Study abroad can be a life-changing experience for a college student. I’ll never forget my experience in Zimbabwe, for instance. Before I spent a semester during my junior year at Colorado College studying in this Southern African nation, I was sure I wanted to go to medical school and work in a major U.S. city. But when I returned from Zimbabwe, I was smitten with a desire to explore more of the world. As a result, I ended up joining the student newspaper and pursuing a career in journalism rather than medicine. I then spent the better part of the decade after I graduated from college continent hopping around the globe, including multiple returns trips to Africa, writing more than 30 travel guides for Lonely Planet.
I’m far from the only one who had a transformative study abroad program. Today Eric Stoen runs a popular family travel blog,
Travel Babbo which has roots in his experience studying in Italy and Germany while at Pepperdine University.
“After Pepperdine, I got my Masters in International Management, largely as a result of my studies in Europe, and I kept traveling,” Stoen says. “A long weekend – why not go to Australia? A friend’s birthday in Lithuania? Absolutely. And now with kids, I’ve continued to travel. My 10-year-old has been to all seven continents. My eight-year-old has been to 37 countries. I’ve never gotten tired of traveling, and it all started with my year abroad in Florence.”
Not everyone who participates in a study abroad program ends up globetrotting for a living, of course, many settles down into traditional careers, but still, credit their experience in another country as beneficial on many different levels. Study abroad can boost a resume, give you something to talk about with future employers, prove your ability to yourself to thrive in a foreign environment or simply allow you to immerse yourself completely in a new culture to learn its point of view. It’s been a tradition at American colleges and universities for about 100 years now.
Today nearly every college and university in the U.S. offer some kind of study abroad program, although, according to the University of Arkansas less than 3% of the total college population in the U.S. takes advantage of this chance to be a citizen of the world, at least for a semester. And not all study abroad programs are created equal. While some schools offer hand-tailored, often faculty-led programs that are academically rigorous, others are essentially just an excuse to party in another country. Here we focus on the programs that will give you the best bang for you buck, so to say. Schools that focus on academics as well as broadening a student’s horizon, and provide experiences that will be beneficial in the real world, whether it comes to snagging your dream job post graduation, or in my case, a program that changes not only your world view but also your career path. From small liberal arts colleges to state universities, here are 25 schools to look at for their standout study abroad programs.