Quiz: Should You Consider Going to College Outside the U.S.?

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Each year, hundreds of thousands of students leave the U.S. to pursue undergraduate degrees abroad. In 2014, the most popular destinations for American students were the U.K., Italy, Spain, France, China, Germany, Ireland, Costa Rica, and Australia, in that order.

There are dozens of reasons why a student might chosen to study abroad, from family ties to financial savings. It can be a great option, but it’s certainly not for everyone. Take the quiz below to find out whether studying outside the U.S. is something you should consider.

1. How comfortable are you in different environments?

a. Not very comfortable, if I studied abroad I would prefer to be somewhere culturally similar to my home country.

b. Somewhat comfortable

c. Fairly comfortable

d. Very comfortable, I know from experience that I’m quick to adapt to new environments.


Explanation: No matter where you go, college will always expose you to new ideas and new experiences. But as an international student, you’ll need to adjust to new cultural norms, weather patterns, educational standards, traffic laws, and snack foods.


2. Do you speak any other languages?

a. I only speak English and would only be interested in English-speaking countries.

b. I only speak English but would be open to learning a new language in the future.

c. I’m somewhat competent in at least one other language, but would need more practice before I felt comfortable learning in that language.

d. I’m fluent in at least one other language.


Explanation: If you speak English and aren’t particularly interested in learning another language, your options are more limited to destinations like the UK or Australia. Some programs in non-English speaking countries are taught in English, but not speaking the language of your host country (and being unwilling to learn) can be a barrier.


3. Do you have a clear academic path in mind?

a. Not really, but I’m hoping that college will give me a chance to explore different subjects.

b. I’ve narrowed it down to a few different subjects, but I’m still keeping my options open.

c. I have a general sense of what I want to study, but not sure what I want to do within that field.

d. Yes, I’ve done plenty of research and know exactly what I want to do.

Explanation: In the U.S., students generally complete more general coursework before diving into classes related to their major. At many international universities, all of your classes will contribute toward your major. Changing course mid-degree will usually set you back more than it would in the U.S..


Which of the following tend to be your strength in academic settings?

a. In-class assignments

b. Homework

c. Papers

d. Tests

Explanation: In many of the most popular international study locations, students are more independent than they are in the U.S.. You might have more independent reading and fewer hours of class than your U.S.-based counterparts. A greater percentage of your grade will be dependent on one or two tests rather than smaller assignments or quizzes. However, it varies by country, so make sure you research the academic culture and structure in each potential host country.


How important is the traditional dorm experience to you?

a. Very important

b. Somewhat important

c. Not very important

d. Not at all important

Explanation: Dorms, dining halls, and social activities are ubiquitous at U.S. schools, but this isn’t always the case abroad. There are still campus organizations and associations, but a greater percentage of your social life will take place off-campus.


6. If you attended a public university in your home state, how likely is that you would need financial aid?

a. Very likely

b. Somewhat likely

c. Slightly likely

d. Not at all likely

Explanation: Though tuition in many countries is cheaper than in the U.S., you’ll need to factor in flights home, cost of living, and housing. Healthcare is free in many of the most popular study abroad locations, but a few countries have different policies for non-residents. It’s also much harder to get loans or federal aid if you’re going abroad.


7. When applying to schools, I expect the strongest part of my application to be…

a. My extracurriculars

b. My essays

c. My GPA

d. My test scores (SAT, ACT, AP, IB, etc.)


Explanation: Many programs outside the U.S. place more emphasis on test scores, and AP or IB test scores can be a significant component. Though achievements and awards can still impress, extracurriculars play a smaller role in admissions decisions.



Mostly A’s: You’re probably not the best candidate for studying outside the U.S..

Mostly B’s: You might be a good candidate for studying outside the U.S., though should carefully evaluate your options before applying.

Mostly C’s: You’re a good candidate for studying outside the U.S., and should explore programs to see it’s the right choice for you.

Mostly D’s: You’re a strong candidate for studying outside the U.S.. If you’re looking to get out of your comfort zone, an international university might be a great fit.


Studying internationally can open you up to new experiences and broaden your worldview. You’ll have the opportunity to experience a different culture, rub elbows with a worldwide community of students, and learn more about yourself. In the long term, international study can open up new career avenues and make you a more attractive candidate for post-college employment.