Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Studying abroad common among white students

The majority of Americans studying abroad are white, according to a recent report.One of the main reasons for this finding is that studying abroad can be expensive beyond the reach of many minority families.Between the 1999-2000 and 2008-2009 school years, white students constituted over 80 percent of those who studied abroad, according to data from the Institute for International Education Open Doors report. Other ethnic or race groups made up only 0.4-7 percent of students, with little to no changes in demographics from year to year.

All universities, including St. Edward's University, are required to submit student profile data to Open Doors and other institutions that issue these statistical reports concerning American students studying abroad.The St. Edward's Office of International Education is aware of these statistics, but does not use them to recruit students to study abroad.Instead, we like to focus our attentions on the student community as a whole. It doesn't matter what your background, major or financial situation is, International Advisor Erin Garcia said.We are here to help make studying abroad a possibility for everyone.

Garcia has done masters research concerning why students study abroad. She has learned that the student's cultural background can be a factor. Statistically, studying abroad has been a larger part of white culture than of any other cultural group.Even though more American minorities are attending college now than ever before, whites continue to make up the majority of college student populations. As a result, the notion of studying abroad has been a part of white culture for more generations. Conversely, many minority college students are the first members of their families to attend college and therefore less likely to have the desire to study overseas instilled in them early in their lives.

Although students' backgrounds can be a factor in whether or not they decide to study abroad, it is not the only factor and certainly not the most influential. The biggest concern of any student, no matter what their race or ethnicity, is the cost that comes with studying abroad.Studying abroad isn't something that I've really ever discussed with my parents. It might be something I would like to do later on in my college career, but right now I just don't think I have the financial support that I would need,freshman Jacob Rodriguez said.The availability of programs suited for different majors also heavily contributes to students' decisions concerning studying abroad. Majors within the School of Humanities, for instance, can be more easily adapted to the international experience, as opposed to majors from the other schools, such as those from the School of Natural Sciences. More female students tend to choose majors from the humanities than male students, which may be why more female students study abroad.

Junior Angela Truong had the opportunity to study in Japan last summer and in South Korea last fall. She has always felt connected to her culture, but she never had the chance to visit Asia before studying abroad.The only major obstacle was finding a way to pay for my study abroad programs, so I went to the study abroad office to check out some programs and figure out a financial plan,Truong said.

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