How Can I Study Abroad in College? | For college students, in particular, travel can offer a transformative, memorable experience. You’ve likely spent high school and most of the time prior living in one place, save for a movie or two along the way. Heading into higher education, you‘ve had the chance to spread your wings, and if you add travel plans into your post-secondary education goals, you can garner an even greater degree of independence. With many programs integrated into U.S. schools, study abroad creates one of the easiest opportunities to start exploring the world and satisfying your wanderlust.
Begin planning early.
The earlier you’re able to start putting effort into your study abroad plans, the easier your process will inevitably be. It’s never really too early to start planning—even high school students can envision a future semester spent in Europe or elsewhere. Whether you’re taking advantage of college counseling for high school students or you’re just working with your default school counselor, make it clear that you’re prioritizing study abroad opportunities in your college search. Of course, factors like financial aid and offering a certain degree program might come first, but for you, the chance to travel and gain experiential education is key.
Understand the requirements.
It’s fun to imagine yourself traveling with style, taking weekend trips to new countries, or sampling regional delicacies in your chosen country. What’s even more important, though, albeit less exciting, is to ensure you understand and are meeting any necessary prerequisites for your study abroad plan. Your university undoubtedly has explicit guidelines, such as fulfilling certain course requirements or meeting a minimum GPA. The study abroad program you’re considering, too, likely has requirements. As you begin planning your global education dreams, pay close attention to these details. The last thing you want is to be blindsided by an overlooked technicality and find at the last minute that you can’t get on your plane!
Connect with the right department.
Does your college or university have a designated study abroad office? Be sure to connect with the staff working there as early on in your school experience as possible. They’ll offer a deeper insight into the requirements you’ll have to meet, not to mention tips and advice from helping countless other students achieve their study and travel goals. If there isn’t a relevant department, talk to your college advisers or a trusted staff member or peer to learn what portion of the school administration handles study abroad plans. By making a good impression early on, they’ll probably be happy to work with you throughout the process.
Know all of your options.
In the most conventional of cases, studying abroad involves heading overseas for the spring or fall semester, living and learning in a foreign country or city for those few months before returning stateside to finish your studies at your home school. However, this isn’t the only scenario in which you can travel while pursuing higher education. Consider researching alternative study abroad options, such as volunteer opportunities, summer programs, domestic study offerings, or even certain internships. If you’re worried about funding a conventional study abroad program, these are often more affordable opportunities. Or, if you’re concerned you can’t meet certain requirements while still getting to study in another country, one of these may be the best way to make both goals happen.
For many college students, studying abroad is a rite of passage. Armed with your over-packed luggage, trendy travel styles, and map-patterned dreams, you’ll learn to live among the locals and experience a whole new culture. By working with advisers and other resources from as early as your high school years, you can make the most of your time abroad and make the application process worry-free.