Choosing the Right ProgramChoosing the right study abroad program can be as influential as your choice in what college or university you wanted to attend when you finished high school. In an effort to help you decide what program is best for you, our office has a worksheet-type exercise that will help you consider various factors that influence your choice in a destination and program type.
Step 1: Brainstorm GoalsWrite down some things you want to do abroad. Start with a few categories:
What is your intended major or areas of emphasis?
Do you have another interest or a complementary subject area that you want to focus on?
Do you want to study one topic intensively or take a variety of courses?
Do you learn better in the classroom or in the field?
Do you like independent or guided learning?
Are you able to adapt to different styles of learning?
Are you interested in a region of the world or a specific country?
Is there something happening in the world today that you want to learn more about?
Is there a political system that intrigues you?
Do you want to explore family roots?
Do you want to live in your home country?
Are there historical or current factors in places around the world that may impact your experience there?
How important is an internship?
Do you have the language skills to take classes in a foreign language?
What will help your graduate school applications or make your resume stand out?
Do you want to study abroad more than once?
How immersed in the culture do you want to be?
You may have other ideas; include them all!
Step 2: Identify ChallengesNow think about what, if anything, might prevent you from studying abroad. Use the same sort of brainstorming technique to record the challenges. Identify the factors you'll have to consider: Now think about what, if anything, might prevent you from studying abroad. Use the same sort of brainstorming technique to record the challenges. Identify the factors you'll have to consider:
Social, academic, or athletic commitments
Consider how these factors affect studying abroad. The aim of this is to list the real challenges along with your goals.
Step 3: Set PrioritiesOnce you have completed this list, you can start setting priorities. Try ranking the factors. You may place the number 1 beside a geographic location that is extremely important to you, and then the number 2 next to money if affordability is a major factor. You aren't making final life decisions here, just setting down on paper where your priorities lie.
Some students like to rewrite their list combining both sets of factors in order of importance. Others write down goal statements which combine the most important factors. An example of a goal statement that comes out of this exercise might be,
- "I want to find a semester-length, affordable study abroad program taught in French that will allow me to complete credits toward my psychology major and do an internship or research."
Step 4: Communicate Your IdeasTalk with your academic adviser, career counselor, and a program director. Find out where your vision fits within the realm of possibilities. Sometimes the matches work out perfectly. Other times you may need to set some intermediate objectives that lead you to your goals.