The decision to study in your own country versus studying abroad depends on your values, finances, career goals and personal preferences. Familiarity with your environment allows you to focus on school instead of dealing with culture shock or language barriers. On the other hand, students who travel abroad often find the experience exhilarating, despite the challenges of adjusting to a foreign country. You may find it helpful to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative to decide what’s right for you.

Advantage: Access to Support Network

Supportive people in your life can help you stay motivated and committed to earning a degree when you study at home. Maintaining close ties to longtime friends and family requires less effort if they live nearby. Studying in your own country enables you to form a close bond with professors and mentors over four years. You may have more opportunities to work on ongoing research projects if professors know you won’t be leaving for an extended period. Professors personally acquainted with your work can be references when you’re applying for jobs or graduate school.

Advantage: Affordability

Studying in your own country is often a smart financial decision, especially if you live at home, commute a short distance or rent a cheap apartment. You’re more likely to leave college with less debt than a student who borrowed heavily to study abroad. For example, an average study abroad program costs $31,270 per semester, according to "Forbes." Instead of studying in another country while modestly subsisting on student loan money, you can work at a job in your own country to help pay for college and gain valuable work experience that will look good on your résumé.

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Disadvantage: Diminished Employability

In an increasingly competitive global economy, employers like to hire applicants who are culturally aware, appreciative of diversity and proficient in multiple languages, according to Northwestern University. Like many schools, Northwestern strongly promotes study abroad because it’s difficult for students to develop a sense of global citizenship based solely on textbook readings and classroom discussion. Further, if you haven’t stepped outside your comfort zone by venturing outside your own country, employers may question your willingness to adapt, take risks and get along with co-workers whose backgrounds differ from your own.

Disadvantage: Narrow Perspective

Studying in your own country may not adequately expose you to other cultures and customs. By contrast, students who study abroad learn a lot about people around the world through firsthand experience. For instance, the Institute for the International Education of Students surveyed more than 3,400 students who had studied abroad and found that 95 percent of respondents indicated that the experience expanded their worldview. Similarly, studying subjects such as ancient art and history in a classroom isn't nearly as exciting or instructive as traveling through countries such as Egypt, Italy and Greece.

About the Author

Mary Dowd holds a doctorate in educational leadership and a master's degree in counseling and student personnel from Minnesota State University, Mankato. In her 20 years of higher education experience, she has taught classes, served as interim dean of students, and worked in many areas of student affairs, including student discipline, career advising, orientation and violence prevention.