The Importance of Study Abroad
An essential part of the college experience is broadening a student's worldviews, providing not only degree-specific education, but an education on invaluable life skills such as critical thinking, communication competencies, discipline and more.
One way that this can be enhanced is through a study abroad experience. Spending time abroad is not just a fun vacation, but it has a number of longer-term benefits and help students grow personally and professionally.
The information below is by no means comprehensive, but shows some of the growing body of research that show the positive implications of studying abroad. When you're ready, you can navigate here to learn more about opportunities at Shasta College.
Study Abroad and Personal Growth
Study abroad, even short term programs, has been shown to lead to increased global citizenry in students in regards to their environmental beliefs and actions (including their belief in personal obligation to reduce negative environmental impacts), altruistic values, and justice-oriented citizenship. (10)
In addition, a study conducted with over 1300 study abroad students found that these students indicated more growth in intercultural development as well as greater abilities in using a second language after their experiences. (Pederson, P. (2010, January). Assessing intercultural effectiveness outcomes in a year-long study abroad program. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 34 (1), 70-80.)
AIFS, the American Institute for Foreign Studies, surveyed students who participated in their programs and found that 95% reported that studying abroad contributed to their ability to be independent. 92% noted that this program contributed to a better understanding of themselves and their values.
Finally, studying abroad has been shown to enhance creativity. A study conducted at the University of Florida tested groups of students and showed that students who studied abroad "significantly outperformed" students who either had not or were planning to do so on creativity tests.
Study Abroad and Academic Benefits
Students who study abroad have a high correlation to higher graduation rates. According to the study conducted by the Richard Sutton and Donald Rubin of nearly 20,000 study abroad students, "the graduation rates for study abroad students exceeded those for domestic students by 7.5%" for four year graduation rates.
The benefits have also been shown in California community college students who studied abroad specifically. After their experiences, this group was shown to have higher outcomes on:
- One and two-year retention
- Degree completion
- Transfer level math and English completion
- Transferable GPA
- Transfer rates
- Degree and certificate completion (9)
Study Abroad and Career Benefits
In a study of more than 1,200 college graduates that studied abroad, "93% of those who entered the workforce were employed within 6 months of graduation" according to IES Abroad.
This was also echoed by a study conducted in the United Kingdom on international students which showed that graduates who have studied or worked abroad are more likely to have a job six months after graduation, and "on average they are earning slightly more than other graduates."
Part of this is due to the skillsets developed while studying abroad. The Institute for International Education (IIE) released a study in 2017 that looked at the 15 soft and hard skills most desired by employers, and of 4,500 students who had studied abroad, 60% stated positive skill gains in 14 out of 15 of the career skills. Over 70% of this group also said that study abroad contributed "a significant degree" to their improvement in the top five skills, which were "intercultural skills, curiosity, flexibility/adaptability, confidence, and self awareness."
Finally, according to a study from the British Council, approximately 60% of employers surveyed ranked Intercultural Skills to their organizations as "Very Important."