Curtis Chin, a former U.S. diplomat, is challenging the popular idea that study abroad is essential for a college education.

In a provocative essay in the New York Times, Chin writes: "Asking whether study abroad should be part of every American student's education is a bit like asking whether visiting our nation’s capital or volunteering at a local charity should be part of every student’s education. Perhaps so in an ideal world, and clearly there can be benefits from all of this, but let’s be realistic."

He goes on to say that there are "costs and trade-offs," and asks whether the focus on pushing students to study abroad is "an unnecessary distraction." Perhaps, he argues, the time, money and effort would be better spent improving education here at home. "Focusing our attention on what is offered in the classroom must take priority over advocating for study abroad programs."

His is the minority voice in the Times'  "Room for Debate" section - four other writers argue that studying overseas is "essential" and that more students should do it.