Invest in study abroad for your future

For students interested in attending college, consider the benefit of participating in a study abroad program and discover ways to finance this educational experience.

If you are a student in high school and you have plans to attend college, here is a question for you. How much are you willing to invest in an educational experience that will benefit you while you’re in college? As you prepare for college, think about some activities or educational programs that will prepare you for your future career. Did an international study abroad experience come to mind? If not, consider this type of experience.

Participation in study abroad can benefit a student. For example, in a 50-year alumni study for IES Abroad, their alumni reported that an international study experience impacted them in a positive way in academic attainment, cultural development, career impact and personal growth. Also, alumni of IES Abroad reported that participating in their study abroad program was a career benefit for them in increased hireability, securing jobs quickly after graduation, higher starting salaries and higher acceptance into graduate school.

Julie Mayfield and Lindsey Mayfield give five items parents and students should consider for studying abroad. They are program costs, extra travel costs, lost wages, the application and scholarships. When it comes to the costs of studying abroad, Reyna Gobel gives parents savings tips to prepare for the costs of these programs. She suggests seeing if schools qualify to use 529 distributions, consider currency exchange rates and save for travel costs.

When it comes to financing the study abroad experience, students can check with the college they’re attending to find out funding options. For example, Michigan State University gives information on how to financially prepare for a trip, financial aid, scholarships, fundraising and other creative ideas. Also, information is given to consider the program type, program duration, time of year and location.

If you are considering an international study abroad program, begin to prepare now for funding options to pursue this experience. Since there are scholarships available, practice writing or preparing for essays that may be on scholarship applications. Also, begin or continue to participate in different service learning or community service activities to prepare for study abroad and practice documenting what you learned for a potential essay on a scholarship application.

Remember, studying abroad can benefit you as you prepare for college and the workforce. With these benefits, think of the costs of a study abroad experience as an investment to your future. Take advantage to prepare and pursue this type of educational opportunity and reap the positive returns from this investment.

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H career preparation, money management and entrepreneurship programs, read the 2015 Impact Report: “Preparing Michigan Youth for Future Careers and Employment.”

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