Millennials take constant abuse from major media outlets. They are called slobs, leeches and heartless selfie-taking, Buzzfeed-inhaling machines.
There’s one label they might want to keep — “generation study abroad.”
Millennials study abroad in higher numbers than any previous generation. Over the past two decades, according to the 2014 Open Doors report produced by the Institute for International Education, participation in study abroad programs tripled. The current number of U.S. students abroad is at a record high.
Many come from science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors, a sector deemed critical for U.S. performance on the world stage and in which U.S. schools have been sorely lacking.
According to the Open Doors report, just over a fifth of U.S. students abroad in 2014 majored in one of those fields.
“This is a really new trend,” says Daniel Obst, deputy vice president for international partnerships at the IIE. “Ten years ago we said we don’t have enough STEM students abroad. There was a lot of mythology then that study abroad would delay your degree.”
Alex Fitch, a junior at Lewis & Clark College, is the first in his family to study abroad for college credit. Fitch dovetails his role as captain of the LC rugby team with his coursework in entrepreneurship, hoping to learn how to sell the sport to American sports fans.
He gravitated to Australia, a world capital of rugby. He’s not just there to join the scrum — he sees his experiences abroad through a business lens.
“As a businessman I could see how getting hired, or marketing something here would be different,” he says. “In the United States, it’s about a single person going out and achieving. In Australia, it’s all about ‘mateship’ and working as a team.” . . .