Personal development occurs outside your comfort zone, and studying abroad is going to offer a wealth of opportunities to step beyond what you think you can do. Universities are ranked by the number of opportunities they offer for students to accomplish the three goals below:
Building confidence and resilience
Confidence and resilience come from facing and overcoming challenges. But at the same time, there’s no sense in taking on overwhelming challenges without the tools to face them. The best places to study abroad give students the chance to select the challenges they will face, test themselves, and move on to greater things.
Universities in a country with a different language and culture base from a student’s home country will be rated higher for this benefit. Campus internationalization and maximizing opportunities for international students to interact with local students and other international students from around the world produce opportunities to work together to overcome challenges of difference in a variety of encounters.
Universities that score high in this benefit:
- Guarantee on-campus housing and mix local and international students in living quarters
- Allow international students to work or intern on- or off-campus
- Arrange community service and community interaction events
Independence is not only doing things on your own, but knowing when to ask for help. Going abroad in the first place, especially going as a direct-enrollment or exchange student, is already a huge independent effort. Study abroad destinations can further contribute to students’ development of independence by giving them the resources and opportunities to plan and execute activities on their own and by offering a comprehensive support system for international students to fall back on.
Examples of rating criteria include:
- Opportunities for students to plan their own travel, including holidays
- Ease of access of local public transportation
- Availability of a buddy program as well as counseling, medical assistance, and other staff support in English
Maturity is difficult to evaluate and is often measured quite differently by university faculty/staff and students themselves. For the purpose of this evaluation, increasing maturity is a progression from external to internal accountability and universities that best contribute to international students’ maturity are those that hold them accountable for performance and also offer opportunities to reflect. For example, universities score well for this benefit when they:
- Make students responsible for arranging their own travel
- Place international students and local students in the same classes and hold them to the same standards
- Offer international students the chance to become part of peer groups, such as clubs and student government, and to take part in internships or work
Seize the Opportunities
This rating system is based on opportunities offered. None are compulsory. So, it is entirely possible to have a miserable experience at a highly rated university, if students choose not to take part.
For Students: Read the articles on each individual studying abroad benefit for tips on how to take advantage of all of these opportunities.