own their own business, and they can go where they want. And so, three months is kind of like a visa limit in a lot of places. So you know, a lot of nomads will go somewhere for three months and then move on. Sometimes you can get six. And I think that's a really nice situation, because you don't really get sick of a place in that amount of time, you know? And all the things that are getting on your nerves haven't totally freaked your nerves yet. So yeah, it's kind of a different thing. I mean, there are a lot of places I could live for six months easily. But I don't know if I would want to live there for years on end. And I kind of feel that way with most of Southeast Asia too, just because that heat gets really stifling, that tropical heat. I was just in Belize for two weeks, and I loved it, but I got so tired of spraying bug spray on all the time, and I still got a load of bites, you know. And I don't miss that [laughs].
**Jenn Viemont: **Oh no. When we were in Malaysia, that was the only thing that got to me. Even though there's air conditioning everywhere, even like on the sidewalks.
Tim Leffel: Yeah.
Jenn Viemont: You know, that heat where you need to change clothes a few times during the day.
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, I remember the first place we landed was Japan when we went traveling around the world, but then we landed in Bangkok, and it was the hottest time of the year. And we were sucking down bottles of water all day long and never going to the bathroom. And I realized, you know, there's something not quite right about this.
**Jenn Viemont: **But I like what you said about three to six months, I could live somewhere, like our students, I could live somewhere for three to four years, if there was sort of a reason. You know, if I were being compelled by great education at a great price. And knowing there's an end date. Then if you know there's an end date, you know, okay, I have to deal with this nonsense of whatever nonsense it is you find for three to four years. I can suck it up for that long. And I often do get students who come to me and they say, oh, I want to study in Paris or Barcelona, or Rome or a handful of other well known places, because, you know, they vacation there. And it's so different vacationing somewhere versus living somewhere.
Tim Leffel: Yeah.
**Jenn Viemont: **So if you were talking to a college student who would be living somewhere for three to four years, what would you suggest that they look at when it comes to -- you talked about deal breakers about location I talk about the same when it comes to school considerations. So what would you suggest they look at when they're thinking about their deal breakers around location or what they should or shouldn't include in those?
**Tim Leffel: **Well, I think for anyone moving abroad, you know, weather matters. You know, how much and how well are you able to put up with winter, or extreme heat and bugs, like we were talking about.
**Jenn Viemont: **Or darkness.
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, darkness. I mean, if you go live in Norway, I mean, it's gonna be, you know, dark all day, sometimes, you know, in the middle of the winter. And it's great in the summer, because you know, you can be out at 3am. And everybody's still eating outside and cafes and it's light. But you know, you get the opposite in the wintertime. So that matters, the cost of living matters. If you're broke all the time, that's no fun. I mean, even if you've got the university support system there and a meal plan or whatever, you're still going to leave campus sometimes. Yeah, and so. And then just the culture. I mean, if I've heard people say that they studied in Russia, and they got really frustrated, because everybody was just kind of cranky and frowning all the time, and you know, just in a bad mood, and that can wear on you after a while, you know, and they're also sort of social norms around the world. I mean, it can be difficult to live in Japan or Korea, because there are very conformist social norms that, you know, if you step outside of the circle, you're really ostracized. And so if you're kind of a rebellious person with tattoos in those rings and purple hair, you're probably not going to do so well, there maybe in the middle of Tokyo, but not the rest of the places. So yeah, it's just kind of a self assessment more than anything, you know, what matters to you? What's important, what, what do you hate? You know, that's as important as what do you like and, and back to your point about the big cities, I do think it can be advantageous to go to a smaller place, I mean, a really university town instead of a big city. My wife studied in England, and she went to Norwich, University of East Anglia, Anglia. And one thing I think she got way more interaction with with British people that way. And also, you know, it was a lot cheaper, and she was able to do a lot more, rather than being right in the middle of London.
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely. And there's, it's not like these are necessarily small towns. I mean, there's Toulouse in France, which is a great student city, there's Utrecht in in the Nether, Bruno and Czech Republic or Paich. In in Hungary, I mean, they're, they're not like tiny, little small towns, I think people also think of small towns outside of the US, like small towns are in the US. And it's so different, right? So what do you think the biggest obstacles people face? When they're moving outside of their home country? What are some of the hardest things you had to adjust to that people should anticipate?
**Tim Leffel: **Well, I think the people that adjust the easiest are the ones that are open minded, and appreciate other cultures and understand that, you know, the place you grew up, doesn't necessarily get it right all the time, either. Like, being willing to just kind of go with the flow and see what's expected of you in a place and, and how you fit in and how you get things done. I mean, this is kind of a blanket statement. But in most of Latin America, things move very slowly, and family comes first. And you know, nobody's a workaholic, and you've got to just kind of get used to those things. And because if you try to fight them, you know, you're going to be in a fight day after day. And, you know, if you expect your contractor to show up at 10 o'clock on the dot, every morning, to do work on your house, you're gonna go through many contractors, because we're gonna do that consistently. And it's just part of the culture, you know, and it's super noisy, where I live, there's like fireworks and mariachi bands and dogs on the roof and everything. And you know, if that kind of thing is going to drive you crazy, then this is not the place to live. And so I always tell people to do a trial run because you know, try to go live in a real neighborhood, don't stay in a high rise tourist hotel, you know, rent an apartment somewhere and where the locals live and kind of try it out. Because then you get a real sense of what it's like to live there. Instead of like you said, the tourist experience, which is very different.
**Jenn Viemont: **Totally, totally. For me, I think the biggest The hardest thing for me to adjust to that I had to do all sorts of self talk about was just dealing with the bureaucracy, you know, your residence permit your driver's license, all those things. And what I had to remind myself is, that sucks everywhere. Like even in the when you live somewhere, you so rare, you know, for like, what you get your driver's license renewed every 10 years here in the US passport renewed about that. So you're not dealing with it on a daily basis, like you are in your first year in another country. So it might seem like it's worse, but it's not. You're just dealing with it more.
**Tim Leffel: **I hear people complain about the process they have to go through to get residency in Mexico and like, maybe they had to go to the office a second time because they didn't you know, they were missing a document. It's like, Do you realize how much effort people have to go through to go the other direction? It takes us 10 years to get residency in the US. You know, it's not a big deal if you have to go back again.
**Jenn Viemont: **No, for sure. I hear a lot of people and I hate to use this word because it sounds judgy but I but I hear this more from Americans and Then students and families from other countries, it's almost like a sense of entitlement of like wanting to be in this new country. And wanting you know, the convenience, I had a hard time with the convenience as to and not having a whole display of hummus to choose from, or to, you know, 10 different stores to get 10 different items. But like, I'm not entitled to that living in a different country, you know, yeah,
**Tim Leffel: **You're a guest there is their country. Yep. And yeah, the US is the land of convenience and choice. And people need to understand, like no other place in the world lives up to that standard. And whether that's a good thing or not, you know, we can get anything we wanted anytime, almost. But that's not the case in most of the world.
**Jenn Viemont: **Right. And I think it really is, like you were just saying whether it's good or not, is not necessarily having to define everything as better or worse, just recognizing that there's this category called different, and it doesn't have to be better or worse and qualified in that way.
**Tim Leffel: **And there are plenty of areas where the US is way behind other parts of the world, you know, public transportation, healthcare, we already talked about. I mean, the US healthcare system is great if you have some rare disease, and you need like, the best surgeon in the world and things like that, you know, but for normal day to day health care, it's pretty lousy, and you know, our, our transportation system, the roads are great, but if you need to get from A to B, without a car, it's pretty tough. Whereas in most of the world, you can do that quite easily. And so, yeah, there's plenty of areas and you know, you can get, we can talk about our political system for days. And you know, there's our education system, there's plenty of flaws that we could point to where we grew up, no matter where we grew up.
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely, absolutely. And that ties to one of my other questions, which is, there was this one blog, I was reading of yours, that talks about the negativity people get from other people, you know, people who are moving outside of their home country, the negativity they might get from friends or families, or for you, we're talking about sort of internet trolls. And a lot of the families I work with deal with this as well, you know, you're gonna send your kid, you know, to another country, these are families who may live on the east coast, and wouldn't hesitate to send their children to California. But sitting there from the East Coast to, you know, some place in Western Europe, they're baffled. And I see it also on our Facebook ad posts, you know, people will comment on the ad with a statement as if it's a fax, but as either something that is no longer true, or has never been true. You say I'll quote, I'm not sure whether these attackers feel threatened or patriotic to the extreme, or just grumpy that they're stuck where they are. But it's a common tendency I deal with every month. So I'm wondering if you could tell us when it deal when it comes to dealing with these objections, not from the internet trolls, but from, you know, well, meaning people, family, friends, school counselors, whatever. Do you have advice on what to say to them?
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, it depends on who I'm talking to, you know, some people are just hopeless, I think you're, you're never gonna change their mind, you just say, we, we have a really good life there, when we enjoy where we are. And we're able to, you know, have a lot money, a lot more money leftover at the end of the month that we can spend on other things, or save or whatever. But, you know, sometimes I'll just get into the specifics and say, Okay, we have a housekeeper, we have a four bedroom house that's paid for, you know, we don't have a mortgage, we take a taxi across town for $3, we can go buy more groceries that we can carry for $40. You know, so why wouldn't I live there, I have sunshine all year, you know, it's 70 some degrees every day is beautiful. So, you know, understand if you don't want to move, but we had a lot of good reasons to move and, and besides, I can speak Spanish now too, which I never managed to do when I was just studying from a textbook. But once people step outside and travel a lot, they understand it, but the people who have not traveled at all outside their own country. I think it's a lost cause, you know, to try to talk about anything besides maybe the economics in the weather, like I mentioned.
**Jenn Viemont: **You know, this is really true. I mentioned to you that for a while we were on route to move to Malaysia, and my 17 year old daughter, she was 15 at the time, and she was so excited about this. We did a trip to Malaysia scouting, you know, it was playing, we were moving to Malaysia. And people would ask her, why Malaysia? Now, I want to just tell you that we watched the episode of House Hunters International Well, after this plan was put into place, but it was like, Oh, we're gonna go visit their list. Watch this episode in House Hunters International. And she was telling people Oh, because we saw it on House Hunters International. I'm like, Please don't tell people that she's not they don't care that they don't tax on on global income. Don't care about those things. It's just easy to say.
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, that's funny. I do want to put a caveat out there because people bring up that show a lot. It's not completely true. You have to understand but the prices are accurate. So watch out for that.
**Jenn Viemont: **It's nice to kind of get a look at like, you know what housing looks like they're putting bass where we're telling that so I knew who I need to do damage control with.
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, it's funny.
**Jenn Viemont: **So D, so our students are in Europe, you know, in EU and EEA countries is where the students we work with are. So, you know, that doesn't have to be Europe, it can be you know, it's my son went to Morocco, from from Amsterdam very easily. But what would you say are hotspots for affordable travel for students who are living in UAE countries?
**Tim Leffel: **Well, there's two basic clusters. So that makes it easy to remember what we used to call Eastern Europe, the Iron Curtain countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union. Those are pretty universally still a bargain. So I'm just gonna run down I'm real quick Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania. Yeah, there's one or two missing there. But I guess Moldova, maybe but, and then there's Georgia, which is way over on the other side of the, the, the red, the Black Sea. But anyway, you know, those are all good deal. Bulgaria is sort of the Balkans, sort of Eastern Europe, depending on who you ask, but the Balkans is the other cluster. So that would be you know, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, those are all a really good deal. And in all those cases, it's just because the amount that the local people make is just not what it is in France or Italy. And that trickles down to everything, you know, real estate, transportation, or your rent, or hotels or whatever. So those places are just drastically cheaper than going to, you know, the greatest hits of Europe. And, and I would say, you're not really taking a step down in quality either in some of those, I mean, the Czech Republic is just a fantastic place to visit. And Slovakia is very similar, because they used to be one country. You know, but I mean, just fairy tale castles and historic cities. And I mean, Prague might just be the, you know, the most historic city in Europe, because it didn't really get destroyed during World War Two, like a lot of them. So a lot of people have discovered Hungary because of the river trip, river cruise tours and things like that, and just, you know, walked away raving about it, because it's a beautiful place, and, you know, good food and, and you can just do pretty much everything you want to do in those countries for a fraction of what you would spend in, you know, England, or Holland or France or wherever. And so I just feel like you have a lot better time when you're there because you don't have to be watching every dollar and be concerned about, you know, breaking the budget every day.
**Jenn Viemont: **Right? Right. My son is changing to a school, from the Netherlands to Prague, and great, and he did a trip to Prague and was blown away by like the beer cost compared to
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, the best beer in the world and the best price. Right?
**Jenn Viemont: **Right. Right. Yeah, it's those countries are, I'm dying to go to Montenegro to I met with some students in Budapest one year and the international student group or whatever, they were planning a weekend trip for students who wanted to go to Montenegro. And for the entire trip, it was something like 200 euros, you know, for food for lodging, everything to probably stayed different accommodations in these students. But, but it looks beautiful. Yeah,
**Tim Leffel: **That's a great deal. Yeah, it's beautiful there and but you know, just to say if somebody is hell bent on going to Western Europe than where you were in Portugal is probably the best value and Spain's not so bad either. And you can drink good wine for cheap in both of these places, which is good for students, I guess. So, you know, if you are going to go to Western Europe, head south, and then also you can take a quick trip from Spain over to Morocco, which is again, a quite reasonable place. It's a different continent, but not by much.
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely, absolutely. I was actually looking at just flight times, and was impressive. My son and I went to Jordan one year many years ago and and just mind blowing experiences, things that like I didn't think would have an effect on me. I didn't think that Wadi Rum, you know, being in a desert like fine. Oh, good, right. No, but like, I mean, just mind blowing in ways I could never explain. So it's probably good. I'm not a travel writer. And that's actually not too far from Europe either. Getting to that world.
**Tim Leffel: **Yes, all those Mediterranean countries that are pretty short hop by plane and then Morocco, you can actually get to on a ferry, which makes it really easy. But yeah, so if anybody's wondering what Wadi Rum is like, you've probably seen it in many a movie including the new dune one.
**Jenn Viemont: **Watch the new Doom one.
**Tim Leffel: **It's quite good. It's great. I can't see it in the theater.
**Jenn Viemont: **Well, I'll talk I have my new I'm trying to up my cardio. I hate cardio and the new thing I'm doing though I hate cardio. And I'm not a video game person is I'm doing that virtual reality Oculus thing. Oh, wow. And it has these workouts called supernatural. And they're like a 3d virtual reality of these places around the world, like Petra like Wadi wrote, where I'm like, Oh, I've been there. But it also shows me other places. And I'm like, Oh, that's beautiful. I'd love to go there some time, is kind of satisfying my travel itch right now, not long term, but for now, it'll satisfy it. So tell me this. Are there places around the world for travel or for moving that you haven't been yet but that are on your radar that, you know, with COVID travel stuff not happening as much or whatever they that you're hoping to check out pretty soon?
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, I have not been to Georgia, which I mentioned earlier, the country? Of course, not the state, right. Yeah, that's become a real digital nomad hotspot, because basically, you can go there for a year on a tourist visa. And on top of that, they have a digital nomad visa that you can get. So it's not the greatest in terms of weather, I mean, they have, they have a real winter there, but it's not too bad, it's kind of mild. And then you can go skiing, which is, you know, always nice if you have to put up with winter. So it's a big wine, it's like the oldest wine region in the world. And so there's lots and lots of wineries there. And, you know, mountains, and there is a bit of a beach area. And so, and it's very cheap, I mean, you can rent a two bedroom apartment there for 600 bucks in the capital city. And it'll be pretty nice. And so a lot of people who had to leave Bali, or Chiang Mai or wherever ended up there. So I feel like I've kind of missed out, I was gonna go there and 2020. And then we all know what happened then. And so hopefully, I'll get there in the next year or two. Otherwise, I mean, I think I've been to most of the places where where people end up moving, I haven't spent much time in Spain. And you know, Barcelona has been kind of a hotspot for a long time. But, you know, I don't know if I would live in a city like that. Anyway, I don't really like living in a big huge city as much. Like I love to go to Bangkok for a week, but I wouldn't want to live there all the time. And I want to spend some more time in Argentina. And I was telling you before we started that I've got a trip planned down there in March to Patagonia. And hopefully that all works out. And I'm going to scope it out a little bit. I've got a few expat friends that live there that I'm going to hopefully connect with. And there's some other spots that, you know, this happens a lot where the political winds kind of change and they it becomes not as good as pot as it used to be. And I kind of feel that way about a few spots right now when I'm one of those Nicaragua, one of them's Turkey. And both for similar reasons. They've got a kind of a dictator for life in place, and that nobody can seem to get rid of, you know, a lot of personal freedoms have been eroded. So I would be scared to death to buy in either those places, but again, for three months, you know, what could happen? It's maybe not so bad. But I have not been back to Turkey for about 10 years. And I do love the place, but I'm not real thrilled about the environment right now.
**Jenn Viemont: **It's interesting. You talk about the three months I had a parent asked me recently, I am a total fan of Estonia. I'm such a fan of Estonia.
**Tim Leffel: **I haven't been there. I should mention, I haven't been to that one. And they have that EV subprogram which is nice. Yeah,
**Jenn Viemont: **It's cool. And Latvia, I also love they're not as digital nomad friendly, but, but um, Estonia is fantastic. And they have some great schools, very internationalized. And one mother asked me, you know, do I think that's a good idea, given the issues with Russia and Ukraine and all that right now? And that's basically what I said to her. I said, you know, as a, as an American citizen, I would absolutely send my American citizen kids there for a degree program, because if things got dicey, they can leave. Would I buy property there? Maybe not right now. But certainly for three years when you can leave? I absolutely would. And I feel most places. I mean, Poland doesn't have the best political situation right now. Hungary doesn't have the best political situation right now. But right, let's get dicey. You can leave.
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And that brings up a larger point. I think for most people, it doesn't make sense to buy in a country unless you know, you're going to be there for the long term. Or unless you're just buying like a cheap vacation beach house or something which I did that once in Mexico, where it's such a low price that like what the downside was, you know, so miniscule that I didn't really worry about like, if I lost all that money wouldn't be the end of the world. But you know, some people put their whole life savings into a house and like they sell something in the US for 600,000 They put it all into a mansion somewhere and that to me seems incredibly risky, especially if you haven't lived there already. Some people do that house owners international style back to that, you know, without even like spending any time in the place and so then you don't know the real values. You don't know what people are at See pain, you don't know what the best neighborhoods are, you don't know how well that town is going to hold its value what's on the way. And so yeah, I would tell people to be cautious about that, unless they're just taking a flyer with you know, a minimal 10% of their net worth or whatever, then you, you don't have much to worry about, but just rent for a while you can rent a fabulous place for less than you would spend on, you know, a monthly mortgage in the US in a cheap place. So just enjoy it.
**Jenn Viemont: **And even in a not cheap place, we lived in cash cash, which is just outside of Lisbon. It's like an ocean town. And we paid much less than our mortgage for a place that was, you know, five minute walk from the ocean. So I could walk on the ocean every single day. We had a horrible, horrible landlord. That was you know, and it was a third floor walk up and third floor, European third floor. So really fourth floor. But you know what that counteracted the effects of some of the pest Delta nada and wine and cheese, we were having so much of definitely pay off a trade offs.
**Tim Leffel: **Yeah, and if anybody if you ever want to get an idea what the rent prices are, just pull up Airbnb and check the monthly rates, and that's gonna be the highest. I mean, that's, you know, the top end, you'll probably find something cheaper if you're there on the ground and looking around. But that'll give you an idea. And you can search in a place like Tirana Albania, for instance, to see, like penthouse apartments for 500 bucks a month on Airbnb, you know, really nice places. And so you know, if you go there, you're probably going to spend less than that. And sometimes that's utilities included. So that's your monthly nut, and you've got nothing else to worry about. So why would you buy a place? You know, like, it doesn't make sense. Unless you see the future, and you know, you're gonna take a great investment ride?
**Jenn Viemont: **Absolutely. Man, my list is growing and growing through this conversation with you Georgia was already on my list. But now there are a few more on my list as well. And from reading your blogs, so So can you tell our listeners a little bit about the resources, the blogs of books, how you help people who are interested in cheap travel or cheap living abroad?
**Tim Leffel: **Yes, I have a book out called a better life for half the price. And it's in its second edition right now. That was my pandemic project. When travel shut down for a while I spent a few months interviewing people for the second edition, this book because it was really easy to get hold of people. And so, you know, got a lot of expats stories in their actual prices of what people are paying, and, you know, the kind of goods and Bad's I mean, one criticism of some of the expat publications and websites out there is they kind of, you know, make everything look rah, rah, wonderful all the time. And I'm trying not to do that, because there are downsides to every place. And you need to, you know, be aware of those and, and know before going in, so you don't get a nasty surprise. But, you know, most people who live abroad are willing to take that in stride, and they're happy, you know, they're there. And they usually say, I wish I'd done it earlier, you know, because they their expenses have gone down, they're living a happier life, they're not as stressed, they're eating better. So you know, all these things can really make your whole life feel better. I have a blog called The cheapest destinations blog that I've had since 2003. So I'm one of the pioneers, I guess. That's about cheap travel and living abroad, just you know how to travel well, for less or, and how to live abroad for less. And I have a few other publications where where I'm editor, I'll just shout out to one. It's called perceptive travel. And it's all narrative stories from book authors. So that's kind of a more literary side of travel, as opposed to the how to stuff which is most of what I end up working on. But sometimes it's good to tell a longer, more in depth story about a place or a story. So those are some of the things I work on. And yeah, if you're just a traveler, I have a book out called the world's cheapest destinations, and I updated every few years. And that'll give you some real prices in different locations. And I want to stress one thing real quick, that you should take advantage of if you're a student, you have access to a student visa, so that makes life so much easier. If you try to go somewhere as an adult to get a residency visa, it's a whole lot harder than getting a student visa. So take advantage of it while you can.
**Jenn Viemont: **For sure, for sure. And I just have to encourage all of our listeners to check out we're gonna have links to all these in the show notes. But really, I mean very few people who I don't know have inspired action in my life like like you and your resources have so I mean even still, we're not going to be living abroad now but reading your blogs and coming up with next places I want to go I sent my son your blog about the cheapest places for beer. I mean there is fantastic resources that continue to excite and expire so i i hope that not expire just as far Inspire. But I do hope that everybody will check it out and I really Really appreciate you being here today.
**Tim Leffel: **Well, thanks for having me on, Jennifer. It's good talking with you. And I might hit you up for what you paid in Portugal later.
**Jenn Viemont: **For sure. Thanks so much for listening today, before we end up like to tell you about a crunch time pack. So I only offered this twice a year. And it's for students who are going to be applying for the fall of 22 and are feeling behind on the research and it's a personalized and comprehensive package this really hands on with me to make sure that you know, all the ducks are in a row. So the first thing that comes with is a best fit list. This is a service we offer where I personally handpick three to five programs that fit the student's qualifications, budget, interests, preferences, all of that, that they provide to me through a form that's emailed to you after ordering. It also includes a line jumper pass, the turnaround time for best fit list is off in about three weeks or so because we get so many of them. And with the line jumper paths, you'll get your best fit list just 10 days after submitting. It also comes after you get your best fit list back we'll have a one hour consultation. And we do this to formulate your admissions plan. And also answer any questions you might have. After that, I create a custom admissions calendar for you with all the deadlines you know when you need to ask whichever teacher for a recommendation when you need to write your motivation letter by all of those are going to be on a calendar specifically for you based on the schools you're applying to. And then it comes with email check ins that I'll send you around those dates saying hey, you got that reference letter yet or you know, just to follow up. And for some accountability, which I know helps a lot of people including myself also comes with a motivation letter review, where I will go through the letter you write for admissions and give you suggestions about organization structure, content, etc. And it also comes with a Facebook group membership, which is only usually available to our month to month members, which of course if you're about to apply, you might not need a full membership, but you do get access to our incredible community of families. So a lot of the services you can't purchase separately, I don't offer the calendar. For instance, I don't offer email check ins, for instance without this package. But if you were to add up the cost of the other services that we do offer, the cost of this package is $525 less than if you paid for the available services separately. Because it's such a personalized service. I only accept five students at a time. So you're going to want to make sure to sign up really soon. If you're interested. You can find a link to this special and also more information about this episode in our show notes. And you'll find a ton of other information on our site, which is beyond the states.com you'll find blogs, some by me others are written by our student ambassadors, they have both written and video blogs. You'll find links to our old podcast episodes that we did back in 2017, which is a great starting point. And you'll also learn more about our various services and our incredible community. We'd love for you to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. If you have suggestions for future episodes, just shoot us a message there. And finally, if you enjoyed the podcast we'd really appreciate if you'd leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher. Thanks again for listening.

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Why Europe
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Will a European Degree Work for Me in the US?

Is a degree from Europe valuable enough in the US? Does it allow students to get into grad school and get a good job? Who gives accreditation to universities in the States?

Is a degree from Europe valuable enough in the US? Does it allow students to get into grad school and get a good job? Who gives accreditation to universities in the States? What are the hidden costs international students need to know when applying for universities? Jenn digs deep into this topic to answer these and many more questions.
Later in the episode, Jenn opens a discussion with the doctor and international medical graduate Akriti Sinha. Sr. Sinha shares her story around becoming a doctor in the US with a degree from abroad and gives advice for coping with numerous problems and specific challenges foreign students can face.

**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, guys. I'm Jenn Viemont, founder of Beyond the States and I'm so glad you're listening today. Because I'm going to talk about something, a question that I get a lot. This question is whether a degree from Europe is good in the US. So this usually means one of two things. Will it allow me to get into grad school? Or will it allow me to get a job? 
We've had episodes already with more coming about the positive ways, studying abroad outside of your home country affects employment, due both to globalization and also the skills that students gain by studying abroad. It's always interesting to me, though, that people think this could be a hindrance to grad school. If you look at the International Student percentages for Master's Degree Programs in any US university, you're gonna see that degrees are accepted from accredited universities from around the world. In fact, there were more than 1 million international students studying at universities in the US during the 2019 to 2020 school year. 
So I could spend an entire episode talking about the different types of accreditations, I'm just going to touch quickly on it today for the most important aspects. So in the US, the government doesn't give accreditation to universities itself, but instead approves various accrediting agencies, as does the Council for Higher Education. So these are often but not always regionally based, like the Middle States Commission on Higher Education or the WASC Accrediting Commission. And then there are also national accrediting agencies as well as specialized accrediting agencies for degrees, like, you know, law, nursing, medicine, and things like that. It's a pretty confusing process, because a school in the US can say it's accredited. But if it's not accredited by an approved agency, then it doesn't matter, then their accreditation really means nothing. 
In most other countries, accreditation is granted by a governmental body, which is usually the Ministry of Education. Since public universities in Europe are heavily funded by taxes, the accreditation process is really quite thorough. And since there's only one accrediting agency per country, the Ministry of Education, the criteria used for accreditation is consistent. This is a type of accreditation we rely on for beyond the states, because this is what's going to matter. When you're seeking degree recognition. We really don't risk it when it comes to this. And I sometimes get emails from people asking about a school they found online that isn't in our database, the school may have given them a reason that they don't yet have national accreditation. And the reason behind it sounds compelling. Sometimes it's sketchy, sometimes it's not. It's just not something we're willing to risk. This type of accreditation is a deal breaker for us. 
Okay. So as I mentioned, there's also degree recognition, which is connected but different. This is the process of getting your foreign degree accepted as valid by an employer, or a graduate school, or a licensure board. Most graduate schools will use credentialing agencies to do this. And this is why the National Accreditation is key, is it's a required component. Many employers will just look at accreditation, or they might already know the school if this is like a multinational company that recruits from around the world. Honestly, really, so many companies hire from around the world that see degrees from outside the US is not an issue. Some employers, so will use credentialing agencies for the process. Again, no big deal. If you went to a university that had this National Accreditation. 
Then we get into careers that require Professor Professional Licensure. And this is a different matter entirely. These are things like you know, healthcare, education, psychology, law, and a handful of others. The most important thing to note about the careers that require licensure is that most, not all, but most are going to require a master's degree before licensure. So many of our members intend to work in Europe after graduating. But if you're sure you want to eventually work in the US in one of these careers, perhaps the solution is to get your Bachelor's in Europe and then coming back to get your Masters in the US which would then make the licensure process much easier. That said, though, there are extra hoops to jump through. Most of the careers have passed to licensure with an international diploma. The biggest obstacle can be the licensure exam, not because students who studied in Europe don't have the knowledge, but because the curriculum in Europe of course was not focused on preparing them for a US specific exam, so more self studies needed in order to pass those tests. Other hoops can be found on the licensure board connected to specific professions, I've looked at a number and it's pretty clear if you find the right link for how to pursue licensure with a foreign degree, it'll lay out whatever hoops or obstacles there are around that. 
However, when we get to the health related fields, the obstacles increase. First of all, let's say you want to get your Bachelor's Degree in Europe and then go to med school in the US, this can be a problem. Many US medical schools require a degree from the US. And those that don't require you to have your Bachelor's Degree from the US require at least one year of coursework from an American or Canadian University. And usually these are the science classes. This is the case even if you were pre med at a top university in Europe, most of the health related programs in Europe, things like Veterinary Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, and Medicine are combined programs. So in five or six years, depending on the field, you graduate with both your Bachelor's Degree and your Master's Degree. It's really integrated and combined, it's not like after three or four years, you could just leave with your bachelor's. It's also very focused from day one. So students really need to know 100% that this is what they want to study. So of these, Pharmacy is probably the easiest to come back to the states and practice with. You first take the foreign Pharmacy graduate equivalency exam, and then the national NAPLEX test. Like the other licensure, the biggest obstacle around this is just preparing for a national test. Veterinary Medicine isn't horrific either. It's pretty similar to the process for Pharmacy, it starts to get more difficult with Dentistry. Unless your degree came from a school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, which are only in the US and Canada, you have to complete an advanced standing program at CODA school. This is even if you are practicing dentistry in your home country, and I believe these are about two years. So even if you were a dentist in some other country, you have to come back here and and go to school basically, in order to be a dentist here. 
Then we have becoming a doctor and the issues around becoming a doctor are the most common misconception. I can't tell you how many people think that you can't become a doctor if you get your degree abroad or that it's just about impossible. Now it is true, that students who get their MD In other countries have certain obstacles which we're going to talk about today. You have to get clinical experience, take the really expensive USMLEs and get your residency. Let me back up for a minute. When you get your medical degree abroad, you're called an IMG. This is International Medical Graduate. The term IMG says nothing about citizenship. So it's qualified with either US IMG for American students who get their degree outside of the US and non-US IMGs who aren't American citizen. Many of the residency obstacles are greatly decreased for US IMGs. Because of course, as an American, you don't have to have a visa and visa sponsorship to work in the country. 
But people who tell you that you can't get a residency in the US, if you have a foreign degree are usually talking about the obstacles for foreign IMGs. Even the expensive hoops that IMGs have to jump through, end up costing more when it's not in your home country. And we're going to learn about many of these hoops today in the interview. I'm talking to Dr. Sinha today, and we continue talking after the interview ended. And we talked about the costs associated with going the US Route as an IMG. 
What she noted, though, was that she was able to graduate medical school without debt, which made these expenses as well as the headaches more manageable. She also talked about friends she has who are Indian, but also US citizens, who went to medical school abroad to avoid the debt knowing that as US IMGs, the obstacles wouldn't be as significant. Honestly, it really makes sense. So like, let's look at UNC Chapel Hill. And again, I use this as an example often just because it's where I live. And we'll even just look at the more affordable in-state tuition. 
So if you are in-state going to medical school, you're going to pay well actually, if you're in-state for your Bachelor's Degree, you're going to pay about 35,600 in just tuition for the entire four years, not that's not the annual rate of course, that's the tuition in full for the four years. Then for medical school in-state, you're gonna pay just over 35,000 a year for four years in-state totaling $140,616. So you're ready for residency in eight years, and you've paid $176,000 in just tuition costs. And remember, this is in state at a public university. So it's on the lower end of things. In continental Europe, there are 42, English taught programs in medicine. These take six years to complete, so you finish with your Bachelor's and Masters. They range in tuition from 1,900 euros to 20,000 euros per year with an average tuition of 10,150 euros. So that's right around 11,500 US dollars. So students who pursue this average tuition, let's just say, they're going to have their bachelor's and their MD for just $69,000. And they're going to have this two years earlier. So it's true that they are not going to have the non-science, non-medicine related gen ed classes and electives that aren't related to that that the UNC student had, but they're also paying $107,000 less, over that it's 107,216 less, and two years less of living expenses in that student. I would think there could be other ways to explore, you know, non medicine related academic interests with that amount of time and money savings. So I'm excited for you to hear the interview where I learned so much. I do want to emphasize that Dr. Sinha is talking about her experience as a non-US IMG. So just want to remind you that some of the obstacles she faced would not be as much of an issue for a US IMG. So let's take a quick break and come back with the interview.
**Testimonial: **Hey, guys. I'm Izzy from Wisconsin. I'm entering my third year of study at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. If you've been listening to the last few episodes of the podcast, you might think that Beyond the States is mostly for Dutch schools. There are a lot of members here particularly because other than Ireland, of course, the Netherlands has the greatest number of English-taught Bachelor's Degree programs. There are actually Beyond the States members in Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, Italy, and France, and Spain, and Belgium, and even Cyprus. Each country is different when it comes to their admission requirements, educational approaches, the types of universities, and types of programs they offer, and more.  This is just one reason why Beyond the States is so helpful. They have information about all of these different countries and make it easy to understand and navigate them. I'm actually a dual citizen, and my parents grew up and started their higher education in Poland. They later moved to the US to finish their higher levels of education. Even though they have an understanding of these higher educations in the US, they didn't want me to be limited to just those options, especially since I'm eligible for EU tuition in all of Europe. Except for Ireland, of course. Our Beyond the States membership helped me learn about so many options all around Europe that would be a good fit for me.   I would really encourage you to not limit your options to just one country. For example, when I was looking, I looked not only at the Netherlands, but also Portugal, Spain, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Beyond the States makes that easy to do, especially with their membership. Check the show notes or Service Page at beyondthestates.com for information on how to join.  
**Jenn Viemont: **So there's a belief that it's impossible for students who study medicine in other countries to become practicing doctors in the United States. Today we're talking to Dr. Akriti Sinha -- I hope I said that right? Yes? Who is an International Medical Graduate, having gotten her medical degree in New Delhi, India. She's currently an attending physician at Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services in Williamsburg, an adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at University of Missouri Healthcare, and a clinical fellow at the McLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, University of Chicago. Wow, that's a lot. You're busy. Thank you so much for being here today, especially given how busy you clearly are.
**Akriti Sinha: **Well, thank you, Jennifer, for giving me this opportunity. I'm very privileged that you guys found me out somehow and, you know, invited me here.
**Jenn Viemont: **Well, I think you have a really important story to tell students and families because clearly, it's not impossible for International Medical Graduates. That's IMG, right International Medical Graduates to practice in the US, given that you've done so. I do know that there are extra hoops to jump through. And I was hoping we could talk about that today. So can you tell us a little bit about your path going from medical school in India to becoming a practicing doctor in the US?
**Akriti Sinha: **Yes. So it was a long path. It was a long, convoluted path. So a little bit about medical school in India, so I started my medical school when I was just 18. So right after I finished my high school, medical school in India is essentially a college, you don't do anything, you know, between medical school and your high school, unlike in the United States, where you go to your college, you do your Masters, you do maybe other things, and then eventually, you know, you start your medical school, most likely you're in your late 20s, or, you know, maybe mid 20s. There's no age barrier in the United States, which is fascinating to me. In India, you have to kind of make a decision pretty much at a very tender age, you know, by the time you're finishing your high school, you are, you know, either taking your entrance exams to enter into engineering or you know, law or whatever. There's no college, your graduate school is your college.
**Jenn Viemont: **So is that a combined Bachelor's and Master's degree program for medical school?
**Akriti Sinha: **It's interesting, because it's a Bachelor’s school. Well, the degree that I got after finishing my med school was MBBS, which is based on the British curriculum. So there are also Bachelor’s in Medicine and Bachelor’s in Surgery, which is MBBS. And after you do your medical school, you enter into post-graduation course, which in United States is residency, so only after I finished my residency in India or post-graduation in India, then I get my doctorate degree. Yes, which is MD or Doctorate in Medicine, or, you know, MS if you were a surgeon. So, it's interesting that here, if I were to complete my medical school, I'm already a doctorate because I've already completed my, you know, Bachelor's, or, you know, unmask whatever Master’s if you wanted to. In India, so MBBS is equivalent to MD, it’s because the course is the same, right? It's just that in the United States, there's no concept of MBBS, or Bachelor’s in Medicine or Bachelor’s in Surgery, right? 
Anyways, I was close to 18, when I started my med school, and so kind of longer duration, of course, it's almost five and a half to six years, unlike four years here in the United States. It's, I think, very comprehensive, very thorough. And so when I started my med school, I always knew that I wanted to get my higher education in the United States, I just did not know why. Or I wouldn't say why. I knew why I wanted. I wanted to learn from the most brilliant minds, you know, when you're growing up in a country like India or South Asian countries, you look up to United States, you look up to, you know, Great Britain as pioneers in technology, in science, and medicine. And we have a great role to play here, for sure. But there's just so much research being performed here. There's just so much opportunity. And as somebody in her early 20s, I wanted to experience that, right. So as soon as I entered medical school, my first year, I was already navigating the process, how do I practice in the United States. And it did a lot of research. This was like in 2011, 2012, when I started the, you know, the groundwork, and I was going into the websites. And that's when I, of course asked around the other people, there was obviously some of my seniors who were already writing exams. And that's when I understood the process of pursuing residency in the United States. So basically, as you write all these exams, which is the United States Medical License Exams, USMLE, and that's a complete separate pathway from what I was pursuing in India, right. In India, I was trying to get my MBBS degree get my, you know, complete all the requirements for medical school to be able to practice in India. But along with that, I was already working towards the process to, you know, pursue residency in the United States.
**Jenn Viemont: **So, and I think the important obstacle to note here is that medical schools in the US are preparing their students for the USMLE, of course, a school in India or school anywhere else in the world. They're not going to be preparing their students for the US based tests. So you were studying for two completely different systems.
**Akriti Sinha: **Absolutely. And it's a lot of work and it requires so much perseverance, so much technique, so much planning. And I think the good thing about it is it's kind of flexible on you, when you want to do it. For me, I wanted to do it right away. As soon as I completed my requirements in India, I wanted to go ahead and start my residency in the United States. So I started it pretty much towards the end of my medical school. I was already studying for my USMLE exams, and I'm trying to apply for, you know, medical experience here. But a lot of doctors in other countries, they do it after they have completed their residency in their, you know, own country, they are probably practicing physician, you know, and that's one good thing about pursuing residency here is that as long as you have completed the requirements, which is which we show we're going to talk about, which is all the exams, USMLE, step one, step two, step three, and get accepted into residency program, it doesn't matter, you know, what you were doing before that?
**Jenn Viemont: **Interesting. So just in terms of the steps, you take the test, you get your transcripts verified, correct? And then whether you completed a residency in another country or not, unless it was Canada, you have to complete your residency in the US in order to become a practicing physician, correct?
**Akriti Sinha: **I think so. I cannot talk about Canada. But I know a lot of students, medical students in Canada also pursue residency here and they don't necessarily have residency.
**Jenn Viemont: **Okay. Okay. So why do you think that is? Why is it that the US requires, so you were talking about other people who might have already completed their residency in another country, they might be practicing doctors, they might have been practicing for many years, and then they come here, and they have to do this. Why do you think that is?
**Akriti Sinha: **Very strict. I think it's, I was told when I started it, I was told that it's the toughest exam that you will take in your life, and you don't take it once you take it three times. It's step one, step two, which is divided into two parts, which is clinical knowledge, and clinical skills, which has kind of, the clinical skill part has been eliminated because of the pandemic because it required standardized patients, and they have different ways to assess you in that. And then that is step three, which is your final exam.
 I think the reason why they want it is they want it to be very standardized, they want to make sure that people who are going to practice here, even if they you know, the residency itself is very standardized in several years, like three to seven, eight years, along with fellowships if you want to. But even before that, they want to make sure that people who are deciding to be practicing here are like very thorough in their knowledge. I mean, that cannot be, I guess, duplicated by any other degree, no matter, you know, you could be the biggest researcher in your country. But if you have to take those exams, you have to prove, you have that you passed them very well, you know, a lot of times, our scores have to be higher than some of the American grads to place us before them. Because, and that's not a wrong thing. I mean, it's your country, right? You want your own students to have definitely a spot here. So for us to be able to bypass that and be considered as their equivalent, we, a lot of times have to prove our mettle to a much higher degree than them.
**Jenn Viemont: **So as residency, and this is something I don't know much about my knowledge is like limited to Grey's Anatomy and shows like that. But so are residencies offered completely based on test scores? Or because I've heard is very hard for students, whether they're American or not, if you have an international degree, even if you pass the USMLE that it can be really difficult to get a residency.
**Akriti Sinha: **Yes. So the tests are absolute necessity, there is nothing you cannot. Yeah, you have to take step one, step two, two parts, now one part and this step three. And then, because we are foreign grads and international medical graduates, we have to show proof of United States clinical experience. It's very, very highly coveted and expected from you. And the United States clinical experience. It's a very broad term, but it basically involves wherever field you want to practice, you have to have some kind of clinical experience. It could be clerkship electives, electives, essentially, what fourth year medical students do here, they can do it in their own program, they can go to other programs to increase the chances of matching. Elective is like, you know, if you want to be an Ophthalmologist, you want to do extra rotations there. For me, it was Psychiatry. So I wanted to do more, you know, rotations in Psychiatry, which I did in New York City in Miami. So that is clinical experience. You're basically meaning, you know, you're following the treatment team and you know, you're following an attending or a fellow. And you're just trying to see how the American Healthcare System works, which is very, very different from no matter, you know, which part of the world you come from, it is very different to you, for me, it was huge, usually different. And, yeah. So they want that. They want to see, and the more the better. You know, if you can spend four or five months, hopefully in different programs, doing that, that really speaks, and that gives you an edge.
**Jenn Viemont: **So this is something that a student who goes to American med school, they're going to have that as part of their degree. So was this hard for you? Is it hard, I guess I shouldn't just say for you, but in general, is getting this clinical experience before the residency, is that difficult to secure?
**Akriti Sinha: **It is very difficult. It is very difficult to secure. And mind you, I did this in 2015, 2016, because I matched in 2017. So this was the time when I was doing it, this was far from the past, you know, five or six years ago, and even then it was so difficult, I cannot even speak how people are doing it now. Everything shut down. So the biggest problem is, they don't know you, right? I did my med school from it’s like the Asia's largest hospital, in terms of how many people it sees as an outpatient basis, like VMMC Subdivision Hospital, which is in New Delhi. It's like Asia's largest, they don't know this, right? I mean, you know, and I don't expect them to know this. So it's a real big scramble to get an experience somehow, in their private companies who kind of can help you with that, but it's expensive, and it's not reliable. A lot of us kind of, you know, talk to some of a senior if they can help us, you know, talk to program directors, or talk to the production director if they can get us, but even then, because it still involves an external person to come to the hospital and talk to the patient, there's, you know, there's a lot of things that need to be considered.
So at least in I think, early 2000s, there were a lot more programs that will offer an external, like international students like Cornell was on top of that, Harvard Medical School. They had their own, you know, way, just for like US medical students, we were included in that category. It was expensive, a few thousand dollars for every month. But I think we, if there's a lot of competition, because if they have their own students or you know, other students from New York, I want to rotate in Cornell, then that can be difficult to get that. So you have to like apply in advance and all that. So yeah, sometimes those programs invite, you sometimes they don't invite you, you know, because you're not a local, and you're not a citizen. So there are hoops to cross there.
**Jenn Viemont: **Interesting. So I wonder if what that experience would be like for an American citizen who has their degree from another country? You know, if they're coming, because they wouldn't need the visa, right? So part of it is you needed them to sponsor you, so that you can have a visa correct.
**Akriti Sinha: **So most of these clinical rotations are done on a tourist visa.
**Jenn Viemont: **Okay, because you're only, it's only a few months.
**Akriti Sinha: **Right, right. But if you want to stay longer, or you want to get into research, kind of position, which I did with the University of Miami, then they require you to sponsor, you know, like your research visa or things like that. I mean, if you're a citizen, you can stay in the country, no matter how long you need to. And even if you're trying to find a position, or somebody you can shadow, or somebody who can, you know, staying here is not an issue. For us, the longest we can stay here on a tourist visa is six months, so you have to make the most out of it. During that time, you also had to take the Clinical Skills Exam, which are often in very specific centers in America. So yeah, it is a lot of planning and a lot of coordinating. Yes, yes. 
**Jenn Viemont: **So you take the USMLE, the three parts, and you need to really kind of ace it because you're kind of coming at it from a disadvantage right. And you get your clinical experience in the US right? Through juggling a hospital slash university, who will set you up with these rotations that you pay for, while you're doing this, and then you can apply for residency to complete your residency for the matching?
**Akriti Sinha: **Yes, so I wanted to mention, so ECFMG, which is Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. So that's the Corporation, which are basically verifying all our transcripts and making sure that we are, you know, at par with our, with our AMGs grads, so they are keeping a record of all our steps, our scores, our transcripts, they have our you know MSP, like our, you know, medical school, papers, and the Dean's letter and stuff like that. So they are the ones who, so we have to be certified by the ECFMG before you can apply for residency.
**Jenn Viemont: **And you can't be certified until you take the tests, do your clinical rotation experience stuff, and then they'll certify you, and then you can go through the matching.
**Akriti Sinha: **Right, so we have to be ECFMG certified before you can start your residency.
**Jenn Viemont: **So how does matching work?
**Akriti Sinha: **Yes, so that's a very unique experience for me. Because nowhere in my life when I was in India, I was interviewed to get into medical school or you know, things like that. So the way the residency process or getting residency work, so it's a system, it's an electronic system, it's called ERAS, so Electronic Residency Application Services. And it opens up sometime in September, mid September. And that's where you enter your, you know, all your information, you create your portfolio, and through that you apply to programs. So for example, I wanted to do my residency in Psychiatry, you can apply to different programs, like you know, if you want to do not sure, maybe you can apply in Pediatrics, too, and all that, but your profile has to match what you're applying into, that's also very unique to the United States, like you need to sure, you need to be pretty sure about what you want to do with your life. You know?
**Jenn Viemont: **What you mean by your profile, like, if you're wanting to do Psychiatry, then those rotations, that clinical experience you had should not be Pediatrics. So it should be related somehow to Psychiatry,
**Akriti Sinha: **Right. So the exam score, which is basically kind of verified by the ECFMG, then my statement of purpose, right? So that has to speak to why I want to go into this field, I have to have three, at least three reference letters. So letters of recommendations, these are the people I interviewed, you know I shadowed, or I worked with, or I did research with, and they have to speak very, very highly of me. That's the requirement there too. And then Dean's letter from your med school, think those are the main things. 
So all of this is entered into the ERAS. And through that also, I'm applying to the program. So this is the catch here because I'm an IMG, I already kind of have a disadvantage here. I try to apply to as many programs as I can to be selected by at least one.So there are like 120 Psychiatry residency programs in the United States, I'll try to apply to at least 80. Okay, compared to an AMG, who would probably apply to 20 or 25, only the places they absolutely want to go. Because every program you apply costs you. It's like 30-40 Dollars or something. Yes, so it can be very expensive. And did I tell you, sorry, I might have forgotten. So every step exam that you take is about $1,000? 
**Jenn Viemont: **No? And I'm sure that getting your transcripts verified, and all that is not free, either.
**Akriti Sinha: **Oh, yeah. So every paperwork that goes through ECFMG, some amount of money, there's no doubt about it. But these exams are really, really, really expensive. So $1,000 for step one, $1,000 for step two, clinical knowledge $1,500, to step two CS which has been eliminated now, but I'm sure there's other alternative way which is probably quite expensive. And then step three is the last exam that can be taken during your residency, but normally it's taken by IMGs before we even do it, again, to increase our chances of matching. That's like again, gosh, that's probably also like $1,500 or something. 
So it's expensive, so just exams themselves are, and then the process of applying into all these programs is overall can be up to 2000, $3,000. 
So yeah, my goal was to match and I would apply to as many programs if I had a chance to be interviewed by them. Now, some programs, I know, I don't want to say I don't want to name them, but I know I won't have a chance. I won't. I know that they don't sponsor visas, even if they would put it on the website that we would sponsor your visas through the ECFMG, which is also the, you know, the same entity that verifies our transcripts, they also sponsor what's called J one visa, which is an exchange. They would say that, “hey, we will sponsor visa,” but they will probably never do that, right. It's a total of 80, 90 programs that can cost you about 3000, $4,000, just on applying. And if you get called from them, which is could be 1050. If you're really, really lucky, you might still get called from 10, or 15 people or programs, which is a good number. And it's variable. You know, sometimes people get called from one program and they match in that program. And sometimes people get call from 15 programs, and sometimes they don't match. It's very unfortunate. So the goal is to get as many interviews as possible. But it does get expensive in that.
**Jenn Viemont: **Yeah. So you apply to however many, and each of those places looks up your application and decides, okay, we want to interview her or no, we don't want to interview her. And then you have your interview. Is that usually in non-pandemic times, is that in person or is that virtual usually?
**Akriti Sinha: **It's all in person. Yeah, so September 15, is when the ERAS opens, so everybody starts. So it's active, right? Before that, you can work on your portfolio, and you get all the information there. But I think September 15, is when it gets active, and the programs can look at your information, and they can start sending you interviews already through their, you know, program coordinators. So my first interview, I got on September 19, which was amazing. So that was positive, right? I'm like, already in the game, I'm starting to prepare, right? I'm doing my booking my flights for that place. I'm trying to see if I can find a place where I can, you know, where I can stay. So yeah, so throughout October, November, December is when you're interviewing maybe only till early January. And that's after which, you know, then comes the decision time. 
**Jenn Viemont: **And so the decision time, would you get an offer for more than one or only one.
**Akriti Sinha: **So the way it works, it's pretty transparent, and pretty streamlined. I could interview at 15 places, but I would eventually accept an offer at only one place. I cannot do it twice.
**Jenn Viemont: **Did you get an offer from more than one place? 
**Akriti Sinha: **So that process is called a match. Okay, and so very thing of its own. So you don't get email, “Hey, can you accept.” It doesn't work like, right? So it's called NRMP. So that's another system. It's called National Resident Matching Process, Matching Program. And the way it works is that, hey, I interviewed at 10 places I go to their, you know, website, again, I create my account, I pay the fees, whatever. And then I rank the programs that I interviewed at so 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, based on my preference. And programs do the same thing. Right? So they interviewed about 100 people, right? Maybe 10 person for each spot. They had 10 spots for Psychiatry, they interviewed 100 people, and they would rank maybe 40 people. Maybe they didn't rank 100. But I don't know, I really don't know what they like, if they're really confident that they will no matter what happens, they will never have an empty spot. They might, you know, rank less people. 
But there's some kind of algorithm that runs in like late February, early March. And based on my preference, they say that the applicants preference is considered to be more important. But based on my preference based on what or where program matched me. That's where somewhere, they meet and that's the place where I'm going to do my residency for several years, and sometimes it can work in my favor, and sometimes it cannot. And if there's no match, then you don't get a spot and then you're unmatched. 
**Jenn Viemont: **And then what?
**Akriti Sinha: **And then you repeat the process next year. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Oh, man! And you know, by repeating the process next year, do you have to take the test again? 
**Akriti Sinha: **No, no, no. The test -- the good thing about these tests is that they are valid for seven years. Yes, they're valid for seven years so you don't take the test again, but you do, you know, apply to the programs again and your next, your new candidate, you maybe rewrite your statement, you know, maybe you try to strengthen your profile in the next few months. 
There's not a lot of time though, because the match or the results of everything comes sometime in mid March. Mid September is the time when you start the process, and between March and September, you have to decide what you want to do, do you want to, you know, completely withdraw and go back to your country, because maybe your experience was not great, or you think that you were really close, and you know, you want to do it again. And the best case scenario is you match. And hopefully you match in your top three ranked program. And then you're stuck, you kind of start the process of working on your visa with the ECFMG, your, you know, with the program and start getting orientation, and all that process.
**Jenn Viemont: **Because if you've been there, if it's March, although maybe you've gone back to your home country by then, you're on a tourist visa still. 
**Akriti Sinha: **Yes. Unless I was in a research visa at the time. But that was a unique, not everybody is in that.
**Jenn Viemont: **That complication, as well as of your visa if you're not a US citizen,
**Akriti Sinha: **Right. So most people return by the end of January, as soon as their interview season is over, they are gone by then. And they're essentially just waiting, you know, in March and for the results to open. And it's a very prideful experience, you know. So I think it's a Monday, second week or third week, second week of March is when on a Monday at this very specialized very specific time, you get the letter from NRMP. And you said, “Congratulations, you matched!” Or I don't know, match. And that is what you know, on Monday, on Friday, you get another email, for me it was email, for American grads, they open the letter in their respective medical schools, and it's called Match Day. And that's the envelope tells you where you match, which can be again, an amazing experience or the most disheartening experience, because if it's not somewhere you wanted to go. For me, it was all email because again, I'm not a grad here. Right. But it's a historical experience for a lot of people.
**Jenn Viemont: **Yeah. Wow. And so you matched your first time going through this? 
**Akriti Sinha: **Yes. And I was lucky. I want to say that. Anybody who matches in the first time, they're talented, but they're also very lucky. Because I've seen very exceptional people, like, you know, super bright graduates from India, are the country’s with the highest scores, like amazing scores, that you don't even hear a lot of AMGs and have finished, you know, probably spent several months, if not few years, building up their clinical experience or research experience here. Or, you know, completing all the steps. Were getting astonishing letters, and sometimes they don't match. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Wow, yeah. Well, you don't know. I'll find the stats for the show notes. So you don't know them off the top of your head. About the number of students with international diplomas who match their first year? 
**Akriti Sinha: **Ah, not tell. So it's nowhere the data will tell you? About the attempts? Or IMGs, they won't tell you about the attempts, but they will tell you the percentage for different fields. So for example, I can talk about Psychiatry in my year, 2017. And I don't want to get into too much of, you know, specific fields. But Psychiatry has recently become a very difficult theme to match. In early 2000, this was one of the easier speciality to match for IMGs. Now, again, I'll tell you, I should have probably specified it earlier, surgical specialties are very difficult to match to in America. In India, it's a different story, like surgery is less. It's not that competitive. But in the United States, I guess, because of malpractice and all of those things. It's a difficult field to match into, not not just for IMGs, it's almost impossible for IMGs to match. Unless you again, you were probably very established surgeon in India and did a lot of work in United States, or you had some kind of an edge in some way. I don't know. 
So most people who want to pursue residency are doing it in Internal Medicine, Psychiatry, Pediatrics, maybe Family Medicine. And so these are the fields that are more common. So non-surgical fields. And Psychiatry became pretty competitive more recently, because of just the advances, the lifestyle, the money, just how much mental illnesses and mental health, you know, became important. 
I want to say only 9% in my year. 9% of IMGs, out of everybody who needed a visa. So like 9.9%, or something like that. So only one out of 10% turned can candidate, who needed a visa, and was an img matched in second. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Wow. Do you know how many people who didn't need a visa matched?
**Akriti Sinha: **I wouldn't say a huge number 90%? Maybe? Yeah. Because most of these people are citizens, or they’re citizens who trained in, you know, Caribbeans or in Europe, but they pretty much match almost every time. Yeah. 
**Jenn Viemont: **So is the obstacle for matching more the visa issue or more of where you had your undergraduate, right, and med school where you got your education or visa? What would you say the bigger obstacle is? 
**Akriti Sinha: **I think it's the visa. I think it's really a visa like, for example, me being trained in some of, you know, one of the biggest medical school in the world. But I'm not a citizen compared to somebody who got trained in a non- United, you know, non-US school, but in Carribeans, or in Canada, maybe but is still a citizen will have a better edge, or higher chance of matching than me. 
And when I got into the process, I think I was extremely optimistic. I was naive, right? I was naive. And I did not know a lot about immigration issues at that stage. And I was just doing what I was supposed to do. And I got lucky and it worked out for me, and it works out for a lot of people. I don't want to dishearten anyone, but be cognizant of the fact that immigration is a huge issue. And sparked visa sponsorship, it has become a difficult thing for a lot of programs. And even though ECFMG, as I mentioned, really advocates, because the overall the physician shortage is here, right? The reason why I matched, why I'm needed here is because we just cannot fill all those spots by us grads alone. 
There are like 12,000 Internal Medicine spots. And there are not 12,000 AMGs who want that Internal Medicine spots, you know, they want other fields. And so a lot of IM spots have to go to, you know, people from different other countries. But the visa sponsorship becomes an issue, especially with the pandemic, I think, when the embassies were closed and the consulates were not functioning, it's a huge risk for program directors to take. Because even if they rank you, and you match, worst case scenario, you might not be able to start on time, you know?
**Jenn Viemont: **Interesting. So it sounds like part of the misconception that people might have is that the obstacle, certainly the obstacles are still there, if you get your degree in another country, you have to take that three part test and pay $1,000 each time, and you need to get your clinical experience, whether you're an American or non-American who gets your degree from another country. You still have those obstacles. And those are definitely big obstacles. So it sounds like those are, I mean, legit, but it sounds like the residency obstacle that might be where part of the myth is as it pertains to Americans getting their degrees elsewhere, that it's more of the test and clinical experience, then getting matched for residency for those who have US citizenship. Interesting.
**Akriti Sinha: **Yeah, it's easy. It's easier for them for sure. And I, again, I understand that, you know, Visa sponsorship is, is not something that only America deals with, you know, we deal with the Indian government itself has to allow me to leave. And there's a paperwork called Statement of Need, which I have to get from the Ministry of Health in India, which basically says that, “Hey, we are letting her go. So eventually she comes back and serves us.” And that's a part of what we call as exchange visitorship. If I don't, which I'm doing now, is basically I am serving one of the underserved or health physician shortage areas of the United States for three years, bypass that.
**Jenn Viemont: **Interesting. And which is the underserved population?
**Akriti Sinha: **It's very well defined by the HHS, which is Human Health Services here. And there can be just so many bigger universities, which are still underserved, because they're just serving, you know, they're serving people who are Medicaid, Medicare dependent, or you know, insured. But one of the classes, either I finished my residency or fellowship and go back to India, and don't work in the States for two years at least, or I stay here and serve one of those areas for three years. Only then I can continue to work in the United States.
**Jenn Viemont: **Wow. So you have to, so after your residency, those are your two choices. You jumped through all those hoops to get your residency? All those hoops, paid all that money to get your residency. And you can either go back to India after you complete your residency, or serve an underserved population or underserved area for three years. And then you'd be able, wow.
**Akriti Sinha: **So they definitely tried to get the most out of us. I mean, if I'm staying here, irrespective of whatever I sacrificed, I'm living here, I'm getting, you know, I have my own advantages by working here, right? I'm getting a good lifestyle here, I'm getting good money here, I feel like I'm part of a much bigger fraternity here and I have a bigger voice. And for the future, if I want to work in a health policy, and you know, preventative medicine or whatever, it's just so much easier when you are here in the United States. And I think that was one big reason I got here, but it's not easy, you know? It's not like you finish your residency and you're just, you know, yes. Yeah.
**Jenn Viemont: **Do you know, and you might not know this, if you don't, it's fine, is the US sort of the exception in terms of how hard they make it?
**Akriti Sinha: **It's good and bad here. I think this process is the most streamlined and most well known by people in other countries, it's very transparent, it's very well designed. There's just so much information to know when to talk to the ECFMG is an amazing, you know, organization that helps us in this process. 
A lot of people have done it in the past. So a lot of us have our seniors from med schools we can talk to. The other options are, I guess, United Kingdom? They were more open in the past. I think it's a smaller country. Yeah, there are much less spots there. And I think there was a huge emigration of Indian doctors at some point. And they, I don't know the exact reason, but they stopped taking us in late 2000s, or something like that. And so United States became, like the stand alone country for a lot of, you know, Indian grads or other grads, to to focus on. And it's still I think, despite the pandemic, there's still people who are writing the exams, who are, you know, interviewing on Zoom, so everything is on Zoom now, so people are in India, they don't need to travel here. 
Of course, there's a few travel ban, which is now just now being lifted. So for the past 18, 20 months, everything has been, you know, being done on Zoom. And I think this process gets much more difficult if things are being done on Zoom, because at least I was traveling, and I was trying to talk to these people in person, and see what I like and what I don't like about them or about the town or whatever. But no, you know, people have never been to wherever and they're ranking them because that's the mean to match. You know, there's so much at stake.
**Jenn Viemont: **Yeah. And there's a huge difference between Boston, Massachusetts, and you know, Bloomington, Illinois, you know, and if you haven't seen it, if you've never been to a town like Bloomington, Illinois, it's hard. It's gonna be hard to really gauge that. Yeah. Wow. 
Well, this has been so informative. I can't even tell you I feel like my knowledge on this topic is preceded beyond Grey's Anatomy. Yeah, so ER back in the day.
**Akriti Sinha: **As much as I enjoy myself watching those shows, oh, God, it's so wrong.
**Jenn Viemont: **I know, I know. My daughter is interested in studying Criminology because of the show Criminal Minds. And I can't tell you how many articles I've sent her saying this is not an accurate representation of what you would do in the job.
**Akriti Sinha: **Or House MD or whatever. Yeah
**Jenn Viemont: **Exactly, exactly. So I appreciate ain't having a more realistic vision of how all this works. And I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge and your time with us.
**Akriti Sinha: **Thank you so much.
**Jenn Viemont:**Thank you. 
Thanks so much for listening today, before we end up like to tell you about a Crunch Time Pack. So I only offered this twice a year. And it's for students who are going to be applying for the Fall of 22 and are feeling behind on the research. And it's a personalized and comprehensive package. It’s really hands on with me to make sure that you know, all the ducks are in a row. 
So, the first thing that comes with it is a Best Fit List. This is a service we offer where I personally handpick three to five programs that fit the student's qualifications, budget, interests, preferences, all of that that they provide to me through a form that's emailed to you after ordering. It also includes a Line Jumper Pass, the turnaround time for the Best Fit List is often about three weeks or so because we get so many of them. And with the Line Jumper Pass, you'll get your Best Fit List just 10 days after submitting. It also comes after you get your Best Fit List back we'll have a one hour consultation. And we do this to formulate your admissions plan, and also answer any questions you might have. 
After that, I create a custom admissions calendar for you with all the deadlines. You know, when you need to ask whichever teacher for a recommendation, when you need to write your motivation letter, all of those are going to be on a calendar specifically for you based on the schools you're applying to. And then it comes with email check-ins that I'll send you around those dates saying “Hey, you got that reference letter yet,” or you know, just to follow up and for some accountability, which I know helps a lot of people including myself.
It also comes with a motivation letter review, where I will go through the letter you write for admissions and give you suggestions about organization, structure, content, etc. And it also comes with a Facebook group membership, which is only usually available to our month to month members, which of course if you're about to apply, you might not need a full membership, but you do get access to our incredible community of families. 
So a lot of the services you can't purchase separately, I don't offer the calendar, for instance. I don't offer email check-ins, for instance, without this package. But you were to add up the cost of the other services that we do offer, the cost of this package is $525 less, than if you paid for the available services separately. 
Because it's such a personalized service, I only accept five students at a time. So you're going to want to make sure to sign up really soon. If you're interested. You can find a link to this special and also more information about this episode in our show notes. And you'll find a ton of other information on our site, which is beyondthestates.com. You'll find blogs, some by me, others are written by our student ambassadors, they have both written and video blogs. You'll find links to our old podcast episodes that we did back in 2017, which is a great starting point. And you'll also learn more about our various services and our incredible community. 
We'd love for you to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. If you have suggestions for future episodes, just shoot us a message there. And finally, if you enjoyed the podcast, we'd really appreciate it if you'd leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher. Thanks again for listening.

Is a degree from Europe valuable enough in the US? Does it allow students to get into grad school and get a good job? Who gives accreditation to universities in the States? What are the hidden costs international students need to know when applying for universities? Jenn digs deep into this topic to answer these and many more questions.
Later in the episode, Jenn opens a discussion with the doctor and international medical graduate Akriti Sinha. Sr. Sinha shares her story around becoming a doctor in the US with a degree from abroad and gives advice for coping with numerous problems and specific challenges foreign students can face.

**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, guys. I'm Jenn Viemont, founder of Beyond the States and I'm so glad you're listening today. Because I'm going to talk about something, a question that I get a lot. This question is whether a degree from Europe is good in the US. So this usually means one of two things. Will it allow me to get into grad school? Or will it allow me to get a job? 
We've had episodes already with more coming about the positive ways, studying abroad outside of your home country affects employment, due both to globalization and also the skills that students gain by studying abroad. It's always interesting to me, though, that people think this could be a hindrance to grad school. If you look at the International Student percentages for Master's Degree Programs in any US university, you're gonna see that degrees are accepted from accredited universities from around the world. In fact, there were more than 1 million international students studying at universities in the US during the 2019 to 2020 school year. 
So I could spend an entire episode talking about the different types of accreditations, I'm just going to touch quickly on it today for the most important aspects. So in the US, the government doesn't give accreditation to universities itself, but instead approves various accrediting agencies, as does the Council for Higher Education. So these are often but not always regionally based, like the Middle States Commission on Higher Education or the WASC Accrediting Commission. And then there are also national accrediting agencies as well as specialized accrediting agencies for degrees, like, you know, law, nursing, medicine, and things like that. It's a pretty confusing process, because a school in the US can say it's accredited. But if it's not accredited by an approved agency, then it doesn't matter, then their accreditation really means nothing. 
In most other countries, accreditation is granted by a governmental body, which is usually the Ministry of Education. Since public universities in Europe are heavily funded by taxes, the accreditation process is really quite thorough. And since there's only one accrediting agency per country, the Ministry of Education, the criteria used for accreditation is consistent. This is a type of accreditation we rely on for beyond the states, because this is what's going to matter. When you're seeking degree recognition. We really don't risk it when it comes to this. And I sometimes get emails from people asking about a school they found online that isn't in our database, the school may have given them a reason that they don't yet have national accreditation. And the reason behind it sounds compelling. Sometimes it's sketchy, sometimes it's not. It's just not something we're willing to risk. This type of accreditation is a deal breaker for us. 
Okay. So as I mentioned, there's also degree recognition, which is connected but different. This is the process of getting your foreign degree accepted as valid by an employer, or a graduate school, or a licensure board. Most graduate schools will use credentialing agencies to do this. And this is why the National Accreditation is key, is it's a required component. Many employers will just look at accreditation, or they might already know the school if this is like a multinational company that recruits from around the world. Honestly, really, so many companies hire from around the world that see degrees from outside the US is not an issue. Some employers, so will use credentialing agencies for the process. Again, no big deal. If you went to a university that had this National Accreditation. 
Then we get into careers that require Professor Professional Licensure. And this is a different matter entirely. These are things like you know, healthcare, education, psychology, law, and a handful of others. The most important thing to note about the careers that require licensure is that most, not all, but most are going to require a master's degree before licensure. So many of our members intend to work in Europe after graduating. But if you're sure you want to eventually work in the US in one of these careers, perhaps the solution is to get your Bachelor's in Europe and then coming back to get your Masters in the US which would then make the licensure process much easier. That said, though, there are extra hoops to jump through. Most of the careers have passed to licensure with an international diploma. The biggest obstacle can be the licensure exam, not because students who studied in Europe don't have the knowledge, but because the curriculum in Europe of course was not focused on preparing them for a US specific exam, so more self studies needed in order to pass those tests. Other hoops can be found on the licensure board connected to specific professions, I've looked at a number and it's pretty clear if you find the right link for how to pursue licensure with a foreign degree, it'll lay out whatever hoops or obstacles there are around that. 
However, when we get to the health related fields, the obstacles increase. First of all, let's say you want to get your Bachelor's Degree in Europe and then go to med school in the US, this can be a problem. Many US medical schools require a degree from the US. And those that don't require you to have your Bachelor's Degree from the US require at least one year of coursework from an American or Canadian University. And usually these are the science classes. This is the case even if you were pre med at a top university in Europe, most of the health related programs in Europe, things like Veterinary Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, and Medicine are combined programs. So in five or six years, depending on the field, you graduate with both your Bachelor's Degree and your Master's Degree. It's really integrated and combined, it's not like after three or four years, you could just leave with your bachelor's. It's also very focused from day one. So students really need to know 100% that this is what they want to study. So of these, Pharmacy is probably the easiest to come back to the states and practice with. You first take the foreign Pharmacy graduate equivalency exam, and then the national NAPLEX test. Like the other licensure, the biggest obstacle around this is just preparing for a national test. Veterinary Medicine isn't horrific either. It's pretty similar to the process for Pharmacy, it starts to get more difficult with Dentistry. Unless your degree came from a school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, which are only in the US and Canada, you have to complete an advanced standing program at CODA school. This is even if you are practicing dentistry in your home country, and I believe these are about two years. So even if you were a dentist in some other country, you have to come back here and and go to school basically, in order to be a dentist here. 
Then we have becoming a doctor and the issues around becoming a doctor are the most common misconception. I can't tell you how many people think that you can't become a doctor if you get your degree abroad or that it's just about impossible. Now it is true, that students who get their MD In other countries have certain obstacles which we're going to talk about today. You have to get clinical experience, take the really expensive USMLEs and get your residency. Let me back up for a minute. When you get your medical degree abroad, you're called an IMG. This is International Medical Graduate. The term IMG says nothing about citizenship. So it's qualified with either US IMG for American students who get their degree outside of the US and non-US IMGs who aren't American citizen. Many of the residency obstacles are greatly decreased for US IMGs. Because of course, as an American, you don't have to have a visa and visa sponsorship to work in the country. 
But people who tell you that you can't get a residency in the US, if you have a foreign degree are usually talking about the obstacles for foreign IMGs. Even the expensive hoops that IMGs have to jump through, end up costing more when it's not in your home country. And we're going to learn about many of these hoops today in the interview. I'm talking to Dr. Sinha today, and we continue talking after the interview ended. And we talked about the costs associated with going the US Route as an IMG. 
What she noted, though, was that she was able to graduate medical school without debt, which made these expenses as well as the headaches more manageable. She also talked about friends she has who are Indian, but also US citizens, who went to medical school abroad to avoid the debt knowing that as US IMGs, the obstacles wouldn't be as significant. Honestly, it really makes sense. So like, let's look at UNC Chapel Hill. And again, I use this as an example often just because it's where I live. And we'll even just look at the more affordable in-state tuition. 
So if you are in-state going to medical school, you're going to pay well actually, if you're in-state for your Bachelor's Degree, you're going to pay about 35,600 in just tuition for the entire four years, not that's not the annual rate of course, that's the tuition in full for the four years. Then for medical school in-state, you're gonna pay just over 35,000 a year for four years in-state totaling $140,616. So you're ready for residency in eight years, and you've paid $176,000 in just tuition costs. And remember, this is in state at a public university. So it's on the lower end of things. In continental Europe, there are 42, English taught programs in medicine. These take six years to complete, so you finish with your Bachelor's and Masters. They range in tuition from 1,900 euros to 20,000 euros per year with an average tuition of 10,150 euros. So that's right around 11,500 US dollars. So students who pursue this average tuition, let's just say, they're going to have their bachelor's and their MD for just $69,000. And they're going to have this two years earlier. So it's true that they are not going to have the non-science, non-medicine related gen ed classes and electives that aren't related to that that the UNC student had, but they're also paying $107,000 less, over that it's 107,216 less, and two years less of living expenses in that student. I would think there could be other ways to explore, you know, non medicine related academic interests with that amount of time and money savings. So I'm excited for you to hear the interview where I learned so much. I do want to emphasize that Dr. Sinha is talking about her experience as a non-US IMG. So just want to remind you that some of the obstacles she faced would not be as much of an issue for a US IMG. So let's take a quick break and come back with the interview.
**Testimonial: **Hey, guys. I'm Izzy from Wisconsin. I'm entering my third year of study at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. If you've been listening to the last few episodes of the podcast, you might think that Beyond the States is mostly for Dutch schools. There are a lot of members here particularly because other than Ireland, of course, the Netherlands has the greatest number of English-taught Bachelor's Degree programs. There are actually Beyond the States members in Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, Italy, and France, and Spain, and Belgium, and even Cyprus. Each country is different when it comes to their admission requirements, educational approaches, the types of universities, and types of programs they offer, and more.  This is just one reason why Beyond the States is so helpful. They have information about all of these different countries and make it easy to understand and navigate them. I'm actually a dual citizen, and my parents grew up and started their higher education in Poland. They later moved to the US to finish their higher levels of education. Even though they have an understanding of these higher educations in the US, they didn't want me to be limited to just those options, especially since I'm eligible for EU tuition in all of Europe. Except for Ireland, of course. Our Beyond the States membership helped me learn about so many options all around Europe that would be a good fit for me.   I would really encourage you to not limit your options to just one country. For example, when I was looking, I looked not only at the Netherlands, but also Portugal, Spain, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Beyond the States makes that easy to do, especially with their membership. Check the show notes or Service Page at beyondthestates.com for information on how to join.  
**Jenn Viemont: **So there's a belief that it's impossible for students who study medicine in other countries to become practicing doctors in the United States. Today we're talking to Dr. Akriti Sinha -- I hope I said that right? Yes? Who is an International Medical Graduate, having gotten her medical degree in New Delhi, India. She's currently an attending physician at Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services in Williamsburg, an adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at University of Missouri Healthcare, and a clinical fellow at the McLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, University of Chicago. Wow, that's a lot. You're busy. Thank you so much for being here today, especially given how busy you clearly are.
**Akriti Sinha: **Well, thank you, Jennifer, for giving me this opportunity. I'm very privileged that you guys found me out somehow and, you know, invited me here.
**Jenn Viemont: **Well, I think you have a really important story to tell students and families because clearly, it's not impossible for International Medical Graduates. That's IMG, right International Medical Graduates to practice in the US, given that you've done so. I do know that there are extra hoops to jump through. And I was hoping we could talk about that today. So can you tell us a little bit about your path going from medical school in India to becoming a practicing doctor in the US?
**Akriti Sinha: **Yes. So it was a long path. It was a long, convoluted path. So a little bit about medical school in India, so I started my medical school when I was just 18. So right after I finished my high school, medical school in India is essentially a college, you don't do anything, you know, between medical school and your high school, unlike in the United States, where you go to your college, you do your Masters, you do maybe other things, and then eventually, you know, you start your medical school, most likely you're in your late 20s, or, you know, maybe mid 20s. There's no age barrier in the United States, which is fascinating to me. In India, you have to kind of make a decision pretty much at a very tender age, you know, by the time you're finishing your high school, you are, you know, either taking your entrance exams to enter into engineering or you know, law or whatever. There's no college, your graduate school is your college.
**Jenn Viemont: **So is that a combined Bachelor's and Master's degree program for medical school?
**Akriti Sinha: **It's interesting, because it's a Bachelor’s school. Well, the degree that I got after finishing my med school was MBBS, which is based on the British curriculum. So there are also Bachelor’s in Medicine and Bachelor’s in Surgery, which is MBBS. And after you do your medical school, you enter into post-graduation course, which in United States is residency, so only after I finished my residency in India or post-graduation in India, then I get my doctorate degree. Yes, which is MD or Doctorate in Medicine, or, you know, MS if you were a surgeon. So, it's interesting that here, if I were to complete my medical school, I'm already a doctorate because I've already completed my, you know, Bachelor's, or, you know, unmask whatever Master’s if you wanted to. In India, so MBBS is equivalent to MD, it’s because the course is the same, right? It's just that in the United States, there's no concept of MBBS, or Bachelor’s in Medicine or Bachelor’s in Surgery, right? 
Anyways, I was close to 18, when I started my med school, and so kind of longer duration, of course, it's almost five and a half to six years, unlike four years here in the United States. It's, I think, very comprehensive, very thorough. And so when I started my med school, I always knew that I wanted to get my higher education in the United States, I just did not know why. Or I wouldn't say why. I knew why I wanted. I wanted to learn from the most brilliant minds, you know, when you're growing up in a country like India or South Asian countries, you look up to United States, you look up to, you know, Great Britain as pioneers in technology, in science, and medicine. And we have a great role to play here, for sure. But there's just so much research being performed here. There's just so much opportunity. And as somebody in her early 20s, I wanted to experience that, right. So as soon as I entered medical school, my first year, I was already navigating the process, how do I practice in the United States. And it did a lot of research. This was like in 2011, 2012, when I started the, you know, the groundwork, and I was going into the websites. And that's when I, of course asked around the other people, there was obviously some of my seniors who were already writing exams. And that's when I understood the process of pursuing residency in the United States. So basically, as you write all these exams, which is the United States Medical License Exams, USMLE, and that's a complete separate pathway from what I was pursuing in India, right. In India, I was trying to get my MBBS degree get my, you know, complete all the requirements for medical school to be able to practice in India. But along with that, I was already working towards the process to, you know, pursue residency in the United States.
**Jenn Viemont: **So, and I think the important obstacle to note here is that medical schools in the US are preparing their students for the USMLE, of course, a school in India or school anywhere else in the world. They're not going to be preparing their students for the US based tests. So you were studying for two completely different systems.
**Akriti Sinha: **Absolutely. And it's a lot of work and it requires so much perseverance, so much technique, so much planning. And I think the good thing about it is it's kind of flexible on you, when you want to do it. For me, I wanted to do it right away. As soon as I completed my requirements in India, I wanted to go ahead and start my residency in the United States. So I started it pretty much towards the end of my medical school. I was already studying for my USMLE exams, and I'm trying to apply for, you know, medical experience here. But a lot of doctors in other countries, they do it after they have completed their residency in their, you know, own country, they are probably practicing physician, you know, and that's one good thing about pursuing residency here is that as long as you have completed the requirements, which is which we show we're going to talk about, which is all the exams, USMLE, step one, step two, step three, and get accepted into residency program, it doesn't matter, you know, what you were doing before that?
**Jenn Viemont: **Interesting. So just in terms of the steps, you take the test, you get your transcripts verified, correct? And then whether you completed a residency in another country or not, unless it was Canada, you have to complete your residency in the US in order to become a practicing physician, correct?
**Akriti Sinha: **I think so. I cannot talk about Canada. But I know a lot of students, medical students in Canada also pursue residency here and they don't necessarily have residency.
**Jenn Viemont: **Okay. Okay. So why do you think that is? Why is it that the US requires, so you were talking about other people who might have already completed their residency in another country, they might be practicing doctors, they might have been practicing for many years, and then they come here, and they have to do this. Why do you think that is?
**Akriti Sinha: **Very strict. I think it's, I was told when I started it, I was told that it's the toughest exam that you will take in your life, and you don't take it once you take it three times. It's step one, step two, which is divided into two parts, which is clinical knowledge, and clinical skills, which has kind of, the clinical skill part has been eliminated because of the pandemic because it required standardized patients, and they have different ways to assess you in that. And then that is step three, which is your final exam.
 I think the reason why they want it is they want it to be very standardized, they want to make sure that people who are going to practice here, even if they you know, the residency itself is very standardized in several years, like three to seven, eight years, along with fellowships if you want to. But even before that, they want to make sure that people who are deciding to be practicing here are like very thorough in their knowledge. I mean, that cannot be, I guess, duplicated by any other degree, no matter, you know, you could be the biggest researcher in your country. But if you have to take those exams, you have to prove, you have that you passed them very well, you know, a lot of times, our scores have to be higher than some of the American grads to place us before them. Because, and that's not a wrong thing. I mean, it's your country, right? You want your own students to have definitely a spot here. So for us to be able to bypass that and be considered as their equivalent, we, a lot of times have to prove our mettle to a much higher degree than them.
**Jenn Viemont: **So as residency, and this is something I don't know much about my knowledge is like limited to Grey's Anatomy and shows like that. But so are residencies offered completely based on test scores? Or because I've heard is very hard for students, whether they're American or not, if you have an international degree, even if you pass the USMLE that it can be really difficult to get a residency.
**Akriti Sinha: **Yes. So the tests are absolute necessity, there is nothing you cannot. Yeah, you have to take step one, step two, two parts, now one part and this step three. And then, because we are foreign grads and international medical graduates, we have to show proof of United States clinical experience. It's very, very highly coveted and expected from you. And the United States clinical experience. It's a very broad term, but it basically involves wherever field you want to practice, you have to have some kind of clinical experience. It could be clerkship electives, electives, essentially, what fourth year medical students do here, they can do it in their own program, they can go to other programs to increase the chances of matching. Elective is like, you know, if you want to be an Ophthalmologist, you want to do extra rotations there. For me, it was Psychiatry. So I wanted to do more, you know, rotations in Psychiatry, which I did in New York City in Miami. So that is clinical experience. You're basically meaning, you know, you're following the treatment team and you know, you're following an attending or a fellow. And you're just trying to see how the American Healthcare System works, which is very, very different from no matter, you know, which part of the world you come from, it is very different to you, for me, it was huge, usually different. And, yeah. So they want that. They want to see, and the more the better. You know, if you can spend four or five months, hopefully in different programs, doing that, that really speaks, and that gives you an edge.
**Jenn Viemont: **So this is something that a student who goes to American med school, they're going to have that as part of their degree. So was this hard for you? Is it hard, I guess I shouldn't just say for you, but in general, is getting this clinical experience before the residency, is that difficult to secure?
**Akriti Sinha: **It is very difficult. It is very difficult to secure. And mind you, I did this in 2015, 2016, because I matched in 2017. So this was the time when I was doing it, this was far from the past, you know, five or six years ago, and even then it was so difficult, I cannot even speak how people are doing it now. Everything shut down. So the biggest problem is, they don't know you, right? I did my med school from it’s like the Asia's largest hospital, in terms of how many people it sees as an outpatient basis, like VMMC Subdivision Hospital, which is in New Delhi. It's like Asia's largest, they don't know this, right? I mean, you know, and I don't expect them to know this. So it's a real big scramble to get an experience somehow, in their private companies who kind of can help you with that, but it's expensive, and it's not reliable. A lot of us kind of, you know, talk to some of a senior if they can help us, you know, talk to program directors, or talk to the production director if they can get us, but even then, because it still involves an external person to come to the hospital and talk to the patient, there's, you know, there's a lot of things that need to be considered.
So at least in I think, early 2000s, there were a lot more programs that will offer an external, like international students like Cornell was on top of that, Harvard Medical School. They had their own, you know, way, just for like US medical students, we were included in that category. It was expensive, a few thousand dollars for every month. But I think we, if there's a lot of competition, because if they have their own students or you know, other students from New York, I want to rotate in Cornell, then that can be difficult to get that. So you have to like apply in advance and all that. So yeah, sometimes those programs invite, you sometimes they don't invite you, you know, because you're not a local, and you're not a citizen. So there are hoops to cross there.
**Jenn Viemont: **Interesting. So I wonder if what that experience would be like for an American citizen who has their degree from another country? You know, if they're coming, because they wouldn't need the visa, right? So part of it is you needed them to sponsor you, so that you can have a visa correct.
**Akriti Sinha: **So most of these clinical rotations are done on a tourist visa.
**Jenn Viemont: **Okay, because you're only, it's only a few months.
**Akriti Sinha: **Right, right. But if you want to stay longer, or you want to get into research, kind of position, which I did with the University of Miami, then they require you to sponsor, you know, like your research visa or things like that. I mean, if you're a citizen, you can stay in the country, no matter how long you need to. And even if you're trying to find a position, or somebody you can shadow, or somebody who can, you know, staying here is not an issue. For us, the longest we can stay here on a tourist visa is six months, so you have to make the most out of it. During that time, you also had to take the Clinical Skills Exam, which are often in very specific centers in America. So yeah, it is a lot of planning and a lot of coordinating. Yes, yes. 
**Jenn Viemont: **So you take the USMLE, the three parts, and you need to really kind of ace it because you're kind of coming at it from a disadvantage right. And you get your clinical experience in the US right? Through juggling a hospital slash university, who will set you up with these rotations that you pay for, while you're doing this, and then you can apply for residency to complete your residency for the matching?
**Akriti Sinha: **Yes, so I wanted to mention, so ECFMG, which is Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. So that's the Corporation, which are basically verifying all our transcripts and making sure that we are, you know, at par with our, with our AMGs grads, so they are keeping a record of all our steps, our scores, our transcripts, they have our you know MSP, like our, you know, medical school, papers, and the Dean's letter and stuff like that. So they are the ones who, so we have to be certified by the ECFMG before you can apply for residency.
**Jenn Viemont: **And you can't be certified until you take the tests, do your clinical rotation experience stuff, and then they'll certify you, and then you can go through the matching.
**Akriti Sinha: **Right, so we have to be ECFMG certified before you can start your residency.
**Jenn Viemont: **So how does matching work?
**Akriti Sinha: **Yes, so that's a very unique experience for me. Because nowhere in my life when I was in India, I was interviewed to get into medical school or you know, things like that. So the way the residency process or getting residency work, so it's a system, it's an electronic system, it's called ERAS, so Electronic Residency Application Services. And it opens up sometime in September, mid September. And that's where you enter your, you know, all your information, you create your portfolio, and through that you apply to programs. So for example, I wanted to do my residency in Psychiatry, you can apply to different programs, like you know, if you want to do not sure, maybe you can apply in Pediatrics, too, and all that, but your profile has to match what you're applying into, that's also very unique to the United States, like you need to sure, you need to be pretty sure about what you want to do with your life. You know?
**Jenn Viemont: **What you mean by your profile, like, if you're wanting to do Psychiatry, then those rotations, that clinical experience you had should not be Pediatrics. So it should be related somehow to Psychiatry,
**Akriti Sinha: **Right. So the exam score, which is basically kind of verified by the ECFMG, then my statement of purpose, right? So that has to speak to why I want to go into this field, I have to have three, at least three reference letters. So letters of recommendations, these are the people I interviewed, you know I shadowed, or I worked with, or I did research with, and they have to speak very, very highly of me. That's the requirement there too. And then Dean's letter from your med school, think those are the main things. 
So all of this is entered into the ERAS. And through that also, I'm applying to the program. So this is the catch here because I'm an IMG, I already kind of have a disadvantage here. I try to apply to as many programs as I can to be selected by at least one.So there are like 120 Psychiatry residency programs in the United States, I'll try to apply to at least 80. Okay, compared to an AMG, who would probably apply to 20 or 25, only the places they absolutely want to go. Because every program you apply costs you. It's like 30-40 Dollars or something. Yes, so it can be very expensive. And did I tell you, sorry, I might have forgotten. So every step exam that you take is about $1,000? 
**Jenn Viemont: **No? And I'm sure that getting your transcripts verified, and all that is not free, either.
**Akriti Sinha: **Oh, yeah. So every paperwork that goes through ECFMG, some amount of money, there's no doubt about it. But these exams are really, really, really expensive. So $1,000 for step one, $1,000 for step two, clinical knowledge $1,500, to step two CS which has been eliminated now, but I'm sure there's other alternative way which is probably quite expensive. And then step three is the last exam that can be taken during your residency, but normally it's taken by IMGs before we even do it, again, to increase our chances of matching. That's like again, gosh, that's probably also like $1,500 or something. 
So it's expensive, so just exams themselves are, and then the process of applying into all these programs is overall can be up to 2000, $3,000. 
So yeah, my goal was to match and I would apply to as many programs if I had a chance to be interviewed by them. Now, some programs, I know, I don't want to say I don't want to name them, but I know I won't have a chance. I won't. I know that they don't sponsor visas, even if they would put it on the website that we would sponsor your visas through the ECFMG, which is also the, you know, the same entity that verifies our transcripts, they also sponsor what's called J one visa, which is an exchange. They would say that, “hey, we will sponsor visa,” but they will probably never do that, right. It's a total of 80, 90 programs that can cost you about 3000, $4,000, just on applying. And if you get called from them, which is could be 1050. If you're really, really lucky, you might still get called from 10, or 15 people or programs, which is a good number. And it's variable. You know, sometimes people get called from one program and they match in that program. And sometimes people get call from 15 programs, and sometimes they don't match. It's very unfortunate. So the goal is to get as many interviews as possible. But it does get expensive in that.
**Jenn Viemont: **Yeah. So you apply to however many, and each of those places looks up your application and decides, okay, we want to interview her or no, we don't want to interview her. And then you have your interview. Is that usually in non-pandemic times, is that in person or is that virtual usually?
**Akriti Sinha: **It's all in person. Yeah, so September 15, is when the ERAS opens, so everybody starts. So it's active, right? Before that, you can work on your portfolio, and you get all the information there. But I think September 15, is when it gets active, and the programs can look at your information, and they can start sending you interviews already through their, you know, program coordinators. So my first interview, I got on September 19, which was amazing. So that was positive, right? I'm like, already in the game, I'm starting to prepare, right? I'm doing my booking my flights for that place. I'm trying to see if I can find a place where I can, you know, where I can stay. So yeah, so throughout October, November, December is when you're interviewing maybe only till early January. And that's after which, you know, then comes the decision time. 
**Jenn Viemont: **And so the decision time, would you get an offer for more than one or only one.
**Akriti Sinha: **So the way it works, it's pretty transparent, and pretty streamlined. I could interview at 15 places, but I would eventually accept an offer at only one place. I cannot do it twice.
**Jenn Viemont: **Did you get an offer from more than one place? 
**Akriti Sinha: **So that process is called a match. Okay, and so very thing of its own. So you don't get email, “Hey, can you accept.” It doesn't work like, right? So it's called NRMP. So that's another system. It's called National Resident Matching Process, Matching Program. And the way it works is that, hey, I interviewed at 10 places I go to their, you know, website, again, I create my account, I pay the fees, whatever. And then I rank the programs that I interviewed at so 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, based on my preference. And programs do the same thing. Right? So they interviewed about 100 people, right? Maybe 10 person for each spot. They had 10 spots for Psychiatry, they interviewed 100 people, and they would rank maybe 40 people. Maybe they didn't rank 100. But I don't know, I really don't know what they like, if they're really confident that they will no matter what happens, they will never have an empty spot. They might, you know, rank less people. 
But there's some kind of algorithm that runs in like late February, early March. And based on my preference, they say that the applicants preference is considered to be more important. But based on my preference based on what or where program matched me. That's where somewhere, they meet and that's the place where I'm going to do my residency for several years, and sometimes it can work in my favor, and sometimes it cannot. And if there's no match, then you don't get a spot and then you're unmatched. 
**Jenn Viemont: **And then what?
**Akriti Sinha: **And then you repeat the process next year. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Oh, man! And you know, by repeating the process next year, do you have to take the test again? 
**Akriti Sinha: **No, no, no. The test -- the good thing about these tests is that they are valid for seven years. Yes, they're valid for seven years so you don't take the test again, but you do, you know, apply to the programs again and your next, your new candidate, you maybe rewrite your statement, you know, maybe you try to strengthen your profile in the next few months. 
There's not a lot of time though, because the match or the results of everything comes sometime in mid March. Mid September is the time when you start the process, and between March and September, you have to decide what you want to do, do you want to, you know, completely withdraw and go back to your country, because maybe your experience was not great, or you think that you were really close, and you know, you want to do it again. And the best case scenario is you match. And hopefully you match in your top three ranked program. And then you're stuck, you kind of start the process of working on your visa with the ECFMG, your, you know, with the program and start getting orientation, and all that process.
**Jenn Viemont: **Because if you've been there, if it's March, although maybe you've gone back to your home country by then, you're on a tourist visa still. 
**Akriti Sinha: **Yes. Unless I was in a research visa at the time. But that was a unique, not everybody is in that.
**Jenn Viemont: **That complication, as well as of your visa if you're not a US citizen,
**Akriti Sinha: **Right. So most people return by the end of January, as soon as their interview season is over, they are gone by then. And they're essentially just waiting, you know, in March and for the results to open. And it's a very prideful experience, you know. So I think it's a Monday, second week or third week, second week of March is when on a Monday at this very specialized very specific time, you get the letter from NRMP. And you said, “Congratulations, you matched!” Or I don't know, match. And that is what you know, on Monday, on Friday, you get another email, for me it was email, for American grads, they open the letter in their respective medical schools, and it's called Match Day. And that's the envelope tells you where you match, which can be again, an amazing experience or the most disheartening experience, because if it's not somewhere you wanted to go. For me, it was all email because again, I'm not a grad here. Right. But it's a historical experience for a lot of people.
**Jenn Viemont: **Yeah. Wow. And so you matched your first time going through this? 
**Akriti Sinha: **Yes. And I was lucky. I want to say that. Anybody who matches in the first time, they're talented, but they're also very lucky. Because I've seen very exceptional people, like, you know, super bright graduates from India, are the country’s with the highest scores, like amazing scores, that you don't even hear a lot of AMGs and have finished, you know, probably spent several months, if not few years, building up their clinical experience or research experience here. Or, you know, completing all the steps. Were getting astonishing letters, and sometimes they don't match. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Wow, yeah. Well, you don't know. I'll find the stats for the show notes. So you don't know them off the top of your head. About the number of students with international diplomas who match their first year? 
**Akriti Sinha: **Ah, not tell. So it's nowhere the data will tell you? About the attempts? Or IMGs, they won't tell you about the attempts, but they will tell you the percentage for different fields. So for example, I can talk about Psychiatry in my year, 2017. And I don't want to get into too much of, you know, specific fields. But Psychiatry has recently become a very difficult theme to match. In early 2000, this was one of the easier speciality to match for IMGs. Now, again, I'll tell you, I should have probably specified it earlier, surgical specialties are very difficult to match to in America. In India, it's a different story, like surgery is less. It's not that competitive. But in the United States, I guess, because of malpractice and all of those things. It's a difficult field to match into, not not just for IMGs, it's almost impossible for IMGs to match. Unless you again, you were probably very established surgeon in India and did a lot of work in United States, or you had some kind of an edge in some way. I don't know. 
So most people who want to pursue residency are doing it in Internal Medicine, Psychiatry, Pediatrics, maybe Family Medicine. And so these are the fields that are more common. So non-surgical fields. And Psychiatry became pretty competitive more recently, because of just the advances, the lifestyle, the money, just how much mental illnesses and mental health, you know, became important. 
I want to say only 9% in my year. 9% of IMGs, out of everybody who needed a visa. So like 9.9%, or something like that. So only one out of 10% turned can candidate, who needed a visa, and was an img matched in second. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Wow. Do you know how many people who didn't need a visa matched?
**Akriti Sinha: **I wouldn't say a huge number 90%? Maybe? Yeah. Because most of these people are citizens, or they’re citizens who trained in, you know, Caribbeans or in Europe, but they pretty much match almost every time. Yeah. 
**Jenn Viemont: **So is the obstacle for matching more the visa issue or more of where you had your undergraduate, right, and med school where you got your education or visa? What would you say the bigger obstacle is? 
**Akriti Sinha: **I think it's the visa. I think it's really a visa like, for example, me being trained in some of, you know, one of the biggest medical school in the world. But I'm not a citizen compared to somebody who got trained in a non- United, you know, non-US school, but in Carribeans, or in Canada, maybe but is still a citizen will have a better edge, or higher chance of matching than me. 
And when I got into the process, I think I was extremely optimistic. I was naive, right? I was naive. And I did not know a lot about immigration issues at that stage. And I was just doing what I was supposed to do. And I got lucky and it worked out for me, and it works out for a lot of people. I don't want to dishearten anyone, but be cognizant of the fact that immigration is a huge issue. And sparked visa sponsorship, it has become a difficult thing for a lot of programs. And even though ECFMG, as I mentioned, really advocates, because the overall the physician shortage is here, right? The reason why I matched, why I'm needed here is because we just cannot fill all those spots by us grads alone. 
There are like 12,000 Internal Medicine spots. And there are not 12,000 AMGs who want that Internal Medicine spots, you know, they want other fields. And so a lot of IM spots have to go to, you know, people from different other countries. But the visa sponsorship becomes an issue, especially with the pandemic, I think, when the embassies were closed and the consulates were not functioning, it's a huge risk for program directors to take. Because even if they rank you, and you match, worst case scenario, you might not be able to start on time, you know?
**Jenn Viemont: **Interesting. So it sounds like part of the misconception that people might have is that the obstacle, certainly the obstacles are still there, if you get your degree in another country, you have to take that three part test and pay $1,000 each time, and you need to get your clinical experience, whether you're an American or non-American who gets your degree from another country. You still have those obstacles. And those are definitely big obstacles. So it sounds like those are, I mean, legit, but it sounds like the residency obstacle that might be where part of the myth is as it pertains to Americans getting their degrees elsewhere, that it's more of the test and clinical experience, then getting matched for residency for those who have US citizenship. Interesting.
**Akriti Sinha: **Yeah, it's easy. It's easier for them for sure. And I, again, I understand that, you know, Visa sponsorship is, is not something that only America deals with, you know, we deal with the Indian government itself has to allow me to leave. And there's a paperwork called Statement of Need, which I have to get from the Ministry of Health in India, which basically says that, “Hey, we are letting her go. So eventually she comes back and serves us.” And that's a part of what we call as exchange visitorship. If I don't, which I'm doing now, is basically I am serving one of the underserved or health physician shortage areas of the United States for three years, bypass that.
**Jenn Viemont: **Interesting. And which is the underserved population?
**Akriti Sinha: **It's very well defined by the HHS, which is Human Health Services here. And there can be just so many bigger universities, which are still underserved, because they're just serving, you know, they're serving people who are Medicaid, Medicare dependent, or you know, insured. But one of the classes, either I finished my residency or fellowship and go back to India, and don't work in the States for two years at least, or I stay here and serve one of those areas for three years. Only then I can continue to work in the United States.
**Jenn Viemont: **Wow. So you have to, so after your residency, those are your two choices. You jumped through all those hoops to get your residency? All those hoops, paid all that money to get your residency. And you can either go back to India after you complete your residency, or serve an underserved population or underserved area for three years. And then you'd be able, wow.
**Akriti Sinha: **So they definitely tried to get the most out of us. I mean, if I'm staying here, irrespective of whatever I sacrificed, I'm living here, I'm getting, you know, I have my own advantages by working here, right? I'm getting a good lifestyle here, I'm getting good money here, I feel like I'm part of a much bigger fraternity here and I have a bigger voice. And for the future, if I want to work in a health policy, and you know, preventative medicine or whatever, it's just so much easier when you are here in the United States. And I think that was one big reason I got here, but it's not easy, you know? It's not like you finish your residency and you're just, you know, yes. Yeah.
**Jenn Viemont: **Do you know, and you might not know this, if you don't, it's fine, is the US sort of the exception in terms of how hard they make it?
**Akriti Sinha: **It's good and bad here. I think this process is the most streamlined and most well known by people in other countries, it's very transparent, it's very well designed. There's just so much information to know when to talk to the ECFMG is an amazing, you know, organization that helps us in this process. 
A lot of people have done it in the past. So a lot of us have our seniors from med schools we can talk to. The other options are, I guess, United Kingdom? They were more open in the past. I think it's a smaller country. Yeah, there are much less spots there. And I think there was a huge emigration of Indian doctors at some point. And they, I don't know the exact reason, but they stopped taking us in late 2000s, or something like that. And so United States became, like the stand alone country for a lot of, you know, Indian grads or other grads, to to focus on. And it's still I think, despite the pandemic, there's still people who are writing the exams, who are, you know, interviewing on Zoom, so everything is on Zoom now, so people are in India, they don't need to travel here. 
Of course, there's a few travel ban, which is now just now being lifted. So for the past 18, 20 months, everything has been, you know, being done on Zoom. And I think this process gets much more difficult if things are being done on Zoom, because at least I was traveling, and I was trying to talk to these people in person, and see what I like and what I don't like about them or about the town or whatever. But no, you know, people have never been to wherever and they're ranking them because that's the mean to match. You know, there's so much at stake.
**Jenn Viemont: **Yeah. And there's a huge difference between Boston, Massachusetts, and you know, Bloomington, Illinois, you know, and if you haven't seen it, if you've never been to a town like Bloomington, Illinois, it's hard. It's gonna be hard to really gauge that. Yeah. Wow. 
Well, this has been so informative. I can't even tell you I feel like my knowledge on this topic is preceded beyond Grey's Anatomy. Yeah, so ER back in the day.
**Akriti Sinha: **As much as I enjoy myself watching those shows, oh, God, it's so wrong.
**Jenn Viemont: **I know, I know. My daughter is interested in studying Criminology because of the show Criminal Minds. And I can't tell you how many articles I've sent her saying this is not an accurate representation of what you would do in the job.
**Akriti Sinha: **Or House MD or whatever. Yeah
**Jenn Viemont: **Exactly, exactly. So I appreciate ain't having a more realistic vision of how all this works. And I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge and your time with us.
**Akriti Sinha: **Thank you so much.
**Jenn Viemont:**Thank you. 
Thanks so much for listening today, before we end up like to tell you about a Crunch Time Pack. So I only offered this twice a year. And it's for students who are going to be applying for the Fall of 22 and are feeling behind on the research. And it's a personalized and comprehensive package. It’s really hands on with me to make sure that you know, all the ducks are in a row. 
So, the first thing that comes with it is a Best Fit List. This is a service we offer where I personally handpick three to five programs that fit the student's qualifications, budget, interests, preferences, all of that that they provide to me through a form that's emailed to you after ordering. It also includes a Line Jumper Pass, the turnaround time for the Best Fit List is often about three weeks or so because we get so many of them. And with the Line Jumper Pass, you'll get your Best Fit List just 10 days after submitting. It also comes after you get your Best Fit List back we'll have a one hour consultation. And we do this to formulate your admissions plan, and also answer any questions you might have. 
After that, I create a custom admissions calendar for you with all the deadlines. You know, when you need to ask whichever teacher for a recommendation, when you need to write your motivation letter, all of those are going to be on a calendar specifically for you based on the schools you're applying to. And then it comes with email check-ins that I'll send you around those dates saying “Hey, you got that reference letter yet,” or you know, just to follow up and for some accountability, which I know helps a lot of people including myself.
It also comes with a motivation letter review, where I will go through the letter you write for admissions and give you suggestions about organization, structure, content, etc. And it also comes with a Facebook group membership, which is only usually available to our month to month members, which of course if you're about to apply, you might not need a full membership, but you do get access to our incredible community of families. 
So a lot of the services you can't purchase separately, I don't offer the calendar, for instance. I don't offer email check-ins, for instance, without this package. But you were to add up the cost of the other services that we do offer, the cost of this package is $525 less, than if you paid for the available services separately. 
Because it's such a personalized service, I only accept five students at a time. So you're going to want to make sure to sign up really soon. If you're interested. You can find a link to this special and also more information about this episode in our show notes. And you'll find a ton of other information on our site, which is beyondthestates.com. You'll find blogs, some by me, others are written by our student ambassadors, they have both written and video blogs. You'll find links to our old podcast episodes that we did back in 2017, which is a great starting point. And you'll also learn more about our various services and our incredible community. 
We'd love for you to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. If you have suggestions for future episodes, just shoot us a message there. And finally, if you enjoyed the podcast, we'd really appreciate it if you'd leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher. Thanks again for listening.

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The Difference Between a Research University and a University of Applied Science

What are the differences between study programs at Research Universities and those at Universities of Applied Sciences? Which one prepares a student for a Master’s Degree Program and which for employment?

What are the differences between study programs at Research Universities and those at Universities of Applied Sciences? Which one prepares a student for a Master’s Degree Program and which for employment? Should we care about academy snobbery? How can you choose the best possible university for our own circumstances, and what can you expect after getting a degree? Jenn and her guest share some very useful ideas and experiences that can be of great help to students and their parents.
In the second part of the episode, Jenn talks with Andrew Smith, who received his master’s degree at The University of Applied Science in Wiener Neustadt (Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt), in Austria and is now working for Deloitte in the US. Andrew shares his story and gives advice on how to find the best university in Europe.
_ “By studying abroad, you are going to brand yourself, and for someone who wants more of that international focus, studying abroad is a no-brainer.” _Andrew Smith

**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: **So today, we're going to be talking to Andrew. He's a graduate from Austrian University of Applied Science, where he got his master's degree. He's now working for Deloitte back here in the US. So this is a type of school that's common in Europe, but unlike anything we have here in the US, so I thought it might be helpful to discuss the different types of universities in Europe. 
So first, there are the research universities, there are research universities in every country across Europe. And since global rankings are based 100% on research related criteria, these are the ones that show up in the rankings, because of course, the focus is on research. At the bachelors level, these programs are more about preparing students for their master's degree programs than for employment. And generally speaking, you're gonna hear me say, generally speaking a lot today, Career Services at these universities are more focused on the Master's Degree students. So programs at these schools concentrate on theory, as well as research related knowledge and skills. So students take classes like stats and research methodology type courses, and pretty much every year, I mean, it's heavily focused on research related skills and knowledge. 
So then there are universities of Applied Science. And these are full Bachelor's and Master's Degree programs, but they're focused on practical knowledge rather than theory and research. Well, I mean, I shouldn't say rather than theory and research, I should say, rather than the research heavy focus. It's definitely more practical and hands on. So in some countries, there's sort of a little bit of academic snobbery around this type of program. And in other countries, they're just seen as something that's different, instead of labeling it as better or worse. And in some countries, the government sees this type of education as valuable, and funds accordingly. Further, accreditation of universities of Applied Science in some countries look at employability. Partially because of this, these types of schools work together with businesses to determine what skills and knowledge are needed in the fields. And they work together on program development. So this is really a win-win type of relationship, because then employers have a pool of students with the skills and knowledge that they're looking for, because they helped develop the programs to give them those skills. And it helps students find employment as well. 
I personally would not hesitate to send either of my kids to universities of Applied Science in the Netherlands, Finland and Austria. I mean, there are also great individual universities of Applied Science in other countries. But in terms of sort of country wide quality, I do like those the best. 
So of course, there are also specialized schools, you know, there are business schools, there are hospitality schools or art schools, fashion schools, and the like. This is a strong choice for business school students in particular, because you sort of get the strengths of both types of programs, you know, both the practical knowledge and the theory and research. And also, the specialized business schools often have industry ties that can really help with employment. 
Generally speaking, I've found arts and design schools to be hard to navigate, and really sort of lacking in international student resources. I often advise students interested in the arts to look at programs at the Universities of Applied Sciences. Some universities of Applied Sciences have strong arts departments. And since the departments, which they call faculty in Europe, but I'll just call them departments here, because you're probably Americans listening. Anyway, since each of these art departments, well, each of the departments as a whole, they're very self contained. It's like going to an art school, but you have the benefits of the infrastructure and the resources of a larger university. 
So let's go back about how to choose whether you want to pursue a Research university or a university of Applied Science. Field of study is the first thing to look at, it might really just make the decision for you. If you want to study something like Philosophy, you're going to be at a research university because you can't really teach a practical hands-on approach to Philosophy. If you're going to study something like Graphic Design or Physiotherapy, you'll usually be at the University of Applied Science because you have to have the hands-on approach and practical skills.
Now there are some subjects that are going to be taught at both, but with different approaches or specializations. Business Engineering, some areas of Computer Science, those are types of programs that you'll find both at research universities, and at universities of Applied Sciences. In more cases than not though, your area of study is going to be taught at one or another, except for those fields of study.
Admissions is the next thing to look at. In the Netherlands, bachelors at the Universities of Applied Science are four years in duration. And research universities are three years in duration. And this is just because of how the Dutch education system before University is structured. But it means that research universities require AP scores, an IB diploma, or a year of college credit. And Universities of Applied Science don't have that requirement. So that's if you're interested in one of those overlap areas, and you don't have the AP scores that can make the decision for you there.
Also, regarding Master's Degrees, a lot of the Master’s best fit lists that I worked on for students, when they got their Bachelor's Degree in the US, you don't necessarily have the research related skills or requirements, really, you know, there aren't a whole lot of requirements around research related classes, so a lot of students don't have the research related classes that they need to get a master's degree at a research university. So if that's the case for you, and you're looking for an area with those overlap areas, University of Applied Science could be something to look at there.
Okay, so let's say you want to study something that's taught at both, and you meet the admissions criteria for both. What should you think about then? Well, one thing to think about is how you like to learn. Some people get really excited about research, whether it's reading the research of others or doing research themselves. And some people find that really boring. There's no right or wrong answer here, it's just about knowing what you like the most. Theory is going to be present in both types of university. It's just that in research universities, it's about applying the theories to research, while Universities of Applied Science, it's about applying the theories to the field.
The next thing to look at are your goals. So if you want to pursue a PhD, or if you want to pursue a Master's at a research university in Europe, a research university is probably the way to go for your bachelor's. As we talked about before, this is because those research course related requirements for Master's Degree programs aren't part of the graduation requirements for universities of Applied Science. Now, these research related requirements aren't usually prereqs in the US, so you'd still be okay to apply to grad school in the US from the university of Applied Science. And you can still go to research university in Europe, after you take these bridge courses, the ones that weren't part of your degree before, like Stats or Quantitative Methods and things like that. 
So we talked about how you'd like to get taught, or how you'd like to learn, I should say, we talked about goals. The other goal is if, you know, you want to work directly after your Bachelor's Degree before or instead of getting a Master's, then a university of Applied Science might be a better route to take. You're gonna have the hands-on experience, then, and often the career services that you need to sort of launch your career. And again, you know, we're talking about just the two choices right now universities of Applied Science or Research universities, but there are some of those specialized universities to consider as well, if your area of study is something that has specialized schools, certainly, if you want to study, you know, International Relations, there aren't specialized schools for that. 
So I want to say though, that when there's a system that's so different to the ones that we're accustomed to, it can be hard to wrap our heads around. So we go at it with the frame of reference that we use here. And so we might think that a research university is better because it's globally ranked, or because the admissions requirements at some are more stringent. And I don't think there's one universal definition of better when it comes to education. It's about something being a better fit to you. You know, in order to know what's better for you, it's important to have or or to gain insight into your goals, whether those are just your you know, short term educational goals, or your professional goals, and to really know how and what you want to learn. And from there, you can determine the best route for you. There's not just one best route. 
So anyway, I'm excited for you to hear about Andrew's experience in Austria. So we're going to take a quick break and come back with Andrew.
**Testimonial: **I'm Tati. I'm from Atlanta, and I'm in my third year of study at HAN University in the Netherlands, and I found my university through my Beyond the State's membership. I'd been interested in studying in Europe before I joined Beyond the States, but the research my mom and I did on our own often resulted in misinformation or information that didn't apply to me as a native English speaker from an American high school. Nobody at my high school knew how to advise me either. With the help of the BTS database and membership resources, I was able to explore my different options and get advice from Jenn about admission strategies. Membership includes more these days than when I was a member. The private member Facebook group includes students and families at all stages of the process. When students go to Europe, we and our parents can stay in the group. Not only does this mean we can answer questions from members who are exploring, but we can get information and resources during our study. My mom is still in the group and has found it helpful, especially connecting with other parents during the height of COVID. If you're interested in studying in Europe, I suggest that you join Beyond the States for at least a month. I don't think you'll regret it at all. Check the show notes for details and a link or visit the Services Page at beyondthestates.com.
**Jenn Viemont: **So today, I'm talking to Andrew Smith. He's originally from New Hampshire, got his bachelor's degree from Bentley University in Global Studies, and then went on to study at Wiener Neustadt, see if I didn't mangle that enough, University of Applied Science in Austria, where he got his master's in business consultancy. Andrew, thank you so much for being here today.
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
**Jenn Viemont: **So can you tell me a little bit about why you chose to get your Master's Degree outside of the US?
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah, so I suppose it was kind of a two part. Reason is first, I'd always wanted to get my Master's, I’m the first in my family to go to college, and that was something I knew I needed to get from my career goals and where I wanted to be. I was also looking to make a slight career change to get more technical from a finance perspective. And then, so that's why I want to get my Master’s, but then why Austria? I get that question a lot. I had some friends in Austria that I met when they studied abroad when I was at Bentley university, so I had friends there. So I had somewhat of a network. And I have visited them there before. So that helps because being able to research schools and programs, it's hard to get a feel if you're not a local to know what programs are good. So being able to know through word of mouth and have people tell me that from their perspective, actual locals, actual law streams, was a big help. And then you know, I could start off with a few friends. So that's why I ultimately ended up deciding on Austria.
**Jenn Viemont: **So did you study abroad in college?
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah. I spent the summer of 2016, I believe. Going into my senior year, I spent the summer in Ireland, where I had an internship and as well as I took classes.
**Jenn Viemont: **Nice. My daughter is planning on getting her Bachelor's in Ireland. I just went there for the first time. It's awesome. 
**Andrew Smith: **Great country. Yeah, I was at University College, Dublin. 
**Jenn Viemont: **So did you get like the travel bug then? So let me back up for a minute. So you graduate, you do your study abroad, you finish your Bachelor's, and then you worked for a couple of years. Is that correct?
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah, when I finished my bachelor's, I was pretty fed up with school. I was someone I've always been a great student, I always enjoyed learning. But when you do it, you know for that point, geez, 16 years straight, I wanted to work. And so I thought that was great. Because that's something that I would recommend to a lot of people. Because I was able to, I graduated, get a break from doing school, gain some real world practical experience, and then through that work, I was able to get a better feel for what, where I wanted to take my career, which is then why I went to get my Master’s. And then also it gave me a much more of an appreciation when I was going to get my Master’s because I knew like what was saying what's at stake sounds dramatic, but I knew what very tangibly what this Master's could lead to, what type of jobs, I had experiences I could build off and referenced in class, and also having that break from being in a classroom setting made me more appreciate that type of learning. And I felt more energized going back into the classroom than when I graduated in 2017 with my Bachelor's.
**Jenn Viemont: **I totally agree. I took a couple of years in between my Bachelor's and Master's and that seemed a lot more relevant than when I was studying it. It was abstract. So one obstacle that Master's Degree students often have that less of the bachelor students we work with have is, you know, often students have more help from their family financially for Bachelor's Degrees and that it's like you know, Graduate Degrees are on your own. So were you working while you were studying or what was situation like there?
**Andrew Smith: **I think in total, I paid probably throughout the course of the two year program, let's say between maybe 2500, 3500 USD, based off which exchange rate used at whatever time.
**Jenn Viemont: **Isn’t that crazy? That's for international student tuition. And this is not one of the countries where, you know, it's free for international students but 2500 to 3000 for two years for tuition?
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah. So the way it works at Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt, particularly is what they do in other schools in Austria, they'll charge a higher rate if you're a third country national, you're not a citizen. But what Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt did is they wanted people from, you know, regardless of your country to have the same opportunity. So even me, as a US citizen, was paying the same tuition as an Austrian resident, and that mostly has to do with the schools that are outside of Vienna, get a little bit more funding from their state governments. So from the state government of Lower Austria, so that was great, that I was able to take advantage of, but even if they had to pay that higher tuition, it would have been nothing compared to what the US Master's program would have been. I mean, just to give some perspective, my undergrad was probably between, I mean, it rose every year when I was there, but around like average out to maybe $56,000 a year. And then Master's 2500. So yeah, I would say it was a great financial decision, by me.
**Jenn Viemont: **And the thing is, is with a tuition like that, you can certainly save up, you know, $3,000 for tuition. That's something that's achievable without going into debt. And then you just need to worry about getting proof of means for your Visa and living expenses.
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah, yeah, that was a good point. So yeah, back to your original question about me working. I've had this thought in my mind for a while. So I saved up while I was working full time in the US. So I had quite a bit of savings that I knew I could get me through the two years, I wasn't going to take that leap into another country. But my parents certainly would have helped me out. But I didn't want to have to rely on them. And then because of my needing a residence permit in order to work, and then even if you do have a residence permit, right, if you're a third country national, you need one. In Austria, employers need to like sign off kind of sponsor you and fully sponsor, but they just need to submit a paper, the local employment authorities. There's also some restrictions on how much you can work per month. It's very complicated, classic Austria with all the rules and bureaucracy. But I did work for a few months at the end of 2020. And then when things were getting locked down pretty bad, I returned to the US. But yeah, I was able to find a job there. That's pretty relevant. It has helped me with my job today. That was just like, you know, some nice, like supplemental income. But the cost of living was lower than over in Boston, where I'm from, or the Boston area. So it was I was able to just get by, on my savings just with some smart financial planning before I moved abroad. 
**Jenn Viemont: **You reminded me of a story, unrelated to this topic, but related to Austria. I visited schools in Austria a few years ago, and I took my daughter with me who was at that time, maybe 14, 15. And so I would go to meetings, and then she would go back to school and do her, go back to our Airbnb and do her schoolwork. And I definitely like my kids to, my son's 20 My daughter's 17 now, I like them to get comfortable internationally and know that they can get around and, you know, gain those independent living skills. So I would put her wherever we went, you know, put on a train, go back to the Airbnb, you know, we'd go through how do you know what is your stuff and all that. Well, what we didn't realize is that in Austria, you need to validate your train ticket before you get on. And so she had her train ticket, but she hadn't validated it, which is just like kind of a put under scanner type thing before you get on the train. And so these guys get on the train, plainclothed. And I'm not with her, I'm at my meeting. Plainclothe guys get on and they start checking tickets, and they check hers and of course it wasn't validated. And they pull her off the train and oh, she has to pay 100 euros. She's sobbing trying to get a hold of me. She did get a hold of me. And what they said to her, they said she's like “I didn't know, I didn't know!” She's like my rule follower child. They said “In Austria we have rules.” You’re right, and they certainly do!
**Andrew Smith: **They don't need to make sense, but if Rules are rules, you got to follow them. And yeah, the train ticket. Yeah, they're like undercover. It's kind of wild.
**Jenn Viemont: **Well, she got out of it. Finally, I guess the trick is to look like a young teenage girl and cry your eyes out?
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah, I didn't have that luxury. But thankfully, I never ran into any of those situations on the train.
**Jenn Viemont: **Yeah, so note to anyone listening, you go to Austria, get your train ticket validated. Word to the wise.
**Andrew Smith: **That's where having like those friends and you know, meeting locals. Learn those little, like tricky parts of local customs that you're not going to read. There's no pamphlet at the airport when you get there. You just have to learn it. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Right. There was no sign that says validate your ticket in any language. Yeah. To learn. Okay, sorry, that was just you wouldn't have said rules that just reminded me of that story that traumatized her, but taught her some important lessons. So you said you're from the Boston area? I've been to Wiener Neustadt, gosh, I just can't say it. I've been there. And it's definitely a small town. How was that adjustment for you?
**Andrew Smith : **I thought it was fine. So I lived in Vienna, I would commute in, but it was, so I'm from New Hampshire, which is like 30 minutes north of Boston. But I lived in Boston, or right around there when I was in college, and afterwards. So I think that's like 30,000 people, which is the size of the town I grew up in. I didn't spend a whole lot of time there. Most of my time was in Vienna since I lived there. That adjustment was, I kind of right just like anything with an abroad there's things that I didn't like versus where I grew up and where I'm from and there's things I like better public transportation, love that public transportation is terrible in Boston, amazing in Austria, that's something I still miss the food, I miss aspects of that. Not everything is filled with like awful chemicals there in the US. This is great. But yeah, I think it was too much of an adjustment. I traveled before for work and personal stuff. And I've always, I guess been a little more like, culturally open minded. And it comes as being in cities, knowing hey, this is different. I'm not expecting everything to be like home. That works. So yeah, I just I just took it as it was, I suppose. It wasn't too bad, though. But there's also like, if you look at some research of how people are personality wise, and Austria in the US aren't that different. They are, but it's still like, a Western European country. And there's how people tend their frame of mind is still somewhat similar. So it wasn't like this crazy culture shock.
**Jenn Viemont: **I liked what you said about being culturally open minded. We just got back from living in Portugal for two years. And I think the biggest thing for us was when we experienced these differences, not to view them as better or worse, they're just different. And it doesn't have to be one doesn't have to be better than the other or worse than the other. It’s just the difference.
**Andrew Smith: **Exactly. Yeah. And it can open your mind to new things. Like for example, I love the sense of community that you see in a lot of our stream like towns and villages, because the hot plots and it's not so the way the US does, Illinois, suburban communities, how it's built dependent on the automobile, it doesn't feel as like close and tight knit and connected. So for example, when we would get off for classes on Thursday or Friday evening, we'd go to the hot plots, this little town square, and have a beer too. And there's kids playing on the playground nearby. And there's, you know, old people having espressos and people have an ice cream, and it just feels like the whole town's in the square. And I thought that was so cool. And I really wish that’s something I could see more in the US, because it just gave the sense of like vibrance and community that I just hadn't seen before. And it was like, “Oh, this is something different.” But I really enjoyed it.
**Jenn Viemont: **I tell students that a lot, because sometimes they'll come to me, even students who have traveled a lot and say they want to live in a big city, they want to go to a university in a big city. And I tried to explain how smaller towns and smaller cities in Europe are so different than smaller towns in the US. And part of that is the community, part of it's the public transportation that you can really get anywhere you need to go, but it's definitely not as isolated as the smaller towns in the US.
**Andrew Smith: **No, definitely not, especially with their that how high quality their their transportation network is like with the trains, I mean, door to door, I think my commute in Vienna, I kind of lived on the other side of the Danube. So I had like the longest commute of anyone in my program, but it was an hour and a half, which sounds bad, but the trains are so nice that I was able to just do all my work and homework. So yeah, it's an hour and a half. By the time I get back to my flat, I had no work to do or I'd be able to get studying in or prep for a class. So that was just efficient. And I thought that was great. As opposed to maybe if I was doing that in the US, I'd have to drive. And obviously it's not safe to like do homework and drive. So yeah, I was able to be more efficient. That was something I really enjoyed as well.
**Jenn Viemont: **That's cool. So can you tell us a little bit about your Master's Degree program? You know, what did you study? What structure of the program?
**Andrew Smith: **Yes, so our program was, so as I said, there's the Business Consultancy International Program, and then there's the specialization I was in, that was Treasuring Investment. So there were some courses that both The Treasury Investment and Marketing Analytics students were in, those would be more broad, like consulting skills, courses or economics. And then there's most of our courses that were for a specialization. So those would be things like equity analysis, fixed income, derivatives, advanced corporate finance, stuff like that. So the real lights, the bulk of our courses, it was a lot of like equity analysis, like how to evaluate companies, a lot of work with fixed income options and derivatives, and then the corporate finance part that's kind of more Treasury Investment. So I guess, which is how some students in our program were, it's kind of do you want to go more like the investment banking type route, or the more corporate finance treasury type route, or consulting, like me. And then I couldn't speak too much like the Marketing Analytics and what they did. But I thought it was, for the money, I paid, certainly, pretty high value. 
I went to Bentley University for my undergrad, which is a pretty good business school in the Boston area, and it was fairly comparable, I'd say, especially in some courses. I had some great professors. So certainly, I'll give them credit. I know our Econometrics course, our Statistics courses, were awesome. It totally took my skill set in those subjects to another level. To the point now where I'm at Deloitte, you know, I was able to kind of show off a little bit when I interviewed to be on the project that I'm on now. And I thought it was pretty high quality, if I'm being honest. Also, I know Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt has several Bloomberg terminals, which are pretty expensive. But that's something great that we were able to make use of and get used to using that software. And you don't see that a lot of public universities in Austria, there was something you know that made them stand out. But yeah, overall, it was a good program. And as I mentioned, the focus was kind of there's the equity analysis part and corporate finance, and it did a good job of the technicality and skills. They're more hard skills, which is something I want to learn. Learning advanced Excel, we learned how to program, which was something that was great. And it's something that I've talked about on my resume multiple times since then. So being able to have those skills. I've noticed a very tangible impact from my courses.
**Jenn Viemont: **That's why it was like you were just speaking a foreign language but I'm sure that our listeners, you know, what business and finance totally understand about what you're talking about. But did you have an internship?
**Andrew Smith: **When I was there, I interned at a small boutique consulting firm that did like a profitability and finance consulting for the startups and smaller companies in the Austria in Germany region. Yeah, prior to that. So the summer of 2020, I interned with Deloitte, and that was it was actually sort of supposed to be an 11 week internship. So 2020 was the summer of COVID, that short two week virtual internship, which I was pretty bummed out about, because I was supposed to be traveling around. And I also didn't make nearly as much money because there's only two weeks. But a benefit of that, was that they automatically extended full time offers to everyone. Yeah. So hence my position now. And yeah, so I think it directly tied into that. I probably want to touch on this later. But basically, studying in Austria, was such a, it was a conversation point in every interview I was in. Even a partner for Deloitte Comm did say how interesting my resume was, because of the international experiences I've had in Ireland, and Singapore, and Austria. And not that, you know, I don't think I had the best resume, I had a decent resume. But I certainly know people, you know, in my network who have accomplished more, but it was interesting, and that was the thing I noticed. I heard the word interesting a lot in coming from, for most Americans who don't study abroad, or maybe they did do a semester, but to actually live and work and study in another country. It's just interesting. So it kind of is, I said, I'm good with interviews, you just gotta get me on the phone. Like I've been rejected from countless places. But once I get to the interview, I do pretty well. And it just made my resume stand out enough to say, “Hey, this guy looks interesting. Let's give him a call, see what he has to say.” And then from there, it's in my hands.
**Jenn Viemont: **I think it's a little bit of a myth that a lot of people my age think awesome. Your parents say, Well, if an employer hasn't heard of the university, why would they give the kid an interview? And I think you're standing, like you said, you're standing out they have a pile of things that look pretty much the same. And here's something that's different and interesting. I also wonder, I was talking to somebody recently who's done research on the employability of students with international experiences. And she was talking about the skills that students gain through studying abroad, unrelated to your work, you know, unrelated to your technical skills, but things like adaptability and working in teams with different types of people and all sorts of the skills you've gained from that experience. And I'm wondering if you see that you gained any of those skills, and if so, how you were able to present them to employers, so they knew you had them? 
**Andrew Smith: **Oh, absolutely. I think working with people from a diverse set of backgrounds is something that's huge, especially in today's environment, where so many companies want to focus on diversity and inclusion. I think that's something where if you're looking at, I've never met somebody close minded, who's like had the travel bug abroad. It's kind of like you can't have a really miserable time. So you kind of know, you're gonna get someone's lie. They're accepting of other people, and they know how to function in comfortable situations. Obviously, going into a culture right and speak the language right away, was certainly uncomfortable in positions. Critical thinking, I guess, yeah, maybe you mess something up, you don't get a train ticket validated, the homeless situation. But I think I'd say the top two are probably, yeah, adaptability, and being able to work when uncomfortable, and then working with people of a diverse set of backgrounds, and be accommodating of that. Especially where now we’re moving to such a virtual work environment and working with people from all across the globe, have certainly honed my skills. Little things, like maybe speaking clear English, slowing things down, how to tailor email correspondence and presentations towards people where English is their second language, and just maybe it's giving them materials ahead of time, or just little things like that can go a long way. And that's certainly where things tend to be going with how globalized work has gotten.
**Jenn Viemont: **And maybe that's something that people again, my age, don't see as much firsthand, is how globalized companies have become. Would you say in your, tell us a little bit about your position and whether you're seeing digitalization in that?
**Andrew Smith: **Yes. So I guess, I can say my previous, since it’s relevant, my previous role before I moved to get my Master's, I worked for a firm that was literally called Globalization Partners. And we had helped US companies, mostly US, hire individuals overseas and expand their presence overseas. Super interesting company. And that was crucial. Because on a regular day, I wouldn't be talking with people from, be it clients, or who my people to my clients, we're hiring people from Germany, France, Singapore, like, at least, I'd say, five different countries on a daily basis. So you need, yeah, I would say, cultural understanding, to work in that. 
And then my role now, Deloitte does have a large offshore presence in India. And then there's also our clients who may have people coming from wherever their business needs, or just from whatever walk of life. And I think, yeah, it is important, we're just, there was something we covered in training, where we were taught, you know, you're gonna have to deal with people that English is not their first language, or maybe it's their third. And so they were talking about what to do. And that was, I felt like, oh, I've been doing this for years. 
**Jenn Viemont: **You could have taught it. 
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah. I think it's super valuable. And also being able to have that experience of, if someone's from, it's a nice little icebreaker, a talking point, where someone's like from Germany, and you can strike up a conversation or wherever, and now you've created that. They're starting to build a little rapport with a client or a co worker, and that helps you stand out because you're not just you know, some American that never left their state. It's “Oh, okay, this guy, he's been around him. He knows a couple of words in German, and he’s likes that.”
**Jenn Viemont: **Well, he doesn't. Yeah, and here's somebody who's curious about the world or curious about my culture, or neighboring cultures, or other cultures just in general. And Deloitte. I mean, everybody knows Deloitte, even me, and I don't know much about business, the business world at all. And the major business programs in Europe, you often see them as a major recruiter. So they clearly are seeing some some value in a global play field. 
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah. I know. There are definitely, there were several people in like my incoming cohort who came from European universities or some Asian universities. But I think that's why I think, I mean, the firm has echoed to us numerous times, about their efforts towards diversity inclusion, and I think a part of that you know, things like skin color, religion, gender, all that is that's one part of it, but another part is diversity of backgrounds and experiences. And it's right if you have if you only hire for, let's say, 10 universities, regardless of skin color, or whatever, are you really that diverse? Whereas opposed to reaching out to people have come from whatever experiences they may have, and they can all be evaluated on a team, and it just gives you different perspectives on things. 
**Jenn Viemont: **That's really interesting. And not only that, but those 10 universities, those universities that employers recruit from. What employers are seeing, the studies are showing that what employers see in US graduates is that they don't have those soft skills that we talked about, you know, being comfortable in unfamiliar circumstances, you know, navigating unfamiliar circumstances, adaptability, you know, comfort with diversity, all of that. You as graduates, aren't graduating with those skills.
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah, I guess that. That doesn't surprise me too much. I think that that was one thing I did appreciate with my program. It wasn't like I was just, it was just me, the American, a bunch of Austrians. We were probably, it was, I don't even know if there were any Austrians there, one of my good friends is half Austrian, I think there's a couple of that. There's a group of Hungarian, some people from Asia, people throughout Europe, a lot of people from the Balkans. But yeah, it was a great melting pot, and being able to talk to other people and hear their stories from their countries was awesome, because we tend to get even just, I guess, from a personal point, like you tend to get only certain narratives through the news or whatever. But being able to talk to people was, it was just great, because you hear different things that you would never hear otherwise, and be able to understand people on a better level, and in their countries as well and get their perspective on things. And it was, and I've made some great friends, I'll you know, have with me for the rest of my life through that. And I'm super thankful for it. So I think yeah, it all ties in, I think to making a better employee. I think I'm, you know, all in all better off for doing it than if I were not to, of course.
**Jenn Viemont: **Do you feel like there were any obstacles you faced because you did have a degree from abroad?
**Andrew Smith: **Possibly, maybe, with things such. Yeah, maybe like the name recognition could have hurt for applying for some jobs. It's tough to tell, like I keep an Excel sheet of like, what I'm like where I was declined, accepted to, and I still have it because I use it. It's almost a chip on my shoulder. it's so weird, where of all I applied, to so many firms for intern booths for internships going into summer of 2020, and so many firms of different sizes and industries or what have you. And arguably,probably the best role, the best position, the best company to be in this Deloitte program is the one that accepted me, but the other ones didn't. So I kind of don't know what to make of that. Like, maybe I suppose it could have been “Oh, we haven't heard of this school.” But then I have this position. And I didn't think I would be in one like a dream job for me. I've always wanted to be in consulting. And yeah, that's the one that accepted. So I'm kind of, I don't worry about it too much. Because I think I know what stood out. Like I said, I heard it from the mouth, like I had a partner who said how cool it was. So it's like, okay, well, this is ultimately what matters. Like I don't, you know, so I'm sure you're always going to encounter that. There's schools that are in shortlist and those who aren't, even in the US, of course. But ultimately, all in all, all it takes is one like just to get your foot in the door. And as I've said, I've heard from so many people, it's interesting. And I think that's a big thing. Like if you just got to pique someone's interest, and get on that phone interview. And then from there, it’s all on you
**Jenn Viemont: **And kill it there. Absolutely. Absolutely. And I really feel like the jobs and the companies that somebody who goes to school in Europe and comes back to the US to work, that position they want, the companies they want to work for are not companies, it'd be like “You went where?” You know, like the companies that do find it interesting, or do find it valuable, that's where you're going to want to be if you're somebody who is as internationally minded as you are or other students who's in their home country.
**Andrew Smith: **That's a great point. I guess I hadn't considered that before. But definitely, even when I was applying, I wanted a role that I would be able to travel or work with people, like to go abroad and like because that's what I enjoy. And I wouldn't want to work for some company where it's yeah, it's just more closed minded. It just wouldn't be a good culture fit probably anyway. So I think if you know, you'll attract however you tend to you're going to brand yourself as what companies you're going to attract who are looking for that brand of employee. And I think that someone who wants that more international focus, going abroad, getting your degree abroad is kind of a no brainer, especially with rising tuition costs. I mean, I'm someone who my parents didn't go to college, they worked very hard to give me everything but they didn't really plan and save to have a college fund. And I wasn't going to do round two with this massive student loans. And then to get a position where I'm in now, at Deloitte, like it's incredible. Kind of an arbitrage opportunity where I, you know, I left and then came only paid like three grand in tuition and then got this amazing position. And I'm super thankful for which, even my family thought I was kind of crazy giving up a good job in Boston, and like, what are you doing? And even like, my family grew up in the same neighborhood for like, seven years, my parents grew up on different ends of the same street and high school everything. So I was the first, I was the crazy guy that was going off to Austria. And I just kept saying, like, “Trust me, I know what I'm doing and this is going to work out,” and then it did. And now I kind of get to hold it over them. Like “You called me crazy, but look who’s right?” And they're like, “Yeah, you were. You were right, you know what you were doing.” And yeah, it all worked out.
**Jenn Viemont: **So you got your Master's Degree with no debt. You got a job with Deloitte, for heaven's sakes. I mean, that's like no small feat. And you're back with your family and friends, correct? So you know, it is kind of like, yeah, it is just like the dream situation, you know, this international experience. And what I find is that, like, when you do something big like that, like, you know, we moved to Portugal, and we're back here in North Carolina now. And we had originally planned to stay there for longer and things just didn't work out that way. But I feel like, tell me if you relate, once you do something big, you know you can again. You know, to go live in Singapore, you can. You have the competence and the skills you need to do so.
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah, the biggest thing was the residence permit. That's my advice to anyone. Be on top of that. And don't apply through the consulate in New York City, do it when you get Austria, because that proved a big headache for me. But navigating that, in hindsight, maybe I should have hired a specialist to go through it with me. But I did it all on my own, which was tough, very tough. And I made some mistakes along the way. And you know, everything kind of worked out just in the nick of time. But yeah, you're right. Having done that, it kind of gives you get no fear. That's like, here I am. I'm 26. So getting older, I'm still a young man. And it's, you know, I know, like, “Hey,  I already moved abroad, did my own residence permit.” Yeah, so there's really nothing I'm like, concerned about. I know, I can just tackle whatever, you know, life stuff throws at me.
**Jenn Viemont: **That's awesome. And I have to tell you, as the mother of a 20 year old boy, not yet a 26 year old man, that's my hope for him. I hope it's up when he's 26. His knowledge of himself is such that he knows he can handle whatever it is that comes to him in life and pursue whatever goals he creates for himself in life.
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah, yeah. And I think just really yet going abroad, like being away from your family, is the best way to do that. It's just the little things that build you up. It's the messing up the train tickets, screwing up the residence permits, like it. Yeah, it's a lot of like, the paperwork that kind of, like, I'm sure there's probably some motivational quote, like it's a paperwork that makes the man, that like, makew you grow as a person. And I, in coming back, and you know, living back in my hometown now. So it's like, yeah, I've traveled a lot. But I still love where I grew up, I love being around. And I'm able to view things in a different light and be more appreciative of it. And also, you know, it's something cool to talk about, where a lot of my friends haven't done that opportunity, or have done something like that, and have just stayed local. So it's really great. And I recommend it to anyone, it's something else. I’ll certainly push my children to do one day down the road.
**Jenn Viemont: **Well, Andrew, I really appreciate you talking to us today. I think you have really provided some great information for students who are thinking about doing this, for parents who are concerned that their kids will go to Europe and never come back. You know, it was great to talk to you and I really appreciate it and I wish you the best and hope you'll keep us posted.
**Andrew Smith: **Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.
**Jenn Viemont: **So you probably know that we recently moved back to the US after spending two years abroad. Though I hated commercials when we lived here before, I'm kind of enjoying them now. What I love are the rollback specials at car lots they have usually at the beginning of the year. They're just so cheesy and I love it. So we're offering a Rollback Special this month as well. We're rolling back our membership prices back to 2020 prices. So join now and lock in your monthly membership for just $49 a month for the life of your membership. So you keep saving month after month after month. This discount’s available through the end of January. So act now to lock in your savings!

What are the differences between study programs at Research Universities and those at Universities of Applied Sciences? Which one prepares a student for a Master’s Degree Program and which for employment? Should we care about academy snobbery? How can you choose the best possible university for our own circumstances, and what can you expect after getting a degree? Jenn and her guest share some very useful ideas and experiences that can be of great help to students and their parents.
In the second part of the episode, Jenn talks with Andrew Smith, who received his master’s degree at The University of Applied Science in Wiener Neustadt (Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt), in Austria and is now working for Deloitte in the US. Andrew shares his story and gives advice on how to find the best university in Europe.
_ “By studying abroad, you are going to brand yourself, and for someone who wants more of that international focus, studying abroad is a no-brainer.” _Andrew Smith

**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: **So today, we're going to be talking to Andrew. He's a graduate from Austrian University of Applied Science, where he got his master's degree. He's now working for Deloitte back here in the US. So this is a type of school that's common in Europe, but unlike anything we have here in the US, so I thought it might be helpful to discuss the different types of universities in Europe. 
So first, there are the research universities, there are research universities in every country across Europe. And since global rankings are based 100% on research related criteria, these are the ones that show up in the rankings, because of course, the focus is on research. At the bachelors level, these programs are more about preparing students for their master's degree programs than for employment. And generally speaking, you're gonna hear me say, generally speaking a lot today, Career Services at these universities are more focused on the Master's Degree students. So programs at these schools concentrate on theory, as well as research related knowledge and skills. So students take classes like stats and research methodology type courses, and pretty much every year, I mean, it's heavily focused on research related skills and knowledge. 
So then there are universities of Applied Science. And these are full Bachelor's and Master's Degree programs, but they're focused on practical knowledge rather than theory and research. Well, I mean, I shouldn't say rather than theory and research, I should say, rather than the research heavy focus. It's definitely more practical and hands on. So in some countries, there's sort of a little bit of academic snobbery around this type of program. And in other countries, they're just seen as something that's different, instead of labeling it as better or worse. And in some countries, the government sees this type of education as valuable, and funds accordingly. Further, accreditation of universities of Applied Science in some countries look at employability. Partially because of this, these types of schools work together with businesses to determine what skills and knowledge are needed in the fields. And they work together on program development. So this is really a win-win type of relationship, because then employers have a pool of students with the skills and knowledge that they're looking for, because they helped develop the programs to give them those skills. And it helps students find employment as well. 
I personally would not hesitate to send either of my kids to universities of Applied Science in the Netherlands, Finland and Austria. I mean, there are also great individual universities of Applied Science in other countries. But in terms of sort of country wide quality, I do like those the best. 
So of course, there are also specialized schools, you know, there are business schools, there are hospitality schools or art schools, fashion schools, and the like. This is a strong choice for business school students in particular, because you sort of get the strengths of both types of programs, you know, both the practical knowledge and the theory and research. And also, the specialized business schools often have industry ties that can really help with employment. 
Generally speaking, I've found arts and design schools to be hard to navigate, and really sort of lacking in international student resources. I often advise students interested in the arts to look at programs at the Universities of Applied Sciences. Some universities of Applied Sciences have strong arts departments. And since the departments, which they call faculty in Europe, but I'll just call them departments here, because you're probably Americans listening. Anyway, since each of these art departments, well, each of the departments as a whole, they're very self contained. It's like going to an art school, but you have the benefits of the infrastructure and the resources of a larger university. 
So let's go back about how to choose whether you want to pursue a Research university or a university of Applied Science. Field of study is the first thing to look at, it might really just make the decision for you. If you want to study something like Philosophy, you're going to be at a research university because you can't really teach a practical hands-on approach to Philosophy. If you're going to study something like Graphic Design or Physiotherapy, you'll usually be at the University of Applied Science because you have to have the hands-on approach and practical skills.
Now there are some subjects that are going to be taught at both, but with different approaches or specializations. Business Engineering, some areas of Computer Science, those are types of programs that you'll find both at research universities, and at universities of Applied Sciences. In more cases than not though, your area of study is going to be taught at one or another, except for those fields of study.
Admissions is the next thing to look at. In the Netherlands, bachelors at the Universities of Applied Science are four years in duration. And research universities are three years in duration. And this is just because of how the Dutch education system before University is structured. But it means that research universities require AP scores, an IB diploma, or a year of college credit. And Universities of Applied Science don't have that requirement. So that's if you're interested in one of those overlap areas, and you don't have the AP scores that can make the decision for you there.
Also, regarding Master's Degrees, a lot of the Master’s best fit lists that I worked on for students, when they got their Bachelor's Degree in the US, you don't necessarily have the research related skills or requirements, really, you know, there aren't a whole lot of requirements around research related classes, so a lot of students don't have the research related classes that they need to get a master's degree at a research university. So if that's the case for you, and you're looking for an area with those overlap areas, University of Applied Science could be something to look at there.
Okay, so let's say you want to study something that's taught at both, and you meet the admissions criteria for both. What should you think about then? Well, one thing to think about is how you like to learn. Some people get really excited about research, whether it's reading the research of others or doing research themselves. And some people find that really boring. There's no right or wrong answer here, it's just about knowing what you like the most. Theory is going to be present in both types of university. It's just that in research universities, it's about applying the theories to research, while Universities of Applied Science, it's about applying the theories to the field.
The next thing to look at are your goals. So if you want to pursue a PhD, or if you want to pursue a Master's at a research university in Europe, a research university is probably the way to go for your bachelor's. As we talked about before, this is because those research course related requirements for Master's Degree programs aren't part of the graduation requirements for universities of Applied Science. Now, these research related requirements aren't usually prereqs in the US, so you'd still be okay to apply to grad school in the US from the university of Applied Science. And you can still go to research university in Europe, after you take these bridge courses, the ones that weren't part of your degree before, like Stats or Quantitative Methods and things like that. 
So we talked about how you'd like to get taught, or how you'd like to learn, I should say, we talked about goals. The other goal is if, you know, you want to work directly after your Bachelor's Degree before or instead of getting a Master's, then a university of Applied Science might be a better route to take. You're gonna have the hands-on experience, then, and often the career services that you need to sort of launch your career. And again, you know, we're talking about just the two choices right now universities of Applied Science or Research universities, but there are some of those specialized universities to consider as well, if your area of study is something that has specialized schools, certainly, if you want to study, you know, International Relations, there aren't specialized schools for that. 
So I want to say though, that when there's a system that's so different to the ones that we're accustomed to, it can be hard to wrap our heads around. So we go at it with the frame of reference that we use here. And so we might think that a research university is better because it's globally ranked, or because the admissions requirements at some are more stringent. And I don't think there's one universal definition of better when it comes to education. It's about something being a better fit to you. You know, in order to know what's better for you, it's important to have or or to gain insight into your goals, whether those are just your you know, short term educational goals, or your professional goals, and to really know how and what you want to learn. And from there, you can determine the best route for you. There's not just one best route. 
So anyway, I'm excited for you to hear about Andrew's experience in Austria. So we're going to take a quick break and come back with Andrew.
**Testimonial: **I'm Tati. I'm from Atlanta, and I'm in my third year of study at HAN University in the Netherlands, and I found my university through my Beyond the State's membership. I'd been interested in studying in Europe before I joined Beyond the States, but the research my mom and I did on our own often resulted in misinformation or information that didn't apply to me as a native English speaker from an American high school. Nobody at my high school knew how to advise me either. With the help of the BTS database and membership resources, I was able to explore my different options and get advice from Jenn about admission strategies. Membership includes more these days than when I was a member. The private member Facebook group includes students and families at all stages of the process. When students go to Europe, we and our parents can stay in the group. Not only does this mean we can answer questions from members who are exploring, but we can get information and resources during our study. My mom is still in the group and has found it helpful, especially connecting with other parents during the height of COVID. If you're interested in studying in Europe, I suggest that you join Beyond the States for at least a month. I don't think you'll regret it at all. Check the show notes for details and a link or visit the Services Page at beyondthestates.com.
**Jenn Viemont: **So today, I'm talking to Andrew Smith. He's originally from New Hampshire, got his bachelor's degree from Bentley University in Global Studies, and then went on to study at Wiener Neustadt, see if I didn't mangle that enough, University of Applied Science in Austria, where he got his master's in business consultancy. Andrew, thank you so much for being here today.
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
**Jenn Viemont: **So can you tell me a little bit about why you chose to get your Master's Degree outside of the US?
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah, so I suppose it was kind of a two part. Reason is first, I'd always wanted to get my Master's, I’m the first in my family to go to college, and that was something I knew I needed to get from my career goals and where I wanted to be. I was also looking to make a slight career change to get more technical from a finance perspective. And then, so that's why I want to get my Master’s, but then why Austria? I get that question a lot. I had some friends in Austria that I met when they studied abroad when I was at Bentley university, so I had friends there. So I had somewhat of a network. And I have visited them there before. So that helps because being able to research schools and programs, it's hard to get a feel if you're not a local to know what programs are good. So being able to know through word of mouth and have people tell me that from their perspective, actual locals, actual law streams, was a big help. And then you know, I could start off with a few friends. So that's why I ultimately ended up deciding on Austria.
**Jenn Viemont: **So did you study abroad in college?
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah. I spent the summer of 2016, I believe. Going into my senior year, I spent the summer in Ireland, where I had an internship and as well as I took classes.
**Jenn Viemont: **Nice. My daughter is planning on getting her Bachelor's in Ireland. I just went there for the first time. It's awesome. 
**Andrew Smith: **Great country. Yeah, I was at University College, Dublin. 
**Jenn Viemont: **So did you get like the travel bug then? So let me back up for a minute. So you graduate, you do your study abroad, you finish your Bachelor's, and then you worked for a couple of years. Is that correct?
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah, when I finished my bachelor's, I was pretty fed up with school. I was someone I've always been a great student, I always enjoyed learning. But when you do it, you know for that point, geez, 16 years straight, I wanted to work. And so I thought that was great. Because that's something that I would recommend to a lot of people. Because I was able to, I graduated, get a break from doing school, gain some real world practical experience, and then through that work, I was able to get a better feel for what, where I wanted to take my career, which is then why I went to get my Master’s. And then also it gave me a much more of an appreciation when I was going to get my Master’s because I knew like what was saying what's at stake sounds dramatic, but I knew what very tangibly what this Master's could lead to, what type of jobs, I had experiences I could build off and referenced in class, and also having that break from being in a classroom setting made me more appreciate that type of learning. And I felt more energized going back into the classroom than when I graduated in 2017 with my Bachelor's.
**Jenn Viemont: **I totally agree. I took a couple of years in between my Bachelor's and Master's and that seemed a lot more relevant than when I was studying it. It was abstract. So one obstacle that Master's Degree students often have that less of the bachelor students we work with have is, you know, often students have more help from their family financially for Bachelor's Degrees and that it's like you know, Graduate Degrees are on your own. So were you working while you were studying or what was situation like there?
**Andrew Smith: **I think in total, I paid probably throughout the course of the two year program, let's say between maybe 2500, 3500 USD, based off which exchange rate used at whatever time.
**Jenn Viemont: **Isn’t that crazy? That's for international student tuition. And this is not one of the countries where, you know, it's free for international students but 2500 to 3000 for two years for tuition?
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah. So the way it works at Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt, particularly is what they do in other schools in Austria, they'll charge a higher rate if you're a third country national, you're not a citizen. But what Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt did is they wanted people from, you know, regardless of your country to have the same opportunity. So even me, as a US citizen, was paying the same tuition as an Austrian resident, and that mostly has to do with the schools that are outside of Vienna, get a little bit more funding from their state governments. So from the state government of Lower Austria, so that was great, that I was able to take advantage of, but even if they had to pay that higher tuition, it would have been nothing compared to what the US Master's program would have been. I mean, just to give some perspective, my undergrad was probably between, I mean, it rose every year when I was there, but around like average out to maybe $56,000 a year. And then Master's 2500. So yeah, I would say it was a great financial decision, by me.
**Jenn Viemont: **And the thing is, is with a tuition like that, you can certainly save up, you know, $3,000 for tuition. That's something that's achievable without going into debt. And then you just need to worry about getting proof of means for your Visa and living expenses.
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah, yeah, that was a good point. So yeah, back to your original question about me working. I've had this thought in my mind for a while. So I saved up while I was working full time in the US. So I had quite a bit of savings that I knew I could get me through the two years, I wasn't going to take that leap into another country. But my parents certainly would have helped me out. But I didn't want to have to rely on them. And then because of my needing a residence permit in order to work, and then even if you do have a residence permit, right, if you're a third country national, you need one. In Austria, employers need to like sign off kind of sponsor you and fully sponsor, but they just need to submit a paper, the local employment authorities. There's also some restrictions on how much you can work per month. It's very complicated, classic Austria with all the rules and bureaucracy. But I did work for a few months at the end of 2020. And then when things were getting locked down pretty bad, I returned to the US. But yeah, I was able to find a job there. That's pretty relevant. It has helped me with my job today. That was just like, you know, some nice, like supplemental income. But the cost of living was lower than over in Boston, where I'm from, or the Boston area. So it was I was able to just get by, on my savings just with some smart financial planning before I moved abroad. 
**Jenn Viemont: **You reminded me of a story, unrelated to this topic, but related to Austria. I visited schools in Austria a few years ago, and I took my daughter with me who was at that time, maybe 14, 15. And so I would go to meetings, and then she would go back to school and do her, go back to our Airbnb and do her schoolwork. And I definitely like my kids to, my son's 20 My daughter's 17 now, I like them to get comfortable internationally and know that they can get around and, you know, gain those independent living skills. So I would put her wherever we went, you know, put on a train, go back to the Airbnb, you know, we'd go through how do you know what is your stuff and all that. Well, what we didn't realize is that in Austria, you need to validate your train ticket before you get on. And so she had her train ticket, but she hadn't validated it, which is just like kind of a put under scanner type thing before you get on the train. And so these guys get on the train, plainclothed. And I'm not with her, I'm at my meeting. Plainclothe guys get on and they start checking tickets, and they check hers and of course it wasn't validated. And they pull her off the train and oh, she has to pay 100 euros. She's sobbing trying to get a hold of me. She did get a hold of me. And what they said to her, they said she's like “I didn't know, I didn't know!” She's like my rule follower child. They said “In Austria we have rules.” You’re right, and they certainly do!
**Andrew Smith: **They don't need to make sense, but if Rules are rules, you got to follow them. And yeah, the train ticket. Yeah, they're like undercover. It's kind of wild.
**Jenn Viemont: **Well, she got out of it. Finally, I guess the trick is to look like a young teenage girl and cry your eyes out?
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah, I didn't have that luxury. But thankfully, I never ran into any of those situations on the train.
**Jenn Viemont: **Yeah, so note to anyone listening, you go to Austria, get your train ticket validated. Word to the wise.
**Andrew Smith: **That's where having like those friends and you know, meeting locals. Learn those little, like tricky parts of local customs that you're not going to read. There's no pamphlet at the airport when you get there. You just have to learn it. 
**Jenn Viemont: **Right. There was no sign that says validate your ticket in any language. Yeah. To learn. Okay, sorry, that was just you wouldn't have said rules that just reminded me of that story that traumatized her, but taught her some important lessons. So you said you're from the Boston area? I've been to Wiener Neustadt, gosh, I just can't say it. I've been there. And it's definitely a small town. How was that adjustment for you?
**Andrew Smith : **I thought it was fine. So I lived in Vienna, I would commute in, but it was, so I'm from New Hampshire, which is like 30 minutes north of Boston. But I lived in Boston, or right around there when I was in college, and afterwards. So I think that's like 30,000 people, which is the size of the town I grew up in. I didn't spend a whole lot of time there. Most of my time was in Vienna since I lived there. That adjustment was, I kind of right just like anything with an abroad there's things that I didn't like versus where I grew up and where I'm from and there's things I like better public transportation, love that public transportation is terrible in Boston, amazing in Austria, that's something I still miss the food, I miss aspects of that. Not everything is filled with like awful chemicals there in the US. This is great. But yeah, I think it was too much of an adjustment. I traveled before for work and personal stuff. And I've always, I guess been a little more like, culturally open minded. And it comes as being in cities, knowing hey, this is different. I'm not expecting everything to be like home. That works. So yeah, I just I just took it as it was, I suppose. It wasn't too bad, though. But there's also like, if you look at some research of how people are personality wise, and Austria in the US aren't that different. They are, but it's still like, a Western European country. And there's how people tend their frame of mind is still somewhat similar. So it wasn't like this crazy culture shock.
**Jenn Viemont: **I liked what you said about being culturally open minded. We just got back from living in Portugal for two years. And I think the biggest thing for us was when we experienced these differences, not to view them as better or worse, they're just different. And it doesn't have to be one doesn't have to be better than the other or worse than the other. It’s just the difference.
**Andrew Smith: **Exactly. Yeah. And it can open your mind to new things. Like for example, I love the sense of community that you see in a lot of our stream like towns and villages, because the hot plots and it's not so the way the US does, Illinois, suburban communities, how it's built dependent on the automobile, it doesn't feel as like close and tight knit and connected. So for example, when we would get off for classes on Thursday or Friday evening, we'd go to the hot plots, this little town square, and have a beer too. And there's kids playing on the playground nearby. And there's, you know, old people having espressos and people have an ice cream, and it just feels like the whole town's in the square. And I thought that was so cool. And I really wish that’s something I could see more in the US, because it just gave the sense of like vibrance and community that I just hadn't seen before. And it was like, “Oh, this is something different.” But I really enjoyed it.
**Jenn Viemont: **I tell students that a lot, because sometimes they'll come to me, even students who have traveled a lot and say they want to live in a big city, they want to go to a university in a big city. And I tried to explain how smaller towns and smaller cities in Europe are so different than smaller towns in the US. And part of that is the community, part of it's the public transportation that you can really get anywhere you need to go, but it's definitely not as isolated as the smaller towns in the US.
**Andrew Smith: **No, definitely not, especially with their that how high quality their their transportation network is like with the trains, I mean, door to door, I think my commute in Vienna, I kind of lived on the other side of the Danube. So I had like the longest commute of anyone in my program, but it was an hour and a half, which sounds bad, but the trains are so nice that I was able to just do all my work and homework. So yeah, it's an hour and a half. By the time I get back to my flat, I had no work to do or I'd be able to get studying in or prep for a class. So that was just efficient. And I thought that was great. As opposed to maybe if I was doing that in the US, I'd have to drive. And obviously it's not safe to like do homework and drive. So yeah, I was able to be more efficient. That was something I really enjoyed as well.
**Jenn Viemont: **That's cool. So can you tell us a little bit about your Master's Degree program? You know, what did you study? What structure of the program?
**Andrew Smith: **Yes, so our program was, so as I said, there's the Business Consultancy International Program, and then there's the specialization I was in, that was Treasuring Investment. So there were some courses that both The Treasury Investment and Marketing Analytics students were in, those would be more broad, like consulting skills, courses or economics. And then there's most of our courses that were for a specialization. So those would be things like equity analysis, fixed income, derivatives, advanced corporate finance, stuff like that. So the real lights, the bulk of our courses, it was a lot of like equity analysis, like how to evaluate companies, a lot of work with fixed income options and derivatives, and then the corporate finance part that's kind of more Treasury Investment. So I guess, which is how some students in our program were, it's kind of do you want to go more like the investment banking type route, or the more corporate finance treasury type route, or consulting, like me. And then I couldn't speak too much like the Marketing Analytics and what they did. But I thought it was, for the money, I paid, certainly, pretty high value. 
I went to Bentley University for my undergrad, which is a pretty good business school in the Boston area, and it was fairly comparable, I'd say, especially in some courses. I had some great professors. So certainly, I'll give them credit. I know our Econometrics course, our Statistics courses, were awesome. It totally took my skill set in those subjects to another level. To the point now where I'm at Deloitte, you know, I was able to kind of show off a little bit when I interviewed to be on the project that I'm on now. And I thought it was pretty high quality, if I'm being honest. Also, I know Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt has several Bloomberg terminals, which are pretty expensive. But that's something great that we were able to make use of and get used to using that software. And you don't see that a lot of public universities in Austria, there was something you know that made them stand out. But yeah, overall, it was a good program. And as I mentioned, the focus was kind of there's the equity analysis part and corporate finance, and it did a good job of the technicality and skills. They're more hard skills, which is something I want to learn. Learning advanced Excel, we learned how to program, which was something that was great. And it's something that I've talked about on my resume multiple times since then. So being able to have those skills. I've noticed a very tangible impact from my courses.
**Jenn Viemont: **That's why it was like you were just speaking a foreign language but I'm sure that our listeners, you know, what business and finance totally understand about what you're talking about. But did you have an internship?
**Andrew Smith: **When I was there, I interned at a small boutique consulting firm that did like a profitability and finance consulting for the startups and smaller companies in the Austria in Germany region. Yeah, prior to that. So the summer of 2020, I interned with Deloitte, and that was it was actually sort of supposed to be an 11 week internship. So 2020 was the summer of COVID, that short two week virtual internship, which I was pretty bummed out about, because I was supposed to be traveling around. And I also didn't make nearly as much money because there's only two weeks. But a benefit of that, was that they automatically extended full time offers to everyone. Yeah. So hence my position now. And yeah, so I think it directly tied into that. I probably want to touch on this later. But basically, studying in Austria, was such a, it was a conversation point in every interview I was in. Even a partner for Deloitte Comm did say how interesting my resume was, because of the international experiences I've had in Ireland, and Singapore, and Austria. And not that, you know, I don't think I had the best resume, I had a decent resume. But I certainly know people, you know, in my network who have accomplished more, but it was interesting, and that was the thing I noticed. I heard the word interesting a lot in coming from, for most Americans who don't study abroad, or maybe they did do a semester, but to actually live and work and study in another country. It's just interesting. So it kind of is, I said, I'm good with interviews, you just gotta get me on the phone. Like I've been rejected from countless places. But once I get to the interview, I do pretty well. And it just made my resume stand out enough to say, “Hey, this guy looks interesting. Let's give him a call, see what he has to say.” And then from there, it's in my hands.
**Jenn Viemont: **I think it's a little bit of a myth that a lot of people my age think awesome. Your parents say, Well, if an employer hasn't heard of the university, why would they give the kid an interview? And I think you're standing, like you said, you're standing out they have a pile of things that look pretty much the same. And here's something that's different and interesting. I also wonder, I was talking to somebody recently who's done research on the employability of students with international experiences. And she was talking about the skills that students gain through studying abroad, unrelated to your work, you know, unrelated to your technical skills, but things like adaptability and working in teams with different types of people and all sorts of the skills you've gained from that experience. And I'm wondering if you see that you gained any of those skills, and if so, how you were able to present them to employers, so they knew you had them? 
**Andrew Smith: **Oh, absolutely. I think working with people from a diverse set of backgrounds is something that's huge, especially in today's environment, where so many companies want to focus on diversity and inclusion. I think that's something where if you're looking at, I've never met somebody close minded, who's like had the travel bug abroad. It's kind of like you can't have a really miserable time. So you kind of know, you're gonna get someone's lie. They're accepting of other people, and they know how to function in comfortable situations. Obviously, going into a culture right and speak the language right away, was certainly uncomfortable in positions. Critical thinking, I guess, yeah, maybe you mess something up, you don't get a train ticket validated, the homeless situation. But I think I'd say the top two are probably, yeah, adaptability, and being able to work when uncomfortable, and then working with people of a diverse set of backgrounds, and be accommodating of that. Especially where now we’re moving to such a virtual work environment and working with people from all across the globe, have certainly honed my skills. Little things, like maybe speaking clear English, slowing things down, how to tailor email correspondence and presentations towards people where English is their second language, and just maybe it's giving them materials ahead of time, or just little things like that can go a long way. And that's certainly where things tend to be going with how globalized work has gotten.
**Jenn Viemont: **And maybe that's something that people again, my age, don't see as much firsthand, is how globalized companies have become. Would you say in your, tell us a little bit about your position and whether you're seeing digitalization in that?
**Andrew Smith: **Yes. So I guess, I can say my previous, since it’s relevant, my previous role before I moved to get my Master's, I worked for a firm that was literally called Globalization Partners. And we had helped US companies, mostly US, hire individuals overseas and expand their presence overseas. Super interesting company. And that was crucial. Because on a regular day, I wouldn't be talking with people from, be it clients, or who my people to my clients, we're hiring people from Germany, France, Singapore, like, at least, I'd say, five different countries on a daily basis. So you need, yeah, I would say, cultural understanding, to work in that. 
And then my role now, Deloitte does have a large offshore presence in India. And then there's also our clients who may have people coming from wherever their business needs, or just from whatever walk of life. And I think, yeah, it is important, we're just, there was something we covered in training, where we were taught, you know, you're gonna have to deal with people that English is not their first language, or maybe it's their third. And so they were talking about what to do. And that was, I felt like, oh, I've been doing this for years. 
**Jenn Viemont: **You could have taught it. 
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah. I think it's super valuable. And also being able to have that experience of, if someone's from, it's a nice little icebreaker, a talking point, where someone's like from Germany, and you can strike up a conversation or wherever, and now you've created that. They're starting to build a little rapport with a client or a co worker, and that helps you stand out because you're not just you know, some American that never left their state. It's “Oh, okay, this guy, he's been around him. He knows a couple of words in German, and he’s likes that.”
**Jenn Viemont: **Well, he doesn't. Yeah, and here's somebody who's curious about the world or curious about my culture, or neighboring cultures, or other cultures just in general. And Deloitte. I mean, everybody knows Deloitte, even me, and I don't know much about business, the business world at all. And the major business programs in Europe, you often see them as a major recruiter. So they clearly are seeing some some value in a global play field. 
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah. I know. There are definitely, there were several people in like my incoming cohort who came from European universities or some Asian universities. But I think that's why I think, I mean, the firm has echoed to us numerous times, about their efforts towards diversity inclusion, and I think a part of that you know, things like skin color, religion, gender, all that is that's one part of it, but another part is diversity of backgrounds and experiences. And it's right if you have if you only hire for, let's say, 10 universities, regardless of skin color, or whatever, are you really that diverse? Whereas opposed to reaching out to people have come from whatever experiences they may have, and they can all be evaluated on a team, and it just gives you different perspectives on things. 
**Jenn Viemont: **That's really interesting. And not only that, but those 10 universities, those universities that employers recruit from. What employers are seeing, the studies are showing that what employers see in US graduates is that they don't have those soft skills that we talked about, you know, being comfortable in unfamiliar circumstances, you know, navigating unfamiliar circumstances, adaptability, you know, comfort with diversity, all of that. You as graduates, aren't graduating with those skills.
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah, I guess that. That doesn't surprise me too much. I think that that was one thing I did appreciate with my program. It wasn't like I was just, it was just me, the American, a bunch of Austrians. We were probably, it was, I don't even know if there were any Austrians there, one of my good friends is half Austrian, I think there's a couple of that. There's a group of Hungarian, some people from Asia, people throughout Europe, a lot of people from the Balkans. But yeah, it was a great melting pot, and being able to talk to other people and hear their stories from their countries was awesome, because we tend to get even just, I guess, from a personal point, like you tend to get only certain narratives through the news or whatever. But being able to talk to people was, it was just great, because you hear different things that you would never hear otherwise, and be able to understand people on a better level, and in their countries as well and get their perspective on things. And it was, and I've made some great friends, I'll you know, have with me for the rest of my life through that. And I'm super thankful for it. So I think yeah, it all ties in, I think to making a better employee. I think I'm, you know, all in all better off for doing it than if I were not to, of course.
**Jenn Viemont: **Do you feel like there were any obstacles you faced because you did have a degree from abroad?
**Andrew Smith: **Possibly, maybe, with things such. Yeah, maybe like the name recognition could have hurt for applying for some jobs. It's tough to tell, like I keep an Excel sheet of like, what I'm like where I was declined, accepted to, and I still have it because I use it. It's almost a chip on my shoulder. it's so weird, where of all I applied, to so many firms for intern booths for internships going into summer of 2020, and so many firms of different sizes and industries or what have you. And arguably,probably the best role, the best position, the best company to be in this Deloitte program is the one that accepted me, but the other ones didn't. So I kind of don't know what to make of that. Like, maybe I suppose it could have been “Oh, we haven't heard of this school.” But then I have this position. And I didn't think I would be in one like a dream job for me. I've always wanted to be in consulting. And yeah, that's the one that accepted. So I'm kind of, I don't worry about it too much. Because I think I know what stood out. Like I said, I heard it from the mouth, like I had a partner who said how cool it was. So it's like, okay, well, this is ultimately what matters. Like I don't, you know, so I'm sure you're always going to encounter that. There's schools that are in shortlist and those who aren't, even in the US, of course. But ultimately, all in all, all it takes is one like just to get your foot in the door. And as I've said, I've heard from so many people, it's interesting. And I think that's a big thing. Like if you just got to pique someone's interest, and get on that phone interview. And then from there, it’s all on you
**Jenn Viemont: **And kill it there. Absolutely. Absolutely. And I really feel like the jobs and the companies that somebody who goes to school in Europe and comes back to the US to work, that position they want, the companies they want to work for are not companies, it'd be like “You went where?” You know, like the companies that do find it interesting, or do find it valuable, that's where you're going to want to be if you're somebody who is as internationally minded as you are or other students who's in their home country.
**Andrew Smith: **That's a great point. I guess I hadn't considered that before. But definitely, even when I was applying, I wanted a role that I would be able to travel or work with people, like to go abroad and like because that's what I enjoy. And I wouldn't want to work for some company where it's yeah, it's just more closed minded. It just wouldn't be a good culture fit probably anyway. So I think if you know, you'll attract however you tend to you're going to brand yourself as what companies you're going to attract who are looking for that brand of employee. And I think that someone who wants that more international focus, going abroad, getting your degree abroad is kind of a no brainer, especially with rising tuition costs. I mean, I'm someone who my parents didn't go to college, they worked very hard to give me everything but they didn't really plan and save to have a college fund. And I wasn't going to do round two with this massive student loans. And then to get a position where I'm in now, at Deloitte, like it's incredible. Kind of an arbitrage opportunity where I, you know, I left and then came only paid like three grand in tuition and then got this amazing position. And I'm super thankful for which, even my family thought I was kind of crazy giving up a good job in Boston, and like, what are you doing? And even like, my family grew up in the same neighborhood for like, seven years, my parents grew up on different ends of the same street and high school everything. So I was the first, I was the crazy guy that was going off to Austria. And I just kept saying, like, “Trust me, I know what I'm doing and this is going to work out,” and then it did. And now I kind of get to hold it over them. Like “You called me crazy, but look who’s right?” And they're like, “Yeah, you were. You were right, you know what you were doing.” And yeah, it all worked out.
**Jenn Viemont: **So you got your Master's Degree with no debt. You got a job with Deloitte, for heaven's sakes. I mean, that's like no small feat. And you're back with your family and friends, correct? So you know, it is kind of like, yeah, it is just like the dream situation, you know, this international experience. And what I find is that, like, when you do something big like that, like, you know, we moved to Portugal, and we're back here in North Carolina now. And we had originally planned to stay there for longer and things just didn't work out that way. But I feel like, tell me if you relate, once you do something big, you know you can again. You know, to go live in Singapore, you can. You have the competence and the skills you need to do so.
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah, the biggest thing was the residence permit. That's my advice to anyone. Be on top of that. And don't apply through the consulate in New York City, do it when you get Austria, because that proved a big headache for me. But navigating that, in hindsight, maybe I should have hired a specialist to go through it with me. But I did it all on my own, which was tough, very tough. And I made some mistakes along the way. And you know, everything kind of worked out just in the nick of time. But yeah, you're right. Having done that, it kind of gives you get no fear. That's like, here I am. I'm 26. So getting older, I'm still a young man. And it's, you know, I know, like, “Hey,  I already moved abroad, did my own residence permit.” Yeah, so there's really nothing I'm like, concerned about. I know, I can just tackle whatever, you know, life stuff throws at me.
**Jenn Viemont: **That's awesome. And I have to tell you, as the mother of a 20 year old boy, not yet a 26 year old man, that's my hope for him. I hope it's up when he's 26. His knowledge of himself is such that he knows he can handle whatever it is that comes to him in life and pursue whatever goals he creates for himself in life.
**Andrew Smith: **Yeah, yeah. And I think just really yet going abroad, like being away from your family, is the best way to do that. It's just the little things that build you up. It's the messing up the train tickets, screwing up the residence permits, like it. Yeah, it's a lot of like, the paperwork that kind of, like, I'm sure there's probably some motivational quote, like it's a paperwork that makes the man, that like, makew you grow as a person. And I, in coming back, and you know, living back in my hometown now. So it's like, yeah, I've traveled a lot. But I still love where I grew up, I love being around. And I'm able to view things in a different light and be more appreciative of it. And also, you know, it's something cool to talk about, where a lot of my friends haven't done that opportunity, or have done something like that, and have just stayed local. So it's really great. And I recommend it to anyone, it's something else. I’ll certainly push my children to do one day down the road.
**Jenn Viemont: **Well, Andrew, I really appreciate you talking to us today. I think you have really provided some great information for students who are thinking about doing this, for parents who are concerned that their kids will go to Europe and never come back. You know, it was great to talk to you and I really appreciate it and I wish you the best and hope you'll keep us posted.
**Andrew Smith: **Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.
**Jenn Viemont: **So you probably know that we recently moved back to the US after spending two years abroad. Though I hated commercials when we lived here before, I'm kind of enjoying them now. What I love are the rollback specials at car lots they have usually at the beginning of the year. They're just so cheesy and I love it. So we're offering a Rollback Special this month as well. We're rolling back our membership prices back to 2020 prices. So join now and lock in your monthly membership for just $49 a month for the life of your membership. So you keep saving month after month after month. This discount’s available through the end of January. So act now to lock in your savings!

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How I Hopped Around 3 Different European Countries with a Business Management Program, a Perspective as a US Student

This is a very unique program, which allows us to study in three different countries, moving each year to a different campus they have around Europe.

Hey there! My name is Anya, I’m from Boulder, Colorado and am currently in my third and final year at ESCP Business School in their BSc in Management program. This is a very unique program, which allows us to study in three different countries, moving each year to a different campus they have around Europe. The school itself was founded in Paris, France, and is one of the oldest business schools in Europe. It’s well known for its masters programs, which are for the most part taught in English, and within the past few years has started gaining recognition for their English-taught bachelor. It is a private school, meaning higher tuition than most universities you’ll find through Beyond the States. Since I hold dual American-Austrian citizenship through my parents, I pay the European tuition (around 13k Eur per year), whereas international students will likely pay more (Current tuition is around $24,650 per year. – Ed.). This is excluding housing and living costs, so factoring in everything, I pay about as much as I would for out-of-state university, and around $25k more than what I would pay for an in-state school. However, I finish in 3 years, and I get a double degree (French and German), but more on that later.
I attended my first year on their London campus, which is in the quaint area of West Hampstead, about a 30 minute underground ride to London center. Though ESCP doesn’t provide housing, in each city there’s always student housing options and of course the option to share an apartment with other students or with locals. I chose to live in a student accommodation my first year, so I could meet other students and ease into living on my own. This was a popular choice by ESCP students, which I knew from the beginning, so that made my choice easier. I lived with 7 other people whom I shared the kitchen and living area with, and then I had my own small bedroom and bathroom. Beside the housing, I was able to get to know my fellow classmates through induction day, Whatsapp groupchats, and student-proposed meet ups at the accommodation or within the city (this was all pre-pandemic).
In the bachelor program, the classes are pre-set and we don’t get to choose what we take until third year when we have some electives options. During the year in London, we had many introductory classes such as accounting, psychology, microeconomics, presentation and rhetoric skills, world history, mathematics, law, statistics, and computer skills (Microsoft Office). We also had a credit called ‘collective project’ in which we had the liberty to choose our group and a business project, as long as it followed certain guidelines. Some people created charity companies, others a ‘running dinner’ club, and my group decided to do a podcast called ‘Name It’, where we discussed a wide range of topics and had some of our classmates join special episodes.
My second year took place on the Paris campus, the headquarters and biggest campus of ESCP. I lived with two of my best friends in a shared apartment, which we rented through Airbnb. It was a two minute walk from campus, which made it easy for when we had in-person classes. Our courses in the second year were mostly building upon first year’s classes and consisted of marketing, macroeconomics, taxation and e-commerce law, contract law, finance and accounting, Python coding, statistics 2, and intercultural skills. Since I was in Paris, my tax and e-commerce law classes were taught in French. In Madrid, different classes of theirs were in Spanish, and in Turin everything was English. To go to Paris or Madrid during our second year, we were required to have a certain level (B2) in French or Spanish. Like the first year, we had another credit of collective project, in which the school collaborated with the ChangeNOW Summit and each group researched sustainable initiatives and companies in certain industries (carbon capture, urban farming, fashion, audiovisual industry, etc).
Each year we also take language classes, usually corresponding to the campuses we attend (except English, no English classes are taught since there’s an English requirement for program entry). For me, that was French and German, since my third and current year is in Berlin, Germany. This is the year we are able to choose elective classes each semester, split into two parts – management elective and liberal arts elective. The management elective is split into ‘tracks’, with each track consisting of two classes. When you choose a track, you have to take both classes it offers, you can’t pick two different classes from two different tracks. The tracks offered were marketing, finance, management, and digitalization/entrepreneurship. The liberal arts elective is just a single class we can each choose, usually centered around humanities, such as negotiations, international relations, big data, conscious leadership, and others. This is also the year we complete a bachelor’s thesis on a topic of our choice. We chose our topic and thesis advisor in the fall, and the spring semester is the time where we really have to crack down and write it out. Based on a blockchain class I took in the digitalization elective, I decided to focus my thesis on how smart contracts (on the blockchain) would disrupt the real estate transaction process (now that’s a mouthful!). I learned that with such a general management degree, there is no right or wrong thesis, and the topics I heard people chose are so varied, from corporate volunteering, to sustainable finance, to NFTs, to luxury marketing, and so on.
Going back to what I said at the beginning, about a double degree – since ESCP has its primary campus and founding in France, but many students graduate from the Berlin campus, those students may be eligible to receive both degrees! The French one is called a Diplôme Visé BAC+3, while the German is the classic BSc in Management that is based on the American standards, however they both mean the same thing and are equivalent. I do want to point out though, to those considering going to ESCP, that in order to get the German BSc (the more recognizable title, but no difference in value!), you would have to a) graduate from the Berlin campus (i.e., it needs to be your third year campus), and b) meet the same requirements that a classic German high school student would meet – so start planning ahead! For me, these requirements looked similar to the following:
- At least 16 “academic units” in the last 4 years of high school
- 4 English units
- 2 foreign language units
- 3 social studies units
- 2 or 3 math units and 2 or 3 science units (to make a total of 5)
Alongside those, there are also AP requirements – 4 AP exams with minimum grade of 3:

  • English
  • Foreign language
  • Math or science
  • Additional (can be humanities, comp sci, etc)
    Of course, requirements change and I know that they are constantly revamping admissions and even the program outline and campus options, so be sure to check with the admissions officer about what the requirements look like. It’s been a wonderful ride at ESCP, and to hear more about student life and information I wasn’t able to include here, check out the blog and podcast linked above!

Hey there! My name is Anya, I’m from Boulder, Colorado and am currently in my third and final year at ESCP Business School in their BSc in Management program. This is a very unique program, which allows us to study in three different countries, moving each year to a different campus they have around Europe. The school itself was founded in Paris, France, and is one of the oldest business schools in Europe. It’s well known for its masters programs, which are for the most part taught in English, and within the past few years has started gaining recognition for their English-taught bachelor. It is a private school, meaning higher tuition than most universities you’ll find through Beyond the States. Since I hold dual American-Austrian citizenship through my parents, I pay the European tuition (around 13k Eur per year), whereas international students will likely pay more (Current tuition is around $24,650 per year. – Ed.). This is excluding housing and living costs, so factoring in everything, I pay about as much as I would for out-of-state university, and around $25k more than what I would pay for an in-state school. However, I finish in 3 years, and I get a double degree (French and German), but more on that later.
I attended my first year on their London campus, which is in the quaint area of West Hampstead, about a 30 minute underground ride to London center. Though ESCP doesn’t provide housing, in each city there’s always student housing options and of course the option to share an apartment with other students or with locals. I chose to live in a student accommodation my first year, so I could meet other students and ease into living on my own. This was a popular choice by ESCP students, which I knew from the beginning, so that made my choice easier. I lived with 7 other people whom I shared the kitchen and living area with, and then I had my own small bedroom and bathroom. Beside the housing, I was able to get to know my fellow classmates through induction day, Whatsapp groupchats, and student-proposed meet ups at the accommodation or within the city (this was all pre-pandemic).
In the bachelor program, the classes are pre-set and we don’t get to choose what we take until third year when we have some electives options. During the year in London, we had many introductory classes such as accounting, psychology, microeconomics, presentation and rhetoric skills, world history, mathematics, law, statistics, and computer skills (Microsoft Office). We also had a credit called ‘collective project’ in which we had the liberty to choose our group and a business project, as long as it followed certain guidelines. Some people created charity companies, others a ‘running dinner’ club, and my group decided to do a podcast called ‘Name It’, where we discussed a wide range of topics and had some of our classmates join special episodes.
My second year took place on the Paris campus, the headquarters and biggest campus of ESCP. I lived with two of my best friends in a shared apartment, which we rented through Airbnb. It was a two minute walk from campus, which made it easy for when we had in-person classes. Our courses in the second year were mostly building upon first year’s classes and consisted of marketing, macroeconomics, taxation and e-commerce law, contract law, finance and accounting, Python coding, statistics 2, and intercultural skills. Since I was in Paris, my tax and e-commerce law classes were taught in French. In Madrid, different classes of theirs were in Spanish, and in Turin everything was English. To go to Paris or Madrid during our second year, we were required to have a certain level (B2) in French or Spanish. Like the first year, we had another credit of collective project, in which the school collaborated with the ChangeNOW Summit and each group researched sustainable initiatives and companies in certain industries (carbon capture, urban farming, fashion, audiovisual industry, etc).
Each year we also take language classes, usually corresponding to the campuses we attend (except English, no English classes are taught since there’s an English requirement for program entry). For me, that was French and German, since my third and current year is in Berlin, Germany. This is the year we are able to choose elective classes each semester, split into two parts – management elective and liberal arts elective. The management elective is split into ‘tracks’, with each track consisting of two classes. When you choose a track, you have to take both classes it offers, you can’t pick two different classes from two different tracks. The tracks offered were marketing, finance, management, and digitalization/entrepreneurship. The liberal arts elective is just a single class we can each choose, usually centered around humanities, such as negotiations, international relations, big data, conscious leadership, and others. This is also the year we complete a bachelor’s thesis on a topic of our choice. We chose our topic and thesis advisor in the fall, and the spring semester is the time where we really have to crack down and write it out. Based on a blockchain class I took in the digitalization elective, I decided to focus my thesis on how smart contracts (on the blockchain) would disrupt the real estate transaction process (now that’s a mouthful!). I learned that with such a general management degree, there is no right or wrong thesis, and the topics I heard people chose are so varied, from corporate volunteering, to sustainable finance, to NFTs, to luxury marketing, and so on.
Going back to what I said at the beginning, about a double degree – since ESCP has its primary campus and founding in France, but many students graduate from the Berlin campus, those students may be eligible to receive both degrees! The French one is called a Diplôme Visé BAC+3, while the German is the classic BSc in Management that is based on the American standards, however they both mean the same thing and are equivalent. I do want to point out though, to those considering going to ESCP, that in order to get the German BSc (the more recognizable title, but no difference in value!), you would have to a) graduate from the Berlin campus (i.e., it needs to be your third year campus), and b) meet the same requirements that a classic German high school student would meet – so start planning ahead! For me, these requirements looked similar to the following:
- At least 16 “academic units” in the last 4 years of high school
- 4 English units
- 2 foreign language units
- 3 social studies units
- 2 or 3 math units and 2 or 3 science units (to make a total of 5)
Alongside those, there are also AP requirements – 4 AP exams with minimum grade of 3:

  • English
  • Foreign language
  • Math or science
  • Additional (can be humanities, comp sci, etc)
    Of course, requirements change and I know that they are constantly revamping admissions and even the program outline and campus options, so be sure to check with the admissions officer about what the requirements look like. It’s been a wonderful ride at ESCP, and to hear more about student life and information I wasn’t able to include here, check out the blog and podcast linked above!
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The Unbelievable Impact of an International Education on a Students' Career Development

What does the research say about the benefits of studying abroad? Why are American students far behind the world when it comes to studying abroad?

What does the research say about the benefits of studying abroad? Why are American students far behind the world when it comes to studying abroad? Why do only 10-14% of college freshmen end up studying abroad even though 63% of them wish to take a semester beyond the states? Tune in as Jenn answers these questions!
Later in the episode, Jenn opens a discussion with Marty Tillman, a prolific speaker, an author, an advocate for international studies, and the president of Global Career Compass. Marty shares his valuable experience in working with young people, bringing their needs closer to the listeners of this episode. Furthermore, the guest of the show reveals the impacts of international education on students' career development and goes through some of the most common concerns students and their parents have. Lend an ear to this week’s podcast and find out more!
“There is a career impact, and there is no question for me. It’s got to be discussed with the student about the importance of what they are going to undertake. They need not to minimize the potential impact on their career.” Marty Tillman

**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: **Today we're going to be talking to Martin Tillman, who has incredible knowledge about what the research says about the benefits of studying abroad. Now, these benefits aren't confined to seeking your degree abroad. They also focus on study abroad programs that so many students have access to in college. But American students are far behind much of the world when it comes to studying abroad. The good news is that 63% of US college freshmen intend to study abroad. I love that there are that many that are interested in international experiences. The bad news is that only between 10 to 14%, depending on who you include in that number, actually ended up studying abroad during their time in college. And these were stats from before COVID. So that wasn't even a variable with these numbers. 
So what about the roughly 50% of students who were interested, but don't end up doing it? What gets in their way? Again, let's talk about the pre and what will soon hopefully be the post COVID days, because we all know that that's been a major obstacle in the last couple of years. So logistics, that's one category of obstacles. Certainly cost is one that would fall under that. It’s really amazing when you compare some of the costs around this, for instance, University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana, it's my husband's alma mater. And they have a number of options, one of which is in Belgium, where students study at KU Leuven. Now, first, let me say that I think it's really cool that they have programs where the students actually study at the European university, because there are many, where students go to a country and they study at some Institute, which is only for study abroad students, so they're not integrated into the local student community. And that really changes the experience. But okay, let's get back to Leuven and UEFI. So, while the overall semester program costs for UEFI students is right around 16,000 for the semester at KU Leuven, we're just going to look at the tuition and the tuition related fees since there are so many other costs that are hard to compare apples to apples when we're looking at you know, the UEFI study abroad, semester abroad student and a KU Leuven international degree seeking student. 
So, KU Leuven has five English taught Bachelor's, and the average tuition that international students pay is $3,500 in tuition for the entire year. So let's just say that their semester tuition cost is 1,750. So that's the international student studying a KU Leuven as a degree seeking student, the UEFI student who's coming for just the semester, their tuition or instruction related costs, they're going to pay $3,879 in instructional fees $2,035 in fees related to excursions, field trips, and orientation $1,003 in tuition to UIC, where you arrive where they won't even be for this semester, they're going to pay an $800, Illinois abroad administration fee, a $100 study abroad systems fee, and a $293 general fee. I mean, I love that there's just a general fee, no explanation, just almost $300 tacked on. Anyhow, their tuition related costs for a semester is $7,207, which is more than four times the cost for the KU Leuven international student. They're at the same facilities for studies, they have the same professors, but vastly different costs. 
So cost is just one logistic that can get in the way. Others might be the student needing to work and not being able to leave for a semester because they need to have part time employment. Or maybe they're involved in collegiate sports or other activities that they really can't get away from. Sort of tied to that is the fear of missing out, whether it's missing out on what they see are important aspects of their social life, or just missing out on the day to day experiences with their friend. I recently ran into somebody who I'm friendly with, and she was talking about her daughter's plan to study abroad in Scotland. And what had started out as a plan to study there for a year, then went down to a semester, and now it's down to even shorter than a semester, and it's 100% due to the fear of missing out. Other fears include, besides just the fear of missing out, include the fear of the unknown, or fears about the world that aren't grounded in facts. 
So I once saw a Facebook post from someone who was interested in studying in Europe, well she was interested in her children studying in Europe. But she said she was just too scared to do it because, I am not joking, because of human trafficking. So I could provide you with a number of stats that indicate that this is an incredibly irrational fear. But since you're listening to this podcast, I probably don't need to do that. That said, the daughter of one of our close family friends, she's a senior in college here in the US. And she considered a study abroad program earlier in her studies, one in Italy, but her Italian professor talked her out of it, well didn't really talk her specifically out of it, but talked so frequently about how unsafe much of Italy is that it made her think, oh, she probably shouldn't do that. So I have to tell you guys, I've traveled alone as a woman in a number of Italian cities, and never did I feel unsafe. Is that to say the whole country is safe? Absolutely not. But I think she missed out on a great opportunity because of this fear that was instilled in her from somebody who she saw as sort of an expert on it. So kind of a bummer. So maybe it's logistics, or maybe it's being discouraged from doing it from your friends, or even your professors, or maybe it's fear based, or maybe it's something else. 
For instance, the idea of studying abroad might sound like a good idea when entering college, but without a deep curiosity about the world, or even without knowledge about the world, it's not likely to be a high priority. I was reading this study, and I'll put it in the show notes. It tested adult Americans about World Affairs and Geography, the average score was right around 50%. And only 6% of the respondents scored better than 80%. A few disturbing facts from the study, more than 70% said they didn't learn about Foreign Policy in school. And I read this and I thought about my own education. I went to a private high school in Chicago. And it's connected to the University of Chicago. And though they certainly offered classes around Foreign Policy, when I was a student there and Model UN was a huge thing in my high school, I was able to graduate, I was able to meet graduation requirements without taking any of those. And same with college as a Psych major, I didn't have to take any of those classes, I could meet the Gen Ed requirements and graduation requirements without taking those specific types of courses. 
There were other findings in this study as well that were notable. For instance, less than half of respondents were able to identify Afghanistan as a country that provided Al Qaeda with a safe haven prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, despite the fact that that there was a war with Afghanistan for nearly two decades. Now, I'll tell you though, this is a hard quiz, I started taking it, I didn't complete it, because I didn't want to see my score. But I think too many of us, myself included, don't know enough about the world. I went to this function at UNC where Frank Bruni spoke, and he talked about how the articles in the internet national sections of the newspapers are the least clicked, which then leads to less articles in the international sections of the paper, so it becomes this sort of circular effect. And so what comes first, in this terms of international curiosity, is it the chicken or the egg? Do you have to have international experiences? And do those experiences lead to international interest in curiosity, or do international interests lead to international experience? I really think it can be either. Certainly it's rare that international experiences don't lead to more international interest and curiosity. And the more those are pursued, the more likely qualities related to global citizenship are likely to develop. So if 63% of these students are showing some interest, I wish there were less obstacles and more encouragement for them to pursue those interests. 
So let's talk about for a second, the small percentage of students who do take the opportunity. Of these students who are studying abroad, we're getting that 10 to 14% of the college freshmen, 62% of them are studying abroad for less than eight weeks. So if I go on a long trip somewhere, my experience is going to be much different than if I'm moving someplace to live for three to four years. On a trip, my focus is more likely to be, you know, trying all the great restaurants, seeing all the tourist sites, you know, all cramming all of that in one there. And there's nothing bad about this international experience of any sort is awesome in my book, but the experience is much different than the person who is moving to the area, who might be focused on figuring out the grocery stores, you know, more so than the restaurants, or finding different ways to establish themselves in the area, be it making friends, finding a gym, finding a doctor, finding ways to get involved in the school in the community. Of course, this student is like the degree seeking student and the student exploring all the restaurants and the sights and all of that is more like the short term study abroad student. The semester abroad student, they're going to have a lot less obstacles. And they're also going to have a lot more hand holding than the degree seeking student will. But the impact of some of the benefits we're going to discuss with Martin will be far greater for the degree seeking student. And the study showed this too, that the longer students study abroad, the greater the impact, the more significant the academic, the cultural, and the personal development benefits are. 
But the survey also suggests that study abroad programs lasting at least six weeks can produce good academic personal career and intercultural development outcomes, so they're not for nothing. So I guess my point here is, I truly believe that international experiences and seeing yourself as a citizen of the world is important. It's important to the world, and it also leads to a number of personal benefits. I do think that living outside of your home country, as opposed to vacationing, is the best route to do that. And what better time in one's life to do this than as young adults, when responsibilities to others are decreased, or, you know, not as significant as they'll be later in life, when they're still forming their identity and their values in the world perspective. So whether through study abroad or degree seeking abroad, I really hope that more American students are able to make this a priority and a reality in their life. We're going to take a quick break, and then we'll be back with Martin Tillman to talk about these really cool benefits.
Testimonial: Hi, I'm Maclan and I'm in my second year studying at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Before I began my degree, my sister started university in the Czech Republic, which inspired me to explore my options of going to school in Europe. But I was still lost at what exactly I needed to do in order to attend university abroad. This is where Beyond the States stepped in. My sister had previously worked with them. They built a best fit list of universities for her to consider. Over time, Beyond the States has expanded its options. I was able to take advantage of the personalized approach to explore what I found most useful. I was a part of the first On Your Mark master class where I learned what I found to be most exciting to study, where my interests aligned, and what universities I was most interested in. Before the master class, I was lost and overwhelmed with what to focus on. Beyond the States gave me a sense of direction. Before, I was only following my sister's path. Through their help and support system, studying in Europe was able to become a reality for me. The class is offered three times a year and fills up every time. Check the show notes for more information and to sign up for the next session.
**Jenn Viemont: **So today we're speaking to Marty Tillman. He's a prolific speaker, author, and advocate for International Studies. And he's also a thought leader on Student Career Development and the topic of employability. Marty was the Associate Director of Career Services with the John Hopkins University for many years, and is now the president of Global Career Compass. Marty, thank you so much for being here today.
**Marty Tillman: **It's a pleasure to be here, Jennifer. Thanks for having me.
**Jenn Viemont: **So can you tell me a little bit about why you're an advocate for International Studies? Why you think this is important?
**Marty Tillman: **Sure. I have been an advocate, maybe because I never had that experience growing up in New York City. In fact, I didn't go abroad, in my circumstance, till I was 23 years old, as a tourist after college. And one thing or another, I think, because I had a fairly narrow experience growing up, when the opportunity, when the thoughts were there, in my own mind about what I was missing in my life, I was led through various circumstances, all happenstance, frankly, to learn about a graduate school in Vermont called the School for International Training in my late 20s. And as a result of my making that decision, purposely because as a part of the curriculum, I was able to get a free air ticket, the tuition that I had been working for a few years, so I was abl