Out of the 273,996 American stu­dents that studied abroad this year, only 12 are from Hillsdale College. Less than 0.9 percent of Hillsdale’s 1,460 stu­dents go abroad annually.

Hillsdale’s study abroad pro­grams fall far behind the pro­grams com­pa­rable schools offer. The limited scope, expensive costs, and frus­trating void of structure in the college’s study abroad pro­grams prevent many stu­dents from par­tic­i­pating.

Stu­dents at Hillsdale only have eight study abroad options. And five of those eight pro­grams are open only to Spanish, French, or German majors or minors.

Other stu­dents often cannot afford to attend schools in other coun­tries because Hillsdale usually does not apply normal financial aid to study abroad pro­grams. Unlike Hillsdale, most other American schools allow stu­dents to apply their financial aid to inter­na­tional studies.

The many depart­ments in Central and Delp Halls often do little to assist stu­dents in their attempts to study abroad. Hillsdale has no “Office of Study Abroad” and employs no “Study Abroad Coor­di­nator.” Rather, stu­dents motivate most of the process.

Yet Hillsdale’s pro­grams have remained unchanged for more than four years, with the exception of the new semester off-campus in the exotic, mul­ti­cul­tural city of Wash­ington, D.C. Hillsdale can and should offer its stu­dents more varied and acces­sible inter­na­tional pro­grams.

As a school that equips future leaders, the college should rec­ognize that more than 96 percent of the earth’s pop­u­lation lives outside of America. Stu­dents that par­tic­ipate in study abroad pro­grams learn how to interact with unfa­miliar cul­tures, giving them prac­tical skills for living in a glob­alized world.

But enough with the strictly prac­tical ben­efits of travel. Hillsdale stu­dents should have the oppor­tunity to travel simply for the fun of it. College offers stu­dents the oppor­tunity to expe­rience the world prior to the pres­sures of jobs, spouses, kids, and bills. A study abroad program would combine aca­d­emics with the fun of other cul­tures.

Plus, kayaking down the Amazon sounds like a nice break from Hillsdale’s blizzard.