Third Culture Kids‚ Proof Travel Gives You An Edge

Kids who spend time abroad are known in some academic circles as “Third Culture Kids” (TCKs), a term coined by Dr. Ruth Hill Useem, Professor Emeritus at the Michigan State University Institute for International Studies, who has researched the experiences of internationally mobile children. The term TCK suggests that children who spend a portion of their childhood outside of their own country belong to a separate “third” culture, an amalgam of their many international experiences.

Findings of a major study of American-based adult TCKs conducted in the early 1990s suggest that youngsters who spend time abroad were much more likely to do well in school. For example, those who spent at least one year abroad were four times more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree. Of the 81 percent of TCKs who completed a bachelor’s degree, half went on to earn postgraduate degrees. That's pretty impressive.

Of course, some of that can be attributed to parents—many adults who spend time abroad have high expectations for their children because they themselves are well-educated. But not all. Many enlisted men and women in the military spend time overseas with their families. Suffice it to say, there's good evidence out there that early exposure to foreign cultures and experiences can really make a difference in life outcomes, at least as measured by educational achievement.