Study abroad programs have exploded in the last two decades. As more and more companies operate internationally, there is a new demand for students who can travel and adapt with ease, offer new perspectives and incorporate new cultures into their products.
The growth of programs continued during the 2016- 2017 academic school year with a 2.3 percent increase from the previous year, and more than 300,000 American students interning, studying or volunteering overseas each year. But the big question for students is, is it worth it?
Sam Oliver, a former Point Park student who has since transferred to Duquesne University to study marketing, says it was a life-changing experience.
“It was, by far, the greatest experience of my life,” Oliver said.
Students’ first concern regarding study abroad programs likely falls on cost. The ability to incorporate studying abroad into an academic career isn’t going to cost much more than a semester’s tuition, but there are some catches.
Although federal and state scholarships and loans may be applied to a program, Point Park’s scholarships for studying abroad will max out at $2,500. With the university having a limit it can offer in aid, students may take advantage of websites like StudyAbroad.com to help them search for a suitable scholarship opportunity. Along with tuition costs, individuals must take into account spending money and the cost of travelling.
There are different factors to consider depending on your interests, but recommendations from the website capaworld.capa.org are around $4,000-$8,000. Before scholarships and loans, Point Park students should plan on spending $18,990–$22,990 total for one
Aside from tuition costs, students of Point Park have the choices of studying in different locations around Europe. The programs offered to students range in length from a few weeks to a full semester and include locations like Regent’s University in
London, The American University of Rome, University of Salford and the Conservatorio Superior de Danza de Madrid “Maria de Avila” (CSDMA).
Regent’s University and the American University of Rome are open to any student with sophomore status or between 30 to 90 credits completed. The University of Salford is for broadcasting majors, and CSDMA is for the dance program.
Students wishing to study abroad work with Amanda Anderson, the Director of Student Life, to coordinate classes that Point Park has pre-approved and work out a schedule to make sure students maintain full-time status of at least 12 credits. Anderson says students aren’t limited to these programs.
“We will work with students that would like to go through another program to get the credits pre-approved before your departure…but with these non-affiliate programs only the credits will transfer and won’t affect your GPA,” Anderson said.
Not only are undergraduates pursuing study abroad opportunities, but graduate students are as well, since graduate schools link study abroad experiences with displaying diversity, seeking out challenges and presenting a unique commitment to schooling.
Sam Oliver is the only Point Park University student to have participated in the study abroad program at the American University of Rome, where he stayed for four months.
Oliver says he would recommend it to anyone.
“If given the opportunity to do it another time, I’d choose the same place again,” Oliver said.
During the program, Oliver was placed in an apartment close to the campus he was attending with other American students. Although it was Oliver’s first time leaving the country, he said he was able to fully embrace the Italian culture and never
experienced culture shock.
Angela Scaramucci, Director of the Career Development Center, says she believes studying abroad helps students grow.
“I believe it helps students stand out, diversify skills and experience new cultures, which can be great for offering new perspectives,” Scaramucci said.
Scaramucci is directly involved with hundreds of companies around the Pittsburgh area and around the country. Although Scaramucci did not study abroad, she knew many people who did and ended up with internships through their experiences overseas. Standing out to employers and obtaining a job is one of the top reasons for extending an academic career.
“Major companies around the United States like to see that opportunity taken advantage of,” Scaramucci said.
She also mentioned that if you take classes with language it will help even more.
“Companies who conduct international business may seek out different individuals that studied at language schools to help promote their business in that country,” Scaramucci said.