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Gre Issue 82
Colleges and universities should require their students to spend at least one semester studying in a foreign country.
Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.
It has become a trend for college and university students to spend at least one semester studying in a foreign country when they are in school. Seeing the many benefits students can get from such experiences, I think schools should encourage most of them to study in a foreign country for a period of time, but not require everyone to do so.
It is certain that spending a semester studying in a foreign country during one's university time can bring one a lot of benefits; students can make foreign friends, learn about different cultures, and foster an international scope on seeing things. However, the choice that whether to study abroad is in all means a personal affair, and as far as I am concerned, colleges and universities should leave it to students completely, rather than force them do it. First, considering students' professions, it is the fact that not every student is suitable for studying abroad, for instance, a Japanese student who majors in Japanese literature may benefit little from learning outside Japan, since it is in Japan that he/she could learn most about the profession. Second, even for those whose major can be best learned in other countries besides their own, it still remains a doubt that whether the students can easily adapt to different teaching methods and a learning environment which is unlikely to be the same as theirs. For example, there are a lot of differences in the educational system between eastern countries and the western world, students who are not so adaptive may get severe culture shocks when studying in a different country. And such shocks may have bad results like making them feel very depressed and thus impeding their learning.
Some people who support the claim may argue that forcing students to study abroad can help them to develop the abilities that I have mentioned above. And yes, for some students the experience of studying abroad indeed helps them to overcome some obstacles in their personalities, but again, it is not true for everyone. Many students who have had the ambition to get their master's degree in a foreign country announce that they would not study abroad again after spending a year or two in a foreign university during their undergraduate years. While this can be interpreted as an advantage of sending students abroad, for it can help them to make it clear that whether it is suitable for them to study in a foreign country, however, if we consider it from another point of view, it is disadvantageous because they have spent a rather depressing time abroad, and they could have done more valuable things as well as learned more than wasting a semester in a foreign country just with a recognition that it does no good for them. Besides, the university must not have taken students' financial condition into consideration if they does require them to spend at least one semester abroad, since many students might not be able to afford it, and it is unrealistic for the university to provide scholarship for every one who has a difficulty in paying the costs.
So even though the claim is well-intentioned, considering both the advantages and disadvantages, I think it is more reasonable and more pragmatic for colleges and universities to encourage their students to spend at least one semester studying in a foreign country rather than require them to do so.