College fair aids students in international studies

By Daniel Ocon

Students from Lane and all over the Chicagoland area gathered Nov. 30 at Hyatt Place O’Hare to attend the International College Options Fair, hosted by International College Options, or ICO.

ICO is a non-profit organization that that seeks to educate families and counselors on options for American high school students who want to go overseas, according to their website.

At the Fair, ICO hosted 39 representatives from colleges all around the world, from England to New Zealand, to present information about their schools and their application process.

One student who attended the event was Lauren Sobieski, a junior from Lincoln Park High School. Sobieski, who wants to attend university in Europe, said that the fair is an opportunity she couldn’t miss.

It is a bit difficult trying to find opportunities considering that going outside the country is not something usually done by most kids,” Sobieski said. “But my counselor has been helping me a lot and actually. It’s because of [their] recommendation [that] I came here today.”

Sobieski stated she wanted to go to Europe in order to gain a better selection of colleges.

“I want to go into the arts and drama fields, and I think going international will get me better opportunities,” Sobieski said.

She also said that cost plays into her decision.

“Some of the college tuition’s that I saw are way cheaper than what they are here,” Sobieski said.

The idea of going out of the country for college interests many students at Lane as well.  Alejandro Gonzalez, Div. 082, said that he wants to go to school overseas.

“I will be able to get EU citizenship which would decrease the cost, which is good,” Gonzalez said. “Europe is an interesting place and I would love to live there.”

Gonzalez said that he wishes to attend the University of Helsinki, located in the capital of Finland, an institution known for its courses in the Finnish, Swedish, and English languages.

Ms. Console, is the school’s strongest authority on colleges overseas. According to Ms. Console, Lane had three out of a thousand students in last year’s graduating class enroll in a college outside of the US.

“We have a very rigorous curriculum here at Lane, so our students are very well prepared, not only for US colleges but also for international schools,” Console said. “Plus, our students are not only recruited by our US schools but also international schools who have been coming to our college rep visits and during our college nights.”

For students that want to attend schools in Canada like McGill University, Console said that their application is very similar to US applications, if not the same, and students can apply to Canadian schools the same way they can apply to US schools; through the Common App process.

But for universities outside of North America, the application process can be very different.

“Every country is a little bit different so you have to navigate that,” Console said. “You have to partially navigate that on your own, but your counselor can help you out with what’s required and what materials you have to submit.”

Along with the application process, the academic system in Europe can also be different with a majority being of European universities being highly focused on the major chosen.

“[In the US,] the first two years you can explore to find your major. But, in the European system, you have to know what you want to study,” Console said. “You’re in it right away and it tends to be a lot cheaper, but it’s usually a two or three year program and it’s very specialized so if you don’t know your major quite just yet or you don’t know what to study, it will be more challenging and you will have to spend a lot more time there.”

But a large factor for successful students overseas, according to Ms. Console, is their own character. Students going overseas have to be willing to adapt and cooperate with a multitude of different cultures within a single classroom.

“The ones who are best for international schools are the ones who are independent, who love the adventure,” Console said. “They have to thrive in that kind of environment.”