Today we are featuring Daniel O’Kelly, a writer and travel enthusiast. He’s currently earning his Bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College and works on the Study Abroad Team at Go Overseas in the Bay Area.
Picture this: as your final undergraduate semester fast approaches, you come to the horrible realization that you haven’t made any post-graduation plans. Should you freeload on your parent’s couch, get a job, or apply to graduate school? A job would help pay back some of the debt you owe but your current research project on Renaissance architecture enthralls you. Heck, why not continue your studies? Unfortunately, you face a tradeoff: graduate studies in an American university would boost your résumé but empty your bank account. What to do, what to do…
It’s no mystery that America’s universities are as prestigious as they come. Schools like Harvard and MIT boast Nobel Laureates in their faculty and massive endowments to improve research labs and academic programs. However, according to the 2011-2012 World University Rankings Report, only 75 of the top 200 universities are in the United States. Just consider how many schools there are outside of America!
For a variety of reasons, graduate schools abroad, although maybe inconvenient, are better options for aspiring graduates. Here are 5 bulletproof reasons why graduates should study abroad.
1. Save a few extra dollars
American graduate schools are student loans’ worst enemy; accruing interest and debt can keep students up worrying all night. But, high costs should not deter American residents from furthering their education. European graduate schools tend to be much cheaper. For instance, Spanish graduate schools are $2000 a year, those in France are €190 a year for international students, and Swedish graduate schools are virtually free (minus the cost of late-night coffee)!
Say what you will about the prestige of American schools relative to those in Europe and elsewhere, but by no means should the academic breadth and caliber of overseas professors be belittled. What’s more, graduate programs are much shorter elsewhere: a master’s program in the UK spans one year. Even if the foreign currency is stronger than the dollar, when everything is set and done, you will save more money than you spend.
2. Free healthcare
Many countries, such as the United Kingdom, offer free or subsidized healthcare for international students. No private insurance plan is needed. When you consider how expensive healthcare is in the United States, anything “free” is a student’s best friend. Look at it this way: the less money you put towards health insurance, the more money you have to travel and explore the nooks and crannies of that region.
3. Cultural Immersion
According to Go Overseas, an online resource for students traveling abroad, “many students cite the opportunity for learning new languages [and] gaining exposure to new cultures…[as] key factors for selecting an overseas university.”
Studying in a graduate school abroad opens the door to new perspectives and new educational applications. Enriching oneself as a person can directly translate to enriching oneself as a student. Yes, adapting to different customs and interacting with international students is a challenge. But, at the end of the day, a deeper knowledge of the world is an asset in every walk of life, especially in the classroom.
4. Fewer Requirements
The application process to international graduate schools tends to be less demanding than those in the U.S. standardized tests (e.g. GRE or GMAT) and a never-ending number of essays are not required. A student’s transcript and letters of recommendation are more valuable to graduate school admissions. If you’re in the middle of your undergraduate thesis, this element becomes even more compelling.
5. In-depth Research
The more resources you have while conducting your graduate research, the easier and more valuable your experience will be. By studying abroad, you can access a plethora of documents, historical sites, museums, and libraries that just aren’t available in the U.S. Of course, that should not belittle the resources in America. But, if you’re studying coral reef degradation or classical Renaissance literature, Australia or Florence is more ideal than Cambridge or New York.
Graduate school in and of itself is a new and hopefully life-changing experience. Immersing yourself in a new culture is similarly transformative. What would you get if you combined the two? How does a cost-effective, culturally eye-opening, travel-filled school year sound? Not convinced? Take the plunge and find out for yourself.