General Question

Feta's avatar

Going to college overseas?

Asked by Feta (925points) April 25th, 2014

While looking at European colleges for the heck of it, I noticed the tuition for a school in say, the UK, is a lot cheaper than in the US.

I’d be very interested in attending an international school in the UK, however my parents don’t like the idea.

They were appalled when I told them that UK colleges tend to look more at test scores and grade point average in applications rather than how many clubs you were the president of and how many hundred hours you spent volunteering.
They also didn’t like the idea that UK colleges don’t spend much time reviewing high school things like English and Science and Mathematics – you go straight into coursework designed for your major. They told me that taking college level versions of all the classes I took in high school is “absolutely necessary” to be a “well-rounded individual”.

They then started ranting that if I got a degree in the UK, it wouldn’t be applicable in the United States and therefore having gone to school overseas will have been a big waste of money and I’ll have to get an American college degree if I ever want to get a job in the states.

I’m not sure if that’s plausible. Apparently, they had a friend who had a European college degree and was a physician but had to go back to school in order to be qualified in the US.

I’m really stressed out because I wanted to go to NYU but the exorbitant tuition cost is just too much considering I won’t even make as much as my tuition (ever) as a journalist. My parents are disapproving of pretty much every school that I’ve picked because they want me to go to college in state and get those “absolutely necessary” core courses for the first two years and then transfer to whatever brand name university I want.

So, I thought they’d be happy that I found out that I could study abroad for cheaper than in the US and get a quality education but they’re not. They said it’s irresponsible thinking that you can go from high school to college in London.

My stepmom also works with this woman who told her that it would be better for me to go to school at a local college the first two years and then transfer, all the while studying abroad as an exchange student. So that’s all she’s been preaching. Anything I suggest, she shoots it down because it’s not what her coworker told her and her coworker should know, she’s lived in 10 different countries.

So, if you got through all that, can you please help me clear up a few things about college overseas?

1. Is the application process entirely different? I’ve seen where some schools want you to send 3 AP exams with your application along with your ACT scores but in the US we don’t take AP exams every year of high school. This year, my junior year, is the first time I’ll be taking an AP exam and I wouldn’t have time to take two more before the application deadlines in Europe.

2. Is it irresponsible to think that you can go to college in the UK right out of an American high school?

3. Are the first two years of American college “absolutely necessary”? They don’t seem to think so in the UK.

4. Would my college degree not be accredited in the US if it came from a UK school?

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19 Answers

Feta's avatar

Also, would any financial aid (such as grants, scholarships) apply overseas? I’ve read conflicting answers on that. My parents, being the pessimists they are, say no.

zenvelo's avatar

An education overseas is just as valid as one in the US, and in many ways more comprehensive. An American degree is not the only way to get a job in the US; any firm with a multinational presence will value a foreign degree.

And US colleges don’t review high school subjects either, unless you need remedial work, and that doesn’t earn college credit anyway. My son just took placement evaluation exams for his first semester at community college in the fall. He’ll be in English Composition (a standard freshman class) and Trigonometry, among other things.

But it is important to research the application process and also the educational process at different schools. And different schools in the same country are structured differently. Check with the schools to find some nearby younger alums that can advise you on what is in store.

Financial aid is a bit different issue, since most US aid is for US accredited programs. That’s a requirement for student loans.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Degrees from European colleges are certainly valid in the US. However, you will have to pay for it yourself. Government backed grants and student loans are for US institutions.

For what it’s worth, I think your parents are being unreasonable.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Let’s back up a moment. The most important factor is considering the right school for what you want to major in. Do you know what that might be?

dappled_leaves's avatar

1. The application process already varies to some extent between schools, and yes, will vary between countries as well. The good news is that almost all applications are now available online. Go to the websites of the schools you’re interested in, and download the application. Get a few, and fill them out, it will be good practice.

2. Nope. If you’re a good student, you may or may not be able to get in, but there is nothing “irresponsible” about trying or wanting to try.

3. It depends. If you come back to the US to do a graduate degree, you may be asked to make up some of what you missed. Or you may not. It will depend on the program, the school, and what you did learn in your UK undergrad. I was told recently by an American prof that when she came to Canada to do a graduate degree, she had to take extra courses in math and science because her liberal arts degree in the US spent so much time on literature and humanities courses and de-emphasized the sciences. Don’t be surprised if there is a bit of adjusting to do between countries – but realize that this can also vary from school to school and program to program.

4. Once again, this will vary by program. If you were going for a medical degree, it would be a serious obstacle. You are talking here about an undergraduate journalism degree (my advice would be different for a grad degree); I am not sure that even an American journalism degree would give you “accreditation” as such, so it may not matter. If you are planning to do a graduate degree in journalism in the US afterwards, my recommendation would be to contact a couple of people in journalism departments near you, and ask them how well these degrees transfer. They should be able to give you some practical advice. If you are planning to work in the industry with your undergrad, then contact the HR departments at some papers in the US. See what they say about the degree you’re looking at. It can’t hurt.

Feta's avatar

This college says, ” US citizens can use US federal financial aid to complete a degree program at King’s College London. ”

That’s why I was confused…because this college takes FAFSA.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Most major funding agencies in my country have options for overseas study; I would guess that yours is similar. But you should never take the word of the university – always check the rules with the funding body as well. And be aware that the competition may be stiffer for overseas study.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Feta Thank you for the link. It appears US funding can be used in the UK.

Go for it.

Feta's avatar

I was only going to do a BA in journalism because I really just want to do music/pop culture journalism. It’s my understanding that most journalists have PhDs in things other than journalism. As in, journalists hardly ever went to college for journalism.

However, I don’t think you can major in popular culture and, as I see it, learning some things about journalism in general would be beneficial as I know hardly anything about how it really works aside from what I do now, blogging about music and reviewing albums.

Really, journalism is what I want to do for money, I think I’m better suited for free-lance writing which is what I’ve always wanted to do.

I’ve also read that it isn’t necessary to go to graduate’s school for journalism as most journalists who chose journalism as their major only have a BA.

Feta's avatar

Okay, my father just came upstairs raving that I should go to school in Canada because it’s $14,000 a year when I’ve already told him that the UK college I’m looking at is £15,200 annually, or around $25,000, which is much more appealing than NYU’s $50,000.

He says that to gain entry into the UK you have to have a lot of money to prove that you will be able to support yourself which, as of right now, we don’t have because my father is out of work. I’m not moving to the UK immediately, I’ll be getting student visa and maybe I’ll stay after college, by which point I will presumably be able to find a job in journalism and support myself.

True or untrue? I would most likely get a job if I went to school in the UK. My parents weren’t planning on supporting me even if I went to school in the US.

dappled_leaves's avatar

This is an interesting question. You are in high school, and looking around, and you believe that you’d like to write about popular culture. A journalism degree might not help you write about popular culture, but it might open the world up to you a little more, to expose you to different things that you might want to write about once you know more about them. Likewise, degrees in English or political science (not so much if you know you won’t want to write about current affairs) might do the same thing.

The thing is, as you say, “journalists hardly ever went to college for journalism.” I have friends who write book reviews – mostly, they’re doing it to supplement their income from writing books themselves. And I know a couple of people who write freelance music reviews who used to be musicians. This is kind of how it happens. Think hard about this before you start the degree. Your experience is limited – use your university experience to widen it. It’s very likely that you will discover a new passion while you are there. So aim to learn a lot in areas that are unfamiliar to you.

Regarding Canadian tuition, it sounds like your father has it about right, depending on the province. You’d be paying out-of-province tuition fees, which I think are a little more than double what we pay (I’m in Canada), but tuition is much less expensive here than in the US. Again, this info is all available online, so check out some schools. Tuition varies widely by province. I paid under $3500 in tuition last year, and I’m doing a PhD. But in some provinces it can be around $7000 for the same degree.

gailcalled's avatar

I waded through a lot of links to find this;

Admission requirements for students from the US appling for a full-time BA degree in English language and communication: KIng’s College, London


Advanced Placements/SAT-R and SAT/ACT

Three AP subjects with 554 including 5 in English Language, Literature, Modern Foreign Language or Psychology at grade 5. Or SAT with a total score of 1800 with at least 600 in each section or the ACT with a score of 27 plus 3 SAT-S including English Language, Literature, Modern Foreign Language or Psychology with a score of 600 in each.

Judi's avatar

A lot of people smarter than me have answered a lot of your questions. I just want to add that if you plan to get a degree in journalism I think it will be totally accepted in the US. Degrees that require a license might ask for some additional education or testing, but Journalism? I doubt it.

janbb's avatar

I went to college for a year in Britain as part of my US degree. The educational system is very different in the UK and as you say, geared toward strictly going for coursework in your major. I think it could be difficult to slot oneself into it culturally and academically although it might be doable. And you have to figure the transportation and living expenses of being in the UK. A year abroad as part of a US education might be a better plan. NYU is very expensive but they have a lot of scholarship money; why don’t you talk to their Financial Aid department and see what you might qualify for? Or fill out the FAFSA.

Adagio's avatar

Wouldn’t Sociology be more applicable if you are wanting to study popular culture?

JLeslie's avatar

Being a doctor and being a journalist is completely different for credential requirements in the US. I don’t see any reason why a degree from the UK would not suffice for journalism here. If you go abroad you might have to do a little more research on the schools and reputations, while here in the states we know NYU has a good reputation. If you are considering places like Oxford then that is an easy answer but other schools maybe not.

You certainly could just do an exchange program for a term or year rather than the entire degree abroad.

I have to say I do like the American system where you spend the first year or two exploring many subjects and taking some electives. I especially like it for students who are unsure of what they want to pursue. You sound pretty sure, so you might be well suited for an education that is very focused from the get go.

I think contact NYU and ask them about credits they will accept from colleges in the UK. If you will be able to transfer them, then you could finish up back home possibly, and then your degree would be from an American university if you have any concerns about that at all. For journalism I wouldn’t though.

A close friend of mine was an anchor on local ABC and her degree was a BA in Journalism. She didn’t want to take it farther, but I think if she had wanted to she could have. If you want to be in front of the camera, what counts most is doing well in front of the camera. As long as you have a keen interest in the subject matter, pop culture, and can talk about it or write about it well, you should be good to go with a journalism degree. It is a little tough to break into that sort of career field I think, but the UK degree shouldn’t hurt you.

However, pop culture has a lot to do with where you live, so living abroad will mean you will be somewhat disconnected from US pop culture for a few years, and right as you graduate.

Do a Q on here about what’s hot right now in a Jelly country outside of the US and they will talk about some things and people you never heard of most likely.

If I remember correctly Pres. Clinton went to college at Oxford for a time. Although, I don’t think any of his degrees are from there. It might have been an exchange, but I think he went on scholarship. You can probably google it if that interests you.

gailcalled's avatar

^^ After he graduated from Georgetown, Clinton won a Rhodes Scholarship for a year at Oxford, before he entered Yale Law School

“The Rhodes Scholarship… is an international postgraduate award for selected foreign students to study at the University of Oxford. is widely considered the world’s most prestigious scholarship by many public sources…

Rhodes Scholars may study any full-time postgraduate course offered by the university,whether a taught master’s programme, a research degree, or a second undergraduate degree…” Source

Feta's avatar

Thank you guys for your help.

Going to college overseas or even going to college in NYC has been stressing me out because of different requirements and cost of living and such.

So I’m now looking at Hampshire College in Massachusetts which first caught my eye because of their long list of successful alumni.
I think it would be better a atmosphere because the first two years there, they have advisors that will help to guide you into the right major based on what they see you’re good at and they don’t go by number grades, they do written critiques.

They’re also one of the few colleges that offer “Writing” as a major. Writing is what I want to do but I know it likely won’t pay the bills.
That’s my dilemma right now. Should I major in something that I’m mildly interested in (such as psychology or media/communications) and do writing on the side, or dedicate my life to making book deals and living on ramen noodles?
^^Something I actually wouldn’t mind doing^^

One of the reasons I wanted to study in the UK was because I was under the illusion that it might be easier to be successful there as it’s smaller. My stepmom’s friend said that it’s easier for Americans to get work there because they’re better at customer service. However, I’ve been doing my own research and found that it’s hard for even British college graduates to find a job. I was watching a documentary where this Polish guy can speak five languages so he moved to London to be a translator but he can’t even get a job in a restaurant.

I’ve come to the conclusion that, right now, it’s hard for any new college graduate to get a job in any field, anywhere.

JLeslie's avatar

Employment is picking up! It looks to me by the time you graduate things might be on a big upswing. I would assume journalism has a lot of writing classes, maybe you can double major? Psych you have to get a post graduate degree to do almost anything with it. If you are up for that and love the field you can go for that. In America you will take elective courses, why not take some of toyour electives in psych if it interests you, if anything just for the sake of learning, and still have your major in writing or journalism.

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