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.