The number of U.S. students who studied abroad grew 5.2 percent during the 2013-14 academic year, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
In Utah 1.34 percent of students studied abroad during that academic year.
And while traveling to another country during college can open doors to see exotic places and learn about new cultures, there seems to be lifelong benefits that are a result of this as well.
According to a graduate study from the Institute for the International Education of Students, 97 percent of alumni who studied abroad secured a job within one year of graduation compared to 49 percent in the general college graduation population.
The report also showed these students made $7,000 more, on average, compared to recent U.S. college graduates from the general population.
“A lot of students come back with connections of people they’ll later on work with,” said Southern Utah University Assistant Director of Global Engagement Tessa Douglas. “We have a few students who made friends while studying abroad and then started international businesses with them or got internships or jobs.”
SUU offers students 45 study abroad semester programs and 13 summer programs.
Douglas said the number of students studying abroad has stayed relatively consistent, averaging around 120 to 150 students within the last couple of years.
SUU Director of Global Engage Kurt Harris said Europe has remained one of the most popular destinations for students, noting Greece is one of the most popular semester programs in addition to Italy and France.
SUU’s programs range from cultural immersion in New Zealand to criminal justice and legal studies in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The university recently started several new programs including the hospitality and tourism courses in Australia.
“They’ve tested themselves in ways that I think they couldn’t unless they studied abroad,” Harris said. “Many students come back with more confidence in themselves because they’ve been able to overcome challenges and obstacles.”
In addition to the China excursion with the business department, Dixie State University students can study in Belize and Spain.
DSU Study Abroad Director Kathy Kinney said the university can also connect students with other schools if they do not find a program that fits their academic needs.
Europe as well as China have both become popular for DSU students, Kinney said.
DSU’s China Excursion Program is in its third year and has grown from 17 students to 38 students this year, according to the program’s director, Verl Anderson.
“Our world’s getting smaller and smaller in the global community,” Anderson said. “I feel it’s very important that as we travel abroad we understand some of the cultures of the places we want to visit.”
SUU students must at least be in their sophomore year to do a semester study abroad but freshmen can study abroad in the summer.
According to Kinney, DSU students have to be at least 18 years old to participate in one of the college’s study abroad programs but she has seen that most students are either in the sophomore or junior year when they go.
She added the program has also grown with a total of 93 students participating in the programs last year.
“They experience a new way of learning,” Kinney said. “…it just opens their eyes to other parts of the world where they get to have new cultural experiences and learn about a different way of life.”
Follow Nichole Osinski on Twitter, @nrosinski, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/osinskireporter . Call her at 435-674-6231.
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