Ready, Set, Go Abroad: Top Steps to Studying in Another Country

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15 /PRNewswire/ — College students heading back to campus should start looking into that international study program they’ve been eying. Sophomore and junior years, or the summer between, are an ideal time to study abroad before students get too entrenched in senior-level classes, projects and internships.

According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), almost 200,000 students from the United States venture overseas for a study program each year, with the number of students seeking international education doubling over the last decade.

The United Kingdom (which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) remains the most popular destination, followed by Italy, Spain and France; non-traditional destinations like Australia and China are also gaining notice.

The jump in overseas programs reflects views held by many educators and employers that studying abroad prepares American students to live and work in a global society, enhances their academic and career prospects and encourages their personal growth.

According to Peter McPherson, president of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, “Study abroad is no longer a luxury. For students, and the American workforce, to be competitive in the global marketplace, they need experience living in and working with different cultures.”

Students and their parents need to do their research to select the program best for them.

Consider:

* What your school has to offer: Thousands of US universities offer study
abroad programs in destinations around the world. For instance, every
year UCLA sends approximately 2,000 students abroad to more than 140
institutions in 33 countries through the University of California
Education Abroad Program.

* Enrolling directly in a foreign institution: To offer their students an
authentic international experience, many American universities have
agreements with international counterparts that allow students to enroll
directly in the host institution. Even if such programs are not already
in place, students can consult with their advisors to research
universities abroad and select a school with classes that transfer
easily to their home institution.

* Summer, semester or shorter-term programs: Nearly 60 percent of students
enroll in semester or summer studies. However, according to IIE, one to
two-month programs are on the rise.

* Language and culture change: While students proficient in another
language may choose to study in that country, others may hesitate to
take complex subjects in another language. Countries like the UK remain
popular choices because they offer a diverse cultural experience, but
classes are taught in English.

* Financing (though it’s more affordable than you’d think): In many cases,
students studying abroad through their home institutions only incur
additional costs when it comes to travel and living expenses; those who
enroll directly at foreign universities are likely to find that tuition
is comparable to that of private or out-of-state schools in the US.
Scholarships and financial aid packages frequently extend to study
abroad programs, so students should check with their financial aid
office to see what options are available.

* Planning ahead: Given the popularity of overseas programs, students
should give themselves ample time to research and apply for programs.
The application deadline for many second semester programs falls in
early October, while summer programs have deadlines in December or
January.

Students can begin by checking with their own college’s overseas study office; websites like StudyAbroad.com also offer information on programs around the world. Students who have already selected their destination can also check out country-specific educational organizations such as the British Council (http://www.britishcouncil.org/usa) that provide more detailed information and resources designed especially for those studying in that particular country.

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