Study Abroad 101: What to Know and Where to Go

Study Abroad Program

According to recent reports, Millennials love to travel, and in 2012, more than 283,000 students studied abroad for academic credit. But going to college overseas isn’t for everyone.

This is part of Niche’s Study Abroad Series.

Study Abroad History
Study Abroad program: "The history of study abroad started at the University of Delaware."The first collegiate study abroad program was launched at the University of Delaware in 1923. Modern languages professor Raymond W. Kirkbride had the idea of sending students overseas, presenting the idea to the university president who then solicited private donors to help make it possible. After this inaugural program, other colleges followed suit, including Seven Sisters colleges like Wellesley and Smith, as well as Ivies like Brown, Harvard, Penn, and Princeton. Today, 1 percent of all U.S. students in college and higher education institutions participate in study abroad programs.

How Do You Know if Study Abroad Is for You?
Study Abroad program: "It will be an experience to last a lifetime, whether or not you enjoy yourself."A few things are a given when it comes to study abroad. Anytime you are immersed in an unfamiliar culture thousands of miles away, it will be an experience to last a lifetime, whether you enjoy yourself or not. Even it it’s not pertinent to your career, it will be something to add to your young resume, which could differentiate you from other inexperienced job candidates in the future. However, studying abroad is not for every student, and these are a few things to consider.

Do It. . .
Don't Do It. . .
If you've always wanted to study abroad.If you're not enthused or lukewarm about the idea.
If you thrive in independent situations.If being far from home would be problematic for you.
If you enjoy challenges and being put in new situations.If you crumble under big changes.
If you know how to balance work and play.If all you want to do is party.

Study Abroad: Fiction and Fact

Only the rich can afford to participate in study abroad programs.Programs range in costs, and planning ahead can help make it more affordable.
Your financial aid disappears.Certain programs will allow transfer of financial aid to the study abroad experience.
You must speak another language in order to participate.Many programs are located in countries where English is an official or secondary language.
You can't study your major abroad.Requirements vary, but it's possible to earn credit toward your major while studying abroad.
You won't graduate on time.Graduating on time is more than possible, as long as you plan everything ahead and discuss details with advisers.

10 Most Popular Study Abroad Fields
Each year, the Institute of International Education releases its “Open Doors Report” on study abroad trends. Here’s a look at 2013’s most popular study abroad fields for U.S. students.

1. Social Sciences
2. Business
3. Humanities
4. Physical or Life Sciences
5. Fine or Applied Arts
6. Health Sciences
7. Foreign Languages
8. Education
9. Engineering
10. Math or Computer Sciences

10 Most Popular Study Abroad Destinations
In the same “Open Doors” snapshot, these were the leading study abroad destinations for U.S. students in 2013.

1. United Kingdom
2. Italy
3. Spain
4. France
5. China
6. Germany
7. Australia
8. Costa Rica
9. Ireland
10. Japan

Colleges that Encourage Study Abroad
High school students can make study abroad programs a part of their college search by looking at schools where overseas study flourishes, like at these 10 colleges that encourage study abroad.

The Bottom Line
There are a lot of truths and misconceptions about studying abroad that students should explore before committing to a semester- or year-long term out of the United States. The best advice is to read as much as you can about where you want to go and to talk to the appropriate people like advisers and professors before making any big decisions. The most thorough traveling student is typically the happiest one.