Why Study Abroad?
Like the college experience itself, the benefits of a study abroad experience are potentially life-changing. In our ever more globalized society, it is imperative that our students have intercultural skills and awareness that will benefit them in any field they enter after graduation. However, study abroad is not just a resume building! Many students return from studying abroad reporting an increased personal awareness, self-confidence, improved academic performance and more.
For years, study abroad professionals relied on personal anecdotes of participants, often relayed years after the study abroad experience. More sophisticated research - both qualitative and quantitative - has categorized and tracked study abroad benefits. These include:
Academic Performance: In a study conducted by the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES), 87% of respondents said that their study abroad program influenced their subsequent educational experiences. Researchers at the University of Georgia are finding that an academic experience abroad can reinvigorate or even greatly improve a student's GPA. At Clark, we enhance the overall academic experience by offering study abroad programs at universities that offer opportunities to complement students' academic and career goals.
Career Preparation: Martin Tillman of Johns Hopkins University's writes, "In a ever more globalized economy, educators need to assist students in building a sophisticated 'toolkit' to market the value of their varied portfolio of international experiences to employers." Employers look for skills like intercultural sensitivity, adaptation to new surroundings and ability to deal with ambiguity - skills that can be gained from study abroad and other international programs.
Personal Growth. Research has connected postive impacts between the study abroad experience and positive personality development. An IES study found that 97% of respondents said study abroad served as a catalyst for increased maturity; 96% reported increased self-confidence; and 73% said study abroad continues to influence the decisions they make in their family life.
Global Outlook: This is one of the most important potential benefits of a study abroad experience. Noting that Americans typically score very low on culture and geography tests, researchers have more recently termed "global competence" as a necessary component of a college education. Study abroad is an important way of enhancing that component. In the IES study, 82% of respondents said that study abroad contributed to their developing a more sophisticated way of looking at the world. Most Clark students indicate a similar response on our program evaluations.
Think about your reasons for pursuing a study abroad program. Ask yourself:
- What are my goals in studying abroad?
- Do I hope to increase my language proficiency?
- Do I want to engage in active learning or research
Once you've decided that a period of studying abroad will enhance your academic plans and goals, you then need to decide where you want to study, for how long, and at what point in your academic program you should go.
"At its best, study abroad: enriches and diversifies undergraduate education by offering courses, programs, and academic learning of the sort not available on the home campus; provides U.S. students with a global outlook that emphasizes the ties among nations and cultures, the universality of human values, and the necessity of working together; enhances career preparation by teaching cross-cultural and workplace skills of value to today's employers; and deepens intellectual and personal maturity, fosters independent thinking, and builds self-confidence." ~ Dr. William Hoffa, International Education Consultant
"Studying Abroad could give you an edge in the job market" - CNN, 2014