Studying abroad is not as popular as it should be

Not many students choose to study abroad, despite its many benefits. | Jiselle Santos / The Cougar

Jiselle Santos/The Cougar

As the fall semester gets into full swing, I cannot help but notice that every person who wishfully informed me of their desire to travel did not do so over the summer. I wonder why more people are not studying abroad.

Students at the University of Houston should experience one of the most enriching educational opportunities in college life: studying in other countries. 

In the 2016-2017 school year, a whopping 1.6 percent of all enrolled students in the U.S entered a study abroad program. That might be the saddest statistic I have seen considering how many New Year’s resolutions I have heard that involve traveling the world.

Studying abroad provides an increase in every possible metric that could matter to a student, such as higher job opportunities and faster hiring. If work is not on your mind, studying abroad is also a good path to a preferred graduate school. Also, if you are learning a language, you have a higher chance of reaching fluency in its country of origin.

Although there needs to be a growth in study abroad participation, there are some lingering bad habits that American students need to break as well. The biggest one is the tendency to choose European countries. These countries make up 53 percent of all choices for programs overseas, which is staggering and the definition of cliché. 

There are also two major reasons why students should consider exploring other regions. First, they offer an experience that is outside of the typical study abroad journey, which is predominantly white.

The other reason is purely economical, as a majority of the world outside of Europe is still developing and thus offers experience that looks appealing in job applications, which, as demonstrated earlier, are already going to increase just by the fact that you went on a study vacation.

The other trajectory we are heading in, which is quite odd, is the shrinking number of liberal arts students participating in study abroad programs. In the last decade, the scale has tipped very heavily to STEM majors increasing their chances in an ever more demanding job market.

Liberal arts majors are in a similar competitive sphere, and seemingly the only active school is business, which seems strange considering the global reach of the arts, journalism and service industry.

UH offers many great learning abroad programs and a slew of scholarships and assistance for students unsure about what studying abroad really is. The University should continue to increase information and advertising about its study abroad programs and provide encouragement for students to expand their horizons.

There should also be more ethnically diverse organizations on campus focused on studying abroad so members can be exposed to the power and enrichment of seeing the world from an educational aspect and a social one.

Most students overseas make lifelong friendships with people they would have never met otherwise. So go out there and see the world for more than one semester.

Opinion writer AK Almoumen is a media production junior and can be reached at [email protected].  

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