It starts about sophomore year - your mailbox gets bombarded daily with letters, newsletters, posters, and coursebooks featuring all the colleges within a hundred-mile radius. Sometimes a three hundred-mile radius...sometimes they're across the country! I've got a stack with my name on it at least four times a week...
I got an interesting one recently, blazened with large orange letters reading "Study Abroad". (The only thing saving it from the recycle bin.) The School of Field Studies, (SFS) has an amazingly organized, (and beautiful!) program, offering trips to Costa Rica, Turks & Caicos, Kenya, Mexico, and Australia. The SFS takes pride in the steps they're taking to protect our environment and educate our generation:
"We believe that everyone has a valuable role to play in helping to protect our environment for future generations. As environmental problems become increasingly more urgent, so must our commitment to finding solutions."
SFS is just one of the many programs geared toward getting our peers to experience life outside of their comfort zone. (You really will learn more than to apply sunscreen when you study abroad.) According to Mary M. Dwyer and Ph.D. Courtney K. Peters and a survey conducted by the Institute for the International Education of Students, studying abroad "is usually a defining moment in a young person's life...regardless of where students studied."
In The Benefits of Studying Abroad, Dwyer and Peters found that, when asked about personal growth, 97% said that the experience inspired higher maturity, while 96% reported higher self-confidence, and 95% stated that it has had a lasting impact on their world view. But the real question is; Where do you want life to take you?
Where would you be interested in studying abroad? Based on it's positive influences over a participant's life, should studying abroad be a requirement in your college-years?