Study abroad programs make a huge impact

Artwork+by+Lisa+Traczyk+%2719

Lisa Traczyk

Artwork by Lisa Traczyk '19

College is regarded by many to be a place of independence, a place where you can spend time away from your parents and experience the real world. To enhance that, many universities have been further advocating for students to participate in study abroad programs.

“The core to any college readiness is experiential learning,” said Scott Terry, the Director of Study Abroad at Arcadia University. When learning in a different country, students pick up on alternate perspectives and when they return, they are able to apply their experience towards discussions in the classroom or use their knowledge to further their own life pursuits.

A study conducted by William and Mary found that almost 40% of companies surveyed missed international business opportunities because of a lack of internationally competent personnel. Additionally, the University of California Merced surveyed that 97% of study abroad students find employment within 12 months of graduation, when only 49% of general college graduates find employment in the same period, making study abroad programs even more crucial.

According to NAFSA, the number of U.S. students studying abroad for credit during the 2015-2016 academic year grew 3.8 percent from 313,415 students to 325,339 students and has only been growing since then. The top five countries that students travel to are the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France, and Germany.

Julian Berlin, a freshman at Brandeis University and an Eastern alumni, had the opportunity to study abroad in London for his first semester. “It’s hard to verbalize how going abroad in my first semester changed my mindset,” he said. “But such a drastic change was definitely eye opening.”

Because Berlin chose to study abroad in his first semester, his experience was different and more difficult than most, but he expressed that the sudden independences he gained was extremely beneficial, as he had to quickly learn to be self sufficient.

“Measuring the impact [of study abroad programs] is tough because much of it is cultural and personal,” Terry said. No numbers can be put towards the levels of maturity and independence gained during the trip. However, studying abroad is recommended for all students, stating that everyone can have something to gain from the experience.