Pro College Abroad

Maya Gjelhaug, Staff Reporter

As American college prices rise to unprecedented levels and admission rates to high level universities lower each year, many high schoolers begin to seek other postsecondary opportunities. Some students look to trade school or manufacturing, but a growing number of American high schoolers are considering European education as a way to avoid life-long student debt, gain an edge in the job market, and experience different cultures. 

Most Americans will agree that college can cost an exorbitant amount of money, as the average price of attending college out-of-state is $23,890 per year, reported in a study by CollegeBoard. According to Beyond the States, European college costs on average $7,390 per year, low enough to make many high school students ditch American universities. Around two thirds of U.S college students graduate with student loan debt, and as of 2021, about one in eight Americans have federal student loans according to the U.S. Department of Education. This totals to $1.59 trillion in student loan debt across the nation. European universities offer the opportunity to avoid the life-long student debt that their American counterparts have the burden of. 

While cost is a major factor in the postsecondary decisions of American high schoolers, other factors can play a part. American universities can tend to feel like a continuation of American high school, with football games and cliques often at the center of American college, leading many students to seek different experiences. European universities offer a completely different college scene, with critical thinking and debate at its center. Many universities require students to prioritize one class at a time, allowing students to explore different subjects more indepth. 

Attending a European university can even decrease the time it takes to earn a degree. Many programs last around three years, which is different from the typical four-year degree in the U.S. Not only will European students graduate with less debt, but will begin a career a year earlier than their American counterparts. Furthermore, studies have shown that studying abroad can increase employment opportunities. According to the Erasmus Impact Study, students who study abroad are half as likely to experience long-term unemployment than those who do not study abroad. Studying in Europe provides students with far more academic opportunities and prepares them for the job market. 

After living in the cookie-cutter, suburban empire of the United States, many high school graduates crave a change in scenery. From the cycling kingdom of Amsterdam to the mountainous terrain of Switzerland, studying in Europe provides students with a multitude of different landscapes and cultures. Studying abroad can also help students to achieve fluency in a different language, depending on which country they study in. However, many countries offer English-taught programs, so learning native language is not always necessary for students. 

Opponents of studying abroad often note how language and culture barriers can make it difficult for students to integrate into a different country. Furthermore, being so far from family and friends can make studying abroad feel isolating, and many students who study abroad find it difficult to make friends. Opting to attend university in the U.S. offers other benefits, such as flexibility in declaring a major and an emphasis on the “college experience.” Studying in Europe may not be possible for some, and studying in the U.S. still provides many academic opportunities and different cultural experiences. 

While studying abroad may seem daunting, European universities offer Americans countless new possibilities. Not only do European universities offer a world class education at a lower cost, but students can also find a diversity of institutions with degree programs not offered here. The change in scenery will allow prospective foreign exchange students to explore the rich culture of many European countries.