Spending more time with internationl peers benefits students throughout life.
Many students choose to pursue higher education in foreign countries, whether for a semester or the entirely of their college careers. A new study from Duke University found that students' ability to interact with those from other nations has a positive effect on not only their global perception but also certain applicable skills that could benefit them after graduation.
Duke University researchers examined a 2005 survey of 5,675 alumni from four elite private research universities who graduated in 1985, 1995 and 2000. Participants were asked about their experience interacting with classmates. The respondents, who were all American, were also questioned about their participation in academic and extracurricular activities while enrolled as well as the impact their experiences at college have had on their lives in a number of different categories of "skill development."
International Friendships in College Promote Personal Growth
The data showed that in the 1985 class, only 67% reported interacting with foreign classmates. The numbers increased over the years - 75% of the class of 1995 and 79% of graduates from 2000 indicated they spent time with peers from overseas. Among those who spent time with international students, the research revealed higher levels of nine different skills. This included the ability to relate to people of different backgrounds, improved independent learning surrounding new skills and education, developing creative ideas and solutions, using computers, and understanding the role of science and technology in society. Being able to acquire an in-depth knowledge of a specific subject, speak or read a foreign language, gaining quantifiable abilities, and integrating ideas and information were also more prominent in these groups than among those who did not spend much time with foreign classmates.
Number of International Students Continues to Grow
Connecting with peers from other countries will likely only become easier and more accessible, as the number of foreign students coming to the U.S. to pursue bachelor's degrees and master's degrees has been increasing in recent years. The most recent data from the Institute for International Education shows that the number of foreign enrollees in domestic colleges and universities jumped 5% from the 2009-2010 school year to the 2010-2011 academic period. The majority of international students are coming from China, as the 23% growth of Chinese students seeking degrees in this time frame outpaced that of any other nation, and most of these students (45%) were enrolling in undergraduate programs. This detail may be especially beneficial to those hoping to enter international affairs careers, as China is one of the major economic players in the world, giving students a leg up on relations between these countries.