College: Thinking Outside of The Country

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College: Thinking Outside of The Country

Valentina Stephens, Staff Writer

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What is the first thing that pops into your head when you hear “senior year?” Most people would say “college.” And what is the first that that you think of when you hear “college”? Well I don’t know about you but I hear, “student debt!”

College is considered a quintessential part of the American lifestyle. The United States has been glorified and put on a pedestal for its wide variety of colleges and universities, offering all sorts of degree paths, Greek life, opportunities to travel abroad, internships, the list goes on and on. However, it all comes at a hefty price.

In 2017, the average American college student graduated with $39,400 in student loans. That is a six percent increase from 2016 and the number is steadily rising. 44 million students take out college loans every year and that sums up to about $1.48 trillion. A common myth is that these loans take about 10 years to pay off post graduation, however according to Forbes Magazine that number in reality is double that.

Towards the end of my junior year last year, I began talking to my parents about future college plans –  where I might like to go, what I’m looking for in a school, etc. One question that I did not even think about considering was the cost of all these schools. Even when I was with friends, we would compare schools for their size, possible majors, rate the food and dorms, but one thing we did not ever bring up was cost, something I believe should be a factor that both students and parents feel comfortable talking about.

“The average sticker price for a liberal arts college in America can range anywhere between $35,000-$55,000 per year, which compared to our parents  generation is a 161% increase in cost from then vs. now.” Jillian Berman and Jay Zehngebot reveal this discrepancy in their article “Paying for your college, 30 years ago vs now.” According to their research, “taking into account tuition, room, board, and fees across 2,312 public and private colleges and universities in the U.S., the average price of an undergraduate degree increased $63,973, or roughly 161%, since 1987.”

Keeping these costs in mind, my family and I decided to pursue other routes for college that some might call “the road less traveled.” In the spring of 2018, my father and I traveled to Halifax, Canada, the capital of Nova Scotia, to visit colleges. This was entirely my dad’s idea he had brought up the idea of looking at colleges outside of the states, and I had been hesitant at first. All my friends and everyone I knew from previous senior classes had gone to further their education in the States, if not the east coast or in Maryland. This was something very foreign to me, and since I did not know of anyone who had done it, I was scared.

However I started doing some research, looked at some numbers and realized that the U.S is not the only country in the world with great educational institutions. I discovered Dalhousie University, Saint Mary’s, and Mount Allison University, all which were in Nova Scotia. They had great departments for my interests and offered all the perks that American schools flaunt. The best part about it: of the schools that we visited, the highest sticker price was $16,000 per year.

I didn’t want to just stop at Canada, so I did some more research and discovered the Netherlands, another great alternative offering dozens of universities taught entirely in English. For example, the University of Leiden, located 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam, has a tuition fee of 2,083 euros per year, plus the estimated cost of  living fees which is 890 and 1420 euro per month. In total, if you both live and study at the University Of Leiden for the entirety of your 3 year degree (yes, in the Netherlands university is only 3 years and you still get the same amount of education as a typical 4 year university in the States) the complete cost comes out to be 38,649 euros. Throw in 2 trips back home each year, round trip flights from Amsterdam to BWI averaging around $800, which adds $4,800 to your expenses. Convert all that to dollars and your total is $49,188 for a 3 year college degree, room and board, plus airfare. This for some people is much more within their family’s price range and offers not only the adventure of a lifetime having the option to explore Europe, but makes you stand out in the future job market.

Over Thanksgiving break my dad and I will go on another adventure and see what The Netherlands has to offer. I look forward to continuing my admissions adventure and see where I end up, wherever that may be.



MarketWatch News Graphics. “Paying for Your College, 30 Years Ago vs. Today.” MarketWatch, 21 Nov. 2017,


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