Posted by: SSU Lingua Franca | December 1, 2015

The Value of Studying Abroad & Costa Rica 2016

The Value of Studying Abroad & Costa Rica 2016

by Fátima Serra

SSU Costa Rica 2014

SSU students at the Costa Rica 2014 trip

This summer we are going back to Heredia, Costa Rica. During four weeks, students will live with a Tica family and earn six credits of Spanish Language, Culture or Literature at Universidad Latina with other Costa Rican and international students. We will explore the country in multiple excursions: exciting hikes to volcanoes, relaxing baths in hot springs and yes, zip-line and water rafting for the adventurous. Cultural and service learning activities will make this the life-changing experience that many claim study abroad is. In the words of Terry Pratchett:

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” Terry Pratchett tells us. (Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky)

The numbers don’t lie. Several studies have proven how the study abroad experience changes lives (see the online version of this article at for the sources of these claims):

Study Abroad and Careers, Salaries and Job Skills

97% of study abroad students found employment within 12 months of graduation, when only 49% of college graduates found employment in the same period. That means they were twice as likely to find a job.

25% higher starting salaries: that’s how much more study abroad students earn than those college graduates who do not study abroad. 1 In a lifetime, study abroad students out earn their peers by 17%. This translates into earning an extra $567,500 over one’s career.

90% of study abroad alumni got into their first and second grad school choice.

84% of study abroad alumni felt their studies abroad helped them build valuable skills for the job market.

80% of study abroad students reported that study abroad allowed them to better adapt to diverse work environments.

70% of study abroad alumni claimed that because of study abroad they were more satisfied with their jobs.

59% of employers said study abroad would be valuable in an individual’s career later on with their organization.

34% of study abroad alumni claimed that study abroad helped them choose their career field.

Study abroad and Graduation and Academic Performance

100% greater improvement in GPA post-study abroad. Students GPAs tend to rise as they approach the completion of their undergraduate degree. Students who studied abroad saw their GPAs rise twice as quickly as a result of going abroad compared to students who stayed in town according to a Georgia study. 5

19% more likely to graduate. That describes how study abroad participants are more likely to graduate than non-participants by six years. Even at four years, study abroad participants are 15% more likely to graduate. 6

By travelling students learn other ways of doing, other ways of thinking and other ways of speaking. But above all programs abroad are about creating connections by finding others and finding yourself. When we go discover the world it becomes common ground and a common bond.

Returning students have proven all this time and again. On many occasions a four week program has been catalyst for students to embark on new professional avenues and longer study abroad experiences. The following is Jamie Desmond’s recap of what the Study Abroad immersion program in Costa Rica 2014 meant for her and I hope that many SSU students consider following her lead and will join the World languages Department in Heredia, Costa Rica this summer.

For more info: Fátima Serra

Costa Rica poster photo

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