The number of American students participating in study abroad programs has more than tripled over the past two decades. In the 2009-2010 academic year alone, approximately 270,600 students immersed themselves in foreign culture while studying at host institutions outside of the United States (Institute of International Education, 2011). This noteworthy increase in study abroad participation might in part be due to institutions like Goucher College and Arcadia University, who have pioneered programs requiring students to obtain some academic credit abroad in order to be eligible for graduation (Fischer, 2008, June 20). Statistics related to study abroad participation will continue to increase, especially in light of the Commission on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program’s goal of sending one million American students to study abroad annually by the 2016-2017 academic year (BaileyShea, 2009).
Why such a big push for study abroad, you might ask? Well, quite frankly, because it can often end up changing just about everything for those who participate (Chapman, 2011). First, study abroad participation often leads to interest in new vocational options as well as the unanticipated desire to pursue graduate study or careers abroad. However, as only a few participants typically study abroad with career goals in mind, students often find themselves unprepared for the many career development opportunities available to them abroad and often only recognize missed opportunities retrospectively. Second, study abroad participation often supports significant multidimensional growth, including (among other outcomes): Read the rest of this entry