Paris, London, Peru, South Africa -- studying abroad during college can be your ticket to exploring the world. By deciding to take a semester, month, or year overseas, you not only gain the chance to change how you view your major, but you open yourself up to changing your life. Before you book your ticket, though, read on about some of the basics of going abroad for classes.
- "Study Abroad" Varies By School
The term “study abroad” can mean one of a couple of things, and can apply to a myriad of programs. For example, it may be a formal educational program through your university or school in which you attend regular classes at a sister school in another country. On the other hand, it may be hosted by a private program in which your classroom may be a field experience - such as touring the architecture of Rome.
- Consider Time & School Credit
That being said, it’s important to know what your program will entail when it comes to credits and time off. Programs hosted through your school will most likely treat your study abroad as it would a regular class on campus. Private programs typically have an understanding with the universities it works with, in order to allow you the time off and to give you credit for your work. However, there are some programs out there not recognized by your campus which may require taking a leave of absence. In this case, you may want to opt for a summer program instead of a school year term.
- Choose Wisely
It can be difficult to pick the right study abroad program with so many options out there. That’s why it is best to treat it as you would picking out your classes at your own university. You most likely will want to find a program that is similar to your major or career goals and that provides you an immersion experience. On the other hand, if your priority is simply to get travel experience, a program that is just through a sister university may allow you the time to see the region or country independently.
- There’s Funding Out There
One of the biggest myths with study abroad is that you’ll pay more. Not (necessarily) true! Many university-sponsored programs come with some assistance or scholarship you may qualify for. This is especially true if your program has a special purpose, such as service-based programs, or you’re interested in a specific application of your major. Private study abroad programs may not offer you funding, but they may have more flexible payment terms, such as paying a deposit and then making monthly installments, all of which can lessen the financial blow.
- The ‘When’ Doesn’t Matter
One thing that keeps many students from applying to study abroad is the idea that they are too young or too old. But the truth is far more complicated. Study abroad programs can be great for any level of college student, whether you’re a second-semester freshman or a graduating senior. Your advisor will almost certainly need to sign off, but barring any significant academic issues, you are free to travel when you’re ready. Just look into the program and find out if it seems right for where you are academically.
While it may seem like a lot, study abroad can be one of the most rewarding experiences you can have as a college student. Seeing the world while studying with new peers, new professors, and new families can expand your world in ways you never thought possible. Now, the only question you should have is, “Where to?”