Do college admissions counselors and employers value gap year and education abroad experiences?
A resounding YES. But there’s a caveat.
Students need to be able to clearly articulate what lessons they learned while abroad and how those translate to a global skill set.
The best strategy I offer to my students is to use the CAR approach whether it’s for college or graduate school admission, a competitive scholarship or fellowship, or internship/job.
CAR: Challenge. Action. Resolution.
Consider what comes to mind when you think about the following:
- What was the challenge or conflict you faced?
- What action did you take?
- What was the resolution?
Take some time to journal and reflect upon your time abroad, whether you participated in a summer program or you are attending university full-time abroad. Answering these questions will also help you look back on some of your transformative experiences:
What was the most challenging situation you faced during your experience abroad, and how did you deal with it?
Give an example of something from your study abroad experience that has changed you and why?
Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems abroad and developed preventative measures?
From living with a host family in a South African township to adapting to your professor's cultural expectations of you and your academic work, you probably had to overcome a lot of challenges while abroad.
The point is, you must be able to tell your story and what you gained from it. And that takes practice and preparation!