There are many prestigious universities around the globe that offer a great learning environment. But students in the United States tend to focus more on the schools within our borders. If you desire something a little different, there are a range of international universities that will provide academic rigor and tremendous learning opportunities: Oxford, Cambridge, St. Andrews, London School of Economics, Imperial College, and the University of Edinburgh among many others.
You can apply to most UK universities through UCAS, the UK’s equivalent to the Common App. Applying to international universities can be unfamiliar and challenging, so I highly advise you to speak with a college admissions consultant to maximize your admission chances.
Be forewarned that studying abroad isn’t cheap. When I studied for my master’s, it was three times the cost of local tuition (a full scholarship helped!). The benefit was that it was only a year, whereas US programs tend to take two years to complete. Similarly, undergraduate courses are more direct and wrap-up within three years of intensive coursework (versus the US average of 4.5 years). Being a pre-med student is a great example that illustrates the difference between US and foreign study. If you study medicine abroad, you typically begin studying from day one as a college freshman instead of going through a 4-year undergraduate program first. Another great option, and probably a much cheaper one, is to look into a cultural exchange program while in high school. Ask your school counselor if there are any opportunities through your high school.
Why should you go abroad? Because you’ll…
- Experience a new culture
- Make friends from around the world
- Become truly independent
- Change the way you think
- Get use to an international workplace
- Develop new language skills
- Get a global feel for your field of study
- Stand out from your peers
According to NAFSA, only 1% of America’s college aged students study abroad. This is a great opportunity to make yourself ‘unique and relevant.’
Studying abroad isn’t for everyone. There will be times when cultural ambiguity will have both a frightening and inspiring effect. If you do find yourself in a new country, soak it up. The experiences you will have are priceless. You will find that learning becomes experiential and goes way beyond the classroom; a characteristic in which a recruiter, or hiring manager will understand and appreciate.
Studying abroad for my master’s has changed my life, I only wished I had done it sooner. I have now lived in five countries, across three continents, and visited nearly 30 countries. My international experience has opened up my eyes and allowed me to see the world through varying lenses. Imagine what some time abroad could do for you.
By Will Cody, ThinkTank Learning College Admissions Consultant