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Study Abroad

April 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

Summer is fast approaching, though you wouldn’t know it from all of the snow still on the ground in Houghton. However, things are looking up; the weather is getting warmer and the sun is finally showing its shining face just in time to round out the academic year! Soon all of the stress of finals week, studying, and classes will be in the rear-view mirror for students, and summer will hopefully bring time to relax and recharge. The free time of summer also offers a great time to reflect on the past year, and also look ahead to future plans. One of these plans might be studying abroad, and if your student hasn’t thought about it yet, encourage them to look into this awesome opportunity!

Planning Ahead

It is recommended that students begin thinking about studying abroad approximately 12-18 months before they plan to depart on their travels. This may sound like a long time, but there is quite a bit of planning and forward-thinking required to ensure that students can get the most out of their experience. Michigan Tech’s study abroad program is coordinated by the International Programs and Services Office (IPS), and offers a ton of great options for exploring new cultures and places around the globe.

A view of Stonehenge. Just one of the many sights students can see abroad!

The Process

There are some requirements to keep in mind if a student wants to apply for study abroad. Students must have completed at least one full academic year of study at Michigan Tech before they can go on a study abroad. A student must also have a cumulative GPA of at least a 2.75, and must be approved by the Dean of Students as having good academic standing and be free of judicial violations with the University.

If a student meets the above requirements, they can fill out the online application and necessary forms. Students must obtain two letters of recommendation from academic advisors or professors, complete a course planning sheet in cooperation with their academic advisor, and sign waivers. Once all of these are finished, a student can then apply for admission to the university that houses their desired program.

Why study abroad?

Many students wonder why they should consider studying abroad, but there are many benefits that come with participating in this program. “Study abroad gives students a chance to experience a different culture and gain a new perspective of their own way of life here in the U.S. It also introduces them to a new academic environment,” said Darnishia Slade, assistant director of International Programs and Services. Study abroad is a chance to have a unique learning experience and to take the college experience and learning to a whole new level. In addition to the great personal experiences, study abroad can give students an edge professionally. “It definitely gives students distinction on their résumés and can even help in interviews. Many of today’s global companies are are looking for students who are well-traveled and can adapt to new cultures and manage themselves in new situations,” said Slade.

Students exploring abroad

Common Concerns

Personal and professional benefits are great, but many students and parents are concerned about the cost of a semester abroad, how it will affect a students academic path, and whether or not going abroad is safe. It turns out that there is good news in all of these areas! On average, a semester abroad costs about the same as a typical semester at Michigan Tech. Since the cost of living in many destination countries is lower, students pay less for room. Factoring in travel costs, the amount of money is usually the same as a semester at Michigan Tech.

However, if finances are a concern, there are many scholarship opportunities available to students. There are country-specific scholarships, scholarships for visiting countries where government-declared critical need languages are spoken, special diplomacy scholarships, scholarships for STEM students, and financial aid for student who receive Pell Grant aide. All of these come in addition to any scholarships that students already hold at Michigan Tech. In terms of credits, study abroad classes are essentially Michigan Tech classes in a different location. Students work with their academic advisors to plan out courses that will transfer in as classes they would need to take anyway. This way, students don’t have to fall behind by studying abroad. Finally, safety is a priority for IPS when students head abroad. No students are sent to countries that the U.S. Department of State has placed on the “do not travel” list, and there are always contacts on location that students can connect with if they have any problems.

In fact, 70 to 80 students go abroad each year, travelling to more than 30 different countries around the world. From England to Australia, New Zealand to Canada, Japan to Brazil, there are almost countless opportunities to be had. College is a time of growth and development for students, and study abroad supplements this experience in very unique ways. “Students return with more sensitivity and interest in other cultures. They are more confident in themselves and who they are because they get to be ambassadors for their country while they learn about how others live. Overall, they gain a new self-awareness from the experience,” explained Slade.

I hope that you will encourage your student to think about study abroad this summer. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get out and see the world and to take learning beyond the classroom. The world is increasingly global and multicultural, and living in another culture equips students to excel in this emerging environment.

If you have any specific questions or concerns about study abroad, you can visit the study abroad website and check out the frequently asked questions page. However, if you are unable to find what you need there, you may contact Darnishia Slade at dslade@mtu.edu.