New Study Confirms Significant Gains
By Mary M. Dwyer, Ph.D. and Courtney K. Peters
"It will change your life. You’ll come back a new person.” For years, the benefits of study abroad have been described in these words. Everyone in the study abroad field believed it could greatly impact a student’s life, but the exact long-term benefits were unknown—until now.
The first large-scale survey to explore the long-term impact of study abroad on a student’s personal, professional, and academic life shows that study abroad positively and unequivocally influences the career path, world-view, and self-confidence of students.
The Institute for the International Education of Students (IES), www.iesabroad.org, surveyed alumni from all IES study abroad programs from 1950 to 1999. Regardless of where students studied and for how long, the data from the more than 3,400 respondents (a 23 percent response rate) shows that studying abroad is usually a defining moment in a young person's life and continues to impact the participant’s life for years after the experience.
|Survey Item |
|Increased self-confidence |
|Enhanced interest in academic study |
|Helped me better understand my own cultural values and biases |
Acquired skill sets that influenced career path |82% |73% |74% |71% |76% | |Ignited an interest in a career direction pursued after the experience |70% |57% |59% |59% |62% | |Personal Growth
“Overall, I learned a lot more about myself in that one semester than I did in the three and a half years in my home school because of the unique space in which I learned, experienced, and spent