A growing number of Americans are seeking to study abroad during their college years, according to data from the Institute of International Education. For the 2012/2013 school year (the most recent year for which numbers are available), 289,000 Americans spent part or all of their most recent year in college overseas. That’s a 400% increase from 20 years ago.
There are myriad reasons for this increase, including the skyrocketing cost of a college degree in America. Depending on the country, Americans have a chance of earning their bachelor’s, master’s, or even a PhD for cents on the dollar. In the last year, more than 4,600 American students were enrolled in full degree programs in Germany alone, where college fees for Americans are less than $1,000 a year, compared to $23,410, the average tuition cost per year for a public university in the U.S.
But American students aren’t just taking flight to foreign shores to save money on education. In today’s ever-smaller globalized business world, earning your degree overseas can have huge benefits for your career throughout the course of your life. A QS Global Employer Survey Report found that out of 10,000 companies contacted, more than 80% said they actively sought out graduates who have studied abroad. That’s not to say there aren’t some drawbacks to moving abroad for an international education, however. Homesickness and missing out on life experiences with your family and close friends can be challenging for some. The need to learn and write in another language—depending on the country chosen—and unexpected culture shock can also take their toll. The question is, could a degree earned overseas be the right choice for you? We spoke to three current and former American students to find out the reasons they went abroad to earn a degree, and whether they would recommend you do it.
MATTHEW KRUGMAN, 18, ORIGINALLY FROM BRECKENRIDGE, COLORADO, IS CURRENTLY EARNING HIS BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN LONDON.
In May, Krugman moved to London, where he began his Baking and Pastry degree program at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. Krugman is concurrently earning a business and wine management degree as well.
What was the primary reason you decided to earn your degree overseas?
The primary reason for wanting to attend Le Cordon Bleu was the caliber of education it offers. Generally, LCB London, Paris, and Sydney are considered the top universities in the world for culinary school, and the option to attend a university that cooks for the likes of queens and has taught chefs like Julia Child was an offer I could not pass up.
Another smaller reason for wanting to go overseas is my education would take two years; this would include two culinary degrees and a wine and business degree. To receive this in the United States, I was looking at closer to six years in total, which wasn’t realistic, especially for a field where you have to hop in at a young age.
Have there been any unexpected benefits of earning your degree overseas?
I have found some, including slowly learning different languages. As my school is so diverse—the incoming class had around 90 nationalities—I’ve started to pick up little sayings in different languages as well as able to work on my French and Spanish. Another benefit is that until now, I didn’t realize how much more desirable a person who has studied overseas is for a position back in the States, as I’m already receiving many job offers.
Have there been any drawbacks?
Feeling homesick at times.
Do you feel an international degree makes you more attractive to employers?
I think an international degree makes me more attractive to prospective employers. International schools are seen as a “higher standard” in my field since it’s where culinary generally came from. I think as well you learn so much more just from being in a different country, and that helps a lot in the job field.
In 2011, Ronald began the International and Comparative Politics bachelor’s program at the American University of Paris and earned her BA in three years. She followed that degree up with a master’s in international law from the University of London. She earned the master’s in only a year.
What was the primary reason you decided to earn your degree overseas? . . . .