Changing the Face of Study Abroad [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

Colleges reach out to minority students in effort to reduce racial disparities

by Ingrid Norton- The Chronicle of Higher Education

When Jaime Alvarez looks at his life, he sees two narratives: what might have been and what is. In the first, he gets married shortly after high school, buys a house with money from a construction job, has several kids, and comes home every night to nurse a sore back with a six-pack of beer.

In the second, he transfers from a community college to San Francisco State University, working construction to support himself. He spends his senior year in Sweden — his first time outside the country except for trips to Mexico — and the experience changes his life. After graduating, he teaches English in Austria.

Mr. Alvarez, who is entering graduate school at California State University at Long Beach this fall, considers himself lucky.

In 2005 minority students made up 32 percent of all undergraduates, says the U.S. Education Department. But they accounted for only 17 percent of undergraduates who studied abroad in 2005-6, an increase of barely 1.5 percent over a decade ago, according to the Institute of International Education. That gap troubles study-abroad professionals, who worry that too many needy minority students slip through the cracks. [Click here to read the full story. Subscription only.]