Most students would agree that international travel is an exciting way to spend a semester, but research also shows students who travel are more likely to succeed in school and in life down the road.
While the relationship between educational trips and future success has always been difficult to measure, new research (titled “Travel Improves Educational Attainment & Future Success”) found that adults who participated in some form of educational travel in their youth ended up making 12% more per year and were significantly more likely to graduate from college than those that did not take such trips.
It’s easy to dismiss these statistics and instead claim that students who seek educational travel opportunities might simply be the type of people that make more money later in their careers. However, the study found that regardless of gender, ethnicity, and even socioeconomic status, students who traveled were more likely to be academically and financially successful.
Beyond the long-term effects, the study also showed that educational travel programs, including international service-learning trips, immediately improved academic performance and influenced career choices. Just because students leave the classroom does not mean their development takes a break or that their brains stop absorbing information. Often teenagers learn and grow most effectively in foreign environments that they perceive as challenging, active, and fun.
As it turns out, traveling often makes students feel closer to friends and family too. Spending time away from the places we see everyday recharges our intellectual curiosity, and novel environments can inspire us to see our “home” in a different way. A student that travels internationally can learn more about their strengths and talents, and how they can positively contribute to their world.
For some people, this study’s conclusion is like stating that “water is wet” — travel is a good thing, we get it! However, this study implies that, by itself, travel does not necessarily benefit teenagers. It’s the educational component of these experiences that make the lasting impact.
In 2009, our high school programs GoBeyond and ActionQuest conducted a similar study, designed to understand the long-term impacts of our summer programs. The results were compelling and a true testament to the value of our programs…
Impact Of High School Travel & Community Service Summer Programs – A GoBeyond & ActionQuest Study