10 signs your child may be better suited for college abroad

With more than 5,000 colleges across the U.S. alone, there is no shortage of options—one of the many reasons why families find the college admissions process extremely challenging and overwhelming.

But if your high school junior or senior still hasn’t found the college yet, have you considered looking beyond our borders?

Nowadays, more and more students are choosing to apply for college abroad in places such as the UK, Ireland, Australia and beyond.

And here are 10 signs it may be the best fit for your child, too.

1. They’re (mostly) set on what they want to study—or at least what they don’t

In overseas education systems, students tend to start specializing in their subjects of interest at a much earlier age, so by the time they reach university level, they are ready to delve deeper into their fields from the first year.

Because of this, “general education” requirements don’t exist, which means if your teen knows they don’t like math, they may never have to do another math class again (as long as they don’t choose a math-related degree, of course).

This also means there may be less flexibility in changing majors, however, but certain countries and institutions do have more flexibility than others.

2. They have an interest in travel (obviously)

Maybe you’ve traveled internationally as a family, or maybe your child has been doing language classes and traveling virtually already.

Either way, there will be so many opportunities for weekend trips or travel during university breaks, either flying solo or with fellow classmates and student clubs.

In places like Europe, it’s easy to find cheap flights or book a train and be in another country in hours or less.

Academic travel, field trips and paid internships are also prevalent; Franklin University in Switzerland, for example, offers two weeks of academic travel per semester to various locations around the world, already included in the tuition.

There is simply nothing like getting to know a place and its local culture from the viewpoint of a student versus just passing through as a tourist.

3. They like to take control of their own learning

In general, students studying at overseas universities are treated as adults.

This means they won’t have their hands held, and there likely won’t be weekly pop quizzes or even homework.

What there will be: between two and four assessments per semester in the form of presentations, papers or exams.

While it may seem that they’re in class less and have more time and freedom, they’ll have to know how to manage their time properly and keep up with the readings themselves so they don’t fall too far behind.

Learning is also focused more on developing research and critical thinking skills and less on recitation and memorization.

4. They are independent and adventurous

All universities have academic support centres, free counselling and international student services, but your teen would need to be comfortable and confident enough to know how, when and where to ask for help—both in their studies and in their personal lives.

5. They have a natural curiosity about other cultures