Updated Oct 20, 2010 11:19 AM EDT
American families have become increasingly curious about attending Canadian universities
To help get some answers about Canadian colleges
, I sought out Whitney Laughlin
, a veteran college consultant who is a leading expert on universities north of the border.
Here are 10 reasons why Laughlin, who has offices in Santa Fe, NM, and Victoria, British Columbia, believes American teenagers should explore universities in Canada:
1. Reasonable price.
The costs at Canadian universities
will often be lower than at private colleges in the United States, as well as public universities for out-of state residents. Americans will roughly pay $25,000 to $30,000 a year. That price includes books, incidentals and coverage in Canadian health insurance.
"For your bang for your buck, Canadian schools are an amazingly good quality," Laughlin says.
2. Exchange rate often favorable.
When paying Canadian college costs, the exchange rate is typically favorable to the U.S. dollar, although it is currently trading at par.
3. Great quality.
Canadian post-secondary education is uniformly strong and much more standardized than in the U.S.. Canadian universities
offer a world-class education in some gorgeous cities, but they are under the radar.
"Canadian schools are under the radar because the whole country is under the radar," Laughlin says. She notes that you can get a "super high quality education" at many Canadian universities.
4. Scholarships available.
Merit-based scholarships for international students are becoming commonplace at many Canadian universities. Here is one resource for Canadian scholarships
5. Canadian admission process can be forgiving.
Canadian schools can be great for late bloomers. Strange but true: some Canadian universities, such as the University of British Columbia,
only look at 12th grade report cards when examining transcripts. If you messed up in the first three years of high school, it's not a deal breaker.
6. SAT and ACT not always required.
Canadian universities can be a boon for poor test takers. Some schools don't require the SAT
test scores though some may request the scores if a student's GPA is lower.
7. Admission process not as arduous.
It's less of a hassle applying to Canadian colleges. Most schools don't require essays or recommendations.
8. Canada more tolerant.
Canada, in general, is much more gay-friendly than the United States.
9. Citizenship opportunities.
Attending college in Canada can give you a fast track to becoming a permanent resident, which can then lead to citizenship. You could ultimately become a citizen of both the U.S. and Canada.
10. Still qualify for federal college loans
American families can still borrow through the Stafford
or PLUS loan
programs, which are loans offered by the federal government for U.S. citizens.
Downsides to Attending a Canadian University?
Canadian universities are more commuter in nature though there are plenty of schools with dormitories. And many Canadian schools are large universities.
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog.
McGill University image by caribb. CC 2.0.
© 2010 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.