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Applying to a European University: Where to Start

Studying abroad opens the whole new world of opportunities. As an international student, you get a chance to travel and experience a different culture from within. At the same time, you serve as an ambassador of your own nation's values, traditions, and history. Such an exchange strengthens the global bonds between countries and their people on a personal level.

In addition to that, pursuing your degree in Europe brings a lot of practical benefits, including:

Lower Tuition Fees

The overall cost of higher education in continental Europe is generally much more affordable than in the US. Most university degree courses in Europe are offered for less than $10,000 a year. Some countries, like Germany and Scandinavian states, went even further and abolished tuition fees for all students regardless of their nationality.

Learning a New Language

Schools all across Europe offer a wide range of programs taught in English. Thus, the language barrier won't pose an obstacle to earning your degree. Still, you are not likely to escape gaining at least basic language proficiency in the host country's native tongue. Most daily interactions outside the campus, like shopping or eating out, will require you to learn some entry-level vocabulary. With due diligence, by the end of your studies, you can fully master a new foreign language, which might become a huge bonus for your future employment.

Early Specialization

Unlike in the US, students in Europe often have to decide their major before starting their freshman year. On the one hand, it implies significantly less room for exploration, as the choice of general education courses is relatively scarce. But on the other, it means you can focus on your main area of interest right from the start.

Shorter Program Duration

Completing a bachelor's degree in a number of European countries typically requires between three and three-and-a-half years of study. So you can save up to one year at college if you choose to receive higher education in the Old World.

Better Career Prospects

Globalization tendencies made the international experience a highly-marketable point for recent graduates seeking employment. Expats generally have better problem-solving skills and tend to think out of the box when dealing with challenging tasks. Additionally, they have an enhanced understanding of other cultures and a broader network of professional contacts, which makes them perfect candidates for companies doing business overseas. Dealing with the Paperwork

The first step to receiving all of those amazing perks is to perform profound research about studying abroad. You'll hardly find an all-encompassing guide to the admission process that will include every European country. The application requirements vary from school to school, so it's better to go straight to their website.

The good news is that unlike in the U.S. colleges, the selection process is generally free from the fuss about applicants' extracurricular activities and non-academic interests. Most European universities place emphasis on their potential students' educational achievement and overall intellectual vitality.

To apply for a bachelor's program abroad, you must be at least 17 years old and have graduated from high school. Depending on the tuition language of the chosen degree, knowledge of the host country language may be required. If you opt for an English-taught program, you would have to provide proof of your language proficiency. The most widely-recognized certificates are IELTS and TOEFL. In some cases, you may be asked to take a language test directly at your school.

The admission process begins with filling out an application form. It usually comprises a personal info block and some questions about the program you are applying for. Most universities have their own application forms you can submit online on their website. Still, there are some exceptions. For example, in the UK, all university applications must be made exclusively through the UCAS platform. Some international schools might also support the option of applying via the Common App.

There is a number of documents you'll have to attach to your application form, so ensure you have everything handy before you start. The most common requirements include:
  • Copy of your passport or ID.
  • Certified translation of high-school diploma or previous educational qualifications.
  • Official transcript of your academic record. High-tier European universities tend to attract the most competitive students from around the globe. So to meet their admission threshold, you should have a minimum of 3.0 GPA or equivalent.
  • Standardized test results. Most schools will ask you to send them your SAT or ACT scores. Please note that to be eligible for enrollment in specific programs or majors, you might additionally have to pass entrance exams in certain disciplines.
  • Personal statement. It's not just a piece of writing, but a powerful tool to gain advantages over your peers who are also trying to secure their spot on campus. It can enormously increase your chances of getting accepted, even if your grades are not that impressive. So it's worth investing time and effort into writing a top-notch personal statement.
Getting Through the Red Tape

Once you get accepted to your dream school, it's high time to take care of the legal grounds of moving abroad. Every European state sets its own eligibility criteria for foreigners who want to enter the country under the purpose of studying, but there are some general traits:
  • Receive the invitation to register as a student at the educational institution. It should be an official, signed letter from your school indicating your full name, type of program, and length of studies.

  • Apply for a long-stay study visa at the embassy of the respective country. Along with the application form, you'll have to submit proof of financial means, a copy of rent agreement or dormitory contract, a document confirming your health insurance coverage and a valid passport.

  • Get your residence permit. Within the designated period after you arrived in the country, you should apply to local immigration service to obtain a student residence permit.