While once misunderstood as a fun stint overseas, education abroad has now become as well-respected and meaningful as interning or volunteering during one's collegiate career. The rhetoric around international education is much less often around whether or not a student studied abroad and instead is becoming more focused on what the student gained from their time abroad.
Education abroad can provide students the means to be competitive in today's global economy. Thanks to education abroad experiences, students can become more effective communicators, practice independence and initiative, work through issues to find meaningful solutions, and communicate in a foreign language. These are qualities that employers seek in potential employees.
In 2000, research was conducted within the University System of Georgia to document the academic outcomes of an education abroad. Approximately 280,000 students were surveyed at various two-year and four-year schools. It was discovered that, ten years after the abroad experience, students had:
- Improved academic performance upon returning to their home university
- Higher graduation rates
- Improved knowledge of cultural practices and context
- Benefited in their academic performance if they were students identified as "at risk"
Furthermore, in collaboration with USC Connect, the Study Abroad Office facilitates the Global Learning pathway of Graduation with Leadership Distinction. Completing the Global Learning pathway will help students explore the significance of their study abroad experience through ideas of multiculturalism, diversity, cultural awareness, and globalization. The Global Learning pathway emphasizes the personal, educational, and professional development that occurs from learning in/about another culture. It also pushes students to apply their learning toward interacting and solving problems in the real world. To receive leadership distinction in Global Learning, students must complete the appropriate pathway requirements for the degree level they are pursuing.
The UofSC Study Abroad Office not only provides meaningful experiences abroad for students, it also prepares the student to get the most out of his or her time abroad. We provide the resources necessary for students to reflect on their time abroad and to articulate their experiences into something that is meaningful to themselves, as well as to potential employers or professional schools.