Friday, November 21, 2008

Can a U.S. Student Study Abroad in the United States?

As International Education Week 2008 comes to a close I wanted to pose a question that I’ve been grappling with for some time now. Can a U.S. student study abroad in the United States and, if so, can or should we count them in the Open Doors Report on U.S. Students Studying Abroad?

My answer to both these questions is “Yes” but only in certain cases. I’m thinking about the TCKs (Third Culture Kids) who hold U.S. citizenship or the dual citizens (U.S. and any other nationality) who have lived most or their entire lives outside of the United States
[1] but come to the United States to pursue a higher education. I argue that many U.S. students attending our colleges and universities who meet such a profile are actually studying abroad. We don’t collect data on these types of students (and in many cases offer little or no support for these students) because we base our data collection efforts solely on U.S. citizenship and act of earning academic credit anywhere outside of the United States. The problem, of course, with collecting data on the types of students that I’m suggesting is determining a criterion or measure for qualification into this unique group of students. This measure would be based primarily on the amount of time spent living outside of the United States. If this was the only or the primary measure used in determining the eligibility of a student to be counted as a U.S. student studying abroad in the United States, what amount of time would make one eligible?

[1] Children of ex-patriots and military children could also be included in this cohort.

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