Even though the majority of your high school friends are going to the local state school or your nearby community college, you’ve got your sights set elsewhere. Somewhere much further afield, maybe even somewhere abroad. Despite the shock on Mom and Dad’s faces when you first propositioned them, you needn’t worry legitimizing your request. Bachelor’s degree programs abroad can have equal if not higher merit, potentially cost less, and will double as a sink-or-swim experiment in life as an adult. For aspiring artists, scientists, politicians, and writers alike, bachelor’s degree programs abroad are a great fit, no matter your field of study.
Step 1: Consider Program Structure
Cultural differences will make their way into the classroom, so as an international student you will need to be prepared to adjust to a new style of learning and academic expectations. For example, bachelor’s degree programs in the U.S. and the UK have widespread differences, despite sharing a language of instruction. UK-based bachelor’s degree programs encourage independent study and early subject specialization, while U.S. degree programs typically aim to expose students to a variety of subjects. Additionally, U.S. institutions provide a comprehensive college experience, including dormitory housing and on-campus meal plans. In contrast, most students live off-campus in Australia and typically “fend for themselves”.
Education systems across the world also assess grades very differently. For instance, your classes may meet less frequently and assign less homework, which may mean there are only a few grades to contribute to your overall course grade so each assignment or paper will be weighted more heavily.
Be prepared for cultural acclimation both inside and outside of the classroom, and conduct independent research your country of choice both before and after you arrive to familiarize yourself with their academic style and rigor.
Step 2: Choose a Location
You have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a destination for your bachelor’s degree abroad. Many students will opt to select a country that matches their native language, while others still will seize the opportunity to gain fluency in a second language.No matter which challenge you are looking for, there is a country that can suit your needs and interests. Here are a few of the most popular locations to earn bachelor’s degrees abroad to get your started.
Germany. German universities are a great fit for international students, as many bachelor’s degree programs are taught in English and are heavily subsidized by the German government (psst, they can even be free!).
England is a popular choice amongst international students due to its international prestige and language of instruction (aka English!). You pay for what you get, though, so don’t expect bachelor’s degree programs in the UK to be extremely cheap!
Scotland. Home to more than its fair share of credible universities, Scotland is an excellent location option for earning a bachelor’s degree abroad. It is a more affordable destination for student budgets than its neighbor to the south and still offers similar cultural and academic experiences for students.
Australia. The Land Down Under promises high quality education, but it does come at a price. As one of the world’s most expensive countries, students will be pinching their Aussie dollars (or have to spend the majority of their free-time soaking up the sun on the beach, for free, which isn’t such a rough life) while earning a bachelor’s degree in Australia. However, it will be worth it!
Canada. Barney Stinson jokes aside, Canada is a prime destination for students who want to complete an undergraduate degree abroad. World class universities, cities, and nature preserves create an ideal combination of academics and adventure for international students.
Beyond this short list of options, there are a number of well known universities and undergraduate degree programs around the world. Seek out a university that complements your desired area of study, whether because of professors and faculty, geographic advantages, or access to special collections.
Step 3: Prepare Your Documents
As an international student, you will likely be required to obtain a student or education visa to cover the duration of your undergraduate degree program abroad. Different countries will implore different application requirements, and it is advised that undergraduate students get these logistics sorted as early as possible.
Before you can get a visa, you need to ensure that you have a valid passport. Keep tabs on your passport’s expiration date to avoid any unnecessary hassle when obtaining your visa.
Generally speaking, you can expect that each consulate will want to know general personal information, including your name, home address, and social security number. You will also likely need to submit your admission letter from your international host university, as well as your intended address once you are abroad. Some foreign governments may require proof of self-sustaining finances, which can be a hurdle for students with empty bank accounts (but hopefully Mom and Dad won’t mind!).
After you receive your golden ticket (aka student visa), check in with your host country regarding specific visa rules and regulations. Some countries will allow you to work in conjunction with your undergraduate degree program, while others will require you to apply for a separate visa (or deny it entirely).
Step 4: Reap the Benefits
It’s time for international travel! There are many horns to toot when discussing the benefits of living and earning a degree abroad. You will have increased access to cool, foreign countries, you will learn a ton not only yourself but the world, and you will add stamps to your passport faster than Lemuel Gulliver.
The UK and continental Europe bound students will be able to enjoy the benefit of earning their bachelor’s degree in three years time versus the traditional four years required in the U.S. and Australia. That’s one whole year less of stress-induced headaches and late night prep for pop quizzes!
With the cost of higher education rising exponentially around the world, it may make sense to earn your undergraduate degree abroad at a bargain price. Less time spent studying equates to less money spent on studying.
Step 5: Take On New Challenges
Earning your undergraduate degree abroad certainly does not come without its own oppositions. Transitioning to college life is tough even in the comfort of your home country, as entering a new stage of life always has its growing pains. When you couple this adjustment with an overall acculturation to a strange place with no initial friends in tow, it is no surprise that only the most hardcore of students take their undergraduate studies abroad.
Despite the potential setbacks of new foods, new currencies, new cities, and new styles of instruction, a richer, more intense educational experience is ultimately cultivated. Students who earn their undergraduate degrees abroad are poised to become the most effective change agents of the future.
Are you ready to rise to the challenge?