Q.. Everyone I go to school with is planning to study abroad for a few months during their junior year of college. I can't afford that. I barely can afford tuition and living expenses. I also get the impression from those who have done it that they spend the minimum amount of time in school taking easy courses, then concentrate on going from country to country on weekends to party with friends. Also, their parents seem to take great pride in their trips and if they can afford it (and many who can't). They plan trips overseas during the kids' stay to visit them. They all say it "broadens" them so they can get a job more easily. Is it really so vital to my future career to do that?
Ans. Biting the bullet and getting ready for negative letters, we'll say it's not. Since you have limited funds, spend them on tuition and get good grades and graduate with the least possible debt. That will help your future most. There's no evidence that a few months spent in an exchange program will help anyone get a job more easily and it won't necessarily "broaden" you. If you work hard and save money you can make such a trip after graduation, when you are more mature, and can visit business associates overseas and get something really worthwhile out of it. If people were honest they'd admit that trip is fun for the student, and in addition to a fun trip overseas, it gives the parents bragging rights.