Why study abroad: Save money on international programs and graduate on time

Study abroad

Study abroad info (© Al Goldis/AP Images)

According to a recent report published by the Institute of International Education, more American students are studying abroad than ever before, however, overall numbers show that only 14 percent of college students as a whole participate in a study abroad program. In addition, findings show that the majority of students who choose to study abroad head to a European country, and male students are much less likely to take the study abroad leap. The study abroad sphere is widening though, and for those who are looking to take part, there is no time like the present to cash in on some good deals.

Popular destinations

When it comes to study abroad, European countries, by far, are the most popular for college students. According to the report, published in a November 13, 2012, post by CBS’ Moneywatch’s Lynn O’Shaughnessy, “20 most popular study abroad destinations,” the top five destinations in order are:

  1. United Kingdom
  2. Italy
  3. Spain
  4. France
  5. China

Of the top five, Italy saw the largest jump in study abroad students, jumping from 27,940 students in 2009-10 to 30,361 students in 2010-11, followed by China, which increased from 13,910 students to 14,596. Other countries on the list such as Japan and Mexico saw dips in study abroad participation and Chile and Ecuador came in at the very bottom. While cost can be perceived as a major deterrent in deciding whether to study abroad, with rising tuition costs at U.S. campuses, study abroad can be a better deal than you might think.

Why study abroad? A tuition saver!

If you are hoping to study abroad and are willing to travel outside of the “box,” that is beyond the top 5 listed above, you may be surprised at what possibilities are out there waiting to be discovered. The notion that study abroad is a luxury that only the fortunate few can afford just isn’t the case anymore. Looking at the costs of tuition in some countries, you can actually save money by spending a semester or year overseas. Justin Snider, an advising dean at Columbia University, points out how other countries’ fees can work in your favor in his September 18, 2012, post, “Consider Study Abroad to Save Money on College,” in U.S. News and World Report.

Some European countries, like Norway, don’t charge for tuition while others charge less than $1,000 per semester at public universities, according to Snider. Snider says you can also save more than $25,000 a year by enrolling directly rather than using a study abroad company.

“Amherst College students, for example, can spend a year at Gottingen University and pay only $21,085, half the usual two-semester tuition they would have paid had they not gone abroad,” Snider writes.

Studying in Germany, as another example, costs only about $600 per semester, which is a steal by most American college student standards. Of course, there are language prerequisites for most of study abroad programs and you need to make sure your home university offers credits for the courses you would be taking.

English speaking countries like New Zealand and South Africa also can be a great bargain.

Making it to graduation — faster

Another skewed perception about studying abroad is that it will prolong the time you are in school. Wrong! Recent studies linking study abroad and retention and graduation rates show that it can increase students’ chances of success. According to statistics published by Inside Higher Ed in a July 10, 2012, post by Elizabeth Redden, “Study Abroad, Graduate on Time,” 64.5 percent of students who study abroad at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities graduate in four years while 41 percent of students who don’t. Those percentages increase to 90 percent for participants and 58.6 percent for nonparticipants graduating in five years.  At the University of California, San Diego, 92 percent of study abroad students graduate in five years compared to 78 percent for non-participants.

While the research is still ongoing regarding graduation rates linked to study abroad, these early findings can be interpreted as a positive argument in favor of going overseas during college. So what are you waiting for?

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