This is not just a dollars and cents argument, though. Most American high school students tend to have a rather insular view of the world. I can say that because I once was one. Attending university outside of the US, and well outside of their comfort zone, is sure to be a mind-opening and empowering experience. A degree from an Irish university can also help distinguish job applicants as they embark upon careers in a difficult climate and in an increasingly globalized world. Additionally, an Irish undergraduate degree opens the door to relatively inexpensive postgraduate study in Ireland or elsewhere in Europe; renders expensive postgraduate study back in the US less burdensome in the end; and creates a greater possibility of living and working in Europe in the future.
Pursuing a university degree in Ireland is not for all, or even for a large number of, American high school students. A lot will stick with traditional semester or year abroad programmes if they do cross the Atlantic. But for some, in particular for Irish-Americans with strong ties to this country, it is an avenue definitely worth considering. So as Irish-American families with children in high school celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this weekend back in the US, I hope some adventurous students will think about it and look at the various options online. And I hope their parents think about how nice it would be to spend a future St. Patrick’s Day in Galway, Dublin, Limerick or Cork visiting their son or daughter studying for a degree at an Irish university.