4 Things to Look for When Choosing a Study Abroad Program

If you’d like to spend a semester or more studying abroad, you have many options. Your college or university may have programs designed for students who wish to study in other countries. There are also a large number of schools that admit students from the United States. Some of them even charge little to nothing in the way of tuition. In fact, all of your choices can be a bit overwhelming.

To make things more complicated, not all programs are created equal. Some are excellent, but may not be a good fit for your needs. Others simply leave a lot to be desired. To help you identify your best options, here’s a list of four things to consider.

1. What Will Your Schedule Look Like?

With some programs, you’re simply enrolled in a participating educational program. Everything else beyond that is up to you. This means you will be largely in control of your schedule, and responsible for your experiences. If you want to meet people, visit historic sites, work, or go out on the town, that’s up to you. If you are independent, and a bit adventurous, this may be the experience you want.

Other programs are a bit more involved. When you sign up with them, you also sign up for a variety of group and social activities. You may live in a dorm setting with other participants, go on guided tours and excursions, and be expected to participate in other activities as part of the group. If you’re a little nervous about traveling abroad and want the support of a ‘built-in’ social group, this might interest you.

In any case, take some time to learn about the dynamics and expectations of the groups you are considering. If your program doesn’t match your expectations here, it could lead to some real frustration.

2. Will Your Credits Transfer in Both Directions?

If you choose a program that has a cooperative agreement with your home university, then this isn’t a concern. However, if you select a college or university yourself, you’ll want to double check on your credits. Specifically, do both schools recognize one another’s accrediting status, and will your credits transfer back and forth?

This is important enough that you’ll want to double check your information with both schools. If you plan on starting college at a school abroad, contact an advisor at a school in your area. They can at least tell you if the school you’re considering is reputable, and if you can expect their credits to be recognized.

Next, contact the school you plan on attending. Make sure that they recognize all of your prerequisites, and that you will be able to enroll in the classes you want.

3. Do They Provide Assistance to You in Preparing for Your Trip?

There are so many things to take care of in preparing to study abroad. This includes:

  • Obtaining your passport and student visa
  • Arranging transportation
  • Finding housing
  • Getting your transcripts and other paperwork in order
  • Obtaining a physical and immunizations
  • Choosing your classes
  • Connecting with other students
  • Making arrangements with your bank and credit card company

In addition to this, if you’re going to a country where you aren’t a native speaker, you may need to arrange to have certain documents translated. For help with that, consider PickWriters, a translation review website where you can find translation services.

Ideally, any company that you use to find a study abroad program will be able to help you prepare for your trip. After all, they should have a vested interest in ensuring your experience goes smoothly.

4. Have Other Students Had a Good Experience?

Every program you encounter is going to claim that they offer the best possible experience for students like you. Don’t rely on these claims alone. Do some research instead. The best way to find the perfect program is to find out what students themselves have to say. Just be sure you are looking at reviews that are posted by students independently. Be wary of testimonials, or reviews that have been carefully curated by companies offering these programs. Instead, check out resources like Yelp where you’re more likely to find independent reviews.

Final Thoughts

The experiences you’ll have and friends you can make studying abroad are absolutely priceless. You’ll develop insights and skills that you will use for the rest of your life. The key is finding a program that meets your needs and is reputable. You can do that by following the tips listed here.

Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. You can find her on Facebook



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