Are Some of Your Clients Hoping to Attend University Outside the US?

Why study abroad for just a semester when you could study abroad for all of college?!

In the last several years, a number of US students have shown a keen interest in studying abroad for their higher education. What is the draw? Beyond the obvious thrill of living abroad, a lot has to do with the ability to start studying one’s major immediately rather than waiting for the obligatory one or two years it takes to complete prerequisites and core requirements at the majority of colleges in the US. What else is appealing to students is that the duration of university may be three years as opposed to four years – a significant savings even when the cost of travel overseas is factored in. 

For educational consultants who have students interested in international options, the first step is to educate themselves so they can educate their students. NACAC’s Guide to International University Admission is a great place to start. For the UK, The British Council is a wonderful source of information, as is Study in Holland for students interested in the Netherlands. Canada also welcomes students from the ‘south’. If you don’t have a lot of experience in international higher education admissions, you might want to partner with another Independent Educational Consultant who is fluent in this area. Of course, there is nothing better than hands-on experience, so renew your passport and start touring universities abroad!

How Should Students Academically Prepare for Study Outside the US?

Because the US does not have a standardized curriculum like other countries (i.e., A Levels or GCSEs in the UK, French Baccalaureate in France, German Arbitur, etc.), students need to plan ahead.  In the US, the closest we have are our AP exams, ACT or SAT, or students taking the International Baccalaureate path, an international curriculum offered at a US-based school. What is important is how students choose their course work because in the UK, as an example, students choose their path of study in order to apply to university. In other words, if a student wishes to study Biology, then obviously, a student would take AP Biology or High Level IB Biology and perhaps other related courses to enhance their preparation for university level work. 

The one thing US students will notice is that international universities are very transparent about their requirements. Each university will state clearly on their website what is required and expect students to follow these instructions closely.

What is the advice that you would give to a student who is looking to apply to colleges abroad?

Often, students come to me at the beginning of their senior year with the idea that they wish to study abroad. Sometimes, they know what they wish to study; sometimes, they don’t. It is important for students to know what they want to study as well as having some Advanced Placement (AP) courses and exams under their belts. US applicants to international schools should have taken at least three AP exams related to the course they wish to study. In addition, strong SAT/ACT results are paramount in this trajectory. 

When students sign on for their course work each spring, it is best to think about what AP exams they would like to add in order to enhance their studies for this particular post secondary path. For example, if a student hopes to ‘read’ (study) History, then they would be advised to take as many AP history courses as possible, even at the expense of other subjects. 

How should IECs partner with an IEC specializing in International Admissions?  

Though I have been doing international admissions for quite some time, there are times when I reach out to my colleagues when I am out of my depth. For example, if a student desires a public university in Spain, I reach out to a colleague in Spain. I would hope the same for a colleague who has never entertained an international admissions path. As far as portfolios are concerned, again that may be a pathway where it may be advisable to partner with an arts professional who has experience with international placements. 


Sandy Furth, MS, CEP owner of World Student Support is an International/Independent Educational Consultant assisting families from around the world in finding the optimal school fit for students. Sandy works with families who are ready to make an application for university (US, UK, Canada, Europe), needing boarding or day school placement as well as helping families transitioning and finding a school when making an international move. In addition, Sandy will work with students who are researching Gap Year options.


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