Monday, May 16, 2022

Enriching Education: Beyond the States

I recently found out about Beyond The States, a service that helps American students and parents find the right college for them outside the United States. (It's definitely something I'm going to keep in mind for my own kids as we get closer to graduation!

Beyond The States offers personalized recommendations for students who are considering earning their college degrees abroad with an online guide to the thousands of English-taught bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in Europe. BTS also help students work through the process of applying for schools and moving abroad.  European colleges offer excellent academic programs, on par with those in the United States, often at a fraction of the cost.  (Some English-language European colleges are even entirely free to American students!)

I had a chance to interview founder Jennifer Viemont to learn more.

  • Why should American students seriously consider higher education in Europe?


Affordable tuition, transparent admissions, and life changing experiences, to name a few. Across Europe, the average cost of all English-taught bachelor’s degree programs is around $8000 per year, but there is an abundance of programs with far-lower price tags, and many with $0 tuition, even for international students. Disturbingly, the college admissions process in the US has become a pressure cooker environment where students feel the need to be “the best” in all areas, but the selection process is so arbitrary that the game becomes unwinnable. The admissions approach in Europe, across the board, is refreshingly straightforward and objective. Many countries there see entry into universities as a right rather than a privilege, and so admissions standards are not as stringent. And taking the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone by studying abroad and interlacing with other international students is just the beginning of this unique, rich experience. 



  • What if students have concerns about things like language barriers, homesickness, or culture shock?


Okay, what’s important to keep in mind is that these 100% English-taught programs across Europe exist to pull students from all over the world. Their friends and classmates will be in the same boat, sharing the same communal experience of living abroad; so many of our student members rely on their diverse group of friends for support and connectivity. English-proficiency is really high across Europe, and certainly in and around these cities and universities, and so the language barrier may not be as significant a struggle as you might think. Homesickness and culture shock are givens, even when you’re at college in the states, but these are simply part and parcel of the dynamic experience of going away to school. 

Of course, college in Europe is not for everyone. You really need to have international interests, and you need to be comfortable making decisions outside of group norms. To a large degree, you need to feel comfortable being away from home, and being around people of all different backgrounds and perspectives. Those are the key qualities, and those qualities aren’t necessarily good or bad, but they are needed. If you don’t come in with these qualities, or hoping to develop these elements, then studying abroad may not be a good option for you. 

  • Why is it helpful for students to work with an organization like BTS?


The way of searching for colleges in Europe is completely different than in the US and you will not be successful if you go into it without a different approach. As an example, there are over 3000 English-taught options in countries all over Europe, and learning about the admissions requirements (specific to students with a US high school diploma), international student resources, and program specifics for these can be a daunting task! It can certainly be overwhelming and isolating without a community of others, such as the one we have at Beyond the States. It’s important to note that we, in contrast to other likewise services, accept no funding from the schools we feature in our extensive database. This means we can maintain our objectivity and remain the single objective resource of soup-to-nuts information for students and families in the US.  

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