Study Abroad and US Students: Opportunities for Success

Study abroad programs have long been hailed as transformative experiences, enriching students’ personal and professional growth by exposing them to new cultures, ideas, and challenges. But what do students themselves think about the impact of these programs on their lives and careers? A recent report by Terra Dotta sheds light on this question in the USA, revealing the profound significance students attribute to study abroad experiences and highlighting areas where improvements are needed to enhance accessibility.

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Recognizing the Importance of Study Abroad

According to Terra Dotta’s survey, conducted in winter 2024 and encompassing 258 students interested in or having participated in study abroad programs, nearly 90 percent of respondents view study abroad as either somewhat or very important for their personal and professional development. Among those who have already taken part in such programs (half in summer programs such as those organized by SpaCIE), more than half described the experience as very important. This underscores the widespread recognition among students of the value that studying abroad brings to their lives.

Key Skills and Transformative Experiences

Participants in study abroad programs identified a range of skills gained during their time abroad that they believe will be invaluable for their future careers. Adaptability and resilience topped the list, followed closely by cross-cultural communication and problem-solving in new and unfamiliar situations. Moreover, the impact of study abroad extends beyond skill acquisition; over 80 percent of students reported a significant shift in their worldview as a result of their experiences, with many describing it as profoundly challenging their global assumptions and beliefs.

Navigating the Challenges of Study Abroad

While the benefits of study abroad are clear, students also face obstacles in accessing these opportunities. Cost emerged as a significant barrier, with two-thirds of respondents citing it as a primary impediment. Additional expenses such as visa fees, transportation, and living costs further contribute to the financial burden. Despite these challenges, students are resourceful in financing their study abroad experiences, with many relying on financial aid and scholarships to cover the costs. However, there remains a need for greater support in this area, as indicated by the majority of respondents who expressed a desire for easier access to financial assistance.

Promoting Accessibility

Recognizing the importance of expanding access to programs for studying abroad, some colleges and universities have implemented initiatives to mitigate financial barriers. These include free passport programs and scholarships targeted at first-generation or underrepresented minority students. Furthermore, an increasing number of institutions are offering study abroad opportunities during students’ first year, aiming to foster a culture of international engagement from the outset of their academic journey.


The findings from Terra Dotta’s report underscore the profound impact of study abroad on students’ personal and professional development. From acquiring vital skills to broadening their perspectives, study abroad experiences have the potential to shape students into global citizens equipped to navigate an increasingly interconnected world. However, to fully realize the benefits of these programs, it is imperative that colleges and universities prioritize efforts to enhance accessibility and support for students from diverse backgrounds. By breaking down barriers and expanding opportunities for international education, institutions can empower students to unlock their full potential and thrive in an ever-evolving global landscape.