For years, the benefits of studying abroad have been described as “It will change your life. You’ll come back a different person.” However, to get a sense of the exact long-term benefits of studying abroad, the Institute for the International Education of Students has conducted a survey of 3,400 of its alumni to examine its impact on students’ lives years after the experience.
The overwhelming majority of the survey respondents said that one of the main benefits of studying abroad is personal growth.
- 97% said that it made them more
- 96% said that it increased their self-confidence.
- 95% stated that it had a lasting impact on their worldview.
- 89% said that it helped them tolerate ambiguity.
- 73% said the experience continues to influence the decisions they make in their family life.
The proponents of study abroad programs say that one of the main goals of studying abroad is to train future global leaders to be more effective, respectful of other cultures and political and economic systems, and willing to do what’s best for the world, not just what benefits a specific country.
According to the survey,
- 98% of respondents said that study abroad helped better understand their own cultural values and biases.
- 82% said that it gave them a more sophisticated way of looking at the world.
- 94% said that the experience continues to influence their interactions with people from different cultures.
Education and Career Attainment
Many of the survey respondents claimed that studying abroad opened up a range of professional opportunities.
- 87% said it influenced their subsequent educational experiences.
- 63% said that it influenced their decision to expand or change academic majors.
- 64% said that it influenced their decision to attend graduate school.
Longer Stays Mean Greater Benefits
For many years it was thought that when it comes to study abroad, more is better. And the survey results showed that this idea is still true.
However, the results of the study also suggest that programs that last at least 6 weeks can also be extremely successful and influential.
Importance of Internships
For those students who hope to gain the most career impact from studying abroad, results indicate that they should choose an internship as part of their curriculum.
- 70% of intern respondents reported that study abroad influenced their interest in a career direction.
- 83% said that it gave them skill sets that influenced their career path.
A Lifetime of Benefits
With so many benefits that come with studying abroad, students should really consider it as an option for themselves when look for colleges that offer this opportunity.
- Alumni (plural of alumnus) – former pupil or student
- Impact – effect; influence
- Overwhelming – very great in amount
- Mature – fully developed; adult; grown-up
- Ambiguity – inexactness; the quality of being open to more than one interpretation
- Bias – prejudice for or against one person or group
- Subsequent – following; coming after something in time
- Internship – the position of a student or trainee who works in an organization, sometimes without pay, in order to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification
- Curriculum – the subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college
Questions for Discussion
- What are some of the main benefits of studying abroad?
- Can you think of any drawbacks/disadvantages of studying abroad? Describe them.
- Would you ever consider studying abroad? Why or why not?
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