Why Shouldn’t Campuses Help Every College Student Obtain a Passport to Graduate?

Have your attention?  I’ve been thinking a lot about this for months, and now that graduation time is upon us (in the U.S.), I thought I’d again throw out this question (which I did raise on my Twitter feed awhile ago)…

A recent op-ed in the NY Times (the paper with real news), “Go East, Young American,” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/21/opinion/sunday/go-east-young-american.html?_r=0 caught my attention. NYU professor, Suketu Mehta (an Indo-American writer), described his family’s experience emigrating from India to raise interesting points about why more young americans do not consider working abroad.  He cites the fact (I checked them out) that “Only a third of Americans have a working passport; three-quarters of Britons do, and 60 per cent of Canadians.”  

Back to my question:  Consider the paltry number of undergrads who study abroad – or have any type of international experience during their four years; while we’ve long understood that this deprives the majority of students with an invaluable co-curricular experience, and one which has the capacity to strengthen their employability after graduation, we only focus on numbers…like the IIE Generation Abroad goal to double the number studying abroad [a valuable goal in itself].  But, isn’t the root of the problem that most students never consider the importance of owning a passport – what this document can do for them for the rest of their life ?  Whether or not they use it during their undergraduate years, it’s a document with the potential of leading any student to consider life-changing travel, work and study throughout their life.  Much the same pitch we do make when talking about the ROI of obtaining a college degree- right?

So, I’d propose this: why not have every student entering college or university next Fall answer the question on a survey, do you or do you not own a valid passport?  A kind of audit of how prepared each student is to consider an international experience as part of the next four years.  For those without passports, why not subsidize the purchase of a passport for those students?  I know, on large campuses, this is a lot of money. I’m not trying too hard to be too naive about this…but, why not find corporate donors, companies doing business around the world, to underwrite this plan! Great PR. A fine act of corporate social responsibility.

I wonder what per cent of the 20 million students enrolled in degree programs have passports?  I’ve never seen this stat.

I’m just asking…

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