If junior is willing to travel a little bit further — to colleges overseas — the world offers some incredible bargains for quality tertiary education, with the option of free language and culture immersion thrown in. Tuition costs for foreign students at some of the best universities in Asia, Europe, and Africa can be as low as $4,000, well below half the median cost of college in the United States.
Of course, just because a Kia is cheaper than a Lexus doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better value. What matters is the cost to quality equation. But before assuming that U.S. college education must be of unbeatable excellence, it is worth mulling over a 2006 assessment of adult literacy which found that fewer than a third of four-year U.S. college graduates were fully capable of tasks like comparing viewpoints in two editorials; interpreting a table about blood pressure, age, and physical activity; or computing and comparing the cost per ounce of food items.
Yes, yes, and yes. I definitely think that more and more the value of an international education trumps a domestic one. In addition to the fact that many top-notch international universities charge a fraction of what upper-level US universities get away with, there is a whole other facet that cannot be quantified. The value of cultural immersion, mastery of foreign languages, and general exposure to new experiences is something that is truly invaluable. While undertaking graduate studies abroad (still in an English-speaking country, but within a much more international environment), it was apparent that most US students lacked some valuable skills. The majority of us spoke solely English fluently, with the occasional individual speaking a second language (typically Spanish, French or Chinese). After beginning the job hunt and wanting to attain a position within an international organization, it became clear that speaking one language was not going to get me anywhere. English can get you by in the world, of course, but when it comes to setting yourself apart and adding value to your resume, being able to speak multiple languages can only help.
Languages aside, international experience and exposure is something that employers (at least in the field that I’m interested in) tend to value greatly. For the majority of us, by the time we finish university and obtain an international position (if we’re that lucky), we’ll be nearing our mid-twenties. Make that late-twenties to early-thirties by the time you get a few years of requisite experience under your belt. If you had that experience while undertaking your studies, you’re killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. Not a bad deal.
Moral of the story? I think I have a better/different perspective on the world than my parents did while they were looking into my education. I would, without a doubt, have my child look into undergraduate education abroad. Not only is it really a more affordable option, but I think it’s all around more valuable for them academically, socially and culturally.
What do you guys think? Would you be willing to send your kids to school internationally?
xoxo from San Francisco,
* Italicized texts marks original quotes from @FP_Magazine.
Read the article in its entirety at Foreign Policy’s site.