Choosing a Study Abroad Program

A pitch for CCSA

So you have decided to study abroad, but now that you have made that decision how do you choose the right program for you? There are many options when it comes to study abroad. There are faculty-run programs, college/university-run programs, and larger programs — some that are consortia with college/university affiliation and others that are private-run programs.

Yes, that is a lot of options, but students do not need to make these decisions without help. Most colleges and universities have a study abroad office that will provide a list of the approved study abroad programs for your institution. This is important because then you can be sure that the program has been vetted and the academic credit you earn will be recognized by your home institution. The study abroad office can also help you find programs that complement your academic program and personal goals. Last, but not least, many institutions can offer both study abroad scholarships and financial aid support for study abroad — but only for approved programs!

Some things to consider when choosing a program:

  • Location: Even if you do not have a specific destination in mind, you know your own comfort zone. How exotic an experience are you interested in? Do you want western amenities or do you want to experience a very different culture? Are you fluent in a language other than English?
  • When are various programs offered and how long is the trip? Many programs offer classes during winter, spring, and summer breaks while others are for a semester or entire year. What type of program fits in with your college plans?
  • What kinds of classes are offered and what experiences are included?
  • What support is available for you before, during, and after the study abroad experience?

When I was an undergraduate I studied abroad for a semester in London through a State University of New York program. This meant that the transcript for the classes I earned that semester were earned from a SUNY. It also meant that I paid the same tuition, room, and board that I usually paid to attend the SUNY College at Plattsburgh. Today’s programs are usually funded differently than my experience, but the college/university affiliated programs still offer credits the same way — you will earn credit hours from either your home institution or the home institution of the program. When I considered my own options for teaching abroad I considered a faculty-run program through my home institution (Morehead State University) as I have many friends who have taken that route, I contemplated the KIIS Program (Kentucky Institute for International Studies), but ultimately chose to work with CCSA (Cooperative Center for Study Abroad) for several reasons.

Benefits for choosing CCSA:

  • English! CCSA programs are offered in a variety of destinations for which English is an official and/or historic language, including Belize, Canada, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as, of course, its original sites in the British Isles
  • Experience! Founded in 1982, CCSA offers programs on five continents, sending at least 500 students and faculty abroad each year. Many program leaders have been with CCSA for decades and led multiple trips abroad.
  • Variety! Course offerings have also grown extensively to include subjects as different as marine biology and fashion design, watercolor painting and nursing, in addition to regular offerings in theatre, business, psychology, English, history, and political science.
  • Interdisciplinary! Programs include courses in multiple disciplines to broaden and deepen the study abroad experience.
  • Support Before and After! CCSA staff provides support and guidance for students throughout the application process – including help with scholarships and financial aid. In addition, CCSA works with all member institutions to ensure students receive the credit hours.
  • Support Abroad! CCSA has a low student to faculty ratio and provides assistance through on-site program directors and assistant directors to support students 24/7 while abroad. CCSA provides medical and evacuation insurance for all participants while abroad. CCSA program directors and assistant directors are available on-site to assist and care for students who become ill. We maintain excellent relationships with the local clinics, pharmacies and hospitals. Medical insurance included.
  • Community! Students and faculty build lifetime bonds as they travel, live, and eat together as well as share learning and exploration opportunities.

Ask me about joining my adventure to Scotland in 2018 or talk to a CCSA representative about other study abroad opportunities.

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