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The Many Benefits of ‘Study Abroad’

Updated: Sep 21, 2019

The Atlantic: “A couple of years ago, the nonprofit Institute of International Education launched a campaign called Generation Study Abroad to double the number of U.S. students who spend time in foreign countries each year to 600,000 over five years. Right now, only around 10 percent of American college students study abroad. While people of color make up about 40 percent of each graduating class, they comprise just a quarter of those who go abroad. The numbers are especially low for black and Latino students. So hundreds of schools across the country … are focusing on reaching out specifically to students of color.”


“Where study abroad has traditionally been viewed as a year-long immersive experience, universities are expanding short-term opportunities for students who don’t have the money or time to go away for longer. These days, more than 60 percent of students who go abroad do either a summer program or a trip during the school year that is less than eight weeks. Around a third spend a semester abroad, and just 3 percent go for an entire school year.”

“Wagaye Johannes, the project director of Generation Study Abroad, said students see cost as the biggest barrier, even though some study abroad programs are less expensive than staying at their home universities … Culture is another, sometimes tricker, topic … Sometimes the pushback comes from families who are fearful of their children going someplace unfamiliar.”


“There is evidence that studying abroad has measurable benefits. A study prepared for the European Commission found that students who went abroad had lower unemployment rates after graduation. A report by the University System of Georgia found that graduation rates were higher for students who had been abroad, especially for low-income and minority students. Other studies have indicated that students come back more culturally aware … not only do individual scholars stand to benefit, but so does the nation’s ability to interact with other countries in an increasingly global economy.”