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What are the benefits of short-term study abroad for college students?

By: Jill Furgurson, Master of Science in Forestry and Master of Arts in Medical Geography College, Parents, Marine Biology, Vet Medicine, Photography, Spanish, Health + Medicine, Wildlife Biology

There are many obvious benefits of international experience— students get to explore a new place and its culture, try new things and grow as an individual. Traditional semester or year-long study abroad programs can present some challenges, however, such as time or financial constraints, that may prevent students from incorporating international experiential learning into their college education. To enable greater access to study abroad opportunities, many universities and companies are now offering short-term programs during the summer and winter terms. Short-term programs offer many of the benefits of traditional study abroad, with a few additional advantages.

Advantages of short-term study abroad

  • Summer and winter-term programs allow students to fit international study more conveniently into their academic calendars. Students can earn additional college credit, explore new cultures and dive deeper into their academic pursuits through hands-on field studies without sacrificing on-campus life or jeopardizing rigorous academic schedules.
  • Possibilities for interaction with host communities, cross-cultural exchanges, language skill building and in-depth exploration of the focal topic abound. The world becomes you classroom!
  • Guided, short-term programs provide an introduction to the world of international education for students intimidated by longer programs.
  • Short-term programs provide flexibility for students to explore multiple interest areas and/or build upon prior experiences.

Make it meaningful

As more and more students participate in short-term study abroad, the more diverse programs become available. Broadreach recommends a few key elements that are necessary for meaningful short-term study abroad programs:

  • Maintain small groups sizes to facilitate positive group dynamics and allow for more one-on-one time with instructors.
  • Utilize well-trained and competent staff that contribute to a meaningful experience and will ensure all students feel supported.
  • Provide access to 24-hour support from staff based in the U.S.
  • Coordinate academic materials with appropriate field studies.
  • Include abundant interaction with host communities and opportunities for cultural exchange.
  • Create detailed risk management plans to maintain health and safety standards and ensure all students are aware of them.
  • Build in opportunities for reflection and transference of new experiences, both as individuals and as groups.
  • Provide an informative pre-trip orientation and guidance for post-trip debriefing.

We are passionate about students having the opportunity to learn in the real world, whether it be for a year, semester or summer program. We encourage you to get out there and ignite your passions, develop new skills and discover more about yourself than you will learn in a textbook!