Mirroring last year’s trends, Yale had the lowest percentage of students studying abroad in the Ivy League this year, with 2.3 percent of Yalies choosing to go for either a semester or the entire year.
Yale was also the only Ivy League school to see a decrease in the percentage of its students choosing to study abroad this year, with a slight drop in the number of students choosing foreign study from 123 students last year to 121 students this year.
Associate Director of International Education and Fellowship Programs Karyn Jones said Yale supports study abroad and that these figures are a reflection of a mind-set amongst Yalies that they are missing out on parts of the Yale experience if they study abroad. She said the numbers for Yale may also be low when compared to other schools because only Yale juniors study abroad while other schools do not restrict studying abroad to juniors.
“Yale supports study abroad wholeheartedly, giving financial aid and full credit,” Jones said. “I think the biggest obstacle to study abroad at Yale is the culture. I think that we need to change the way we think — not what am I missing by leaving Yale, but what am I missing by not studying abroad.”
The other Ivies boasted higher study abroad rates than Yale. At Harvard, 3.2 percent of undergraduates studied abroad, and at Princeton and Columbia 3.6 percent of all undergraduates took that option, while 4 percent of Cornell undergraduates, 6.4 percent of University of Pennsylvania undergraduates and 9.7 percent of Brown undergraduates chose to go abroad during the 2004-2005 academic year. About 8 percent of Stanford undergraduates will study abroad this year, if the number of students studying abroad for the spring term — which have not yet been calculated — remains constant from last year.
Dartmouth College had the highest percentage of students studying abroad, with 13.1 percent of its students going abroad this year. Dartmouth also ranked third in a 2004 Institute of International Education ranking of schools’ study abroad participation rates, with 54.4 percent of students at Dartmouth studying abroad at some point during their undergraduate careers. Dartmouth Off-Campus Programs Office Executive Director John Tansey attributed Dartmouth’s high study abroad rate to the college’s culture and academic program, and faculty promotion of study abroad.
“I think it’s a long standing tradition and has become part of the Dartmouth culture and the Dartmouth plan in many ways makes it easier to fit a term abroad into your schedule,” Tansey said.
Students and universities across the nation have adopted a positive attitude towards study abroad, increasingly considering it as a desirable option, IIE Vice President for Educational Services Peggy Blumenthal said.
“I think that more and more U.S. students are realizing that their careers are going to be global and they’re trying to get some experience globally before they graduate, which I think is a wise idea,” Blumenthal said. “I think colleges and institutions are also realizing that providing an international experience as part of the undergraduate experience is highly desirable.”
But Ari Romney ’06, who is studying abroad in Kenya this semester, said Yale may hinder growth in the study abroad program by limiting it to juniors.
“Unless you are personally interested in going abroad on your own, I don’t feel like there is a lot of outreach and encouragement from the University to get students interested in it,” Romney said.
Yale Center for International and Area Studies Associate Director Nancy Ruther said the attitude toward study abroad has changed significantly over the past few years, with increased encouragement and support for study abroad from the University. Ruther, who has worked at Yale for 16 years, said she has seen a “dramatic” increase in study abroad promotion during the last five to six years.