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Is It Worth It? You Can’t Put A Price On Experience

By Jacqueline Stoughton

Despite the large rise in prices for study abroad programs, The Center for International Education at Central Connecticut State University does not believe it will have any affect on the number of students who chose to participate in a studying abroad.

“We offer academic programs,” said Lisa Bigelow, Associate Director of the Center for International Education. “Our prices are based on group travel, which would be priced higher than a bargain deal on Travelocity or Expedia.”

In the past ten years, a student at CCSU would expect to pay any where between $1995 to $2595 to go on a study abroad program.  Now, students should expect to pay anywhere in the range of $2695 to $3695.  However, prices do vary depending on where students choose to travel to and for how long.

“The basic economics of rising costs in the travel industry, and a huge component is the airline ticket,” said Bigelow.  “With the cost of fuel and increased government taxes, airline tickets today look a lot different than they did five to ten years ago.”

“I took advantage of a passport to global citizenship.  I traveled to England and was able to pay with money the school gave back to me,” said Jesmarie Disdiel, a student at CCSU.  “I can’t afford an actual trip abroad because the cost reflects the price of CCSU tuition including dorming plus other fee depending on what program you choose.”

“We have all of the CCSU scholarships that are in the CCSU foundation and are administered through CIE.  Some scholarships are given by donors that are geographically specific,” said Bigelow.  According to Bigelow, the process of achieving a scholarship is quite competitive.  Students require a minimum 2.5 GPA, but the competitiveness of receiving a scholarship varies from year to year.

“I went to England and am going to Greece next summer,” said Kathleen Ericson, a student at CCSU. “I was able to afford England by picking up a few extra hours at work but it wasn’t very expensive for what I got out of it.”

“The recent price increases were slightly discouraging when looking into my trip to Greece, but it wasn’t that big of a jump where I would change my mind because it’s such a great deal still and a rare opportunity,” stated Ericson.

Students who take advantage of the universities study abroad programs not only gain a valuable experience that takes them out of their comfort zone, but it’s also a great asset to have on a resume.  Going in and out of the country on an academic adventure will be the one aspect of one’s resume when showing it to future employers.  According to Bigelow, only about one percent of college students take advantage of study abroad programs.

“It looks great that you went to a different country and submerged yourself in its culture,” said Disdiel.

“You’ll come back from a study abroad program with a tangible outcome you can put on your resume,” said Bigelow.  “You’ll be able to talk about the knowledge and skills you’ve achieved through your study abroad program that would be hard to do if you spent spring break in Cancun or backpacked across Europe.”

“My trip to England really helped me understand more about the world and life in other countries.  I would definitely recommend every student to go on at least one of these trips before they graduate,” said Ericson.  “It’s an experience unlike any other that everyone should experience at least once in their lives.”

“We want to graduate globally competent students.  We’re getting students prepared that it’s a big world out there and it starts right here in New Britain, Connecticut,” said Bigelow.  “What I try to tell students from the get go is it’s not if you’re going to study abroad it’s when.  You’re going to be left behind if you don’t.”

This year the CIE is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary of its international education program.  The program was started in 1974, and since then international education has become one of the universities four areas of distinction.

“We’re selling something not everyone needs to buy, and we understand that,” said Bigelow.  “But we firmly believe that the students who do participate in study abroad are going to come out ahead of those who choose not to.”

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