Only one other community college in the nation sends more students to study abroad than Pellissippi State Community College.
Pellissippi State ranked No. 2 in the United States with 185 study abroad students in 2016-17, according to the 2018 Open Doors Report released this month.
Last year Pellissippi State ranked No. 4 with 166 students. This is the seventh year in a row that the college has appeared in the top 5 for the number of community college students who studied abroad.
“Study abroad is, without a doubt, the most impactful experience students have at community colleges,” said Tracey C. Bradley, executive director of the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies, which serves all community colleges in the Tennessee Board of Regents system. “While students who study abroad have higher GPAs, are more likely to get a job after graduation and, in some fields, earn a higher starting salary, we also know that the value of study abroad is profound in ways we can’t even measure.”
Pellissippi State has removed one of the barriers to study abroad by providing scholarships for its students who want to participate.
“Our mission here at Pellissippi State is to provide a transformative environment that fosters the academic, societal, economic and cultural enrichment of our students and the community,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “Providing scholarships for our students to study abroad is one way we can help them have a world-class education and gain the global perspective that studies show more and more employers are looking for in graduates.”
TnCIS, which is housed on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, offers more than 25 study abroad programs each year all over the world, many of them short-term programs designed specifically to suit the schedules of community college students. All programs are faculty led.
“The feedback we receive from students each year is that study abroad is life changing, that it opened their eyes to the world, that they want to do more,” Bradley said. “Oftentimes students will come back and change their majors, having had an epiphany of ‘Now I know what I want to do with my life.’”
The Open Doors Report also details the number of international students enrolling in Tennessee higher education institutions. While Pellissippi State ranks 14th with 104 international students enrolled for the 2017-18 academic year, Pellissippi State is the only community college in the top 20.
“Pellissippi State does a lot of recruiting of international students, as the college’s goal is to be welcoming to all students,” Bradley said. “With the Y-12 National Security Complex in our backyard, we have a lot of students who are spouses and dependents of the international employees of Y-12.”
Pellissippi State also capitalizes on its close relationship with the University of Tennessee, she added.
“International students can start their degree here and finish at UT, which is being seen as more and more acceptable in the international community,” Bradley explained. “Our English as a Second Language classes also are similar to UT’s, which is attractive to students who need those language skills before they begin college-level courses.”
The 8,870 international students in Tennessee have an economic impact of $323.8 million on the state.