College is an exciting experience for students all over the world. No matter what country they call home, most children aspire to earn their college degree when they get older and will work extremely hard in order to achieve that goal.
While some students may be under the impression that they can only attend college in their own country, the fact is – depending on the circumstances – you can actually go to college in another country. Whether you're new to this idea or you're familiar with it but don't know where to start, it's a good idea to have some information about applying to college abroad.
Going to a University in Another Country
If you're wondering whether or not you can go to college in another country, the quick answer is "yes." For centuries, students have been leaving their home countries to study at universities abroad. However, the colleges abroad to which you can apply depends on many factors.
For instance, if you're coming from a country where your native language is different than that of the country in which you want to study, then you will usually need to show proof of having fulfilled language requirements. Also, since high schools around the world typically have their own unique version of standardized testing, you will have to make sure that the tests and classes you've taken are transferable to schools abroad.
How to Apply to College Abroad
Applying to college in another country is not all that different from applying to college in your home country. In fact, it may be even easier. Most accredited institutions abroad have specific application guidelines for international students, and as long as you follow those, you should find the application process rather simple. However, it can be difficult if you don't know where to start.
Step 1: Research Schools Abroad
The first step in applying to college in another country is to do your research. Before you begin researching, though, you'll need to recognize who you are and what you're looking for in terms of your studies. For instance, students looking to do their entire bachelor's degree or master's degree abroad versus students who want to just spend a semester abroad will be looking for different programs.
Once you know the category into which you fall, you can begin searching online. Some research tips are to narrow your search down to the program you want to study, determine whether or not you want to study in your native language or if you're interested in a full language-immersion program, choose the country or region of the world in which you want to study and learn the cost of the school.
Step 2: Read Over the Requirements
After you've narrowed it down to a few schools to which you potentially want to apply, read over their individual requirements to study abroad. Make sure that you have met all the qualifications before applying, and if you're unsure as to whether or not you possess one of those requirements, don't be afraid to call and/or email the prospective school to ask.
Schools abroad may use different terminologies in their application guidelines than what you are used to, and this can make research a bit confusing. Therefore, it's OK to ask questions.
Step 3: Gather the Necessary Materials
When you know that you've met the requirements at your prospective schools, it's time to gather whatever materials you need in order to complete your application. For instance, the schools to which you're applying will likely require you to send over copies of your transcripts and/or your high school diploma or bachelor's degree depending on the program to which you're applying. You also may need a copy of your passport, a financial statement (such as a bank statement) and proof that you meet the school's language requirements.
They may also ask for a personal statement or for you to schedule an interview. As you are applying from abroad, it's very unlikely that the school will ask you to be physically present. Thankfully, due to technology, much of the application process can be done virtually.
For example, many schools will schedule an interview over video chat or use an online system to submit your documents. However, there may be instances in which you'll have to mail in some of your paperwork. Because you'd have to mail it abroad, you need to leave extra time. Therefore, do what you can to get yourself organized and ready well before deadlines approach.
Step 4: Start Your Applications
Finally, it's time to start applying. For this part, it's a good idea to have a checklist for each of the schools to which you are applying. You can check off materials and schools as you complete each application or write notes on any materials you still need to provide.
If you've organized all your materials, this step shouldn't take that long, especially because most applications are done online. Block out some time each week to work on applications and take note of due dates so that you don't miss any deadlines. After completing an application, follow up with the school to check on the status and be proactive about your application overall.
Tips for Applying to College Abroad
First and foremost, if you're applying to study abroad for a semester or year while you are already enrolled at college in your home country, then you can meet with the study abroad adviser at your school for guidance. Likewise, if you're applying for a bachelor's program abroad straight out of high school, then you can meet with your guidance counselor. If you're applying for a master's program abroad, then you will have to do a lot on your own, but there are many resources online to help you with the process.
Another tip is to ask questions to those who have studied abroad before you. They can serve as a mentor and guide you whenever you hit a bump in the application process. Some colleges abroad also hold sessions or attend college fairs in different cities, and you can attend one of these to get more information.
Can Degrees Be Transferred Across Countries?
One thing you should consider before applying to college in another country is whether or not your degree can be transferred either back to your home country or to other countries across the world. The first step is to look for a school that is accredited in its home country, and it is even better if it is internationally accredited. Then, it's important to search for a degree program that's usually transferable within that, such as a business degree, a degree in liberal arts or an engineering degree.
While a bachelor's degree in itself is usually recognized around the world, some majors are not as easily transferable, such as a degree in education, medicine or law. One degree that's definitely easy to transfer and great for studying in another country is a language degree. If you want to major in Spanish, for instance, then it would be very wise to study that in a Spanish-speaking country.
Pros and Cons of Going to a University in Another Country
Before applying to college in another country, it's vital that you consider the pros and cons of this decision. The good part is that there are many positives:
- Cheaper tuition
- The chance to learn a new language and culture
- Perhaps an easier path to your degree.
- The possibility of being able to finish your degree quicker
- According to Fast Company, more than 80 percent of employers seek candidates who have studied abroad
That being said, there are also some downsides to consider:
- Your family may be hesitant about you studying in another country
- They may put pressure on you to change your mind
- They may be concerned about safety or your inability to communicate with professors
- Difficulty with acclimating to a different culture
- May be more difficult to get a job back in your home country or if you decide to stay abroad
Ultimately, these worries shouldn't stop you from going to college in another country.
Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. She has spent the last 5 years traveling the world and living abroad and has lived in South Korea and Israel. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Hana spent a semester studying abroad at Tel Aviv University during her undergraduate years at the University of Hartford. She hopes to use her experience to help inform others. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.