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Study Abroad with an HBCU

man talking on cell phone with a suitcase

Having the opportunity to study abroad with your school can be scary, overwhelming, enriching, and completely worth it. However, it can also be expensive, and for many college students, spending lots of money on an experience that can last a couple of weeks to an entire semester may not be feasible. Luckily, HBCUs are looking to grow their study abroad programs, which means they are offering different programs to help get students more interested in studying abroad with an HBCU.

Studying abroad offers students a variety of options when it comes to seeing different areas and countries, all while getting points towards your degree. Depending on the programs offered, study abroad with an HBCU can be as short as a week spent in another country over spring break or during summer, and as long as a full semester or even a full year spent at another university in a different country. What each school is able to offer depends on a variety of factors, including funding, partnerships, professors, curriculum, and travel risk management. Because these trips are school-sanctioned and run by the universities, there are several legalities that must be taken into consideration, so it requires greater resources than a group of students choosing to take a vacation to the same country on a non-school-sanctioned vacation. There are several programs that will partner with schools to provide these experiences to the students of different universities.

Unfortunately, studies have shown that study abroad with an HBCU is at much lower rates than study abroad programs at other schools. In fact, African American students are underrepresented, and while they represent 14% of all students enrolled in higher education, 5.9% wind up studying abroad, and only 3.4% at HBCUs. On the other hand, for students across all institutions nationally, 10.4% of them study abroad. This is a huge discrepancy, which is why it's so important to offer and find more opportunities for those at HBCUs to have these study abroad opportunities. While it is certainly growing over the years, students at HBCUs are still less likely to study abroad than students at other schools.

Because of the nature of HBCUs, the students that are in attendance are more likely to be first-generation or to face financial barriers, as well as various fears regarding studying abroad including safety, and even difficulties finding programs that offer interest. These are just a small amount of the issues that HBCUs are faced with when it comes to study abroad programs, but they do create a roadblock for students who are attempting to see different parts of the world. Luckily, there are many people who are working to improve the accessibility to study abroad programs. There are also several grants that are offered which will pay for certain students to attend, which is a wonderful option for those who were unable to afford the program otherwise.

Another roadblock that people are attempting to fix is offering wider opportunities. In the past, study abroad programs were not designed with a focus on heritage and where students came from. So for many HBCU students, they are more interested in going to different places that their ancestors are from or that they have heritage from, which gives them access to their past that they didn't have before. This is more appealing to certain students than going to a European country for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, these programs are more lacking than the other more popular choices, which means that the programs need to be adjusted to fit those of all the students interested, rather than a certain portion of students.

Studying abroad can be a transformative experience for the students who get to participate, which is why there are many programs dedicated to opening it up to minorities and other students who generally wouldn't consider study abroad as a potential during their collegiate career. No matter where the study abroad occurs, it can be a wonderful experience for students to get in touch with their ancestral history or experience a completely new area that is more diverse than they had thought.