Choosing a study abroad program is not easy. Don’t get trapped into selecting something that’s not right for you. Take control of the process! To help you with the process of researching, choosing, and applying for a study abroad program, AmeriSpan is happy to share “4 Steps To Choosing The Right Study Abroad Program.” Following these simple tips can help ensure that you have the best possible international study abroad experience, whether you want to study Chinese in China or learn Portuguese in Brazil.
Step 1: When & What Works For You?
Write down your goals and constraints. In order to find a study abroad program that meets your academic, financial, and personal needs, you need to clearly define your goals and constraints. What is it that you want to accomplish? When can you go? What can you afford? While your dream may be to study Spanish in Barcelona, does it make more financial sense for you to learn Spanish in inexpensive Guatemala at this moment, and try out that new knowledge while taking a semester abroad in Spain next year?
Step 2: Where To Go?
Select a location BEFORE you select a program. AmeriSpan strongly believes that atmosphere is a key ingredient in the overall learning recipe. You will learn more in an environment where you feel comfortable. Are you a big city person or do you prefer small towns? What do you like to do outside of class? Do you prefer a busy nightlife or fewer distractions from your studies? Are you interested in Latin American indigenous cultures, or are European cultures more enticing? For example, if you love the beach and water sports you might want to try a program to learn French and surfing in Biarritz, France, but if you love museums and shopping, you might rather study French in Paris.
Step 3: Which Programs Meet Your Needs?
Research and compare program details. Not every international study abroad program is right for every student. When evaluating different programs, we recommend that you answer the following:
- What are the deadlines, start dates, and payment policies? What are the requirements? (language, grade point average).
- Are the elective courses taught in English or the local language?
- How large are the language classes?
- Where is the campus located? (near a city center, public transportation., etc.).
- What facilities are offered? (on-site cafeteria, computer lab, library).
- What are the housing options?
- What out-of-class activities are offered?
- What excursions are included?
- Are volunteer or internship opportunities available?
- What other services are included? (travel protection program, mobile telephone).
- What type of transcript is provided? (US college or foreign university).
One of the best tools for researching and comparing study abroad programs is the Internet. There are also study abroad blogs popping up where you can pick up helpful tips.
Step 4: Who Puts It All Together?
Find the right study abroad provider. Independent organizations and private/state universities both provide study abroad programs at foreign institutions worldwide. In your research, you may find that the program you want is offered by several organizations. Therefore, you should select the one with the best service and value, and that you feel the most comfortable with. Remember that you will be studying far from home. You will have a better time learning Spanish or studying Italian in a foreign land if you are confident about your agent. Here are some issues to keep in mind when evaluating different study abroad providers:
- Are they reputable? Ask for references, how many students they send, and years in business.
- Are your inquiries or concerns answered in a complete, friendly, and timely manner?
- Do they demonstrate a good understanding of the location and the finer details of the program? What exactly do you get?
- Do they provide extra services? (excursions, mobile telephone, in-country transportation, extra activities, other lodging options, etc.)
- Are the payment and cancellation policies flexible? (credit cards, late registration, postponements, etc.)
These are your 4 basic steps. Sure, there is more to think about before you study abroad, but if you follow the above advice you are on your way to selecting an excellent study abroad program.
For more free articles about study abroad, language programs for all ages, foreign cultures and travel, click: http://www.amerispan.com/subscribe. Dorioara Pinku is the co-owner of AmeriSpan, a leader in study abroad since 1993.