As she moved from table to table, scanning the glossy brochures touting faraway lands at Tulane University's Study Abroad Fair, Alle Ehrhardt was clearly a woman on a mission. The freshman biology major didn't know where that mission would take her -- Ireland, perhaps, or South Africa or Paris, to name a few possibilities -- but she knew she had to go ... somewhere.
"I want to go badly, horribly," said Ehrhardt, who became more excited by the moment. "My dad said, 'Alle, I missed out on this opportunity in college. You have to go.' "
She is hardly alone. As a result of a combination of factors, including the Internet and the rise of global economy, more U.S. students than ever are heading overseas as part of their college education.
In the decade ending in the 2008-09 academic year -- the latest term for which data are available -- the number of American collegians studying abroad rose by 81 percent, from 143,590 in 1999-2000 to 260,327.