Traveling abroad can produce some of the most influential memories. College students have the unique opportunity of taking time to study either abroad or domestically in another city. Many students are not taking advantage of these opportunities for a variety of reasons.
During the 2016-2017 school year, an estimated 10.9 percent of all college students elected to study abroad. This number has been growing in recent years as schools are beginning to encourage their students to gain an array of cultural experiences
As the world continues to become more globalized, having an understanding of cultures outside of the United States is essential. Although this may be the case, the vast majority of students still are not participating in a study abroad program.
The comprehension of outside cultures is important for interpersonal skills and global awareness. It easy to be focused on a close network of friends and family, but there are also billions of more people who inhabit this same planet we call home.
As fall semester approaches its halfway point, most study abroad programs are starting to close applications for the spring semester. Whether deciding to study internationally or domestically, there are countless pros and cons that must be considered. These advantages and disadvantages range from financial costs to graduation requirements which make the application process a tedious one.
Study abroad programs give students the opportunity to immerse themselves into a completely different culture. Not only are they taking classes, but they are also connecting with the people and communities in which programs are located. This builds a new network of contacts that will be able to assist in a job search.
Immersion into a different culture is valuable when applying for jobs upon graduation. The appreciation for other perspectives that is gained through interactions with the local community is helpful when communicating with colleagues in the workplace.
The various experiences that come from living in another country are also fantastic talking points during an interview. Who wouldn’t want to hear about the time you went hiking through the Alps for class? Not only will this provide a story, but also show that an ability to navigate unfamiliar territories and adapt.
Studying abroad can become super expensive, super fast.
Though there are many scholarships and grants available for students, extra opportunities (e.g. fares for visiting ancient ruins) that arise while living somewhere else, add up quickly.This can make it especially difficult for anyone who may need financial assistance.
In addition to financial issues, many of the courses that are offered don’t count toward graduation. Albion combats this issue by allowing approved, international programs count towards the Global Studies category that is required for graduation. For most people, this would feel like a waste of money if there is no benefit as a direct result from taking courses off campus.
Many schools are now adapting their programs to match what students need. The Center for International Education (CIE) at Albion, for example, helps students find what program is best for them. Moreover, there are opportunities for students to travel somewhere in the summer or for only a couple weeks at a time. These changes make opportunities much more inclusive and motivate students to check what is available.
Albion College has created a positive path to help students get access to both study abroad programs and domestic study programs.
The Philadelphia Center, for example, gives students the opportunity to live and work in a big city while taking classes that count towards graduation. On top of that, the cost equals out to a semester on campus. These perks help to reduce cost and encourage students to experience life across the country.
Internationally, the Albion College CIE works with students to find a program to match the place and requirements that they need.
For anyone considering studying abroad in the future, make sure to weigh the options of the desired program. While the experience of studying off-campus can be tremendous, there are potential drawbacks, but also so much to discover.