Many people dream of traveling the world. Others dream of pursuing academia at the undergraduate level and beyond. And plenty of these people would love to do both. At the same time. And now more than ever, that is a legitimate option.
Several paths exist for those who are determined to see the world without letting their education lag behind. These options can be pursued separately, but many can also be mixed and matched to create a unique and personal experience that reflects individual priorities and interests, but more importantly allows people to gain real-world experience while also gaining classroom knowledge. Each of these options deserves a closer look.
Online Degree Programs
The most flexible of any alternative academic path, online degree programs offer self-motivated, disciplined individuals the opportunity to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees from anywhere in the world. Online schooling allows you to work at your own pace, arranging your schedule around all priorities, and also letting you take part-time class loads to leave time and energy to explore and enjoy wherever your travels have taken you. Additionally, earning a degree online is often more cost effective than traditional schooling, due to both the cost of the classes and the ability to accept work opportunities without missing classes or deadlines.
Global Degree Programs
A growing trend among universities, based on the global attitude and interests of many college-age students, is to offer a “global degree” program. In this case the universities put together entire degree programs for students combining travel and classes with international partner universities. This option is relatively new and quite expensive, but certainly reaches the goal of combining academia with travel.
The benefits of participating in an international internship are three-fold. First, you get the experience of working abroad, learning the expectations of the professional international community. Second, you can work with your University adviser to make sure that you get academic credit for the experience. And finally, you are gaining invaluable work experience in your field that can give you an advantage over other candidates when job searching begins. All while being abroad, of course.
Semester Abroad Options
A semester or year abroad is one of the best options for traveling without disrupting the academic experience and progress. Many universities offer exchange programs where you pay tuition to your University just as you normally would, but take classes at a partner university in a different country. This options is perfect for those who are pursuing a traditional college experience, but would also like to gain a fresh perspective, practice a second language, or experience something new before beginning a traditional career.
If, for whatever reason, you cannot participate in any of the other options, traveling broad over breaks is also a legitimate opportunity to see the world, and with planning can be arranged as a study abroad trip. Many universities offer group trips over spring and winter break while plenty of students choose to spend a summer abroad instead of a semester. The advantage of these kinds of trips is that they tend to be more flexible and if you are taking the trip for credit, the classes are short and intensive.
Whether your priority is flexibility, cost-effectiveness, or just new experiences, there are increasingly convenient and workable options for traveling and completing a degree simultaneously. From ultra-flexible online degree programs to whirlwind spring break trips, students determined to see the world without letting their education suffer really can have it all.