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College in Europe


Lost in Place
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Joined: August 6th, 2007
Location: Asheville, NC

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  • Added on: April 1st, 2009
A few years ago I decided I would love to go to college overseas, and now I'm a high school senior and I'm going to Germany, to Jacobs University Bremen, in the fall. I have seen a few other posts on here about people wanting to go to college overseas so I just thought I'd share a bit of my story/information/resources, just in case it helps anyone. Also, note that I'm talking about studying in English, but overseas, as an American.

First, a great place to get started-- American Colleges Overseas, This lets you pick a country and shows you American-style (not necessarily American-accredited, though I think most of them are) degree programs in these countries. The information provided here is very basic, but it's a good starting place. However, this covers, as far as I can tell, only degree programs which are American-style and housed in all-English-speaking universities. These are not the only options.

In some places, certain degree programs (mostly higher level, but some bachelor's) are available in English as well. Sweden is a good place to look for this, and so here is another helpful website: Click 'study options' and 'undergraduate' to see a list of universities with programs available in English. Something good about Sweden--public education is basically free, there are just some small fees, and then of course living expenses (which are high in Sweden). I've heard that there are also a few English-speaking programs available in the Netherlands, but I'm not sure about the specifics there; you'll have to do a google search or something.

Now, I've got to talk a little about academic quality and accreditation. Some American schools overseas are known more as places for rich kids to party in Europe for four years than they are known for their academic quality (I heard this particularly about the American University of Rome), and if that's what you want, go for it, but do a little research into the reputations of the schools that sound interesting (Google is your new best friend because these schools aren't covered in the typical college search books like Princeton Review and whatnot). American satellite campuses in Europe aren't necessarily known for their academic quality when it comes to students studying abroad, but I've heard the standards are higher for students earning an entire degree there (satellite campuses are things like St. Louis University Madrid or Suffolk University's Madrid campus). Accreditation, as far as I can tell, is by no means an insurmountable obstacle; you may have some red tape if your degree is not accredited in the U.S. and you want to work here, but as far as I can tell it won't prevent you from getting a job or anything. Still, it's a plus, if not a deal-breaker.

A resource you may not have considered, no matter where you're going to school, is Facebook. There are often groups for incoming freshman who have a lot of the same questions and concerns that you, as a prospective student, are thinking about. You can also get in touch with students this way--most of them are quite helpful.

Consider living arrangements. Are there dorms? Will the school help you find a place to live if not? You wouldn't want to be on your own in a foreign country with no place to live.

Consider finances. See if American federal aid can be used at the school. See what scholarships they offer. Remember to add in airfare and an increased cost of living when you're estimating what your education is going to cost you.

Consider campus life. Not all schools in Europe will have the extracurriculars and campus community (or, for that matter, campus) that we expect in the U.S. (though generally, the American-style or American-satellite-campuses will).

Enrolling directly into a European university may or may not be a good idea. Even if your program is in English, high school goes to a higher level in most of Europe than it does in the U.S. If you go to an American or international school, you should be fine, but just beware. In Europe, most university programs are more specialized than in the U.S., and often take three years as opposed to our four. Keep this in mind particularly in England. Scotland, however, is a different story, and the educational system there is actually relatively accommodating (flexible and all), less of a shock to Americans.

Also don't forget Canada and Australia and New Zealand if you want to go overseas! I didn't research these options so I can't be much help there, but keep it in mind.

Last but not least, I'll share a little about my future school just in case anyone's interested in studying in Germany. Jacobs University Bremen is an English-speaking university in Bremen, Germany, with students from all over the world (only about a quarter are German, and that's the highest percentage there). It's a three-year program (but includes some requirements in taking classes outside of your major, and the opportunity to change your major after a year--it's basically an American-style program compacted into three years). It has a campus and campus life modeled after the American system, except with residential colleges (modeled, I believe, after those at Rice university). Feel free to message me if you want more information and some helpful links.

I am by no means an expert here, so feel free to add to or correct any of this.


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Holds PhD in Packing
Posts: 248
Joined: January 26th, 2005

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  • Added on: April 3rd, 2009
Cool post! How did you decide on Germany?

I'm about to graduate from the University of Otago in New Zealand, where I transferred after doing the first few years of my undergraduate degree at McGill in Canada. I'm actually pretty surprised that you don't see more American kids going to school out of the country- not only is it an awesome experience, but you can also save a heap of money.

A quick comparison of yearly tuition costs at Elon (my brother's US university, and obviously nowhere near the most expensive one around!), McGill, and Otago- all in USD.

Elon: $25,489
McGill: $11,380
Otago: $5,232


Lost in Place
Posts: 52
Joined: August 6th, 2007
Location: Asheville, NC

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  • Added on: April 4th, 2009
New Zealand must be awesome. A place I've always wanted to see. Of course I can say that about most of the world...

That is a really interesting comparison. Especially because living costs are similar in the US and Canada (don't know about New Zealand), so it really is accurate (as compared to, say, England, where tuition might be lower but living costs probably higher).

I chose Germany and Jacobs because I wanted to be in Europe, and I wanted the chance to learn another language but still get to study in English (because I don't speak any other language well enough to earn a degree in it). My first choice would have been Spain, but of the European schools I applied to (more expensive, because, private, because I wanted to study in English in a non-English-speaking environment--I could have gone with Sweden, but I wanted the chance to go outside my major a little more than they do there), Jacobs was the only one that came through well enough with the scholarships/financial aid. Also one of the schools fitting my requirements with the best academic reputations! So, several factors going into it, and I do hope it will end up being the right choice (because I had some good offers here in the US, too). Anyway, I am excited, because I've lived in North Carolina forever, and this is going to be very different.


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Lost in Place
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Joined: February 20th, 2006

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  • Added on: May 1st, 2009
I've have a few friends from that University. And I've visited it on one occasion. Bremen is brilliant!


Lost in Place
Posts: 52
Joined: August 6th, 2007
Location: Asheville, NC

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  • Added on: May 11th, 2009
Really? That's awesome. I've never even visited, so anything you can think of to say about Bremen or the university would be much appreciated :-)


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Thorn Tree Refugee
Posts: 4
Joined: August 18th, 2009

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  • Added on: August 20th, 2009
I was considering moving to Bremen in maybe a year or two. My question now is how the german pension plan system works compared to the US. Thank you very much in advance for the responses.

Christopher Marr

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Lost in Place
Posts: 50
Joined: October 21st, 2009

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  • Added on: November 21st, 2009
I have ever heard about Bremen before and this is authentic University.

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