Why You Should Study Abroad With United World Colleges

The United World Colleges (UWC) are 17 schools (and counting!) around the world bound by a mission for change.

Before I begin, it may be worth explaining what exactly I am talking about. The UWC are a group of boarding schools with the common mission statement of making education “a force to unite people, nations, and cultures for peace and a sustainable future”. Their schools span the globe, and include schools in countries such as Swaziland, Thailand and Costa Rica.

Yes, you read right. Boarding schools where high schoolers can study abroad! That means successful applicants get to study abroad for two years, live with students representing over 90 nationalities and finding themselves (or whatever).

Now that you know what UWC is, here are some reasons why you should study abroad with United World Colleges!

  1. You get to make friends from all over the world.
  2. You have the chance to travel and see the world.
  3. You’ll get the opportunity to move away from your (no-so-pesky) parents.
  4. You get to see the world from a new perspective.
  5. You might even get to learn a new language!
  6. You’ll get to try new foods from all over the world.
  7. You have the possibility of living in a castle (the St. Donat’s Castle is home to UWC Atlantic College), which is basically the same as having a Harry Potter experience.
  8. Did I mention UWC boasts some notable alumni, including King of the Netherlands and actor Fernando (Juan Pablo Di Pace) on Full House?

Sound too good to be true? Well, before I get into how you can apply to study abroad with UWC, let me first debunk some common myths surrounding the schools. First up, the UWCs are NOT an elite, private boarding college preparatory school.

Okay, fine, maybe they are a private boarding school, but not in the way you think. UWC was created by a man named Kurt Hahn after the Cold War when he envisioned a school that would bring young people together regardless of religion and nationalities in order to learn from each other and contribute to a better and more peaceful world. While UWCers often go on to get their higher education from more selective institutions (such as Yale, Brown, and Amherst, to name a few), their aim is not to prepare students for college in a way that prep schools do.

United World Colleges legally blonde

Secondly, the United World College are not a college.

Well then why the heck is it called a “college” then? I know, I know, I asked the same questions. UWCs teach the IB Diploma Program curriculum which for US-Americans, would be the equivalent last two years of high school. As for why it is called a college? I’m not sure… but it’s probably an European thing (it was founded in Wales, UK).

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Only rich people can afford to attend.

On the contrary, the opposite is true. More than half the students at the UWCs around the world receive scholarships, and many get full (such as US-Americans)! And no, this is not a scam!

United World College money rain

Now that I have (hopefully) reassured you of all your worries, you might be wondering, how can I apply?


Photo credit: Maya Goldman

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Ellen is a New Yorker who's love of travel started when studying at United World Colleges (UWC)'s Robert Bosch College.


  1. Thank you Ellen! Would not have said any different when I left the College in Duino/ Italy some 30+ years ago as a German national 🙂 . Are you in NYC on June 14th for the reception? Would like to meet …

    1. Hey Liv! So happy to see a fellow UWCer on here 🙂 I will actually be in New York from the 22nd/23rd of June onwards, so it looks like I will miss the reception, but if you are still in town I would love to grab a coffee!

    2. Hey Liv, so happy to see a fellow UWCer here! I will actually just miss the reception as I get to NY 22nd or 23rd of June.. If you are still in town though, I would love to grab a coffee and talk about our UWC adventures! Stay posted 🙂

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