Texas A&M remains the number one public university in the nation for study abroad for the fourth consecutive year.
According to the 2019 Institute of International Education Open Doors report, 3,976 total students traveled abroad for credit-bearing programs, and 5,865 total students participated in other experiences in the 2017-2018 academic year. Texas A&M fell right behind the private New York University as second in the nation overall, according to the report. The Education Abroad office also offers in-house access to passport services for any U.S. Citizens, not just Aggies, according to the Education Abroad website.
Through research, activities and engagement with curious, globally minded students, A&M has continued to foster opportunities for students to study abroad, said Holly Hudson, executive director for Education Abroad.
“I think that we have a good support system in place,” Hudson said. “The president, provost and our upper administration all value international education and global engagement.”
The top countries Aggies visit are Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and France. A fair amount of students also visited Mexico, which is different than the national trends, Hudson said. Students have a variety of opportunities to be sure their education abroad experience falls into line with their overall academic plans, said Hudson.
“If students will study abroad for a year, semester or even five weeks they can do that,” Hudson said.
Aggie Ambassador Samantha Shaw, kinesiology sophomore, said she traveled to New Zealand her freshman year and became inspired to encourage other incoming freshmen to take the same leap.
“It really builds a foundation that you can use throughout the rest of your time here,” Shaw said. “I actually did an internship, so that gave me experience in the workforce. That sets you above everyone else.”
Aggie Ambassador Caitlin Avery, international studies senior, works with the Education Abroad’s social media platforms to show students different experiences through testimonials.
“We’re on our own in college, but to be in a whole other country — it does give you a new sense of confidence that says ‘I can be dropped anywhere in the world right now and still kind of get my bearings and get around,’” Avery said. “If someone is thinking to go abroad they can check that out from our Instagram and Twitter.”
Informing students of different ways they can pay for their education abroad experience is vital because funding can be a big hurdle in any student’s plans, said Jessica Jaksik, mechanical engineering senior. Jaksik works in market research to find students other options to pay for their education abroad expenses.
“We have university wide scholarships, study abroad fellowships, the global opportunity fund, many college specific scholarships and the George H.W. Bush travel grant,” Hudson said. “If you go to our website abroad.tamu.edu and look under the funding tabs there may be even more opportunities for funding.”
Shaw said she believes the faculty led trips and events are the biggest contribution to why A&M was ranked number one.
“The Aggie network is pretty tight and I think Aggies can trust going abroad with other Aggies,” Shaw said. “I think that’s one of the driving factors because people may be scared to leave Aggieland but if they know they are with other Aggies they are more comfortable leaving College Station behind for a little while.”
A mistake many people traveling abroad might make is to try to see too much at once, said Avery.
“I definitely took advantage of staying in one country,” Avery said. “I think a lot of people want to go everywhere in Europe on one trip because they’re not sure when they will be back. But just trust that you’ll be back someday, explore the place that you’re in and don’t take it for granted.”