Take the world by the horns. Whether by way of glossy posters plastered across campus bulletin boards or unwarranted attacks from program representatives tabling in Gregory Plaza, these six words are thrown at students from the time they first set foot on the 40 Acres. The idea of traveling the world is understandably very attractive to most students, but for many, the constant pressure to participate in one of UT’s study abroad programs can be demeaning and stressful as students struggle to find a way to come up with the necessary funding.
Though traveling the world is an incredible opportunity, it is often restricted to students who can afford to take a chunk of the year off from work while also paying the thousands of dollars necessary for program fees, airfare and the cost of living. However, by dedicating the same amount of resources to the promotion of research and internship opportunities as it does to study abroad, UT can ensure that each of its students have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience, regardless of economic status.
According to a survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education, employers reported that internship experience and employment during college were the attributes that they considered to be most important when choosing potential candidates. There was, however, no mention about study abroad.
Study abroad is not the attribute that makes or breaks a resume. With this in mind, University leadership should prioritize programs, events, application assistance and advising for students that prioritize work and internship experience above study abroad. Not only would this be more accessible to all students, regardless of socioeconomic status — it’s also more crucial than study abroad when determining success in career opportunities post-graduation.
Although study abroad is a fun experience, there are better chances to broaden your horizons, gain valuable insight into your chosen career path and become a more well-rounded job candidate through employment and internships within your local community. If you’re unsure of where to start, a visit to the Liberal Arts Career Services page can point you to work opportunities that match your interests and won’t break your bank like study abroad could.
Seeing the rest of the world is something that each person should get to experience at least once during their lifetime. However, in a university that is home to students of an array of economic backgrounds, resources should be allocated to programs that are focused on opportunities that all people can take part in — not just the economic elite. Instead, invest in yourself by spending your time interning and doing volunteer work within your community. Remember: You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to “take the world by the horns.”
Elizabeth Braaten is a international relations and global studies junior from Conroe.