Despite money being tight for students and their families, each year more and more of them are still finding it important to study abroad.
Kasee Laster, director of education abroad, said more students are seeing the importance in studying abroad.
“I think people increasingly understand the interconnectedness of the world and the vital importance of international experience and comfort operating internationally,” Laster said.
There are more than 100 programs to choose from at the University of Georgia, which affords more students the opportunity to participate than ever before.
The 2001-2002 school year saw a total of 1,991 students take part in the various study abroad programs offered at UGA.
The past decade has seen a change in program enrollment, with 2,359 students having studied abroad during the 2011-2012 school year.
William Smith, an education abroad adviser, said the increase in applicants has lead to more scholarships
“We’ve seen an increase in our scholarship applications, therefore we’ve been able to increase the scholarship funds,” Smith said.
UGA has been recognized as the No. 15 school out of all U.S. institutions on the number of students studying abroad, according to the 2013 Open Doors Report
One of the reasons for the ranking is the increase in scholarships given out to students in order to help them meet the costs of these expensive trips.
Smith said he suggests students apply for national scholarships.
“We’ve been pushing our students to apply for national scholarships, and we’ve seen an increase in our students winning national scholarships as well,” he said.
UGA has also seen a growth in the amount of study abroad programs offered to students.
Smith said the first few study abroad programs were located in Western Europe because that was the most popular destination at the time.
Western Europe, along with Latin America, still remain the most popular destinations, but there is an increase in students going to Asia and Africa.
Six percent of the UGA student population studies abroad and that has been steadily increasing each year.
Lillian Haas, a third-year English major from Atlanta, took part in the UGA at Oxford program last summer.
When choosing a program, Haas based her decision on what was relevant to her major as well as what was affordable for her family.
Haas said the scholarship process was not easy, but it was well worth it because she enjoyed studying in a different environment.
“It’s a different way to experience education,” she said. “I really liked getting to study in a different location, especially studying at Oxford. I had an Oxford professor, and that was really cool. It was a new way of looking at things.”
Laster and Smith both agreed this opportunity could and should be taken by any student of any major.
There are several programs within each school that cater to each student’s particular major.
Laster said students’ exposure to new cultures abroad can be beneficial to graduates applying for jobs.
“For many people, it’s going to be the best opportunity in your life to engage with the world in a really deep and immersed way,” Laster said. “For others, it’s going to open the door, get you hooked and you may end up with a very international career.”