Having a degree is more important than ever – for certain positions – given the competition for jobs. Is that the best reason for rushing into college after high school? Perhaps not.

During the Victorian era, at least amongst the aristocracy, spending an extended time abroad was considered a part of maturing. Today most industrial countries make it easy to take career breaks or work abroad. While many jobs in the U.S. offer only two week vacations, the value of a work force with more life experience is becoming recognized.

Studying overseas can enhance your “curriculum vitae”, while giving you valuable experience of another culture and way of life. Spending an extended period of time in another country provides an unparalleled opportunity to see a side of life which tourists can never encounter.

During times of turmoil or economic strife, stepping away from traditional life path for a few months may be easier. No matter one’s age, a change in perspective refreshes the spirit and there are increasing opportunities to help others along the way. More than a hand-out, the hand-up of Volunteerism can enrich lives of those needing help. Travelers returning home also become ambassadors for the countries they visit. The possibilities to enhance life for all involved is exponential.

Colleges and Universities are being challenged more than ever to transform and become more relevant. Innovation is often not swift in academia, but a panel of experts gathered in Washington this week, during the National Education Week to search for ways to remain relevant and more accessible to students of all ages and experience.

There’s not actually that many college students who are recent high school grads. Only about 27 percent attend school full time and live on campus. Today the “nontraditional student” is the new norm:  juggling work, family and school.

As new technologies are being tested for online study, perhaps taking a year abroad can mean continuing classwork from the road. Now that’s a win-win.

Elaine J. Masters

Travel writer, Meetup host with Travel Well, Meet-Plan-Go-San-Diego and Travel Massive.

Travel ease books and audio at: www.Drivetimeyoga.com