Going away for college gives students the opportunity to develop the kinds of life skills that will make them productive members of society. Potential employers look favorably upon the kind of independence that comes hand in hand with leaving home. To be truly successful, though, it is important to be able to demonstrate your ability think critically and “think outside the box”. Easier said than done but there is one way you can work on all three at the same time: pursue your degree outside of the United States.

Now wait, you ask, why would I study outside the US? After all, thousands of students every year sit for rigorous examinations and complete lengthy applications for the chance to study in the US. So it is, and there is no arguing that the quality of an American education is, on average, second to none. Unfortunately, it is also among the most expensive. With already-high tuition rising faster than inflation, an American education is no bargain. This, combined with the fact that four international schools (two in Canada and two in Ireland) made The Princeton Review’s Best 378 Colleges, means that budget-savvy students should give international options a second glance.

Not only are some Canadian schools less expensive than comparable schools in the US, but many are set up to receive American financial aid and international student loans. Although it is important to factor in the cost of getting there and back – and a few visits in between if you plan to pursue your entire degree abroad – it can make financial sense.

Moreover, studying outside of the US carries with it all of the benefits of short-term study abroad and then some. Employers perceive students with international experience as more independent and, in truth, you will develop more independence abroad. Between cultural differences and the fact that colleges abroad are less hands-on than their US peers it will come naturally. While this can, of course, seem daunting it is also a perfect opportunity to develop the kind both “book- learning” and real world skills at the same time.