DAYTON, Ohio -- The slayings in Costa Rica of an Antioch College undergraduate and a former student may worry parents, but the popularity of studying abroad is booming and experts say the benefits far outweigh the risks.
''This shouldn't put a damper on the idea of overseas study,'' said Gary Rhodes, director of the University of Southern California's clearinghouse for study abroad. ''In general, travel in most of the world is very safe.''
The bodies of Emily Howell of Lexington, Ky., and Emily Eagen of Ann Arbor, Mich., were found March 13 along a highway near the Costa Rican coast town of Cahuita. The two 19-year-olds had been shot. No arrests have been made.
The number of U.S. students who study abroad has more than doubled in the past 15 years, jumping from 48,483 in 1985-86 to 113,959 in 1997-98, according to the Institute of International Education.
During that time, the places where students study have become more diverse.
The percentage of U.S. students who study in Europe has fallen from nearly 80 percent in 1985-86 to 64 percent in 1997-98. U.S. students studying in Latin America more than doubled, from 7 percent to 15 percent.
There were 2,973 students who studied in Costa Rica in 1997-98, up dramatically from the 499 there 10 years earlier.
Scott Warren, the dean of students at Antioch College east of Dayton, said Latin America is a popular location for many Antioch students who work and study abroad, in part because it's relatively close.
Bill Hoffa, who has written ''A Parent's Guide to Study Abroad,'' said he does not believe study overseas is any riskier than studying in the United States.
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