Though they are still less likely to study abroad than many of their Ivy League peers, Yalies are traveling to other countries in growing numbers each year.
For the 2005-2006 academic year, there are 121 students studying abroad either for a semester or for the year, about 20 students more than did so last year. Including summer internships and fellowships, about 1,000 students went overseas at some point during the past year, Director of International Education and Fellowship Programs Barbara Rowe said.
Though the number of Yalies going abroad during the school year is still relatively small — the University has about 5,200 undergraduates– Rowe said a larger number take advantage of Yale’s summer programs in foreign countries.
“President [Richard] Levin has repeatedly said that every Yalie should have an abroad experience,” Rowe said. “The focus here is really on the summer.”
Rowe said that 142 students participated in one of Yale’s 50 International Summer Award programs this past summer and 82 more took international internships through the University.
Daniel Obst, director of membership and higher education services at the Institute of International Education, said his organization has seen a nationwide trend of increasing summer study abroad among college students.
“Study abroad has been increasing at a pretty dramatic rate in the last 15 years,” he said. “In the past decade we’ve seen a general trend that less people are going away for an academic year and more are going for summers.”
While 52 percent of U.S. college students went abroad for a “short term” — a summer, one-month or two-month trip — only 6 percent of college students went abroad for the full academic year last year, Obst said. Forty-two percent of students went abroad for a semester, Obst said.
Henry Chan ’07, who studied in Japan last summer through the Light Fellowship, said he chose to go abroad during the summer so as to not miss out on the Yale academic and social experience.
“I felt like summer was more appropriate,” he said. “The main reason was that I didn’t want to miss out too much on what Yale had to offer, especially in terms of my major and leadership roles in organizations.”
But Russ Kempf ’07, who spent the fall in Sydney, Australia, said he does not regret taking time off from Yale.
“I wanted to see the world and it was the perfect opportunity,” he said. “We have eight semesters at Yale. I can afford to take one off.”
Each year, an increasing number of students are applying for grants to study abroad during the summer, Yale Center for International and Area Studies Associate Director Nancy Ruther said.
“In the 15 years since I’ve been here, I have certainly observed the trend of much greater interest in overseas research and language study,” she said. “There are many more grants than we are able to fund. There’s not enough to meet the increase in quality [applicants].”
Ruther said she has also noticed that undergraduates in recent years are more likely to apply for grants to go abroad for language study rather than for internships and research, which used to be more popular options.
Still, other Ivy League schools send larger percentages of students abroad during the school year than does Yale. At Princeton University, 29.7 percent of juniors studied abroad for the semester, year or summer in the 2004-2005 academic year. At Brown University, roughly 35 to 36 percent of juniors went abroad, said Kendall Brostuen, the Interim Director of International Programs, though he said final figures from the spring are still being tabulated. At Dartmouth University, roughly 600 students go abroad each year.
John Tansey, Dartmouth’s Off-Campus Programs Office Executive Director, said that study abroad plays an integral role in the Dartmouth curriculum.
“It’s part of the institutional culture here,” he said. “If you talk to some of the students who went, they generally say it was their best semester at Dartmouth.”