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Studying in Europe or studying in the US?

Updated: Jan 3, 2022

In this post I will compare undergraduate studies in continental Europe and the US in the light of my tutoring experience. I will write about UK and Canada in other posts.

In my opinion, getting university education in Europe has been becoming preferable. I can list advantages of studying in Europe as:

  1. Undergraduate education in Europe is tougher, while much easier in the US. This is the opposite of the application process, getting in to the top US universities is much more difficult than to the ones in Europe. However, graduating is much more difficult in Europe. Of course, my sample is mostly business, economics, engineering programs of top universities in Europe and the US in which my students study. And I will explain why I think so in a separate post. Easy courses can be seen as an advantage of the US at first, but undergraduate education making a difference is very very important in today's competitive environment. Undergraduate programs in business and economics can make a difference by better teaching in mathematics and programming. I will also explain that in detail in another post. In my opinion, quantitative courses being easier in the US will eventually decrease the value of the US undergraduate diploma. Because we all know that the most important function of the university diploma is signalling on the skills of the student. It means that finishing a program successfully gives a signal to the market that the graduate has sufficient skills and work discipline. That's why university education is important event though many academic skills are not used in work life. Hence the signalling value of a program that everyone easily finishes will be low. On the other hand, a program that many students can not finish, that requires too much effort will have a higher signalling value.

  2. University in Europe is cheaper. In addition to Germany and France have no tuition fees, in many programs tuition fees are around 10 thousand Euros. Tuition fees are much higher in the US.

In my opinion the advantages of studying in the US are these:

  1. US universities are huge and they have all kinds of high quality departments. Students have ample options for different majors and minors; besides changing your major is very easy. So undergraduate education is very flexible in the US. This is not the case in Europe. For example, if you study in a top technical university in Europe, you might not find a good sociology or psychology course. On the other hand, your top university in the US will most likely have top departments in almost all areas.

  2. Studying in a tough program in Europe might turn into a disadvantage. In many universities, there is a limited number of exam chances for a course and if you fail them all, you are out. It has very bad implications for the students since restarting in another university means a very significant loss of time and energy. Most importantly, it might lead to the loss of self confidence. To abstain from that, I suggest taking advice from someone who can evaluate the student objectively. You may be admitted to a very famous and very good technical university. But it might not be the best fit for you. I will absolutely take this matter in another post.

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