Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Enriching Education: Beyond the States

The college admission process in the United States is out of control. Instead of exploring interests and discovering passions, college-bound students are pressured to spend high school performing and producing to look good to colleges.  Vicki Abeles’ film “Race to Nowhere: The Dark Side of America’s Achievement Culture,” speaks to the incredible pressure put on high schoolers these days. Many students are encouraged to take as many AP classes as they possibly can, resulting in 6 hours of homework per night in addition to the clubs and sports in which they participate. Although colleges and college counselors encourage the abundance of AP classes,” authors Richard Keeling and Richard Hersh  state in “Losing our Minds: Rethinking American Higher Education,” that “AP courses represent a kind of mindless genuflection to a prescribed plan of study that squelches creativity and free inquiry. The courses cover too much material and do so too quickly and superficially.”  Clearly there is a disconnect afoot between learning and education for display purposes.

There have been several books written recently on this very topic. In William Deresiewicz’s “Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite,” he paints a picture of the U.S. college admissions process and what it is doing to the lives of high school students and their parents. Deresiewicz talks about how, for high school students, “the purpose of life becomes the accumulation of gold stars. Hence the relentless extracurricular busyness, the neglect of leaning as an end in itself, the inability to imagine doing something that you can’t put on your resume. Hence the constant sense of competition.”  He notes [the] “way of life organized around the production of measurable virtue in children. Measurable, here, means capable of showing up on a college application.”  The problem “what is enough,” and can students do or lean enough. The goal is to be the best, and because the admissions process looks at so many different components of students’ lives, there will always be someone who is better in area or another.  In “Where You Go is Now Who You’ll Be,” author Frank Bruni states, "The admissions game is too flawed and too rigged to be given so much credit.”
Then there is the cost: U.S. schools who graduate students in 4 years (which less than 50% of students do) at universities is staggering. On average it would cost $90,560 at a public university and $283,608 at a private university over 4 years.

Many families don’t think there is a viable solution, outside of a long-term solution of overall reform.  However, the many English-conducted bachelors degree programs offered in Europe allow students and families a way to opt out of this broken system.  The average tuition of an English-conducted bachelors degree program in continental Europe is $7294, and most programs take only 3 years to complete.  In many cases a full degree in Europe can be obtained for the cost of 1 year in the U.S.--even with additional travel costs.  Even at highly internationally regarded universities, the admissions process is much less competitive, with more transparent admission requirements and a focus on the actual fit between student and school—not the U.S.-based “merit” based scheme.
How do we get there?

Beyondthestates.com was founded by a husband and wife team who were exploring the options in Europe for their own children. After realizing the many benefits, they knew that other U.S. families would also be interested.  Beyondthestates.com offers a comprehensive searchable database of more than 1,500 accredited bachelor's degree programs conducted in English throughout continental Europe. The site offers services to U.S. students and families looking for information on how they can earn their bachelor's degrees in Europe in less time and with less money, while gaining a competitive edge in the job market.  What sets Beyondthestates.com apart from other portals is its specialization – they focus on bachelor degree programs offered in English only; its accuracy  — they don’t data scrape, but do the research themselves which includes visiting European colleges and universities; its objectivity — they don’t take fees from the schools; its perspective  — founded by U.S. parents of teens – all creating a comprehensive approach.

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