After reading this summer’s blog posts and talking with our students about how meaningful the experience abroad was for them, I remember how rare this kind of thing truly is for American students. Less than 0.25% of American undergraduates study abroad during college. While national statistics are not collected for study abroad in high school, we know that it is even less than that. That’s a shame! Why?
Professionals in International Education recently published a survey showing that US college grads who study abroad find jobs sooner and earn higher salaries than students who don’t.
“In the report, 84% said study abroad helped them develop key jobs skills such as ‘adaptability, global understanding and tolerance, leadership, and independence.’
‘Our study abroad alumni have found that employers recognise the benefits of international education and the job skills it helps build,’ said Dwyer.”
Studying abroad makes us attractive job candidates, graduate school applicants, and human beings. It shows an interest in the world around us, an understanding of cultural differences, and an adaptability crucial to success in a changing world.
As this Global Career Compass blog “Macroeconomics, Inequality & Study Abroad” points out,
“… we have growing economic inequality… an increasing gap in access to international educational experiences… and finally, the resulting inequality in employability for students who do not have the benefits of either a college education or international educational experience.”
Such opportunities are just not available to students in the US, or if they are, they cost enough to be out of reach for most, not to mention being daunting for students who do not come from a family that travels internationally. Do our students reap the same benefits as students who study abroad? While not learning in an academic setting, LearnServe Abroad does offer experiential learning through our volunteer projects, and based on what we hear from our alumni, that kind of experience does get the attention of colleges and employers, and may be even more rare than study abroad.
Our scholarship program is what makes LearnServe Abroad so accessible to so many students (and teachers!) We try to narrow the gap, one summer at a time, giving students the leg up and the global perspective for success in their futures.
What do you think? Did you study abroad? How do you think you have benefited from it? Let us know on Twitter @LearnServe.