Every semester thousands of students from across the United States make the journey abroad, opting to pursue their studies in foreign universities for several months, before returning to their home institutions. Such experiences often prove to be thoroughly thought provoking and stimulating, both in the academic sense and in regards to one’s personal development. Although a semester or academic year does fulfill some students’ quest for adventure and self-discovery, many others find themselves wishing they could extend their period abroad. Fortunately, these dreams are no longer outlandish fantasies, but viable alternatives for Americans wishing to obtain their post-secondary degrees abroad.
Perhaps one of the easiest routes to studying full time abroad is to enroll in an American institution. Though these options are often poorly publicized, several American universities have smaller campuses based in foreign cities where students can pursue studies for a brief period of time. Still others have integrated a portion of their study programs abroad, such as Parsons New School of Design, of Project Runway fame. Students at Parsons have the opportunity to study at the home campus in New York City, or at one of several other locations scattered across the globe.
Further yet, some American universities have been established entirely overseas, such as the American University of Paris. Similar universities can be found in several cosmopolitan cities abroad, including London, Rome, and Cairo. American students should feel very comfortable in such environments, as they often replicate the classroom experience in the United States, and admissions and financial aid procedures are nearly identical to those practiced domestically. Additionally, student loans and government funded financial aid is readily available to students studying in American institutions abroad, which is not generally the case for American students in foreign universities.
The challenges presented by a foreign university’s admissions process and tuition requirements should not discourage Americans from applying, however. Most foreign universities have established equivalency standards that allow standardized tests, such as the ACT or SAT, to be used as confirmation of an applicant’s academic abilities, and private scholarships for students wishing to study abroad are readily available. Additionally, many larger universities have individuals who work as liaisons for foreign students unfamiliar with local customs, who can prove invaluable in settling into the academic world abroad.
Regardless of which option looks to be the most practical, American students should be encouraged to pursue extended periods of studying abroad. While such experiences are certainly enjoyable, the skills and knowledge garnered in a foreign environment may also improve their employment prospects in the future.