Back to School and the top 5 reasons why schools are including international travel programs
Yesterday I saw the first leaves of autumn shimmering a golden reddish hue in the afternoon light. The smell of the dry, hot concrete and the feel of the cool breeze of September air gave me the familiar thrill of “back to school.” Although I haven’t gone “back to school” for many years, the excitement of this time of year always takes over my senses. Students are buying new notebooks, colorful pens and markers, while teachers are busy with new curricula.
In the past few years, many schools have been working hard to include an international travel component for their students. Not only universities, but high schools and middle schools understand the importance of a global travel program. Why are schools pushing parents to spend a bit extra for their children to travel internationally? Here are the top 5 reasons according to research done by NAFSA, Association of International Educators.
1. Improves GPA
Studies have shown that students who have studied abroad have a higher GPA than those who have stayed on campus. This impact is even more pronounced with minority or at risk student population
2. Improves Language Learning
“ According to the Pew Research Center only 25 percent of American adults can speak a language other than English and only 7 percent of those adults learned that language in school rather than in their childhood homes. Compared to the 90% of European high school students who are learning English, U.S. students are woefully underprepared to meaningfully interact with colleagues and competitors from around the world. Studies have shown that students who study abroad made greater gains in language proficiency than students who studied the same language domestically.”
3.Fosters Intercultural Understanding and Provides a Global Context
“Studying abroad is a unique and transformational learning experience. Students who have studied abroad are better able to work with people from other countries, understand the complexity of global issues, and have greater intercultural learning. One study found that students returned from their study abroad experiences more tolerant and less fearful of other countries, but with a greater sense of positive feelings about their home—a phenomenon they called “enlightened nationalism.””
4. Increases University Acceptance Rates, Employability, and Career Skills
Many universities value a global experience on applications and although it is hard for any study to definitively state that one experience leads to a better job or higher income, multiple surveys have shown that the skills gained while studying abroad are the same skills that employers value and that employers recognize the importance of cross-cultural understanding in an increasingly global economic environment.
5. In Universities, studying abroad improves completion, retention, and transfer rates
“Far from the fears that studying abroad will delay a student’s graduation, multiple large-scale studies have found that students who study abroad, especially underrepresented or “at-risk” students, are more likely to complete their degrees or certificate programs than students who did not study abroad. Community college students were more likely to transfer to a 4-year institution than students who did not study abroad. First and second year retention rates for those students who study abroad are also considerably higher.”