Imagine finishing up your college classes for the week and heading off campus to trek across the Great Wall of China, catch a wave on the Gold Coast, or read a book in front of the Eiffel Tower. If you dream of adventure and travel, studying abroad—going to a different country to attend a university or college—may be a great option for you.
According to Open Doors, more than 162,000 U.S. students studied abroad in 2019-2020. Countries like New Zealand, Morocco, Israel, Costa Rica, Ireland, and Spain are just a few of the destinations where students chose to immerse themselves in the culture—all while earning college credit. Along with exploring exciting locales, the benefits of studying abroad are countless. Here are a few things you can gain from being an international student for a short time period:
- Global perspective: Broaden your horizons and gain a deeper understanding and respect for different cultures, customs, and ways of thinking.
- Language skills: Expand your vocabulary and improve your language skills by speaking with and listening to native speakers in the country you’re visiting.
- Personal growth: Challenge yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone, adapting to new situations, and becoming more independent and self-reliant.
- Career opportunities: Enhance your resume and make yourself stand out to employers who value international experience and cultural awareness.
- Network building: Meet people from around the world and build a network of personal and professional connections. You never know how this could benefit you in the future—from job opportunities to lifelong friendships.
If studying abroad sounds like an experience you don’t want to miss, start researching programs at your college or in your preferred location that offer your major, and consider the cost, academic requirements, and language of instruction when comparing your options. Requirements to apply will vary depending on the program or school, but you may be asked for academic transcripts, a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, language proficiency scores, an interview, or a writing sample.
Once you’ve found a potential study abroad program, you should work with your academic advisor to confirm the courses you take abroad will transfer back to your home college. You can also start applying for scholarships and financial aid that could help fund your study abroad experience.
The real fun begins when you’ve been accepted to the study abroad program! To prepare for departure, you’ll obtain a visa, if necessary, plan for housing and transportation, and familiarize yourself with the culture and customs of your destination. Once everything is put into place, you’ll be ready to start the adventure of a lifetime!
For resources and information on preparing for college, visit the K12 College Prep Center.