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Education is one of the most important building blocks of the human civilization. It provides people with the knowledge necessary to take part in the advancement of the society (Brand and Xie 273).
Because of the importance attached to education, many governments have tried to provide the best education opportunities to their citizens. Many institutions of higher learning have been established in countries all over the world. In addition to this, the number of students enrolled in institutes of higher learning today is greater than it has ever been at any other time in history.
However, the educational standards and opportunities among vactious countries differ. Therefore, some individuals opt to travel abroad for better educational opportunities. This has led to questions as to which is the more advantageous form of education: local education or abroad education. This paper will argue that studying abroad increases the chances for a person to acquire a good education and therefore improve his/her economic outcomes.
Merits of Studying Abroad
By studying abroad, a person is better prepared to enter the international labor market. The world today is highly globalized and international companies are being set up in most nations (Black and Duhon 141). International competitiveness is therefore becoming important for individuals from all countries. Prospective employees are increasingly required to have an education that is internationally oriented.
For most people, especially in developing nations, the only way to gain an education that will satisfy the demands of the international job market is by studying abroad. Multinational companies prefer to employ people who have some international exposure since such individuals are more likely to have the skills necessary to function in a global business environment. The huge economic and talent gains that studying abroad brings are therefore key motivation for studying abroad.
Studying abroad increases the cultural competence of an individual. When studying abroad, students interact with people of different nationalities and cultural backgrounds. This exposure enables them to appreciate other cultures. Black and Duhon suggest that a student who has studied abroad develops a broader outlook on life due to his interaction with people who have different views on life (144).
Contact with culturally diverse individuals will increase tolerance for differences. This multicultural exposure is important since today’s workplace is characterized by workers of varied cultural backgrounds (Black and Duhon 142). A student who has studied abroad will therefore be at an advantage when dealing with other employees in the multicultural work setting.
Studying abroad assists in the growth and development of the student’s home country. Today’s economy is highly dependent on a modern and more global labor force. Many developing countries lack the resources necessary to create this global labor force. Most domestic education programs are characterized by a lack of diverse knowledge (Huang 118).
This limits the exposure of a student and fails to prepare him/her for the global work environment. For such countries, the only feasible alternative is for the citizens to go abroad for studies and then come back equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge. Studying approach enables the country’s citizenry to access the educational resources necessary to build a sustainable economy in modern times.
By studying abroad, a student is exposed to opportunities to utilize research and technology that is not available in his/her home country. The educational services offered in different countries vary in terms of the facilities available and the faculty members. Some international schools are renowned for their first class research facilities and advanced technology (Harman 110).
Internationally renowned schools also attract the best faculty members. Most Western Nations have established themselves as the powerhouses in scientific research and technology. When a person goes to study from schools in these countries, he/she is given the chance to benefit from resources therein. The quality of education that a student gains is therefore greater than what he/she would have had in the local institutes.
Studying abroad gives a person more choice in terms of courses and institutions of higher education. In some countries, the number of courses provided for the students in educational institutes is narrow. Huang documents that most developing nations have a limited list of available courses on offer to their students (120). A student who wishes to pursue a specialized course might find himself/herself unable to do so since the course is absent from the list offered in his country.
The institutes abroad have very expansive list of courses on offer and this gives the student more choices (Brand and Xie 273). By studying abroad, an individual is able to select the desired course from the many options on offer. In addition to this, studying abroad gives a student a large selection of schools to choose from. A person therefore has the chance to select his ideal school from a large collection when he goes to study abroad.
Studying abroad can help overcome the issue of limited places in local educational institutes. More people appreciate the value of education today and this has led to higher enrollment rates in institutions of learning (Olcott 99).
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As the demand for education increases, it is becoming harder for students to gain placement in local institutes. Studying abroad gives a person the chance to explore other options. A person is able to find a school in a foreign country and therefore pursue his/her educational goals in spite of the limited places locally.
Studying abroad enhances a student’s proficiency in a foreign language. In some cases, students go to study abroad in countries where people communicate in languages foreign to the student. In such a case, the student can enhance his proficiency in the particular language. Hunley asserts that while it is possible to learn a foreign language through traditional didactic experiences, the exposure to native speakers and the culture in which the language is used is indispensable (3).
Language is the most important tool of interaction and achieving proficiency in foreign languages increases the marketability of a person. The world today is characterized by a major integration of economies and cultures. Therefore, the frequency of interaction with people who speak different languages is high. Studying abroad gives a student proficiency in more than one language and this is an advantage when they are applying for a job. Organizations view people with additional language skills as greater assets.
Studies indicate that students who study abroad have higher overall grades and they graduate sooner than their counterparts who study locally. Redden documents that the timely graduation rate of students who studied abroad was 23% higher than that of students who did not study abroad (1).
This link between studying abroad and on-time graduation can be attributed to the deep commitment that students who study abroad have to learning and their motivation to get on with life. Most of these students want to successfully complete their course and reap the benefits of their education. The fact that abroad education is expensive serves as a major incentive for the students to work hard and achieve good results for themselves.
Studying abroad promotes personal growth in the individual as they are forced to deal with issues on their own. For most people, moving to study abroad entails leaving behind a familiar environment and going to an unfamiliar place. In this new place, the individual does not have the social and economic support that he enjoyed in his home country.
The student is forced to handle issues on his/her own in the host country. Hunley asserts that such experiences assist students develop “a better sense of self and have more insight into their lives” (4). During the adjustment period, the student will learn how to deal with real life situations on his/her own.
Demerits of Studying Abroad
One of the main disadvantages of studying abroad is the significant cost associated with the activity. Studying locally is usually cheaper since the government may subsidize local institutes and a student does not have to incur high costs of living (Hunley 4). On the other hand, studying abroad is an expensive affair and the student is forced to incur significant financial costs in the overseas school. In addition to the cost of tuition at the educational institute, the student has to cater for the cost of living, which is in most cases very high.
Adjusting to life in a foreign country might be hard and if a person is unable to adapt effectively, their experience will be bad. Studying abroad means that a person has to move from their familiar environment to one that is alien to them. Most people experience culture shock and may have a hard time integrating into their new environment (Pyvis and Chapman 24). Some students end up feeling isolated and a lack of social support.
Without friends and family to help the person, studying abroad can be an emotionally straining. Hunley documents that students who study abroad experience psychological problems such as anxiety and depression because of the lack of adequate social support (14). Some people find the environment too strenuous and they decide to return to their home country. If a student decides to return home without completing his/her studies, he/she will have wasted time and a lot of money unnecessarily.
A notable disadvantage of studying abroad is that it leads to a loss of human and intellectual capital to some countries. Most students who leave their home countries to study abroad do not return once they have completed their studies.
Instead, they seek employment opportunities in their host country and utilize their professional skills for the benefit of the host. This problem of human and intellectual capital loss is most significant in developing countries. Tansel and Naomi assert that most students from third world countries leave for further studies never to return leading to a brain drain from the developing nations (54).
Studying abroad reduces the incentive for many countries to develop their own local educational institutes to meet international standards. As has been noted, most students go to study abroad in order to benefit from the research and technological advances in the overseas institutes.
The home country is not pressured into creating their own highly developed education systems since there is the option of going abroad to get the same. Olcott documents that these short-term strategies of utilizing the expertise and knowledge base of other countries is preferred by most developing nations since it is the relatively cheap option (98). Studying abroad decreases the chances of a country developing its own high quality education system leading to poor education outcomes for the country.
While the importance of education is acknowledged by all people, debates concerning which is better between local and abroad’s education systems are notably on the rise. Proponents of attaining an education locally argue that studying abroad causes an unnecessary strain on the student who is forced to incur significant financial expenses without a guarantee that their investment will pay off.
The opponents of studying abroad also note that this system discourages some countries from investing in their own high class educational facilities. While this argument is true, studying abroad leads to many advantages for the individual student and his home nation. Students obtain knowledge and skill that they later use to advance their home countries. Some nations are even motivated to improve their educational institutes in order to attract foreign students.
Harman states that for educational institutes to operate effectively internationally, they have to adopt internationally oriented curricula and expand their programs (113). The host nation therefore benefits from these innovations, which come about because of students wanting to study abroad.
The paper has acknowledged that students who study abroad deal with many challenges and problems due to their isolation from the familiar environment in their home country. However, these challenges help the student attain a level of maturity and gain insights into his/her life.
In addition to this, the challenges are only temporary in nature. Dwyer notes that when students study abroad for longer durations, they are able to overcome the initial setbacks caused by culture shock and benefit from the educational opportunities presented to them in the new environment (152). Students who overcome these hardships develop greater emotional maturity and they are likely to achieve success in life because of their experiences.
This paper set out to argue that studying abroad is a positive thing since it offers the individual many benefits. The paper began by highlighting that a student gains a competitive advantage in the labor market due to his/her international education.
Studying abroad gives the individual many opportunities and exposes them to different cultures and ways of life. The paper has also discussed some of the major demerits associated with studying abroad. It has noted that studying abroad is an expensive affair and many students have a hard time adjusting to life in a foreign country.
However, most students manage to overcome the setbacks that studying abroad presents and benefit from the practice. From the arguments presented in this paper, it is clear that the advantages of studying abroad to the individual and his home country by far outweigh the disadvantages. This practice should therefore be encouraged in order to ensure that more nations benefit from the economic growth and development that is promoted by studying abroad.
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