The College Experience: America Vs. Europe

For American students studying abroad, specifically in Europe, at some point during their undergraduate years has become a relatively popular thing to do. A less common trend however is going abroad for all of college. Because tuition is rising and acceptance rates are lowering in a majority of US colleges, there is more incentive than ever for students to receive their education across the pond. This non-traditional option of obtaining a college degree has many benefits that most American students are unaware of. Both nations have their benefits regarding education but I will discuss the advantages of European college because most of my readers already know about the US college system.
According to The Federal Reserve of New York, the estimated American student debt is about $1 trillion. In contrast to US students, European college grads generally come out of school with little or no debt. This is primarily due to public funding. European countries with the exclusion of Britain have public funds that enable students to go to school very cheaply, if not for free. This is because Europeans believe that higher education is an inalienable right, which is why public universities tend to be more popular than private institutions. Another reason a European college education is cheaper than an American one is that it normally takes less time to complete. US undergraduate degree programs take four years to complete, while European undergraduate degrees only take two to three years. Shaving a year or two off of a college education obviously saves a great deal of time, but also money. One exception Americans must keep in mind however is the currency exchange rate. This is because the US dollar won’t stretch quite as far in Europe, but even so, most students have found that their overall college education is cheaper to obtain in Europe rather than in the US.
A second major difference in European colleges is the academic style. While American colleges offer more areas of study, along with more general education requirements, European schools generally offer fewer courses and are more geared towards preparing for specific jobs. European classes are also conducted more independently and are more reading intensive which is different than American classes that usually involve more attendance points and group projects. This difference could either be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on the student. European classes are generally conducted in large lectures where the professor is removed from the students. Just like it is becoming a more popular trend of taking an extra semester or year to graduate from college in American, European students are taking extra time as well.
The last major difference between the two is the campus life and overall college experience one will have. American campuses tend to focus around student life and activities. The student body congregates at sporting events, speeches, and in Greek life. American campuses are designed to draw in their students; student unions for example are the centerpiece of campuses where dinning-halls, campus stores, entertainment, and libraries can most often be found. European campuses are designed exclusively for study and do not include abundant student housing or large student unions. The campuses are in major cities and because of that only have lecture halls, laboratories, and libraries. European colleges do not incorporate much of a student life; instead, people tend to travel more often because of the close proximity of so many different countries. Studying in Europe can introduce you to many more countries and cultures.
Going to college abroad is not for everyone but it is a great alternate option for those who are looking to go to college farther than just a few states away. The cost, style, location, and experience are all things to take into consideration, but before narrowing your options to state schools in the US, it might be beneficial for students to look into European colleges. Even though I love my college experience at a state school here in the US, I can completely understand why studying across the pond would be an amazing experience as well. There are definite advantages in obtaining a degree in both places, it just depends what ones interests are.

This entry was posted in Culture.