What to look for in a Study Abroad program

This  past weekend was Accepted Students’ Day at Champlain College and I worked for the Champlain Abroad office promoting our two campuses to accepted students and their families. After giving my pitch about the programs numerous times, I realized there are a few questions that every parent ask and a few that students often ask. It got me thinking about what people should look for in a program.

1. Organization– A program should be organized so the student can submit their forms and follow through on their end, while the program is organizing everything else. The application process needs to be smooth and anything negative that happens in that process can affect a student’s abroad experience.

2. Safety– This has to do with the location of the abroad program as well as the staff. At our campuses, the directors have copies of our passports, our phone numbers, travel itinerary, and anything else that would help them keep track of us in case a situation arises. Also, the locations of our campuses are designed to keep us safe. I believe studying abroad in a “dangerous” location is a personal decision, but the staff of the program should have policies and protocols in place in case of an emergency.

3. Support- Most people don’t realize how unique American higher education is until the encounter a different style, such as Europ0ean higher education. Most colleges in Europe have huge classes of over 200 students and the classes themselves are pass/fail which don’t even require attendance. This is where some academic support or structure would really benefit American students abroad. Also, having a support team of those who run the program helps assure students that their semester abroad will be well spent.

These are 3 of the largest factors that I believe students should look for when choosing a program. Do you have any other thoughts as to what students should look for?

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