This post was published on Dream Row’s website on November 7, 2012. It was written as a freelancer.
by Nicole LaChance
One of the effects of the increasing globalization of the world is a heightened increase in study abroad programs. What was once a rare occurrence is now becoming an increasingly common option for college students around the country. The decision to study abroad is a big one, and you will have to answer some important questions before you hop on a plane.
What kind of program do I want?
All study abroad programs are not the same. Every school has different programs for various majors. One way programs vary is the time commitment. Most programs range from two weeks to an entire academic year. You could spend a summer or semester away or just participate in a short program over your winter break. As study abroad becomes more popular among students, schools are making more diverse options.
Another major difference in programs is the academics. Some students go over seas and attend school full-time while others are only part-time students. Other programs, typically for upperclassmen, are co-ops or internships where students spend the entire time working in a job related to their major. When considering the kind of program you should participate in decide what time commitment you want to make, and what you are hoping to get out of the experience, academic wise. Cannot bear missing any home games? A short summer program should keep you in the stadium. Still only taking intro classes and cannot pick a major? Find a program that fulfills general requirements so you do not waste money going to Europe to take classes you do not need.
Where is the best place for me?
Schools have study abroad programs in all corners of the world and sometimes picking just one can be daunting. Look at what programs best fit your academic goals, and if you still need help deciding there are other factors to consider, like the language, culture and climate. While the weather of a place may seem like a trivial factor, it may make a difference in how much you enjoy your time abroad. For example, if you hate the heat spending several months in South America may not be as comfortable as the same time spent in Moscow.
How will my study be funded?
College is expensive and studying abroad can be even costlier. Many European countries have higher costs of living and those are reflected in the cost of the program. Students also have to factor in the cost of flights, visas and passports, food, entertainment and any shots that may be needed. These things add up quickly, so make sure you have the funding covered. A majority of students use financial aid which can usually be applied for through your school. There are also several scholarships offered by different organizations, some of which can be found here.
Is it worth it?
The value of study abroad can be measured in many ways. For some students just the experience of living abroad makes it all worth it. Some people will never get another chance at that experience. Others weigh the value based on the money they spent and the credits that will be earned. If the credits are required anyway it could be worth the money. There is also the possibility of boosting your career prospects. Opinions are varied on whether or not studying abroad will make students stand out in the job market, but it is never a bad thing to add to your resume. Ultimately, the value depends on what you expect out of the experience, what you will be doing in the program and what your future goals are.