Study abroad draws record numbers

Iowa State students flocked to study abroad programs in record numbers over the past year. A record 1,812 students have engaged in study, volunteer and service learning opportunities abroad between summer 2014 and spring 2015.

Most of those students -- 1,633 -- will earn academic credits. That's a 20 percent increase from the previous year.

"The numbers indicate that students are coming to Iowa State with the intention to study abroad," said Trevor Nelson, director of the Study Abroad Center. "It's exciting to me that even during difficult economic times, or times when news events create apprehensions among parents, our students still are going."

Top destinations

  • Italy
  • United Kingdom
  • Spain
  • China
  • Costa Rica

Where they go

Iowa State students studied and worked in more than 50 countries last year, ranging from Antarctica to Wales.

Type of programs

Students can participate in a variety of programs -- faculty-led trips related to specific disciplines, college offerings like the College of Design's flagship Rome Program or exchanges, in which students study and earn transfer credits at other institutions.  Additionally, students leave campus for internships and to engage in service learning projects. They might go abroad, for example, as part of a choir or an Engineers Without Borders project.

Not all experiences abroad translate into academic credits, but they certainly transfer into meaningful life experiences through interactions with communities and people around the world, Nelson said.

He said students' experiences abroad don't necessarily prolong their time to graduation. Data shows that Iowa State students who study abroad have higher four-year graduation rates than those who don't.

He advises those who'd like to study abroad to get in touch with their academic advisers and the Study Abroad Center or college study abroad office early to explore options. Freshmen and sophomores have much more flexibility in ISU course selections than upperclassmen, he said.