College Culture: Sweden v USA

Irma Bruce, Writer

After four years of living in the United States, I have learned a lot about the American education system. It is very different from the education system I grew up with in Sweden.

One thing that differs from the American education system is how to apply for colleges. In Sweden, the college applications open on March 15th and close on April 15th. It is a very simple process if you are a Swedish citizen.

You go to a website called, then you add the programs you would like to take at the colleges you would like to attend; the maximum is 20 applications. You then send in your options and if you get accepted to your first option the rest of them will be canceled.

Here in the U.S., you can submit applications to each individual school’s website; this is less efficient since it takes more time for students to apply. The Common Application is also available, but not all schools accept it.

In 2011, Sweden introduced registration and tuition fees for foreign students from countries outside the EU/EEA region or Switzerland, so-called third countries, who do not participate in an exchange program. The tuition fee is roughly 100,000 kronor ($12,000) plus the application fee which is 900 kronor ($100).

If you would attend a school in your home state it would roughly be $15,000 per year and $40,000 per year out of state.

A big difference in Sweden is that most students do not live in dorms; most students get their own apartment or they live at home. However, there are dorms available for students that would like to live in a dorm or are coming from another city or country.

The social life at colleges differ from the social life in the United States. Fraternities and sororities are a huge deal in the U.S. and there is a whole process to it. In Sweden, however, there is “Kåren” and there a different types of clubs within it. Students usually join clubs that related to their studies. As opposed to most American colleges where you might find fraternities and sororities, Swedish colleges do not typically have Greek life.

Going to a school in a different country can be challenging, but it is definitely worth it because you will learn about their culture, language and social life. In my last four years I have missed Sweden, but I am glad I expanded my perspective of the world.