OPINION: USF should make studying abroad a graduation requirement

Studying abroad allows students to grow academically, professionally and personally, and it is essential that USF makes this a requirement for its students. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/ FLICKR

By studying abroad, students have the capability to grow academically, personally and professionally, according to an April 9 LinkedIn article

USF reported that only 2.1% of its student population studied abroad in the 2021-22 USF Education Abroad Annual report.

In the U.S., about one in every 10 college students study abroad, according to an article from the USA Study Abroad website.

Study abroad programs benefit students by increasing their cultural awareness, providing new experiences and allowing them to grow in various ways, according to an article by the International Student website. Due to this, it is essential that USF begins to require study abroad as a graduation requirement for its students. 

Being a part of a study abroad program gives students the opportunity to thrive academically. Students are able to improve language skills, diversify their education by studying with individuals from different backgrounds and learn how to work with them, according to a January 27 article by Shorelight.

Studying in another country allows students to better network with others, broaden their career interests and improve their communication skills. 

Recent studies show that 97% of undergraduate students found a job within a year of graduation if they studied abroad while only 49% of college graduates find a job within a year of graduation if they do not study abroad, according to an article by The Myx.

From a personal growth standpoint, students are able to step out of their comfort zone and embrace life in a new country. This allows them to become more independent, improve social skills and improve problem-solving skills, according to an October 2022 article by the University of Missouri Career Center. 

The top reason why students choose not to study abroad is the cost of the program, according to a 2022 article by Rutgers University. However, a university such as USF provides additional financial aid for students studying abroad if they meet academic requirements, according to the USF Office of Financial Aid website.

In order to motivate more students to study abroad so they can gain the endless benefits of those programs, USF should make studying abroad a graduation requirement for degree-seeking students. Other universities in the U.S. such as Goucher College have been requiring their students to study abroad since 2006.

To overcome the financial barrier that many students face when deciding to study abroad, Goucher College allows students to use all financial aid they use at the college for a Goucher College-approved study abroad program, according to the Goucher College website.

By allowing students to apply their USF financial aid to USF-approved study abroad programs, students would no longer have to worry about financial limitations. This will give USF students the opportunity to grow and learn in a new country while embracing different cultures.