Advantages of Studying Abroad

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Hop on any social media platform and you'll notice how small the world has become, shrinking by the minute. Succeeding in any aspect of life — school, business, relationships, personal development — means you'll have to interact with people, ideas, and values from across the planet.

Want to give yourself an advantage (or several)? Below are five ways studying abroad can enrich your life and help you get ahead.

1. Deepen your understanding of people, the world, and yourself

The Institute for the International Education of Students (IES), a leading provider of study-abroad programs, gathered data from more than 3,400 alumni who'd studied abroad from 1950 to 1999. That data, IES reported, "shows that studying abroad is usually a defining moment in a young person's life and continues to impact the participant's life for years after the experience."

advantages of study abroad

When asked about personal growth, here's how respondents said their study-abroad experience impacted them:

  • Better understanding of their own values and biases (98%)
  • Increased maturity (97%)
  • Increased self-confidence (96%)
  • Lasting impact on their worldview (95%)
  • Enhanced interactions with people from different cultures (94%)
  • Greater tolerance for ambiguity (89%)
  • More sophisticated worldview (82%)
  • Influence on family life decisions to this day (73%)

"It's been nearly 10 years since I was a student in Vienna, but not a single day goes by where its impact is not felt in my life," said Jason Thornberb in his feedback to IES. "My time there fundamentally changed how I view the world and has given me the ability to view the world and its issues from several perspectives."

2. Upgrade your brain

It turns out learning a new language changes your brain- literally.

New studies, Time magazine reports, show that "a multilingual brain is nimbler, quicker, better able to deal with ambiguities, resolve conflicts, and even resist Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia longer."

advantages of study abroad

The Beverly Hills Lingual Institute concurs, listing bilingual benefits such as:

  • Improved memory
  • Better decision-making
  • Improved cognitive skills
  • Greater ability to focus and switch between tasks

These brain boosts mean higher test scores and a lower risk of dementia for bilinguals, among other outcomes. There's no better(or faster) way to master a new language than immersion in a culture, making studying abroad an ideal recipe for supercharging your brain.

While there are a hundred great reasons to study abroad, there are some potential disadvantages, too- be prepared with these solutions!

3. Boost your grad school prospects

According to the IES study, 87% of respondents said that studying abroad influenced their subsequent educational path (like deciding on a major or whether to pursue grad school).

advantages of study abroad

From there, a whopping 97% of study-abroad alumni who applied for grad school got into their first or second-choice school, says the University of California, Merced (UCMerced).

"Graduate school admissions boards look very highly on study-abroad experiences," explains, because those students "display diversity and show they aren't afraid to seek out new challenges and put themselves in difficult situations."

Also, those students show they have the commitment, curiosity, and "educational acumen to be a leader in graduate school."

4. Make yourself more attractive to employers

Study-abroad alumni are twice as likely to find a job, says UCMerced; 97% of them found employment within 12 months of graduation, compared to 49% of college grads. But that's not all; from those who landed a job in the first year, 90% did so within 6 months.

advantages of study abroad

That's a considerable advantage, and one that is supported by studies both in the U.S. and U.K., the university points out.

That happens in part because students return "with a new perspective on culture, language skills, a great education, and a willingness to learn," explains — all skills that make employers drool.

Be sure to check out these 5 career advantages of studying abroad!

5. Make more moolah

If employers are drawn to the skills that come with studying abroad, it makes sense that employees with those skills should have an edge in their careers, including their income.

As we've written in the past, study-abroad alumni average a 25% higher salary and make about $7,000 more per year than college grads who didn't study abroad. That puts them ahead by more than half a million dollars by the end of their working lives.

advantages of study abroad

If you're considering studying abroad, the data is on your side, making it a phenomenal value for your investment. So much so that Michael Preziosi, an IES alumnus, makes it mandatory in his household:

"My wife and I feel so strongly about the value of this experience that we have told our two daughters that a semester abroad while at college is an absolute requirement for each of them. It is not an experience to be missed."

It's cliché, but true: studying abroad will change your life.


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