Despite the many good reasons that exist for studying abroad, some students are overwhelmed by excuses not to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Are you one of these students? Are you intrigued by the idea of the study-abroad experience, but worried that it will be too expensive, slow your academic progress, or be too complicated?
Studying Abroad is Expensive
That is most often the major reason students give for not taking the opportunity to study abroad in college. Looking at the price tag for a study abroad program can be daunting to students and families on a budget, but it is important to consider some simple facts.
- You will never be able to travel this cheaply again. The combination of student and group travel rates often result in very deep discounts. Many study abroad programs include all the advantages of a package tour (guided travel) without the hefty price tag.
- Many programs and institutions offer scholarships or some institutions even include study abroad in their fees. Check out every possible opportunity from your home institution before dismissing study abroad as too expensive.
- Study abroad is typically considered part of your education so scholarships, financial aid, grants, and loans all still apply – at least for programs endorsed by your home institution.
- Remember that housing, food, and course credit are all included in the price – how much would you spend if you had to pay tuition on a class in the summer or over a break?
- Planning ahead can help you cover the cost by saving, asking family and friends to support this dream, and crowdsourcing/fundraising.
Studying Abroad will Slow Academic Progress
Another major concern for many students, advisers, and parents is that studying abroad will slow down a student’s path to graduation, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, studies have shown that students who study abroad are more likely than their peers to graduate on time. I studied abroad for an entire semester and graduated almost a year early because I saved required classes that I knew could be easily completed during that semester (perhaps even better as I was able to take both theater and art appreciation classes in London as well as Shakespeare, how many people can say that?). Many programs are now available over breaks, so students do not even need to worry about losing an important semester of work or carefully plan their course load as I did.
Studying Abroad is too Complicated
As a college student you have already learned how to navigate complex systems, so you’ve got this! A study abroad application is usually less complicated than applying for college – even when you must apply for scholarships. Choosing a study abroad program can seem overwhelming when you realize how many programs are available, but your best bet is to start with those already associated with your home institution, so you do not need to worry about the quality of the program and the support available. Also, working with a reputable study abroad program can reduce a number of the travel complications you might face otherwise because they make all the travel and housing arrangements for you as well as offer great advice to help you negotiate both preparations and the actual study abroad experience. Many programs have been doing this work for decades so you do not have to learn everything yourself.
The truth is that studying abroad can offer you competitive advantages as both a student and professional, make you a better person, and brings you incomparable life experiences. It is human to have concerns about such a major life decision, but don’t let your worries stop you from this life-altering experience.
There are many wonderful study abroad programs available to support your experience, but I have chosen to work with the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad. I will be visiting Scotland in the Summer of 2018 with CCSA to teach a writing class: Scribes in Scotland. Come wander, wonder, and write with me in Scotland!