Tag Archives: empowerment

Study Abroad…dare to dream!

4 Mar

During my time living in China, I encountered so many students dreaming of studying abroad…specifically, gaining admission into a university in the good ole’ U.S of A. Countless times I was tempted to ask them, “What do you really know about the U.S. educational system? Why is it so important for you to study there?” But I didn’t. I didn’t ask because who was I to trample on someone’s dream? Who was I?

I was a dreamer too. I once dreamed of studying abroad as well. I wanted to broaden my horizon and see what life had to offer outside of the United States. Alas, I couldn’t. You see, my parents were poor immigrants from the poorest country in the western hemisphere. My dad had a second-grade education and my mom, well, my mom probably had less. I was the first in my family to go to college and graduate. At a steep price. I guess the thought of that steep price is what made me want to question those students about their burning desire to study abroad. Clearly, studies have shown that it is in fact worth the “steep price” to attend college in the United States, but first, let’s look at what students in China have to look forward to in order to continue their education in their homeland.

In China, students are given an exam during their senior year that will determine what they should be in life. Their whole future hinges on this one test called the Gaokao. Those who score high will attend university, but in a field that the test determines matches their aptitude and personality, while the unfortunate ones who score low, will never see the bland walls of a college classroom. In fact, they just might be lucky enough to pick up trash on the streets or if their parents can afford, they will go into trading, opening up a small shop selling clothes or nicknacks. Many cannot even get hired to work in the fast food industry without a college degree.

Studying abroad can provide many opportunities for global competition and personal growth. That’s why so many want to break out and have the experience. Not only does their future depend on it, but the future of their aging parents as well.  According to a study survey published in 2012 by IES Abroad, a company dedicated to providing study abroad services for students worldwide, “97% of study abroad students found employment within 12 months of graduation when only 49% of college graduates found employment in the same period.” More than half of their graduate counterparts and at a higher salary. The survey of IES Study Abroad Alumni went on to show that, 84%  of alumni felt that studying abroad “helped them build valuable job skills, such as language proficiency, cultural training, tolerance for ambiguity, adaptability, and communication.”

55f19c2dc3e01-imageClearly there is something to be had with studying abroad. In the summer of 2015, a year after leaving China and returning back to America, I received no less than 5 correspondences from former students eager to find out more information on how to qualify for studying abroad in America. So, I became an independent consultant on the matter. I started providing oral English tutoring online as well as guiding their research on schools and their policies for applying as an international student. There are many steps that students must take and many hurdles to get over before the process can be completed. One of which is passing the TOEFL or TESOL exam.

Those 2 exams have proven to be quite a hurdle for my students. A few of them had to take and re-take these exams more than once before contacting me. Others, tired of trying have given up. All I can say to those who wish to study abroad is not to give up. Obtaining a college degree in America may not hold all the prestige that it once did…for an American national, but as an international student, taking back that degree to your country will still prove invaluable! Happy studying!