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5 Skills From Traveling You Can Use When Applying to College

March 14, 2019 Katherine Hovey No Comments

Junior and senior year are important for any student looking to attend college in a few short years. Tests, projects, homework, sports, plays, art shows are all tasks among the daily schedule of a high school student. Now add piles of applications, essays and interviews to the mix and you have one busy teenager. I’m not quite sure how I made it through the daunting college application process, but as I thought about it, I realized there are definitely some skills beneficial to have at that age. Then as I thought even more about it, I found a lot of these skills and lessons are learned when traveling.

Who knew something as fun as traveling, could also help you get into college?


ACIS group waving in front of Neuschwanstein Castle

1. Organization

Anyone who travels knows it takes time – time to plan and time to organize so that you can ensure an amazing trip. It’s important to get from point A to point B in one piece. When traveling, students learn the concept of time management because they are held accountable for being in certain places at certain times. If their flight leaves at 6:00pm, they can’t show up at the airport at 5:45pm. They take responsibility to get there with plenty of time while also being prepared for the week of exploration. In order to maximize the experience, managing time is critical for doing as much as you can. Organization is valuable when you’re only in the destination for so long.

Then there are the dreaded deadlines to meet. If you’re able to efficiently manage your time throughout other high school chaos, you will be much happier when you have plenty of time to write essays and fill out forms. Creating a schedule and sticking to it (much like an itinerary) will help in the long run: I guarantee it! Being organized is always a good thing and colleges will notice.

A group of students with their luggage

2. Independence

By taking teenagers out of their comfort zone, literally in a foreign country, they learn to be independent. Although they are most likely with chaperones or other students, independence is gained when getting outside of the classroom walls. Instead of strolling the familiar halls of their high school, they are now walking the Camino de Santiago or climbing the stairs of the Great Wall of China. Having these great, new adventures uncovers an independence they never knew they had.

Interviews are tricky at any age, but especially at the age of seventeen or eighteen when students have rarely had that experience before. The sense of independence can provide them with confidence to answer those tough questions and appear comfortable in front of college representatives. I believe the ability to be independent will become transparent to the interviewer as well.

A student pointing at a sign about Mt. Fuji in Japan

3. Leadership Skills

Whether it’s by taking responsibility for one’s trip or becoming a global citizen on one of a leadership-focused destination, there are opportunities to step up and become a leader when traveling. More specifically, the ACIS Leadership Projects encourage students to share with one another while also learning from local leaders.

Colleges want to see students take initiative. As I mentioned above, independence looks great in an interview and so does leadership. There will always be captains of sports teams and presidents of clubs but gaining leadership skills through travel takes a new angle and helps the student stick out from the bunch.

An ACIS group on the Young Women's Leadership in Italy trip
Photo taken on a 2018 Young Women’s Leadership in Italy Tour

4. Overcoming Obstacles

Travel takes flexibility and adaptability. As much as anyone would love a smooth, carefree trip, many times that is not the case. Flight delays and bad weather are just a few of the obstacles that can strike while traveling. Students who travel learn how to roll with the punches and problem solve in order to make their experience the absolute best it can be. Along with these obstacles inevitably comes stress, however it’s dealing with this stress that teaches lessons for the future.

Applying to college is stressful – there is no doubt about that. There will be roadblocks and challenges that lay ahead, but ultimately, it’s how the student handles themselves in each unfortunate situation that separates them. It shows strength in interviews and makes for a great college essay as well.

Students remove debris from a beach as part of the Sea Turtle Conservation Project

5. Communication

Travel is meant to meet new people. Global sharing only happens when you expand beyond your social circle and learn about other communities. When students travel, they communicate and socialize with others, hopefully gaining a better understanding of what’s going on in the world around them. While traveling, students interact with people and places they normally would not. Therefore, improving and enhancing their ways of communication.

Having good communication and social skills is key when applying to college especially when it comes to networking and interviews. Networking and interviews are essentially just conversations, but a good conversation can separate a student from the others. The more comfortable you are talking, the more impressive you will look. Having a travel experience under your belt not only gives you something unique to talk about, but also gives you the skills to do so.

For more ways on how travel can change a student’s life, download our ebook with student stories and national education statistics!


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Katherine Hovey

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