Last Updated: Mar 24, 2016
With the rapid globalization of society and the many educational options available to you worldwide, studying abroad should be an integral part of your college education. And this option may not be just for a semester or a year. You may end up choosing to complete your entire university degree abroad!
The reasons for studying abroad differ for everyone. You may be looking for the chance to travel to another country for the first time, an opportunity to return to a country you visited in high school, or to immerse yourself into a language and culture you have always wanted to experience.
A trip abroad in high school gave you a taste of what it would be like, but to actually live and study in another culture is truly an educational opportunity that should not be missed. Attending a university overseas very well may allow you to develop a sense of relationship to other cultures while still embracing your own.
There are several different types of educational opportunities available to you abroad as an American college student.
- Traditional study abroad synonymous with Junior Year abroad
- Enrolling at a foreign, non-American institution
- Studying abroad for all four years
- Enrolling and receiving an American accredited degree at an American Accredited college overseas.
U.S. accredited institutions
There are also fully accredited U.S. colleges located outside of the United States and fully recognized in the United States and in other countries. In general, they are founded upon the American model of liberal arts education. These universities enroll U.S. citizens, and the majority of students enrolled hold passports from countries other than the United States. Typically, no one country has a majority, the instruction is in English, and the faculty have been educated all over the world.
Such an educational opportunity will solidify skills needed for the ever-changing and fast-moving global economy of the 21st century. At an American international university, you will enroll as a citizen of one country, but graduate as a citizen of the world.
Applying to study full time for a degree at a foreign institution is an education in itself. As for the logistics of applying and attending, there are some important things to keep in mind:
- The application process is different than applying to a U.S. college or university, and every country has its own entrance requirements and exams.
- The SAT and ACT tests that are recognized in the United States are usually not even considered in other countries.
- Many countries require an additional year of high school prior to applying to university
- Students may nee to take a country-specific required entrance exam, taken after completing high school, with one exception: those who have completed the International Baccalaureate.
- The length of time to complete a degree at many foreign universities is usually three years, not the four that is typical for a U.S. bachelor’s degree.
- Instruction is usually in the language native to the country and the tutorial, not the lecture, is the standard mode of instruction.
- Exams, given once a year, are usually pass/fail, not the continuous assessment found at U.S. colleges.
- A degree from a foreign institution may not be recognized and accepted in the United States especially, if from a university not well known in the United States.
However, don’t let these differences scare you away. Many American students pursue international degrees every year. And, as they say, the world is getting smaller—seeking a global education for yourself will only strengthen your understanding of diplomacy, multiculturalism, foreign relations, and so much more.
Traditional study abroad
Many of study abroad programs are offered by colleges and universities located in the United States. These are often "branch campuses" overseas. Many times they are expressly for American students and are taught by U.S. faculty, making them simply an extension—an overseas extension—of a U.S. experience. Other programs are offered by foreign institutions and are designed as programs for "visiting students" and do not integrate "foreigners" into their own classes or social activities.
Various U.S. organizations and U.S. colleges coordinate exchange programs at schools overseas. These programs often have an American coordinator with classes taken as part of the overall university and in the language of that country. The course work offered is designed to provide credit that will be recognized by the home institution in the United States.
Some of these experiences have a travel component that is usually built in to the program to provide an even greater opportunity to experience more than just the location and country where the program is located.
Benefits of all three
Whatever the international educational experience you decide to pursue, you will be making the world a part of you. As a result of the cross-cultural/multicultural skills required, the linguistic ability needed, the broad knowledge base acquired, and the sense of self-reliance developed to survive internationally, you will find yourself with an expanded world-view called globalism.
You will come away with an ability to observe without judgment and communicate across differences as a result of your new global perspective. A life-changing and diverse challenge awaits you in whatever international educational experience you choose. With the world becoming smaller a global educational is something that should be part of your college curriculum.
Consider making the world a part of you!