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How to Tell If a College Has a Strong Study Abroad Program

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Planning to study abroad? Here's how to evaluate study abroad programs at your college—and elsewhere.

There are many types of study abroad programs and one size doesn't fit all. Some are focused on the culture and history of a country, some on service work or research, and some on developing language fluency, just to name a few examples. The college you are attending might offer your ideal study abroad experience, but if it doesn't, you'll need to shop around. Here's what to look for.

Does the College Actively Manage the Program?

Look for programs run by colleges that take a "hands-on" approach. While many colleges run their own programs using their own faculty, others partner with another university or endorse programs run by third parties. At the very least, the college should have visited and evaluated study abroad programs to ensure they match the academic quality of the home campus. The college should also provide support services to all participating students and ensure their safety and welfare.

Does the Program Have a Support System for Students Studying Abroad?

A good program will have dedicated staff and support services for all participating students—everything from help with choosing and applying to a program, to obtaining visas and housing, to crisis management and academic counseling while in the host country.

Does the Faculty Work with Study Abroad Students?

Find out which academic departments are closely involved with study abroad programs. If the college doesn't run its own program, do faculty in your major know about the program? Can they advise you on how to satisfy major requirements while you are abroad?

What's Required to Participate and Can You Get College Credit?

Is a minimum GPA or language proficiency required for some programs? Which programs allow you to transfer college credits back to your home college? And can you use those credits to meet language and General Ed requirements?

Will Your College Cost Increase If You Study Abroad?

Ask for a breakdown of study abroad costs including transportation, housing, and additional travel. Make sure your financial aid will continue while you are enrolled (generally, you won't be able to get work-study while out of the country). To help cover costs, find out about grants and scholarships for study abroad students.

Did Students Who Studied Abroad Like the Program?

Find out how many students go abroad each year and where they go. Ask if you can interview some of these students, and look for their comments on social media.

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