First Lady Michelle Obama recently stated, “When you study abroad, you’re actually helping to make America stronger!”
Taking a year, a semester, or even just a few weeks to study/volunteer/intern overseas allows students to learn and become immersed in a new culture; to learn the values, ways of life, traditions of a country and its people. Learning a new language is a bonus, but the ultimate benefit is a new perspective on the world.
Today, most students at traditional, 4-year institutions in the U.S. are already aware of the option to study abroad. In fact, in the 2010-2011 academic year, study abroad was at an all-time high with over 270,000 students going abroad for credit! So what’s the problem? Not enough non-traditional students or community college students are part of these numbers. The good news is that short-term study abroad programs are also on the rise for students across the board. These types of programs are of particular interest to non-traditional students who may have full-time jobs or families at home. As international educators, we need to make sure that all students are aware of programs that fit their lifestyle and of the scholarships to allow them to participate in them.
There are several initiatives and scholarships becoming available to help those who want to go abroad but cannot readily afford it. Besides private scholarships offered through a student’s university or program provider, undergraduates with financial difficulty may be eligible for government scholarships like the Gilman, the Fulbright Scholar Program the Boren Awards, and many that are directed specifically towards minority students. In addition, President Obama has introduced the “100,000 Strong Initiative” to increase the number and the diversity of young people from the US studying abroad. The program strives to reach more minority populations, offers 10,000 scholarships, and even includes a Community College Mini-Mester program! Though this program specifically focuses specifically on China, as opportunities like this become available, it opens doors for programs to other countries as well.
Let’s make study abroad available to EVERY student and spread the word about the diverse program options and scholarships available! Interested in learning more about Barcelona SAE’s scholarships? Check them out here!
By Amy Salk, Former Barcelona SAE Staff Member