Penn State, University of Notre Dame, University of Kentucky and Pacific Lutheran University participated in a recent study, which shows employers find value in Study Abroad when evaluating job search candidates. "In general, Study Abroad was looked upon favorably," said Robert Domingo, a research associate at Penn State in an interview with The Daily Collegian. In the same survey, to which 352 employers responded, having the preferred academic major was ranked most desirable by employers and completing a major or minor in a foreign language was ranked second. Study abroad was ranked third.
In a more recent study of 119 employers conducted by the Career Center at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 59% of respondents said that Study Abroad or other international experience, other than an internship, would be very valuable or somewhat valuable in an individual's career later on with their organization.
Study Abroad programs are becoming increasingly attractive as more and more college students seek meaningful ways to spend college breaks or explore true diversity of cultures. Additionally, as students return and share their positive experiences, others sign up to head overseas as well.
Two great resources for students considering studying overseas are StudyAbroad.com and Semester at Sea.
StudyAbroad.com is a comprehensive online source of information about educational opportunities for high school students, college students or graduate students wanting to study in other countries. It includes information on summer programs, internships, service learning programs and overseas volunteer opportunities. The information is easy to follow and is sorted by subject, country or city.
Semester at Sea, run by the Institute for Shipboard Education, gets academic sponsorship from the University of Virginia where students can apply for credit for the 2007 summer trip. This trip will have students traversing the Western coast of Central America and South America. Stops this summer will include Chile, Peru, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Financial aid is available to help students cover the $ 8000 + cost of the just over 2 month journey onboard the floating university. The Fall 2007 trip is scheduled for stops in Japan, Thailand, China and India while Puerto Rico, Brazil, South Africa and Mauritius are on tap for the Spring 2008 journey.
No study abroad program is without risk and students and parents should do all the required due diligence to make sure these experiences do not end with less than positive results. Some general advice to be safe on a study abroad experience are as follows and include some tips from the University of Chicago's Study Abroad program:
1. Be alert at all times. Remember you are in unfamiliar surroundings
2. Trust your instincts
3. Be cautious and protective with your cash
4. Observe political gatherings from a distance
5. Learn where the nearest police station, hospital and embassy is located
6. Stay sober and away from drugs and alcohol. This is not the time to lose focus
7. Be particularly alert while on public transportation and in public places
8. Be mindful of new friendships that develop too quickly
9. Make copies of all your important papers. Keep a set of copies with you as well as leave one at home.
10. Be inconspicuous and try to blend in as much as possible. Avoid being the noisy tourist
11. Check in often with home. Have somewhat of a routine so that folks at home will know if you are off schedule.