How to Compete in an Increasingly Global Economy

With an ever-growing importance placed on global know-how, finding ways to add international experiences to your skillset cannot be overlooked.

Did you know:

  • Americans who studied abroad earned on average $7,000 more in starting salaries than their peers who didn’t go overseas
  • Three quarters of study abroad alumni say they acquired skill sets that influenced their career path
  • 80 percent of study abroad alumni reported more interest in their academic studies and completion
  • 96 percent of study abroad alumni said their time abroad increased their self-confidence
  • Engaging with and adapting to new cultures is correlated with better problem-solving skills, more complex thinking and increased creativity

(statistics reported by Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel, in The Case For Studying Abroad, Huffington Post, November, 2014)

It’s not a secret: career success is increasingly dependent upon skills important to working and competing in a global economy. Yet a minuscule percentage of community college students participate in study abroad programs — less than one-tenth of one percent (6,404 out of approximately 7.7 million credit students at community colleges in 2013/2014, according to the Institute for International Education’s 2015 Open Doors Report).

Articulating the real-world value of international experiences is important to increasing the number of students seeking opportunities to develop global knowledge. Businesses such as Goldman Sachs Group have promoted international education because “success for [today’s students] will be measured by their capacity to comprehend how the U.S. interacts with other countries and cultures, to function in a complex and ever-changing global environment, and to interact with persons whose background and perspectives bear little relation to their own” (Goldman Sachs Foundation 2005 report, Educating Leaders for a Global Society).

Funding international travel is also key.

Among all undergraduates, less than 10 percent study abroad. The barriers students cite most often are related to costs and lack of funding as well as to a lack of understanding what real-world value overseas experiences provide. To address the financial barriers, the U.S. State Department encourages community college students to apply for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.

This scholarship funds participation in study and intern abroad programs worldwide. It is open to U.S. citizen undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university.

Applications for a Gilman Scholarship to fund international experiences in the spring or summer of 2017 are due October 4. Learn more.

Travel overseas for study or an internship is not feasible for many community college students regardless of the cost and despite clear understanding of the value such opportunities provide, so other approaches to developing global competencies are essential. Phi Theta Kappa has partnered with world-class universities to bring online International Honors Certificates to community colleges and complement existing programs they have for students to develop global abilities. Learn more.

How Will You Increase Access to Opportunity?

Editor’s Note: This blog post was written and submitted by Dr. Susan Scaggs, Phi Theta Kappa’s Vice President of Membership and Student Engagement.

“Phi Theta Kappa changed my life.” Sydney Pemberton

“It allowed me to tap into my sense of purpose as a human being.” Alexa Geer

“Phi Theta Kappa is sort of like a catalyst, which takes your experience from just being normal to being something extraordinary.” Andrew Porter

“It made me realize my self-worth.” Sara Hwang

“So inspiring and motivating.” Ashlynne Banks

“Phi Theta Kappa challenged me to reach beyond what I thought to be my full potential.” Yanik Etan

“My life has never been the same.” Amie Bernstein

If you are reading this blog, you already know what these International Officers have articulated in the latest Phi Theta Kappa video: Phi Theta Kappa membership matters.

We know that 92 percent of Phi Theta Kappa members complete their associate degrees or transfer to a four-year college, compared to the national average of 38 percent for nonmembers. This is extremely exciting evidence of the difference membership makes.

As a member, you also know the positive impact of the rigorous programming at your local Phi Theta Kappa Chapter. The competition is fierce, and we see leaders emerging to shine on their college campuses — a reflection of the leadership development provided by Phi Theta Kappa membership.

I also know if you are reading this, I am steady preaching to the choir. But if we hope to increase access to what we know is the secret to success in two-year colleges, we must focus on filling all the pews, and every voice must be heard.

We have to acknowledge that only an average of 10 percent of eligible students accepts membership into Phi Theta Kappa.

Out of every 100 eligible students, 90 people go it alone without the support we know makes a difference.

Let that sink in.

Now, immediately focus on what you can do to help increase access to opportunity within your sphere of influence. Check out this video for more information and ideas.

Phi Theta Kappa is recognizing chapters that increase access to opportunity with a 15 percent or higher membership acceptance rate by providing free regalia through REACH Rewards.

So why does membership matter? It matters because right now there is a student in your classes who is a high performer with two jobs putting themselves through college, and they don’t know that they don’t have to go it alone. Be an advocate for Phi Theta Kappa and the support you know is making a difference in your life.

What will you and your chapter do to make sure that every person at your college who has worked hard to become eligible takes that next step and accepts the invitation of membership in Phi Theta Kappa?