Many students go into their college years assuming that study abroad will be at least a part of their university experience. Maybe they have a brother who spend a summer in Greece, or an older friend who studied for a year in France. But for many students, those early plans fall by the wayside as degree requirements start to come into focus and the pressure to graduate on time mounts. In the end, only a fraction of American students will study abroad at some point in their degree programs. And even though that number is increasing and more efforts are being made to encourage students to spend time abroad, for many students, the opportunities just aren't there.
"Although the total number is at an all-time high, it is still the case that only about 10 percent of all U.S. undergraduate students (including community college students) will study abroad by the time they graduate. The fact that 90 percent of American undergraduate students enrolled in U.S. higher education are graduating without an international experience means that there is still a long way to go."
Institute for International Education Open Doors Study, 2015
Degrees today are more demanding than ever
Traditional study abroad experience are great, and can lead to wonderful, life-changing experiences, but for most students, their degree requirements don't allow for any deviations. If you plan to graduate on time, it may be impossible to spend any time abroad. And even if you are willing to spend extra time (and money) to complete your degree, you may get push-back from your department when you try to get the credits you've earned abroad recognized.
Life gets in the way
Most of us go through life with a plan, but that plan rarely has any relation to how things actually turn out. In college, you'll quickly find yourself with unexpected new commitments that prevent you from spending time abroad. Maybe it's a commitment to a sports team, or a job, or a campus organization, or a romantic partner. Whatever it is, don't be surprised if your new life doesn't have space for study abroad.
Don't study abroad - live abroad
There are lots of reasons why study abroad might not be a possibility. For many who don't want to miss out on the experience of studying in a foreign country, the best way to do it is to go big. That's why we work with students to help them go abroad for full-degree studies. Once you're abroad, you won't have to worry about credit transfer or working within your degree plan. And you won't have to worry about life getting in the way. You'll have built a new life for yourself, living in a new country and experiencing everything it has to offer.
It takes a real commitment, but if you want an international dimension to your college experience and the challenge of living and studying abroad, full-degree studies are the best way to get the fullest experience of studying abroad.