There are over 90 semester abroad programs offered at Chapman, but few young men take advantage of these opportunities.
Male students made up about 25 percent of participants in the Center for Global Education (CGE) programs last year, according to Assistant Director of Overseas Programs Jodi Hicks.
While our percentage is even lower than the national average, according to study abroad data from the 2018 Open Doors Report, the poor showing of men “is a nationwide trend. It’s at Chapman, it’s at all universities,” Hicks said.
About 67 percent of all U.S. students who studied abroad during the 2016-2017 school year were female, according to the Open Doors Report.
In the past, some college administrators attributed the gender disparity to women outnumbering men on college campuses and gravitating towards majors that are supplemented with more overseas programs in the social sciences and the humanities, according to the 2018 Open Doors Report.
However, STEM students are now among the largest group of majors who study abroad.
While the shortage of males in study abroad programs continues to be a nationwide occurrence, many campus officials are still mystified by why these students are avoiding the programs.
One theory used to explain the lack of male participation suggests that complacency plays a major role, according to a 2010 Research in Higher Education study.
Along with leaving behind the comfort of familiarity, some male students are concerned about the impact their absence will have on their social life.
“[What has me hesitant is] distance to home, distance from my family and from school, and possible isolation if it doesn’t work out,” said junior communication studies major Jack Fozard.“If I were to have an emergency, it would be really stressful to be treated in another country as a student abroad.”
“Are you gonna get dropped out of your group? How are things going to continue socially while you’re gone?” said freshman business administration major Anish Bajaj, who hopes to study at sea in the future. Leaving his friends would make even an enticing adventure nerve-wracking, he said.
Although some male students fear the social repercussions of studying abroad, others are deterred by the cost.
“I’m not from a super wealthy family so I know I’d probably have to pay for it myself,” said political science and communication double major Dylan Derakhshanian. “I’d rather enjoy the experiences I have here instead of paying a lot of extra money to go abroad.”
Other male students who have already traveled overseas relate to the fears of foreign travel during college, but encouraged guys to think strategically about their professional development.
“It’s rather hard to uproot your life and spend five months away from the friends you made in college,” wrote junior Chuck Hua in an email to Prowl. “Especially if you’ve already established a life for yourself in different clubs, are in a fraternity, or are just being busy with trying to kick start your career as soon as possible.”
The television writing and production major studied abroad in Newcastle, Australia where the university he attended accepted his financial aid and offered courses that fulfilled his academic requirements.
“Money and budgeting is always something on my mind, even after I applied to go,” Juan Bustillo, a senior screenwriting and political science major, wrote. “Keeping tabs on spending was one of the most important tasks I had to do throughout my time there.”
Bustillo travelled to Buenos Aires, Argentina in the spring of 2018.
Hicks said the CGE is always trying to find new ways to market the program. Besides including an equal number of males and females in advertising and consulting with male-dominated departments, Hicks said she wanted to advocate for the multitude of STEM study abroad trips available.
While each student’s experience is individualized, Hicks mentioned a few opportunities for STEM majors. Students interested in computer science can study at Korea University, where they can take courses like Computer Programming I and II. Similarly, chemistry majors can travel to Spain and study Organic Chemistry I and II.
“Experience new things and connect to new people, because honestly, it makes your life so much more meaningful,” Hua said.