Why Education Abroad?
In our globalized 21st century, education abroad has become ever more an important part of a university education. It not only affords students personal benefits, but academic and career benefits, as well.
Beyond the more superficial benefit of providing a natural and often more cost-effective way to travel internationally, research shows that education abroad, along with language learning and other multicultural experiences, has positive impacts on one’s neurological health, critical thinking skills, and personality. Moreover, it promotes personal growth by cultivating independence and self-confidence. Finally, another culture is a unique prism through which to examine and evaluate one’s own culture, beliefs, and values.
Academically, students have the opportunity to take classes or access resources otherwise unavailable to them at CWU. For instance, biology students could be able to study flora and fauna native to other geographical regions or climatic zones in or near their native habitats. Moreover, education abroad allows students to hear and experience different perspectives on a subject or discipline. Culture plays a large role in marketing, for example, and campaigns that work in one culture may not work in another. It also plays a role in management practices, which will differ in China or Germany from those in the United States. First-hand experience of these differences in the cultural context gives the students a broader perspective and more tools they can bring to the job market.
Studies have also shown correlations between participation in education abroad and higher grades and also higher rates of on-time graduation.
When presented well, education abroad can provide students advantages in their career search. In a recent study by the British Council (Culture at Work: The Value of Intercultural Skills in the Workplace), which surveyed managers at 367 large employers in nine (9) countries, 58% of U.S. respondents indicated intercultural skills were “very important” and a further 30% identified them as “fairly important”. Moreover, U.S. respondents identified “finding qualified candidates” as the top business concern outside of economic and market-related challenges.
In 2012, third-party education abroad program provider IES Abroad surveyed over 1,000 students who had participated in an IES program and graduated from college between 2006 and 2011. Of those respondents, 90% secured a job within six (6) months of graduating, 84% felt their education abroad experience helped them build job skills and 50% felt their education abroad experience helped them land their first jobs.