Studying Abroad Helps Students Become More Enriched
Heading to a different city, country or continent for a semester or a year isn't just a way for students to take a break from college life, it's what they're doing to get ahead. Here's how.
In October of this year, the Chicago Tribune wrote that studying abroad "may also help [students] get a job … [and] stand out from [their] peers." The president of the Institute of International Education, Allan Goodman, co-authored "Study Abroad", has reported that while only a small fraction of undergraduate students (274,000 in 2010/11) have studied abroad, that number is "rising, but it's rising so slowly"
"College students are not making international a part of their education," said Goodman, who hopes to change that in an effort to get more students exposed to the opportunities that can come with studying abroad. He recommends that students overcome typical obstacles like academic requirements, grad school exams, and athletic schedules if they can, because the chance to study abroad is loaded with future potentials that can set you apart form job candidates after graduation.
However, to study abroad, you should strategize about it carefully. For instance, waiting until junior year may be a little tight, with more students opting to go between semesters (i.e. summer break) or even during sophomore year. This gives students a greater degree of flexibility, especially if they're juggling extracurricular or volunteer commitments.
Another idea to keep in mind is where to go. While it may be tempting to spend December on an Australian beach, ask yourself if it'll actually be conducive to your program, or if you're just disguising studying abroad as a vacation. A popular option is to gear studying abroad toward Asia, as countries there are rising superpowers and the experience can aid you immensely in the future.
Lastly, studying abroad should take into account how you can maximize your future career now. If you're studying architecture, studying in Italy will put you front and center with some of the world's oldest and most beautiful architectural examples. It'll also put you in close proximity with a handful of prominent languages (e.g. Italian, German, French, etc.) that can enable you to communicate easily with your future clients, giving you a distinct advantage over someone who stayed in the United States and can only speak English.
Plus, it'll be rare that you'll get the chance again in your life to live so carefree for so many months, traveling to a new country every week and experiencing cultures the way others channel surf. No matter where you go and the obstacles you have to overcome to get there, studying abroad will provide you with a lifetime's worth of memories.