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How to Choose a Program

Studying abroad is an integral part of a W&L education. The purpose of study abroad is to further one's knowledge of the world and its cultures and to expand the opportunities and arenas for academic inquiry. Study abroad programs for W&L students must offer an intellectually demanding academic experience, with optimum cultural exposure and enrichment, with a dynamic yet safe and secure environment. The Center for International Education will work with students individually to identify programs appropriate to their academic and personal interests.

Approval of particular study abroad programs will be based upon quality of instruction, range and appropriateness of curricular offerings, opportunities for cultural integration, and strength of administrative and structural support. Students should select from programs based on their academic interests and in consultation with faculty, advisers, and the Center for International Education.

 In addition to complying with Student Learning Outcomes, the following characteristics ought to be considered in choosing an appropriate study abroad program:

  • intellectual engagement of students and faculty
  • quality of academic programs as determined by national ratings or rankings, home-country or US accreditation, breadth and depth of the curriculum available to visiting students, appropriate language instruction, and reputation among peer departments or disciplines, and experience based on former students evaluations
  • safety and security situation in the host country, city, and at host institution
  • cultural engagement of students through courses which explore the host country's politics, society, economics, arts, literature, etc.
  • cultural exposure determined in part by the locale, program of study, availability of "home stays" or other housing options which can maximize cultural learning, and the proportion of home-country students, non-US students, and US students in the program
  • quality of faculty and administrative relationships with students

In reviewing any program, look carefully at and ask for specific information on the following items:

  • calendar – what are the dates of the term(s)
  • accreditation and approval – is the program/university officially approved by W&L? what is its home country, international and/or US accreditation?
  • cost – how much and what does this cover? what does the cost not cover?
  • application and program schedule - when is the application due and when does the program begin?
  • eligibility requirements – do you have to have a minimum GPA, language experience, etc.?
  • course offerings – what courses are offered to you? What do you need to take for your W&L requirements?
  • faculty with whom you would study – are they from the host country? What is their experience in the country/subject?
  • housing arrangements – what are your options? can you live with a host family, in off-campus residence hall or in a campus dormitory? The choice you make may affect the level of interaction you have with local students and culture.
  • orientation offered – what sort of orientation does the program offer? Is it included in the cost of the program?
  • residential director or program office on site – is there a contact person on-site in case you need assistance? Are they easy to contact and communicate with?
  • health and safety issues – what are your health and safety concerns? Are there health and safety concerns in the country?
  • other arrangements offered by the program – what else does the program offer you?

You should request the names of other students from the U.S. who have recently been on the program and contact them for a review of their experience. Evaluations of students who have returned from studying abroad are available in the Resource Room in the Center for International Education.

A useful link for researching all aspects of studying abroad is the Center for Global Education's (University of Southern California) SAFETI orientation