April 19, 2019 12:00 PM PT

Benefits of Studying Abroad

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Just about 10% of US graduates study abroad, despite the numerous benefits of doing so. Students who study abroad not only benefit their education and further their career, but they also grow personally.

Studying abroad can literally change a college graduate's life. There are more than 5 million students studying outside of their country today. This is three times the number of students who studied abroad in 1990. Just what are the benefits and should you consider it?

Keep reading to find out more!

The Top Benefits of Studying Abroad

You get to see the world while you are still in college.
Forget the days of living on ramen noodles and late-night pizza. Studying abroad while you are in college allows you to immerse yourself in a culture completely different than your own. You aren't just a tourist viewing the sites—you are a resident for the semester or year (whichever you decide), which gives you a completely different view and perspective of another part of the world. Some students even work in time to sightsee in other neighboring countries to further their ability to see the world.

Studying abroad can help your career.
Future employers tend to look at graduates who studied abroad in a different light than the standard student. Those who studied abroad had to learn how to live independently in a completely different culture. What you may not realize while you were doing it is you were learning project management skills. You had to plan and organize, manage stress, and handle your priorities. Employers tend to think that those who studied abroad have a higher likelihood of succeeding in the workforce than those who stayed in their comfort zone.

Studying abroad can help you academically.
When you study abroad, you put yourself in new situations on a daily basis. You have new professors, new learning styles, and a diverse population that may operate completely differently than you are used to in your hometown. You learn from the professors, but you also learn from everything you do on a daily basis, as it stretches you outside of your comfort zone.

Studying abroad can help you communicate.
Communication is the key to success in the real world. College students who have the experience of studying abroad typically have the ability to communicate through language barriers. Whether you learn the language of the country you travel to or you have to learn to communicate in other ways, it's a skill that employers hold in high regard, since it enhances your communication skills.

You can learn many skills from studying abroad.
Not only do students who study abroad have better language skills, they also have better problem-solving skills as well as adaptability. Each of these skills helps you become better at networking, which is crucial to succeed in today's business world.

You increase your cultural awareness when you study abroad.
Studying another culture doesn't come close to actually immersing yourself in that culture. When you are there, living their day-to-day life, you become more culturally aware. This can make you a well-rounded employee as well as a more empathetic one, as you learn the ins and outs of cultures much different than your own.

You increase your chances of employment right out of college if you study abroad.
Almost 75% of students who study abroad find a job within 2 months of graduating. It takes the typical US college graduate between 3 and 6 months to secure a job after graduation.

Studying abroad can help you be more versatile in the workplace.
According to a study conducted by the Erasmus Student Network, 64% prefer international experience when interviewing college graduates for a new position. This is because having international experience shows that you are adaptable, resourceful, and a problem solver.

Financial Benefits of Studying Abroad

Studying abroad can cost about the same as your tuition at your current college.
Many people skip studying abroad because they fear the cost. They assume it will cost much more than their tuition here in the US. That isn't always the case, though. In fact, if you study in a developing country, you may even save money by studying abroad. According to the International Institute of Education, it costs an average of $18,000 per semester to study abroad. That's almost equivalent to the average cost of a private college, which costs $35,830 per year.

You can use your financial aid money to study abroad.
Each college has different rules about which financial aid packages you can use to study abroad. If you attend a college that accepts federal student aid, then the chances are high that you can apply some or all of that aid to your overseas studies.

The Academic Benefits of Studying Abroad

You don't have to be a Straight A student to study abroad.
Many students mistakenly assume they need to have a 4.0 GPA to study abroad. In reality, many colleges offer the opportunity to study abroad as long as you have an average 2.5 GPA.

You may increase your chances of getting into graduate school if you study abroad.
Graduate school admission officers look for well-rounded individuals. Your studies abroad could help you bring culture, adaptability, and foreign language familiarity to the program. You show that you were able to step outside of your comfort zone and immerse yourself in another culture. You will likely have a broader perspective on the world, which can bring a lot to the graduate school's program, making you a likely candidate.

Studying abroad can help you gain confidence.
Studying abroad helps you gain skills that you might not have realized that you have. Traveling on your own, facing challenges and overcoming them, and learning to be sensitive to a new culture can create a more self-confident version of you when you return back home.

Studying abroad can help you master your language skills.
Learning a foreign language in a classroom doesn't hold a candle to learning the language while immersed in the culture. With regular use, you will likely pick the language up faster and become more fluent in it, which can make it easier for you to find a job upon graduation.

Miscellaneous Benefits of Studying Abroad

Studying abroad can be safe.
There's no doubt that traveling can be scary. If you listen to the news and let it affect you, it's easy to stay cooped up in your dorm and never leave. Luckily, universities take studies abroad very seriously. As you work with a university program, you can ask the coordinators about the steps that they take to ensure a student's safety.

You can study abroad as an undergraduate.
Many college students study abroad during their junior year. But each university has their own requirements. Berkeley, for example, allows undergrads to study abroad as early as the summer of their freshman year. You should choose the time that suits your needs the most. Think of your studies and how going away for a term or an entire year will affect them and choose accordingly.

You can avoid taking a gap year if you study abroad.
Taking a gap year after college has its benefits, but it also has its downsides. You lose the desirability of being a fresh graduate with new ideas and education fresh in your mind. Sometimes taking a gap year means you'll need to go to graduate school or, at the very least, take some type of recent training to make yourself employable. If you study abroad, you may feel as if you filled your cup already and are ready to jump right into the workforce immediately following college graduation.

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