IES Abroad diversity initiatives and partnerships with HBCUs assist underrepresented students with international education opportunities
By Gretchen Cook-Anderson, Director of Diversity Recruiting & Advising at IES Abroad
College and university students should consider the benefits of study abroad as they plan their curriculum choices. The results of a recent survey by IES Abroad showed students who study abroad found jobs sooner, at higher salaries and in their chosen fields far more than those who chose to stay on-campus for four years. These results are particularly important for underrepresented students who may not be aware of the ways international education can help them prepare for careers opportunities after graduation.
The 2012 survey of recent college graduates revealed that studying abroad may be one of the best ways for college students to find jobs sooner after graduation and at a higher salary. For parents concerned about the return on their investment for college education, study abroad offers clear benefits.
IES Abroad, a consortium of 200 major U.S. colleges and universities, conducted the survey, which showed that nearly 90% of its study abroad alumni found their first job within six months of graduation. This compared to only 49% of respondents in a separate survey of the general college graduate population who had found work within a year of finishing school. In addition, more than 65% of the students studying abroad in the IES Abroad survey found a career-related position within a timeframe that met or exceeded their expectations.
College graduates who studied abroad on IES Abroad programs earned, on average, $7,000 more in starting salaries than those from the general population of recent U.S. college graduates, according to the findings.
Key jobs skills such as adaptability, global understanding and tolerance, leadership, and independence are directly fostered by learning and living abroad. In today’s highly competitive job market that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, college students can make a strategic choice to study abroad as undergraduates and increase their attractiveness as top candidates for jobs in their chosen careers. IES Abroad study abroad alumni have found that employers recognize the benefits of international education and the job skills it helps build.
The Initiative to Diversify Education Abroad (IDEA)
IES Abroad has made a strategic commitment to increasing diversity among college students who study abroad each year. The organization created the Initiative to Diversify Education Abroad (IDEA) as an outgrowth of its 2008 Diversity Task Force.
Partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities
As part of its diversity initiative, IES Abroad recently announced a pilot study abroad program in Jamaica starting summer 2014 that launches a first-time partnership with 11 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
IES Abroad and the IERC Education Foundation, which represents the study abroad program interests of the North Carolina SAGE Partnership of 11 schools, are working cooperatively to develop custom programs that suit the academic priorities of HBCUs and build the global workforce skills and employment opportunities needed by students and college graduates in the 21st century.
The two organizations are working to help raise the participation rate of African American undergraduates in study abroad. During 2009-2010, only 4.7 percent of about 270,000 U.S. students who studied abroad were African American as compared to Caucasian (78.7 percent), Hispanic (6.4 percent), and Asian (7.9 percent) students.
A pilot program at the University of West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, that focuses on sports medicine is under development by IES Abroad’s Customized Programs. A broader slate of affordable custom study abroad programs at additional global locations is planned for the future.
The 11 schools in the partnership are Barber-Scotia College, Bennett College, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, Johnson C. Smith University, Livingstone College, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, St. Augustine’s College, Shaw University and Winston-Salem State University.
IES Abroad launched another HBCU partnership in 2012 with Howard University, an Historically Black College in Washington, D.C. to create a recurring, customized, semester-length study abroad program in Cape Town, South Africa for Howard students. The program explores the cultural and social landscape of the Republic of South Africa. Students are enrolled at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), a major research university with a highly diverse student body. The challenging courses offered at UWC allow Howard students to meet requirements of their undergraduate study, including courses in the natural and social sciences, the humanities, economics, business, psychology, social work, exercise science, and education.
Chicago Scholars Abroad initiative
IES Abroad is planting seeds early to inspire and broaden access for high-achieving high school juniors and seniors from Chicago’s public and Archdiocese schools to study abroad as first-generation college students. Through a partnership with non-profit Chicago Scholars, IES Abroad is providing scholarships of $4,000 per student for tuition/fees, plus a $1,000 transportation and living stipend, for up to 20 Chicago Scholars students each academic year. The Chicago Scholars Abroad initiative, launched in fall 2011, also includes study abroad workshops and peer engagement for high school and college-level Chicago Scholars students and their parents; a customized guide for preparing to study abroad; and opportunities to interact with program donors on a case-by-case basis.
IES Abroad diversity mission
IDEA is a long-term, multi-pronged mission that represents and integrates diverse perspectives, cultures and ideas within IES Abroad academic programming and materials; commits scholarship assistance ($2.3 million in 2011-2012) that makes study abroad affordable to a broader pool of students; and recruits and advises the most diverse base of students possible.
As a result, IES underrepresented enrollment grew 43.9 percent from 2006-2011 and 18 percent in 2011-2012 over the previous year.
IES Abroad is forging a pipeline of underrepresented students into its study abroad programs who will contribute to more diverse future generations of American leaders in public policy, business, diplomacy, education, law, science and technology, and the arts. Projections indicate by 2042, persons of color will make up the majority of the country’s population. Study abroad offers underrepresented students critical skills in world languages and intercultural understanding, competitive advantages that will ensure a more diverse, globally competent workforce moving forward.
8 Tips for Planning to Study Abroad
To help students plan for study abroad during their college experience, IES Abroad provides these tips:
1. Speak with an academic advisor about how to fit study abroad into college plans. College students can study abroad AND graduate on time.
2. Talk to parents about college and study abroad plans.
3. Visit the on-campus study abroad office to discuss program options and credit transfer.
4. Figure out where to study abroad—considerations include how big or small a city is preferred, how to fulfill college major and/or general education requirements, or, if an internship experience is important, among others.
5. Contact past participants from study abroad programs to ask them about their experiences.
6. Research scholarships & aid specifically for study abroad—this exists!
7. Get a passport.
8. Get ready to have a mind-bending, life-changing, opinion-altering study abroad experience!
To learn more about IES Abroad’s diversity initiatives that advance global workforce readiness, visit: http://www.iesabroad.org/study-abroad/about/diversity-abroad
About IES Abroad
IES Abroad is a global, not-for-profit academic consortium of more than 200 top-tier American colleges and universities that has been a leader in study abroad programs for over 60 years. Founded by three optimistic post-war students in 1950, IES Abroad today offers 100+ study abroad programs in 36 cities worldwide. More than 5,700 students enroll in IES Abroad programs each year.
Every day our staff sees how studying abroad changes students’ lives. As an educational organization that puts purpose before profit, we’re proud of our legacy and leadership in the study abroad field. We believe that every student should have the opportunity to go abroad—especially in a fun, safe, and superior academic and cultural environment. For more information, please visit www.IESAbroad.org