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Applying to a European College from the U.S.

written by: Faith Oh•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 6/29/2011

That wonderful dream of yours to live and study in Europe for four years while getting a degree is not as far-fetched as you think. You may even be able to do it tuition free. How's that for a pleasant surprise, given the high tuition costs in the U.S.? Read on to learn more.

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    Basic Decisions

    If college in Europe is your dream, then there are certain basic facts you need to investigate about the process of applying to a European college from the U.S. before you actualize your dream of studying abroad. For example, what country in Europe would you like to attend college in? Each country has its own educational system and its own higher education admission requirements. Will language be an issue for you? Are you prepared to attend a college in which the language of instruction is not English or are you interested in English-speaking schools in non-English speaking countries? An example of the latter would be the Lund University in Sweden.

    Another decision you will have to make is if you are interested in pursuing a complete degree or whether you are interested in exchange or study abroad programs. Finally, what course of study do you want to pursue and how do you intend to pay for it? For example, if tuition cost is a challenge you may want to consider tuition-free schools in countries like Norway, Sweden, Finland and Germany. Bear in mind that while tuition may be free you will still have to plan for living expenses which is often high, like at Lund.

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    Begin your Search

    Once you have reached the basic decisions above, then it is time to begin your search. Just as you would use a college directory or college directory website like Peterson's, College Board or Princeton Review to search for colleges in the U.S. and Canada, you should look for similar services for the schools in your European country of interest. Research a basic directory of European colleges and universities, which will serve as a good start. Of course you will have to do in-depth research by visiting the schools' websites and requesting other information from them.

    After your extensive research, you should have a short list of possible schools that you will apply to. Some countries also have centralized admission processes. This means that you file one application that is sent to all participating schools. For example Sweden has the National Application System that serves all universities in Sweden.

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    The Application Process

    It is now time to start the application process of applying to a European college from the U.S. The need to stay organized and focused with fees and deadlines cannot be overemphasized. The level of detail necessary will of course depend on the number of schools you are applying to and how involved the process is, such as how many essays you will have to write.

    Once your applications are filed, while you wait to hear back, you may want to start researching the immigration requirements of the country or countries of the schools to which you applied. Most countries will require that you have a passport from your country of citizenship and a visa if you are studying for any length of time that is longer than three months. A good place to begin your research would be the school's website and the website of the embassy of your country of interest.

    After all is said and done, hopefully in a few months, you will start getting those fat envelopes in the mail with foreign stamps or the good news emails welcoming you to your country and university of choice.

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    Lund University:

    Basic directory of European colleges and universities:

    National Application System: