When recent Cornell University graduate Evan McElwain, 21, interviewed for his current job at a major financial firm, the first topic of discussion wasn’t his expert knowledge of the markets or opinions on quantitative easing. Instead, he delved into stories about backpacking across mainland China and getting trapped in a flood en route to a music festival at the Great Wall.
“[If] every candidate a company is interviewing comes from the same school, took the same classes, got similar grades, had leadership roles in similar clubs ‑- it really comes down to who the interviewer thinks is the most interesting,” McElwain said. “Traveling does wonders for making people more interesting.”
Study abroad programs are the stock and trade of most top tier four year colleges and for students who choose to enroll in them they can become an edge in the job search. However according to a report from the British Council, a U.K. non-profit that promotes overseas educational programs, the number of American students considering study abroad has slumped 12% from last year.
Why? Study abroad program inflation. At an average cost of $31,270 per semester, these programs run about double what a semester at private colleges run. In fact, the cost of study abroad was cited as the single largest nonacademic deterrent among students. Abroad fees only get higher when you tack on living expenses like sightseeing, dining and travelling to nearby countries.
Amid rising interest rates on student loans and state spending cuts, it’s understandable why study abroad has taken the back seat to more pressing expenses. Although flying halfway across the world for a semester is definitely not a drop in the bucket, it can be an affordable investment with careful research and planning. Many US students are unfamiliar with the financial realities of foreign study, with only 23% aware of government-sponsored programs – up from 6% in 2013. In addition to these federal scholarships and grants, there are countless other ways to travel on a budget. We’ve outlined the best tips below so you don’t have to sacrifice your experience to save a buck. . . . .