Top Ten Myths About Study Abroad

Just like any new experience or opportunity, there are many assumptions and falsehoods created about studying abroad. With accurate facts, students can make educated decisions about studying abroad.

#1: Studying abroad is too expensive

Reality: Between the College of Engineering and the University of Illinois campus office, there are more than 400 study abroad programs that range in costs. Some programs are very comparable to studying at Illinois. Some programs are more expensive and some are less. There are a variety of ways to pay for studying abroad, including scholarships, financial aid, and loans. By planning ahead, you can speak to your family about your financial restrictions, as well as save for your time abroad. If budgeting is a concern, the cost of a program can be factored into choosing the right program for you. See the cost comparison charts to help you determine financial ability.

#2: Financial aid doesn't transfer to study abroad.

Reality: The programs listed on this site have been approved by the University of Illinois, which allows most financial aid to apply to study abroad. There are also a number of scholarships set up specifically for studying abroad.

#3: It is necessary to speak a second language to study abroad.

Reality: While some programs do have a language requirement, many programs are taught exclusively in English. Some of these programs are located in countries where English is an official language (ex: Australia, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Singapore, South Africa, and the United Kingdom) and some are hosted in countries where English is a secondary language (ex: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Italy, Japan, Korea, Sweden, Thailand, and Turkey). To find programs taught in a specific language – such as English – specify a “Language of Instruction” when searching for programs.

#4: It is not possible to complete major requirements while abroad.

Reality: Many students are able to earn credit toward their major while studying abroad. Regulations vary by major, college, and curriculum. Some University of Illinois departments are stricter in their specific requirements but other departments offer some flexibility with their course work. With a large variety of programs, there may be one or several programs that provide courses that fulfill requirements in a specific major or curriculum. If you have questions, please speak with your Academic Advisor in your department and an IPENG Advisor.

#5: Studying abroad will delay graduation.

Reality: Many students study abroad and graduate in four years. Students earn credit toward graduation requirements for most courses taken abroad. By frequently consulting and meeting with academic advisors, students can even study abroad for an entire academic year without affecting their graduation date. In fact, some students study abroad two or three times and still graduate on time.

#6: It would be better to study abroad after graduation.

Reality: It is difficult to find time after graduation to study or travel in another country. College is a unique time that allows for a summer, semester, or year studying abroad. After graduating, most people find that the demands of work, family, and other responsibilities prevent them from spending significant time abroad.

#7: It's safer to stay in the U.S.

Reality: Most risks faced by students around the world are similar to those in Champaign-Urbana or Chicago, which mostly result from living in an urban environment. The University of Illinois closely monitors our programs and current worldwide news and events. All programs and cities are thoroughly researched before students are permitted to apply.

#8: Studying abroad doesn’t help your career.

Reality: Engineering is Global! Employers look to hire well-rounded employees who are able to demonstrate the ability to adapt well to new situations and thrive in multi-cultural environments. Businesses are increasingly growing into international companies and utilizing skills gained from a study abroad experience gives potential employees an edge that others lack.

#9: Most University of Illinois students do not study abroad.

Reality: More than 27% of engineering students annually study abroad. Engineering is very supportive of studying abroad, and some offer programs specific to their academic disciplines. Nationally, the number of U.S. students studying abroad has increased by over 150 percent in the past ten years.

Bhandari R. and Chow, P. (2009). Open Doors 2009: Report on International Education Exchange. New York: Institute of International Education.

#10: It's difficult to get accepted.

Reality: Most of the students who meet the minimum qualifications and complete the application process are accepted to study abroad. The University of Illinois is looking to increase the number of students studying abroad, and will work closely with students to find the program that best meets their needs and qualifications.