Student Life

The Nuts and Bolts of Studying Abroad

So your student wants to study abroad! Before she packs her bags and says “adios” (or “sayonara” or “adieu”), there is a lot of planning and research to be done. Consider the following details to help your student plan out the best study abroad program for her.

Type of Programs

Most schools have several different options for studying abroad. Some examples are as follows:

Group study 
In this type of program, students from the university travel together as a group, often accompanied by a professor. The students are usually in the same field of study and spend a semester delving into the field with real-world experience. For example, film students might travel as a class to Los Angeles for the semester to learn and work on a film set.

Exchange programs 
Also known as affiliate programs, these programs offer students a choice of schools that have partnered with the university. To make the experience more seamless, the university will often outline credit hours, tuition and living fees, and travel expenses ahead of travel.

Application Process

Your student will work with the university’s study abroad office, her academic advisor and possibly program director to discuss options and choose the best path for her. For students hoping to study abroad in the spring semester, their application deadline will likely be the spring before, likewise for the fall semester.

Many programs require all or many of the following:

  •  A completed application
  •  Essays
  •  References
  •  Minimum GPA
  •  In good-standing with the financial office
  •  Proof of health insurance

Research and Due Diligence

Your student must weigh a lot of factors in studying abroad, including location, duration, cost and less quantifiable aspects, like culture shock, the social scene, language barriers and home (or country) sickness.

Help your student consider her priorities, goals and limitations, but don’t do the work for her. She should have primary contact with the schools and the study abroad office. Allow your student to take full responsibility for this potentially life-changing event in her life.

Gather the documents!

Once your student has been accepted into the program, she will need to gather travel documents. Depending on where your student goes, there are four main documents she might need:

  • Passport: required for travel to any country, including Mexico and Canada. 
  • Visa: may be required to enter and leave a foreign country.
  • International Certificate of Vaccinations: Especially when traveling to developing countries, your student will need certain immunizations. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information.
  • International Student Identity Card (ISIC): while not usually required, it might help to obtain discounts on travel fees.
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