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When most people hear the phrase “study-abroad program,” they’re likely picturing a group of college students walking around art galleries in Europe. For schools like Trinity Prep, however, study-abroad programs mean hands-on learning in diverse environments. There’s still some debate remaining in education about the importance of global learning and whether studying abroad is truly worth it. Trinity Prep Saints know firsthand that they’re more than “worth it”; they’re life-changing. 

What is “Global Learning”

Before unpacking the myriad benefits to studying abroad, one first needs to understand this concept of global learning. Global learning is about facilitating educational experiences that give students diverse perspectives. Rather than being an “extra” way to learn about the world around them, global learning is a holistic approach. One example would be students reading and analyzing graphic novels like “Persepolis” or applying biology concepts to understanding why Ebola spreads rapidly in some areas. Global learning takes an in-class conversation and shows students that the curriculum they’re learning affects the world around them. 

Global learning is on the rise. Our economy is incredibly global; some 40 million jobs are tied to international trade. Employers are also looking to diversify their workforces, and they want employees who have cross-cultural skills. Global learning also increases social-emotional learning, giving students stronger intrapersonal and communication skills. 

Because of this need for global learning, study-abroad programs are on the rise. But when should students travel? At leading private schools like Trinity Prep, we believe that answer is in the formative years of high school rather than waiting for college. With guidance, students can experience the immersive and life-changing experiences that studying abroad has to offer. 

Why are Study-Abroad Programs Important

There are a number of reasons to study abroad. Trinity is a school that’s offered countless programs over the years; here are some of the biggest factors we’ve seen firsthand in our students: 

It boosts academic performance. 

This is one of the biggest reasons most students and their parents look for study-abroad programs. Studying abroad has been shown in several studies to correlate with improved academic performance — regardless of a student’s age. Why? Because students are forced to develop new modes of learning while abroad. They’re able to apply those learning styles when they return. Participants who study abroad are also more likely to connect subjects like history, humanities, and geography to their experiences. 

Global learning better prepares them for the “real world.”

Multiple studies have shown the connection between studying abroad and student success after graduation. Most studies done regarding the impact of studying abroad use college students and post-grads, but the impacts can be felt in younger participants as well. In one study, 84% of study-abroad alumni felt their studies helped them build a valuable skill set for the job market. Another 80% noted that their global learning experience allowed them to adapt to diverse work environments. 

Studying abroad improves compassion and emotional development in students

High school students are at an age when they need to develop and practice compassion for other cultures while their worldviews are malleable. Their engagement with other cultures will shape how they see themselves and the world around them. One German study compared personality development in students who had and had not studied abroad, finding that those who studied abroad improved five core traits compared to those who didn’t: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability. 

Studying abroad gives participants a stronger sense of independence and identity. 

Travel programs provide experiences that define a person’s place and purpose. Studying abroad during a student’s formative years can help establish lifelong values and priorities. Discovering a new place is also a chance to discover one’s self, without the usual influences of home.

It helps students discover grit and resilience. 

Traveling beyond the reaches of the comfort of friends, family and familiar surroundings is tough. Studying abroad shows that a person is interested enough in the rest of the world, and confident enough to venture out and discover it. Studying abroad — especially in areas where English isn’t widely spoken — can also teach students resilience in communicating to get what they want or where they need to be. 

When Students Should Participate in Study-Abroad Programs

Whether they know it or not, high school students are setting routines and developing personality traits that will last them a lifetime. However, most people assume that studying abroad is restricted to college students. Allowing students to participate in global learning experiences at an earlier age lets them outpace their peers academically and emotionally and better prepare themselves for college. 

Global learning shouldn’t wait until college. By the time students get to university, they’ll already need to know how to engage with others of various backgrounds and cultures. Their faculty will also likely expect them to have the social-emotional learning and confidence to succeed on their own. Studying abroad while in high school equips them with the independence to excel in college and the soft skills to build connections with those around them before they hit campus. 

How Can Students Get Involved in Studying Abroad

Our Saints have a variety of ways to jumpstart their experience. We offer a variety of trips for students to take. A few of the previous trips offered include: 

  • Historical and cultural tours in Japan, starting in bustling Tokyo and later traveling to the imperial palaces and Shinto shrines of Kyoto

  • Taking a dive into the rich artistry and cultural history of Paris and the Loire Valley, including trips to iconic landmarks like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower

  • Photography intensives in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, where students stayed in a floating village, experienced the gorgeous temples of Angkor Wat, and got hands-on experience with professional international photographers

At Trinity Prep, we give our students every opportunity to study abroad in an area that they want to explore. From photo documentary workshops in Southeast Asia to exploring the biology found in Fiji’s beaches, there’s no horizon we won’t chase. The only question left for new students is “where do you want to go?” 

Interested in what study-abroad opportunities we have coming up? Click here to see updated offerings: Where We’re Going Next