Five Long - Term Effects of Study Abroad

Grishma Nanavaty, Partner & Lead Counselor, ReachIvy.comStudying abroad is often described as a ‘life changing experience’. Every year, thousands of students travel to foreign countries to build on their academic credentials. The short-term advantages of a study abroad experience are obvious – developing diverse skill sets, to becoming independent. However, there are a number of long-term implications that continue even post graduation:

Self-Confidence: For many students, their journey to a foreign country to study is the first time they are living independently and away from the comfort of their family and friends. This experience provides an opportunity for students to discover themselves while gaining an understanding of a different culture. Being in a new place can be overwhelming at times, as it tests one’s ability to adapt to diverse situations while being able to problem solve. These experiences can serve as a catalyst for increased maturity. It provides the appropriate framework for students to believe they can tackle any issues and conquer any obstacles thrown at them throughout their life.

Career Path: After the completion of the study abroad program, students who return home will find themselves very attractive to future employers. The world-class education, diverse experiences, global perspective and a willingness to learn distinguishes them from their peer group. All students, home bound or not, will find that employers value students who can think critically and also have an international perspective (a blend of the foreign and domestic country). This distinction is there throughout the student’s career path.

Additionally,a U.S. survey stated a 25 percent higher starting salary for students who study abroad vs. college graduates who do not study abroad. Similarly, a British study found that the study abroad graduates out-earned their peers by 17 percent. This equates to approx. $7,000 annually for U.S. students and £3,120 for UK students. Maintaining this earning advantage translates to earning an extra $567,500 over one's career in the U.S. When students travel abroad to study, they make a long-term investment in them selves.
World View: We live in an increasingly globalized world with a continual integration between international markets and national businesses. To successfully compete in the global market place, multinational and small businesses need employees with cross-cultural competence and knowledge of foreign trends and climate. Students at top foreign colleges are surrounded by some of the finest minds in the world. Not only do they have classmates from over 100 countries across the globe, but also students from a broad range of backgrounds including renowned musicians, prominent actors, Olympic winners and members of the armed forces. This cultural diversity provides opportunity for great learning, as each discussion, exercise or activity on campus exposes students to multiple viewpoints and teaches them to respect an alternate point of view.

Further more, Professors, regardless of area of study, expose students to innovation, models, case studies and problem statements from across the planet. As the world becomes increasingly flat, students are taught to be aware of the progress and issues facing their industry, strategize on the most effective course of action, and then seamlessly work cross-border with minimal disruptions. The exposure received at foreign institutes prepares students to embrace each individual’s working style and work productively with them. Furthermore, as firms broaden their horizons, these students can be at the forefront.

Soft Skills: In addition to the development of hard skills, universities abroad also build on soft skills to enable students to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. For example, within the classroom walls, students are encouraged to actively participate in discussions, work with groups on projects and make presentations. Across campus, students can get actively involved in clubs & societies and take on leadership roles.

As students graduate from college, these soft skills aid them at each stage and age of their life. Some examples include:

Communication Skills - You will be able to tell your supervisor what you need to do your job well. You will be able to communicate with your team to make sure you are all working together towards completion of your project. If you are in a business, your communication skills can make the difference between a satisfied customer and an angry one!

Time Management - You will be able to stick to project deadlines, effectively juggle all your tasks and deliver good quality work prior to deadlines.

Network: The relationships students cultivate on campus continue to only strengthen over time. Should a student be confronted with a business dilemma, for example, they can consider tapping into an alum or professor to help resolve the issue. They consistently have access to some of the world’s greatest thinkers that are only an email away. The strong professional network available in almost every corner of the world can significantly distinguish a student from his/her peer group. The connections made during college years have the potential of being not only their life long friends but also future business partners, co-founders, investors, clients, vendors, mentors, and much more.

Universities further foster these relationships by setting up alumni clubs and associations in different geographical locations within India and across the globe. For example, the Harvard Club of India works towards increased interaction, knowledge sharing, and networking among the alumni by organizing social events, workshops, lectures and more! International students will discover that their experience of studying abroad is a defining time that continues to impact for years after graduation.