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First Generation College Students Abroad

As a first generation student, you have the incredible opportunity to be the first in your family to ever study abroad while in college or at all!  As the first person in your family to be presented with such a unique experience, you likely have many questions; the Study Abroad Office staff is here to help you get the process started.


  • What are my reasons for studying abroad? What goals do I have?
  • How will my study abroad experience fit into my academic plan at Northwestern (major, minor, elective, or theme credit, etc.)?
  • How will I use my study abroad experiences in the future, either personally, academically, professionally, or otherwise?
  • How will I explain the process and my interest in studying abroad to family and friends?
    • How can I explain to my family and friends that a study abroad experience can contribute to achievement of my academic and career goals?
    • How can I let my family and friends know that it is safe to travel abroad?
    • How can I stay in touch with my friends and family while abroad?
  • What resources are available to me?
    • Since no one in my family has ever studied abroad, who can help me check to see that I am on the right track as I plan?
    • Is it okay if I schedule an extra appointment with my study abroad advisor if I'm not sure what to do?
    • How will I make studying abroad affordable?
    • Are there additional funding sources I can look into to help finance study abroad?


Read about the benefits of studying abroad, as described by the Office of Fellowships, Northwestern Career Advancement, and the Office of Undergraduate Research on campus:

  • "A study abroad experience confers three primary benefits on future fellowships applicants.  All three benefits distinguish these students in the eyes of selectors.  First, they gain immediate experience with cultures and histories dissimilar to their own.  This benefits manifests in broader and deeper thinking about the world and the people in it.  Second, they typically strengthen their ability in a second (or third!) language.  Selection committees universally admire language competence , even when that skill is not necessary for the award.  Finally, our students learn how to live and work productively overseas.  In an increasingly global world, demonstrating this skill can swing a position in a graduate school, internship, or job toward our students." -Office of Fellowships

  • "It’s important to effectively market your study abroad experience to improve your future career prospects. Make sure that you begin your study abroad experience with the intention of developing skills (e.g. cross cultural competency, flexibility, initiative, language etc.), then be able to articulate and give specific examples of those skills that you used abroad. UCS Career Advisors can teach you how to highlight these skills on your resume, in internship and job interviews, and on graduate/professional school applications." - Northwestern Career Advancement

  • "The Study Abroad Office and the Office of Undergraduate Research can help you maximize your opportunities to explore the world.  Many students study abroad, have amazing experiences, and want to return.  Grant programs run through the Office of Undergraduate Research can provide just such an opportunity, by offering them a way to return to the country (or another one) exploring the topic of their choosing.  This process works equally well in reverse, too.  Students can go abroad on a grant, and then discover a study abroad program that will allow them a longer term experience.  In either direction, these two offices work together to make your abroad time more meaningful and impactful." -Office of Undergraduate Research


Look into these funding opportunities: