The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
What about study abroad? It’s fun, a great experience, changes your life, enhances your education, so on and so forth. Nothing you haven’t already heard, or you wouldn’t be here now, on the fence, trying to make a decision.
Think about why you went to college in the first place—and why everyone else goes to college—to get an education so that you can make a living with whatever it is that meets your fancy. Now think about how popular college is today and how many people doing it. More people than ever are getting college degrees with good GPAs and applying for good jobs. Yet more graduates than ever are landing at home with their parents, unemployed or working jobs that they could have secured without a college degree. What went wrong? They didn’t set themselves apart from their peers. Without valuable internships, study abroad experiences, leadership positions on campus, and great professional references, a degree and solid GPA don’t get you much anymore.
How can you set yourself apart? Look at what society is going to need in the future and prepare yourself accordingly. Our cultural, economic, and political systems have gradually become more and more dependent on the rest of the world. Consequently, foreign language skills, international experience, cultural knowledge and expertise, and cross-cultural abilities are advantageous from the perspective of employers. The good news is study abroad opportunities are not saturated like colleges and universities; only between one and two percent of all US college students study abroad per year. It’s a great way to set yourself apart from the herd.
While it is not widely published, some institutions such as Texas A&M University and the University of Minnesota have researched the outcomes of study abroad experiences as they pertain to post-graduate employment. Their findings suggest that graduates with international experience are provided with more offers of employment and higher starting salaries than those without. Call it a hunch, but study abroad is fast becoming the cutting-edge degree enhancer of the century. With education abroad, you can globalize your degree, making it shinier and brighter when you graduate.
In addition to what study abroad can do for your degree and future job prospects, it can increase your self-understanding, boost your self-confidence, speed up your maturity, enhance your interest in studying, help you decide on a major/minor, heighten your foreign language skills, develop an open mind, and influence your life for the better. Students who have studied abroad for more than a few weeks, show employers they are different than other graduates. You can be different too.