The dream of studying abroad seems to be a long way off with below-average grades or completely without a university entrance qualification. Insufficient foreign language skills can also stand in the way of studying at a foreign university. In many cases, however, it is possible to study abroad despite these seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Study preparation courses abroad offer the opportunity to do so.
Study preparation courses abroad as an opportunity
Many foreign universities offer study preparation courses that are specifically aimed at applicants with linguistic or academic deficits. In contrast to the academic language courses, which primarily raise the language skills of international applicants to the level required for admission, there are a number of other study programs that prepare both local and international prospective students for attending a foreign university.
Study preparation in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain
In Australia, New Zealand or the UK, preparatory courses are commonly referred to as Foundation Studies.
At Australian universities, for example, there is the Foundation Year, which is the same as the final Australian school year. The students receive:
- Language lessons
- Lessons in core subjects such as math
- academic preparatory courses in which you learn the basics of scientific work.
Other foundation programs abroad usually last one to two semesters. In addition to language lessons especially for international applicants, they already include academic courses in the desired field of study, for example from the arts, business or science fields.
German applicants do not necessarily need a high school diploma for Foundation Studies. In some cases, the secondary school leaving certificate or the completion of the 11th grade and mediocre language skills are sufficient. Successful completion of a study preparation course abroad usually enables admission to a regular bachelor’s degree at the respective university. The Foundation Studies thus provide for applicants without a high school diploma or with inadequate academic achievement or language skills bridge to higher education represents.
Study preparation in the USA and Canada
For school leavers without a university entrance qualification, there are so-called high school completion programs in the USA and Canada. In these programs, students first acquire their high school diploma. They can then start studying at a college or university. In some cases, they are already earning their first credit points at the same time. You can have this credited for your later studies, provided that you complete it at the same college.
As a rule, the following requirements apply to participants in a high school program:
- You must be at least 16 or 17 years old.
- You must have completed certain previous academic work, such as completing the 9th grade.
- You must have sufficient language skills.
Bridge programs as preparation for study
In addition, so-called bridge programs are also offered in the USA and Canada as a further variant of the study preparation courses abroad. There, international applicants have the opportunity to specifically to study at a college or university to prepare. These programs usually last two to four months and include the following:
- Language courses
- academic seminars
- participation in regular university courses
In doing so, the students can already obtain credits that they can count towards a later regular course of study at the university. In most cases, the technical diploma or high school diploma is a prerequisite for participation.
This type of study preparation course abroad is less about compensating for a lack of previous knowledge and school leaving certificates. Instead, the programs aim to make it easier to get started with studying and perhaps the other learning culture abroad. Often times, participants also have the opportunity to attend campus visits and other college activities. In this way you can get an impression of American university life.
Subject-specific preparatory courses abroad
In many countries there is also a range of special programs that are used to prepare students for individual subjects. For example, there are study preparation courses abroad that prepare students for business courses. They contain courses on study-related topics such as business communication. Often the participants can already take part in a regular university course in the field of economics.
Language classes and academic courses such as academic writing and research skills are also usually part of the program. In the area of design, targeted portfolio preparation courses are sometimes offered. In these courses, participants can prepare a portfolio for their application to an art or design college and also brush up on their language skills.
Study preparation courses for the master’s degree abroad
There are also preparatory courses in the postgraduate area that prepare students for a master’s degree at a university abroad. They last from a few weeks to several months. Its aim is to provide participants with the academic and linguistic skills necessary for admission to a master’s degree. The best known are certainly the MBA preparation courses. But there are also specific preparations for many other specialist areas such as marketing, tourism, law or design.
Prerequisites for this type of study preparation course are a first university degree, for example a bachelor’s degree, and sufficient language skills. Upon successful completion of a pre-master’s course, the participants are usually guaranteed a master’s degree.
Reasons for a study preparation course abroad
Study preparation courses abroad are worthwhile in many ways. For school leavers without a (technical) Abitur or with insufficient grades on their final certificate, they give them the opportunity to pursue an academic career abroad.
For everyone whose language skills are insufficient to study abroad, study preparation courses abroad are an ideal opportunity to become confident in the national language and also to prepare academically for the course. In many cases, after attending a preparatory course, no further language test is required in order to start a bachelor’s degree at the respective university. The academic achievements achieved in the course can often be recognized for the bachelor’s degree.
In addition, the participants can get a taste of campus air during the program and slowly get used to the university and life in a completely different country. A study preparation course abroad thus represents an optimal transition from school life in the familiar home country to studying abroad. This applies to both linguistic and academic aspects as well as on a personal level.
A study preparation course abroad can even be of interest to school leavers who do not intend to study in another country. Finally, it offers participants the opportunity to get to know student life abroad. Course participants can improve their foreign language and academic skills and acquire intercultural skills. They also have the opportunity to make international contacts.