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It is very important to know yourself and know what you are pursuing with your university education because studying in one place or another can deeply mark the 3, 4 or 5 years in college and the future immediately after. It is easy to fall into clichés such as “I don’t want to study in the United States because the education is not rigorous enough” or “I won’t stay in Europe because the education is too theoretical and it will be difficult for me to find a job”, among many others. In this blog we are going to explain to you the main differences between studying in the United States or in Europe so you can decide which destination best fits your profile.

The first and foremost difference to consider is the cost of education. The average cost of tuition (excluding room and board) in the United States is about 30,000 USD per year while in Europe it is about 12,000 EUR per year. Both prices are for international students. The difference is considerable even for an American student studying at a public university in his or her own state. The total amount is more favorable for Europe, being much more economical than the United States (although there are also economical options such as the Community Colleges).

Regarding the application process, it is much simpler in the United States than in Europe. The main reason is that in the United States the application process is centralized in two main platforms(Common App and Scoir), although there are other platforms in certain states such as California, Texas or New York. In Europe, on the other hand, there are few countries that have a single platform, such as the Netherlands(StudieLink), Ireland(CAO) or France(Parcoursup), the rest of the countries or universities have their own platform. The work required to apply for admission to various universities in Europe is greater than the one required for the United States since in general more data must be completed on different platforms. However, there is an exception with the most prestigious universities in the United States as they usually require an additional portfolio to be submitted which increases considerably the effort.

Possibly one of the biggest differences lies in the evaluation process of each student’s application for admission. While in Europe the evaluation in almost all universities is based on academic grades and subjects taken, in the United States the evaluation is holistic.Therefore, it is essential to determine which student profile you are before choosing a country and university, since you can be a student with a high academic level but a very poor curriculum outside school (European profile), or on the contrary, not have such a high performance in school, but nevertheless have an endless list of activities that make you a more American profile.

If we talk about university scholarships, the winner is the United States compared to Europe since it is the university system that offers more scholarships (you can read our article about University Scholarships in the United States). It is not difficult to get a 20-30% scholarship at mid-tier universities in the United States, while in Europe it is very difficult to get scholarships of those percentages. However, taking into account the annual cost in each country, it is still cheaper to study in Europe even without a scholarship. Therefore, do not look so much at the possibility of a scholarship or its amount, but rather at the final amount that you will pay, because for example there are very good universities in the United States that do not offer scholarships to international students but have a similar cost to the European ones.

In relation to the composition of classes, a determining factor in the choice of country is the weight of electives in the North American system compared to the European one. In the United States the weight of the “General Electives” is much higher than in Europe, so that of the 120 credits you have to take to graduate, about 30 are generic and may have nothing to do with your chosen degree. In Europe, the number of general electivea is much lower, almost negligible. However, the positive aspect of this ratio in the American system is that it allows you to change your degree more easily and even start college without even having decided yet you degree, while in Europe you have to make that decision long before even applying for admission. However, if you are a student who has it very clear and does not want to study any subject that is not strictly related to your degree, Europe is your destination.

Finally, the last major difference is the size and offer of the university campus . in each country. We all know the American university model with a huge campus where you do all your life within it. You have accommodation, places to eat, leisure, study, libraries, sports, etc… In many European countries this model is impossible due to lack of space, so campuses are reduced to buildings where classes are taught and others related to sports activities. Accommodation is usually in student residences outside the campus.

campus or in apartments. In other words, in many European cities, the university campus is the city itself. This aspect is directly related to the need to own a vehicle or not. In the United States it is almost an obligation if you do not want to spend the 4 years on campus, while in Europe it is not necessary due to the great offer of public transportation.

At Five Lands International Education we help you build your profile and find those universities in those countries that best fit your requirements and needs. Learn more about our programs or contact us by completing this contact form or by calling +34 689 027 598 for Europe or +1 (984) 208 5551 for the Americas.