Free tuition around the world, a different sort of study abroad
June 4, 2015 12:04 PM   Subscribe

While the status of Obama's "American College Promise" initiative that proposes two free years of community college for "everybody who's willing to work for it" (announced back in January) is far from certain, The Washington Post identified seven countries -- Germany, Finland, France, Sweden, Norway, Slovenia, and Brazil -- where Americans can study at universities, in English, for free (or almost free), and BBC's News Magazine recently detailed how this works in Germany, both from the side of a new student from outside of Germany, and what Germany gets out of the situation. But if you want to stay in the US, TIME identifies 25 colleges where you can get a tuition for free (with a number of caveats, of course).
posted by filthy light thief (12 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
the "almost free:" failed to mention Dartmouth, a fine university...
Free tuition for students coming from families making $100,000 or less and possessing typical assets.
posted by Postroad at 12:11 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

As it says in my profile, feel free to memail me about Deep Springs.
posted by Glomar response at 12:55 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

As it says in my profile, feel free to memail me about Deep Springs.

It makes sense that one of you guys would be on Metafilter, but that's still a pretty small group. How many living alumni are there? Average class size of 8, graduate at 20, life expectancy ~80. What like 500 people?

Are they admitting girls yet?
posted by leotrotsky at 1:03 PM on June 4, 2015

I don't wan't derail the post, so I'll be brief.

Classes in fact are bigger, around a dozen is typical, but Deep Springs is for most students a two-year stint, so 500 living alums is about right.

Admitting women is making steady progress. There have been legal victories allowing modification of the Deed of Trust, but there may be appeals. The Trustees are "cautiously optimistic."

The College has done its best to be transparent about the legal activity. You can follow the action here
posted by Glomar response at 1:24 PM on June 4, 2015

Did ya even read the profile?

"now admitting both sexes, real soon now" -- does not exactly answer the question, I'd say. Is it now? Or soon?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:54 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ugh. If only I could have gone to Germany for free for four years instead of paying for a year and a half of study abroad programs!
posted by at 2:12 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

From the BBC article: One of the biggest stumbling blocks for potential applicants is convincing them that the quality of education can be high even though it is free.

"Quality of education" is overrated. What you get out of your education correlates directly with the effort that you're putting it, i.e. motivation is the biggest factor. It also helps to be generally smart and have a good memory. But the teachers / size of library / lab equipment hardly make a difference.

The reason why students want to go to Harvard, Yale or whatever, is not that they have some magic education skillz there that noone else has figured out yet. The main reason is that it looks good on your resume. The second main reason is that it is a good place to build a network. So, once you made it into one of those schools, you basically "made it" and the rest is actually much less difficult (although some study may be required). This is also how universities work in Asia. In Germany, it seems to be different in that there are few famous universities that look good on your resume and the real work actually starts after you get in.
posted by sour cream at 3:06 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd love to know how it affects your job prospects upon returning to the United States is a positive or negative? Human resources departments are generally clueless; I can't imagine they'd be able to understand a degree from outside the United States easily. There's also the issue of name cachet; I wonder how many people know what attending, say Heidelberg, actually means in terms of academic rigor.
posted by leotrotsky at 3:12 PM on June 4, 2015

I'd say that going to a foreign institution does probably make job hunting more difficult. Even within the US, universities outside of HYPS generally have a pretty limited scope. When I moved from LA to Chicago, one of the things that really struck me was how little I understood the intuitive ranking of the schools in the area. I had never heard of Northwestern or University of Chicago before, despite the fact that they are the best schools in the region and also very strong nationally.

Adding another layer of foreignness by going to an international school will make things much more difficult if you're trying to find a job somewhere in your hometown. I can see it being an asset for an MNC with a large and diverse office but that would also depend on the industry that you're targeting (e.g. international experience not so useful if you're looking to be an accountant, but could be useful if you're looking to do corporate strategy). Though of course if you're amenable to working in the country that you studied in, that would be a point in favor of going to an international school.
posted by C^3 at 7:22 PM on June 4, 2015

Yes! Welcome all Americans to our free/cheap universities. A more diverse and open-minded population is just what we need.
You need to know, however, that the European education system is very different from the American system. It can be a very lonely experience to study in Europe, because the social element of going to school is not prioritized as much as in the US. There are sports and parties and other activities, but you need to actively search them out much more than in the US.

Also, the grades are handled very differently. I've been on panels all across Europe and at Cornell, and at American Studies Abroad programs. We are much, much harsher in Europe. I've been talked into giving a B to someone who would have failed at the equivalent European school. There is a sense in most of Europe that an A or a B should only be awarded to the very top of a class - preferably less than 10% (There are rules, but if professors disagree with those rules, forget them).
The job-market here in Europe knows this, so they don't hesitate to call someone with only C's or even D's in for an interview. Within the EU and all other Napoleonic governments systems in Europe, there are competitions for jobs and scholarships, so you get a new chance if your final grades weren't perfect (though they have to be almost perfect for you to enter the competition).

So that alone might be a good reason for worrying about how your European degree would do for getting a job back in the US. I'm noticing that the interviewees in the articles are staying on in Germany.

The best course of action would probably be to get your European degree, stay on a couple of years for job experience, and then return with a good portfolio. Which is exactly what I see my more recent graduates doing.
posted by mumimor at 2:45 AM on June 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Most American high school degrees won't enable you to study at German universities as German "high schools" are much more academically rigorous. Also, those examples they give for the cost of living are ridiculously low and unrealistic.
posted by snownoid at 3:27 AM on June 5, 2015

Also, those examples they give for the cost of living are ridiculously low and unrealistic.

Are you talking about the BBC article? At least the example for Munich seems reasonable to me; I study at TUM as well and I spend around 700–800 € each month without having to stint. That would be reduced by another 150 € if I managed to score a room in a public halls of residence, and those are much easier to get into if you're an “actual” international student (I’m Austrian, but we’re not considered “international” here).
posted by wachhundfisch at 5:29 AM on June 5, 2015

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