You’re used to it by now. Every year, the US News & World Report releases a list of the best universities in the United States, and every year the top three schools end up being Princeton, Harvard, and Yale. The most newsworthy item is whether any of the top three swapped positions, which is hardly useful information to potential college applicants, since we all know these (among a handful of others) are top-tier universities, and studying at any one of them would be a feat for most young people.
Unfortunately, given that each of these schools has incredibly limited enrollment capacity, that leaves tens of thousands of otherwise highly qualified, exceptional teens making decisions without a lot to go on. At least until they realize that the top universities list isn’t the only one US News & World Report produces.
If you’re a teenager with a very specific college experience in-mind – say, you’re very oriented around service work, or you want to go to an explicitly non-party school – there’s a list for that. One that we find especially pertinent in today’s increasingly globalized, ever more connected world is the list of colleges with the top study abroad programs. More and more students from the United States have international experience well before college even begins, and that leads more of them to have a desire to extend that international experience into college. The US News list contains 34 exceptional colleges and universities. We won’t cover them all here, but below you’ll find some highlights of schools for students who want to put ‘study abroad’ at the top of their college selection criteria.
Georgetown University in Washington, DC
Georgetown might not be Yale, but it certainly has name recognition to go along with its storied study abroad program. For students who desire an international experience, especially those going into foreign affairs, Georgetown University makes an excellent choice. First, while on-campus, you’ll be immersed in an American city best known for its ties to the outside world – think diplomats, state dinners, and all that jazz. Then, consider the fact that nearly 900 Georgetown students study in another country every year, with particular ties to the university’s business, foreign service, and health studies programs. That’s something to be really jazzed about.
Elon University in Elon, NC
More than 70 percent of Elon students study abroad during their time at the school, a mind-boggling number when you remember that fewer than 1% do nationally. Elon University’s unique trimester schedule allows many students who would not otherwise have the time or finances to study abroad for a whole semester the chance to do so during its January term, making it suddenly feasible for a substantial majority of the student body to participate. With an emphasis on hands-on learning abroad through internships and other activities, it is a great fit for many internationally-minded students.
Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI
Michigan State is an excellent option for students looking for a state school with a robust study abroad program. MSU helps connect prospective study abroad students with peer advisers who can offer details and advice based on their own experiences abroad during undergrad. There’s also a lot of flexibility to study abroad multiple times throughout your undergraduate experience, as highlighted by one student who spent part of her freshman year in New Zealand, before studying environmental sustainability in Israel and sustainable development in Costa Rica. If you’d like to leave your footprints on multiple continents, MSU is one university to consider.
Of course there’s more. Check out US News’ full list here, and remember to think about factors beyond just one ranking when selecting a university.