Getting Your Undergraduate Degree Abroad

Could getting your degree in Madrid be an option for you?

You´re about to graduate from high school, there are plenty of great options locally, but is that enough for you? Suzanne Bhagan has a great article titled _10 Advantages of Getting Your Undergraduate Degree Abroad (Besides Being Cooler Than Your Friends)._ A must read if you are looking for something more than just the usual path to college… I´d like to think of it as a merger between a gap year(s) traveling around and university. International universities give you an added advantage that goes beyond a semester abroad, or a year abroad, it delves into the realm of true and unapologetic immersion. Diving in senses alerted, mind opened, ready for anything type of immersion can seem like something that is only for the extreme.

The world is becoming a smaller place, obtaining an entire degree abroad is not as crazy as it might seem at 18.

Many of the European students I come across are used to traveling to another country to pursue their 1st degree. And in recent years, Americans are starting to catch on the incredible benefits that studying your undergraduate degree abroad can have towards your career.

Summarizing Bhagan´s article I would highlight these 3 advantages:

1. Studying your degree abroad will make you stronger

Living in a different culture, with different laws, and in many cases a different language will force you to grow and become better. You will discover things about yourself, you will start noticing all those things you took for granted, things you thought were so right, you´ll find out there are many ways to tackle a problem. If that wasn´t enough, when you come out of the study abroad mill, you will be a leaner, stronger, and better candidate, in many ways years ahead of all your friends who stayed back home.

2. Going abroad could end up being cheaper

Costs of education have skyrocketed in the US. Not only that but living expenses as well. What I paid for my dorm in the first academic year (8 or 9 months in reality) I would´ve spent in Spain for an entire 12 months. Food in Madrid, makes my meal plan (which was great) seem like a barbaric option. Not only is it cheaper but it tastes better.

3. Soft-skills and those things you can only learn by living

As a foreigner, you learn to become a better and more effective communicator. You learn to play on your strengths and downplay your weaknesses. As you open yourself up to a new way of living, you become more creative and a better problem solver. Living on your own also forces you to become a better decision maker and better time manager. Mom and dad are not there to make sure you get things done or guard your every choice.

There are so many advantages to studying abroad but perhaps the one I always see our students taking part in, is the ability to travel to nearby cities and countries, fully engaging with all a culture has to offer. Studying their degree in Madrid has given many of our students the advantage to travel all over Europe, North Africa, and in some cases even Asia… After all, if you´ve made it this far… why not?

A Guide to Getting a Bachelor´s Abroad

Paul Hockenos published a great article last week, A Guide to Getting a Bachelor´s Abroad, for those who are interested in going beyond the usual study abroad exchange semester and are looking for a full immersion. Many international universities have gone as far as removing the language barrier with Bachelor and Master Degree programs entirely in English while studying in places like France, Spain, and Germany. There are several universities available, among the top options, the author mentions Schiller International University an American private university that offers students the possibility to study in its campuses in Florida, Heidelberg – Germany, London, Madrid and Paris. SIU´s multi-campus approach allow students to study in 5 different countries and obtain degrees accredited in the US and in the EU under the Bologna Treaty.

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Determining Factors: Choosing a University Successfully

While going to university is crucial to job success, a study conducted by Gallup in the US found that there is a clear discrepancy between the perception from universities and employers: 96% of university deans believe they are adequately preparing their students for the labor market while only 11% of employers believe that graduates have the skills needed for the job. Based on the Gallup results, there are two factors that can improve performance of recent graduates in the labor market: the first is having one or more professors as mentors, who have a genuine interest and support the aspirations of the student; And the second is, the ability to have practical training combined with their studies.

What is bewildering is that these results are in direct contrast with the perception that where you study is of great importance: private or public, “prestigious” or not, these factors do not seem to predict the subsequent success of students. The important thing is not where you study but how you study. Assessing how to study becomes even more urgent with the emergence of disruptive technologies. Here are some ways we can start preparing as a response to a precipitously changing environment:

Ideas for a New University

Practical experience: to know something it is not enough to have learned it, said Seneca. As reflected in the Gallup survey, the university has to go into companies through internships and practical experience. But we must also take the company to the university. In my years as an educator, I have seen that nothing teaches and motivates more than an exercise that is as a close to real life as possible. For example, present and defend the international expansion business plan of a company in front of its manager, director, or even CEO. A leader who then also becomes involved as a mentor in development of your plan.

Flexibility: a dynamic and changing environment is incompatible with the rigidity of an academic calendar from September to June. A university open 12 months of the year, adapting the onset and pace of studies to your needs. This is something that is already offered by universities such Schiller International University, an academic program divided into monthly modules; the student takes and focuses on one subject per month. He can start when he is ready and go as fast or as slow as he needs to.

Mobility: to be global citizens, it is essential to provide the ability to complete part of their studies abroad. This has been confirmed by data from the European Commission to assess the impact of the Erasmus program: as a criterion for selecting candidates for the labor market, they show that studying abroad significantly increases the relevance of international experience from 37% in 2006 to 64% today. Some will question if it is worth pursuing a cause that seems lost and with bleak job prospects. But the truth is that to have more opportunities, more income, and more resilience to an unpredictable future, a university education is your best bet. Not forgetting, as Socrates said, that knowledge is the main part of happiness.

Excerpt from article published in Spanish at:

Reasons to earn a college degree:

As you look around you, initially you may get the feeling that a university education is a thing of the past. You´re bombarded by images of Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Rachel Ray, and Richard Branson among others. The reality is that these are outliers, they are the minority, and as such they receive all the attention. Paradoxically, in order to work for them you are probably going to be asked for a college education. If you are unsure a college degree is for you, here are some compelling reasons from SIU´s Madrid Undergraduate Advisor, José Pinto. ### Four reasons to earn a college degree: 1. **You will have more and better job opportunities:** According to a study conducted by Georgetown University, of the 2.9 million ‘good jobs’ with salaries starting at $ 53,000 per year plus benefits, offered in the US since 2010, 97% of these were given to college graduates. 2. **Earn more:** The average income differential continues to increase between those with a college degree and those without one. Despite the large increase in the number of graduates between 1980 and 2013, the differential in the US increased from 33% to 62%. 3. **You’ll adapt better:** The only certainty is that the future will require lifelong learning throughout your working life. There is nothing better for the advent of the learning society, than the experience and discipline provided by a university framework. 4. **You’ll live longer:** There are several studies that confirm a correlation between level of education and life expectancy. A higher level of education is associated with better habits and even a longer life expectancy. Companies today need to hire people who can hit the ground running and start contributing from day 1, a good college education will allow you to do that and more.


Hubo un tiempo en el que los graduados universitarios eran los elegidos para la gloria. Un tiempo pasado, como bien saben unos graduados que se enfrentan a unas perspectivas laborales poco alentadoras. ¿Compensa embarcarse hoy en una educación universitaria? ### UN GRADUADO UNIVERSITARIO YA NO ES SINÓNIMO DE CLASE MEDIA **Acabar la Universidad ya no significa el ingreso en la clase media, como concluye el centro de investigaciones Pew;** si en el 2012 un 37% de los norteamericanos lo consideraban necesario, hoy esa cifra se reduce al 30%. Un trabajo seguro es, para el 89% del os encuestados, el criterio más importante para formar parte de la clase media. Paradójicamente, hoy el trabajo es lo menos seguro de todo. En apenas dos décadas, la informatización eliminará uno de cada dos puestos de trabajo en los Estados Unidos, según un estudio de la Universidad de Oxford. Y ninguna profesión estará a salvo. Con estos mimbres no es de extrañar el auge de jóvenes que ni estudian ni trabajan: los Ninis. Con datos de la OCDE, este fenómeno afecta ya a uno de cuatro jóvenes en España. Un fenómeno global: en Turquía, un 31% de los jóvenes son Ninis; en Méjico, un 22%. **La Universidad ¿para qué, si además, es tan cara?** ### EL COSTE DE UNA EDUCACION UNIVERSITARIA Desde una perspectiva histórica, es cierto que los costes se han disparado: en 1970 Harvard anunciaba que, por primera vez desde su fundación en 1650, incrementaría la matrícula por segundo año consecutivo hasta los 2.600$. Si incorporamos la inflación, matricularse en Harvard costaría hoy unos 15.000$ con datos de la cadena CNBC. Sin embargo, su coste actual supera los 45.000$, sin incluir alojamiento y manutención. No extraña que la generación que sale ahora de las aulas en EEUU sea la más endeudada de la historia, con 43 millones de graduados acumulando una deuda récord. Y para colmo, abundan los casos de triunfadores contemporáneos que no completaron la universidad: Steve Jobs (Apple), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Larry Ellison (Oracle) o Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook). La realidad, sin embargo, es que para trabajar en esas empresas fundadas por personas sin completar sus estudios, necesitarás graduarte. Hay razones que lo corroboran: ### CUATRO RAZONES PARA OBTENER UN TITULO UNIVERSITARIO 1. **Tendrás más y mejores oportunidades laborales:** De los 2.9 millones de “buenos trabajos” ofertados en EEUU desde 2010 – trabajos con remuneraciones desde 53.000 dólares anuales más beneficios – el 97% fue copado por graduados universitarios según el estudio de la Universidad de Georgetown. 2. **Ganarás más:** el diferencial de ingresos medios no cesa de aumentar entre los que se gradúan y los que no. Entre 1980 y 2013, y a pesar del gran aumento en el número de graduados, el diferencial en los EEUU se dispara y pasa del 33% al 62%. 3. **Te adaptarás mejor:** lo único seguro del futuro es que va a requerir un aprendizaje permanente a lo largo de tu vida laboral. Nada mejor para el advenimiento de la sociedad del aprendizaje que la experiencia y disciplina del marco universitario. 4. **Vivirás más:** son varios los estudios que confirman una correlación entre el nivel de estudios y la esperanza de vida. Un mayor nivel de estudios se asocia a mejores hábitos y mayor esperanza de vida. ### FACTORES QUE DETERMINAN EL ÉXITO A LA HORA DE ELEGIR UNA UNIVERSIDAD Aunque ir a la universidad es determinante para el éxito laboral, un macro- estudio realizado por Gallup en EEUU constata que hay una manifiesta discrepancia entre la percepción de las Universidades – el 96 por ciento de los rectores estima que preparan adecuadamente a sus alumnos – y la realidad: sólo un 11% de los empresarios encuestados cree que los graduados tienen las habilidades necesarias para su desempeño laboral. En base a los resultados de Gallup, hay dos factores que anticipan un mejor desempeño de los graduados en el mundo laboral: el primero es el haber tenido uno o más profesores como mentor, con un genuino interés y acompañamiento en las aspiraciones del alumno; el segundo es la realización de prácticas asociadas a sus estudios. Lo más sorprendente es que estos resultados desmontan la percepción de la importancia del centro de estudio – privado o público, de prestigio o no- para anticipar el éxito posterior de los alumnos. Lo importante no es dónde estudias sino cómo estudias. Revisar el cómo estudiar se hace aún más imperioso con la irrupción de tecnologías disruptivas. Adelantamos unas primeras propuestas para responder a un entorno que cambia de forma vertiginosa. ### IDEAS PARA UNA NUEVA UNIVERSIDAD **Flexibilidad:** un entorno dinámico y cambiante es incompatible con la rigidez de un calendario académico de septiembre a junio. Una Universidad abierta los doce meses del año, adaptando el inicio y ritmo de estudios a tus necesidades es algo que ya ofrece la Universidad de Schiller con un programa académico dividido en módulos mensuales; el alumno cursa y se concentra en una asignatura por mes. **Experiencia práctica:** Para saber algo no basta con haberlo aprendido decía Séneca. Como refleja el estudio de Gallup, hay que llevar la Universidad a la empresa a través de las prácticas. Pero también hay que llevar la empresa a la Universidad. En mis años como docente he podido comprobar que nada enseña y motiva más que un ejercicio lo más parecido a la vida real. Por ejemplo, presentar y defender ante un líder empresarial el plan de negocio que propones para la expansión internacional de su empresa. Un líder que, además, se involucra como mentor en el desarrollo de tu plan. **Movilidad:** Para tener ciudadanos globales, es imprescindible facilitar cursar parte de los estudios en el extranjero. Los datos de la Comisión Europea al evaluar el impacto del programa Erasmus lo confirman: aumenta de forma significativa la relevancia de una experiencia internacional como criterio de selección de candidatos: de un 37% en 2006 a un 64% en la actualidad. Tras el paréntesis estival, millones de universitarios retoman ahora sus estudios. Más de uno se planteará si compensa seguir con una causa que parece perdida por unas perspectivas laborales desalentadoras. Pero lo cierto es que para tener más oportunidades -incluso en términos de esperanza de vida-, más ingresos, y más capacidad de adaptación a un futuro imprevisible, una formación universitaria es tu mejor apuesta. Sin olvidar, como decía Sócrates, que el saber es la parte principal de la felicidad. _Publicado en El Confidencial: