By Skylar Nicholson, University of Georgia
Out of all college undergraduate students in the United States, only 10% will study abroad before they graduate, according to the Institute of International Education.
Part of the reason for such low participation is directly related to costs, but Effie Antonoudi, a University of Georgia consumer economicsand financial planning professor, suggested that more students should consider applying for the vast number of scholarships for such travel that go unused each year.
“There are a lot of opportunities at the college level and also at the university level. There are also private funds that can be used directly for study abroad,” said Antonoudi. “So, it’s up to the student, obviously through research (to) find all these things. But, the University of Georgia also has great resources in the office of global engagement and within each college.”
Antonoudi said scholarships that are often overlooked are offered through specific majors, many of which are funded by alumni, adding “there is . . . alumni support for sure and established money that goes directly to scholarships.”
When she personally donates, Antonoudi adds a note that states “I want this money to be allocated to scholarships for study abroad specifically, because I am very fond of study abroad programs.” She takes a group of students each year on a study abroad program to Greece.
Antonoudi said these types of scholarships can oftentimes be added to other privately funded scholarships to provide students with a larger sum of money that can be used to pay for such things as air travel, lodging and food during study abroad experiences.
Emma Toland studied abroad with UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in Dublin, Ireland, in 2018. She received $500 scholarship that was awarded based on a combination of merit and financial need. Toland said the scholarship was helpful as it covered the extra program fees and airfare for her trip.
Toland said studying abroad allowed her to form close relationships while encountering different cultures through first-hand experiences.
“I would say the biggest thing for me is it really made me more confident in my skills as a student and as a person to know to know that I’m actually more capable than I give myself credit for,” said Toland. “It is just a lifelong memory that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I’m just really in awe at the people I encountered on study abroad, because it brought together a group of students that I otherwise never would have encountered.”
Research from the International Business Seminars shows that many types of study abroad experiences are available, including the length of travel and when the travel occurs. This research showed that “38.5% of students study during a summer term, while 18.8% participate for eight weeks or less during the academic year and 7.1% participate over a January term.”
Antonoudiencourages students to be proactive about what they want to do with their study abroad opportunity. She specifically points out the importance of making a plan for what a student wants to get out of their experience, what they can afford and how they are going to make their plans a reality.
“Planning early is definitely the key for any study abroad program,” she said.
Skylar Nicholson is journalism major in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.