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Initiative aims to double students abroad by 2020


Sunday, March 23, 2014

In today's world, a wide spectrum of professional fields, ranging from education to economics, are embracing the growing trend toward globalization. As a result, it is imperative that young Americans develop a comprehensive world perspective. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that with the recent Generation Study Abroad initiative directed by the Institute of International Education, colleges hope to foster greater cultural awareness by sending more students overseas.

Educators revisit old overseas objective
Studying abroad is hardly a revolutionary idea. Over the past several decades, Democrats and Republicans alike have emphasized the importance of learning abroad. In fact, former presidents, including Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, had launched their own initiatives to increase participation in these programs. Unfortunately, these campaigns have fallen short, losing steam before really getting off the ground.

Despite the less than encouraging results of these previous efforts, the latest venture appears to promise positive outcomes—at this stage of the game, at least. According to Inside Higher Ed, more than 150 colleges and universities have already joined the Generation Study Abroad movement, which plans to double the number of students heading overseas within the next seven years. IIE reported that the current proportion of young adults enrolling in programs hovers around a mere 10 percent of undergraduates. With the help of this initiative, that figure could soon climb. 

New take on selling study abroad
Some skeptics may question this most recent push for students to study abroad, asking how this one differs from past attempts and how it will prove successful in spite of the previous disappointments. The trick is, this time around, educators have identified key hurdles and have laid the groundwork to surpass them.

"We know that the obstacles around study abroad fall into three broad areas: cost, curriculum and culture," Daniel Obst, deputy vice president for international partnerships at IIE, told Inside Higher Ed.

Colleges and universities are growing wiser when it comes to marketing these programs to their undergraduates. Schools are diving into the specs of overseas immersion, laying all the advantages out on the line. As a result, students can see exactly how they can have a leg up on other individuals as they move forward, heading into a career or graduate school.

In addition, colleges are learning to advertise the ways they plan to mitigate excess costs associated with study abroad. A share of schools may offer vouchers that would apply undergraduates' existing financial aid to their overseas studies. By informing young adults of this option well beforehand, as well as highlighting the potential future perks stemming from these global experiences, schools aim to demonstrate the invaluable rewards that students can reap through these programs. Ultimately, this information can be very handy for students who are preparing for college and have an interest in studying overseas.

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