For three hours on Friday, Sept. 19, Balfour Atrium looked more like a travel agency than a student center. The annual Study Abroad Fair, hosted by The Center for Global Education, educated students on an endless list of opportunities. The programs showed students how they can study and live not just outside of Wheaton, but in entirely different countries.
According to U.S. News, 23 percent of 2011 college graduates studied abroad during their university career. A significant reason why this number is not larger is due to the costs of studying abroad. Some schools cannot afford to send students abroad. Other colleges simply do not have the flexibility to offer study abroad opportunities. In 2006, the U.S. Senate published a resolution with 13 points in regards to why American students should study abroad. In this resolution, the Senate says that 79 percent of people in the country think students should have “a study abroad experience” during their college career.
Luckily for students here, Wheaton has an extremely popular and diverse selection of opportunities for students hoping to study abroad. The Center for Global Education works to encourage students to explore the world before they graduate, and assists students along the way to make their experience successful.
Wheaton has over 70 study abroad programs in 50 different countries, allowing students to explore almost any region of the globe. Around 180 students study abroad every semester, and that number is set to grow from the addition of Wheaton’s eight new partnerships with outside study abroad programs.
Each abroad experience has its own unique structure. Students studying in Peru live with host families, while those studying in Ferrara live in apartments. In other programs, such as the new one offered by Ben-Gurion University in Israel, students are immersed completely in the university culture, living on campus with local students.
Programs run from shorter faculty-led trips and summer experiences to yearlong journeys. Students can spend the entire academic year or semester abroad and take a full course load, or they can opt for shorter, more intensive programs during summer and winter breaks, for which they can receive one course credit. Students may also choose to pursue an internship while abroad, taking only three academic courses, with the internship representing their fourth credit.
The key to successfully studying abroad is to start planning early. Students should meet with their academic advisor to discuss credit requirements. They should also take any language classes required, and make sure their GPA meets the minimum requirement of 2.85. Students from any major can study abroad, but specific programs may be more tailored to certain academic interests, therefore students should also consider what they want to study, in addition to where.
Many of the program representatives explained that going abroad in college is the optimum time to explore different cultures and nations; after graduation, opportunities to go abroad become less available. Other representatives said that students go abroad to learn about other cultures, and end up learning more about themselves and their own culture in the process, returning to Wheaton with a different way of looking at the world.
To explore study abroad options, visit The Center for Global Education online at www.wheatoncollege.edu/Global/, or make an appointment to see a Program Advisor, at ext. 4950.