By: Andrea Bouchaud
Studying abroad is more than an experience. It’s another investment in your future. You have to think about your major and career needs and goals; not just the adventure. It’s important to choose the right study abroad program or it could cost you more in the long run. Let’s take a look at 5 Things to Avoid When Choosing a Study Abroad Program
- Thinking only about the experience. According to a 2013 study from the British Council Education Intelligence, American students tend to choose study abroad programs/locations based on fun and cultural experience and not how the program’s courses and experience will impact their major and their future career goals. When looking at study abroad programs, be sure to think about how studying abroad will meet your major and career needs and goals, not the experience you’ll have abroad, to get the best return possible from this investment in your future.
- Choosing a program based only on your financial situation. Studying abroad can be expensive. However, there are ways to fund it and offset costs such as fundraising websites like kickstarter.com or gofundme.com, using student loans and possibly working abroad. Don’t choose a program that’s not right for your career goals and major needs because it costs less. If the cheaper program does not help your career/major, you will pay more in the long run by staying in school longer and not getting that good paying job.
- Selecting a country only because it speaks your language. Everyone is more comfortable speaking their native language. Not having to adjust to a foreign language while transitioning to life abroad can save a lot of headaches. However, don’t choose a program simply because it’s in a country that speaks your same language. If the program that will benefit you most is in a non-English speaking land, you can linguistically prepare by taking classes and you’ll impress future employers with being bilingual.
- Picking the right country and program. Some students have a preferred country that they want to study abroad in. Sometimes the best choice is not the preferred one. For example, China study abroad programs might be best for business but not fashion design. If your major is fashion design, you need to realize that having studied abroad in Hong Kong is not going to impress future employers in your industry. A program in Paris or Milan would be better as these are fashion capitols known for their fashion/art programs.
- Signing up for the same study abroad program as your friends. Transitioning to a new culture, language and college system can be tough so it’s natural to want to study abroad with friends. If your friends are not the same major and don’t have the same career goals, their program may not be best for you. You can overcome homesickness and loneliness by keeping in contact with friends via Skype, email, text and visits if they are studying abroad in a nearby country.
Choosing the right study abroad program is equivalent to choosing the right college and major for you. Make sure to thoroughly investigate the program to ensure that it will benefit you, your major requirements and your future career. Most importantly, be sure to avoid the 5 things below when choosing your study abroad program to help you succeed in this experience.