Most students interested in study abroad pick a college based on where they can travel

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Dive Brief:

  • Among students interested in spending time studying outside of the U.S., 57% said they chose their colleges with study abroad options in mind, according to a new survey from Terra Dotta, a company that provides international travel software and services for higher education.
  • The top reasons interested students want to study abroad were personal growth or a love of travel, cited by 43% and 36% of respondents, respectively. Only 7% said they were primarily motivated by preparing for a global workforce, the survey found.
  • But 84% said the cost of study abroad programs would hold them back from participating. And 51% of survey respondents said the main thing their college could do to make study abroad more accessible is teach them about financial aid options.

Dive Insight:

Travel outside the U.S., including related to higher education, took a beating in recent years as the COVID-19 pandemic closed countries’ borders. But the U.S. can’t afford to be absent from the world stage, according to a July 2021 statement from the departments of State and Education renewing their commitment to international education.

Now, Terra Dotta’s survey indicates students are ready to study abroad again. In January, the company had a market research firm conduct a self-selecting poll of 223 U.S. college students online and found 88% had never studied abroad. For 84% of those surveyed, a study abroad experience had been canceled because of the pandemic. Among first-year students, 80% said they wanted to study abroad during their college careers.

Early exposure to international education played a role in engagement. Almost half of students wanting to study abroad, 45%, became interested prior to graduating from high school, according to the survey. On the flip side, of those who weren’t planning to study abroad, nearly 30% said they were unfamiliar with the idea. 

“While international educators have been trying to shed the label of being the travel department and leaning into how important cross-cultural exchange is for career readiness, there is an opportunity to do more to engage students and parents — especially as many students are eager to travel given the social and mobility impacts of the pandemic,” Anthony Rotoli, CEO of Terra Dotta, said in a statement.

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