In past blogs, we have written about why you should study abroad in high school. In this blog, we explore how studying abroad with SYA helps prepare you for future success in both college and beginning your professional career. A recent study from the University of California released a statistic that 97% of students enrolled in study abroad programs are more prone to find jobs within 12 months of graduation, compared to 49% of college graduates in the same period. 84% of students in the same study reported that they felt studying abroad helped them build valuable skills for the job market.
Keeping those statistics in mind, did you know that here at the home office of School Year Abroad, several staff members were either SYA alums or studied abroad in college? Read this SYA Staff Spotlight on Registrar and College Counseling Coordinator, Whitney, as she discusses her high school year abroad with SYA in Spain'85, and how it helped prepare her for college and a career after college.
1. Can you introduce yourself and tell us when your first studied abroad?
My name is Whitney Shugrue Hermann, and I am an alum of the class of Spain '85. I've had many jobs at SYA since 2001, but I am currently working in the Academic Office as Registrar and College Counseling Coordinator.
2. How did you make the decision to study abroad with SYA?
My decision to spend a high school year abroad may not have been the most traditional, but it was in fact my mother who really encouraged me to do SYA. I had been at same school since third grade, so I was in a good position to try something different for a year.
3. What is a favorite memory learned from your year with SYA?
I hadn’t felt particularly confident in my ability to learn a language in the traditional classroom before doing SYA. I was so happy and proud to discover that I was in fact very capable of learning a language!
4. What was the greatest lesson you took away from your year with SYA?
Sometimes you need to get outside of your “world” (gerbil cage) to discover important things about yourself, like new talents and new interests.
5. Did you study/travel abroad after SYA? During or after college?
In college and in graduate school…and then working with SYA!
6. How did SYA help you prepare for that experience?
It took the fear out allowing me to have each and every one of those experiences. I will never get over how many peers (adults in their 40s!), looked at me incredulously when I said I was moving over to Italy with my family for the year. Most couldn’t believe I was putting my son into a local school. You could tell the general idea appealed to their romantic side – living in Europe for the year, but they were paralyzed with fear about making such a change in their lives.
7. Do you feel that SYA helped better prepare you for college and the beginning of your professional career?
Yes, yes…SYA made me into the person I am.
8. What is a piece of advice you’d give to a prospective SYA student?
Stop torturing yourself with all the reasons why “you can’t” do it or why it would be hard or what you’d miss. Life is full of choices, we are always going to miss out on something in order to experience something else. It’s not about what you may miss out on, it’s about what you could gain by going. It’s what you’d miss out on if you didn’t go. And as much as we all hate this expression, it’s true: the harder the experience, the more you get out of it.