“Study Abroad” May Not Mean What You Think

“Study abroad” in college can have multiple definitions.  Not every student will immerse themselves for a year at a foreign university, studying concepts in a foreign language.   Universities are expanding the range of opportunities to travel and study abroad, as well as varying the duration of programs.  Summers, spring breaks, semesters-long, month long trips between semesters are being organized and offered for college credit.  Colleges, like UCLA, offer each academic department the chance to define their own travel/study abroad program and send professors to guide students through the experience. Other colleges, like American University and Santa Clara University, offer “Alternative Break” programs organized by both students and the university in service projects throughout the United States and internationally, over the Spring Break period, with little or no studying involved.   Other colleges, like New York University, are establishing campuses overseas that provide instruction in English for students to attend and continue to work toward graduation.  Still others, like William & Mary, are building partnerships with international universities, where students spend the first two years at William & Mary and the last two years at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland, earning a single Bachelor of Arts degree, with International Honours.   Lastly, colleges, like Princeton, organized a year long program for entering first year students to defer enrollment to spend a year in a service project abroad called the Bridge Year Program.   With many different international study and immersion programs, Seniors may benefit from thinking through their reasons why s/he want to study in another country or travel internationally.  Then, they can align themselves with colleges that will provide the most appropriate opportunity to achieve their goals.

Additionally, college applicants may benefit from researching the number of students who travel/study abroad during their tenure at a particular college. A greater percentage who study abroad may indicate that a campus has greater supports for students to study abroad without losing progress toward graduation, as well as point to a mindset and campus culture that is international in scope. Again, knowing one’s individual value of international study and immersion, the more effectively a student can choose a college campus that will mostly likely serve their interests and goals.  And, if all else fails, college students can do a little extra leg work, find an outside organization that will help them travel/study abroad, and coordinate with their university to be sure the credits ail transfer for graduation.





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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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