Choosing the Right Program
Each study abroad program has distinct features and characteristics, and locating the right “match” is perhaps the most important step. Even if a friend or family member studied abroad, and recommends that program, it may or may not be suitable for you. As you research the various options, consider your specific intentions and the program characteristics; and explore several programs to allow yourself an informed comparison. The information below should help in understanding some of the distinctions to keep in mind.
ᐅ Program Types
The duration of your program is an important decision, and should consider your preferences, but also senior residency requirements, your remaining academic requirements and anticipated graduation date. As mentioned though, options are available for short-term, semester-length, and academic year programs. The longer you study abroad, however, the most knowledge you ultimately acquire about other cultures.
For a visual chart outlining the advantages & disadvantages of these program types, click here.
ᐅ Host Institution/Host Program and Relevant Costs
As you search host institutions and program providers, consider your preferences in terms of total enrollment size, percentage of local and international students, academic rigor, curricular breadth offered and subject depth available, pedagogical style of courses, language(s) of instruction, grading and assessment methods, facilities available, and co-curricular opportunities (internships, independent studies, research projects, civic engagement, etc). Additionally, program costs are often a critical question for most students, as well as what financial aid is available. While institutional and federal aid may be applicable toward exchange and short-term programs, only federal aid is generally available for outside programs. Nonetheless, some programs may be sufficiently affordable to compensate for the adjustments in your financial aid award. For more information, consult with a counselor in Student Financial Services, and review the chart of financial aid options for various program types available on our Financing Study Abroad page.
ᐅ Language Preparation & Requirements
Consider your preferences in terms of language. If your objective is to achieve proficiency, a program that emphasizes linguistic immersion through home stay arrangements, intensive seminars, or classroom instruction in the host language, for instance, should be researched. Your own preparation matters as well, of course; and the language options offered by the program should correlate with your level of academic study in the language (beginner, intermediate, advanced). The language fluency in English among the local population might be another dimension to consider.
Language requirements vary by program. Programs specifically designed to provide language instruction often have minimal expectations, while others might require some background or even fluency in the local language. Although Lang has no foreign language requirement for graduation, students interested in studying abroad should begin language study no later than sophomore year. For more information about foreign language preparation for study abroad through Lang, click here. For more information about placement and course offerings at The New School, visit the website for the department of Foreign Languages here.
ᐅ Location & Geographic Considerations
In addition to your preferences for a particular region or country of destination, think about the contextual and community factors as you investigate study abroad program options.
ᐅ Housing Accommodations
Housing is an important concern for most students overseas. Study abroad programs often have a range of residential options. You should do some research about what options are available, and consider which appeal most to you: a homestay with a local family, a shared apartment or studio, a residence designed primarily to house other American students, a residence designed to house international/visiting students, a residence that integrates local and international students, etc. Location is also important - consider the distance to the host institution, shopping, food options, and entertainment; nearby public transportation options; neighborhood environment, etc. Remember to factor in any housing deposits or leasing costs, and note some universities abroad may have contracted housing agencies to help students.
Some Additional Self-Assessment Questions
In considering the various study abroad programs, ask yourself some of the the questions below, in addition to reviewing the information above. Discuss your thoughts with friends, family and advisors to be sure you've considered all of the different factors in deciding to go abroad.
Some Benefits of Studying Abroad
* Gain an international dimension in your academic program, and expand the range of course options. Through a study abroad program, you access new and interesting course options. Consider Rainforest Ecology in Australia, Citizenship & Globalization in Argentina, Global Media Strategies in the Netherlands, Sacred Traditions in Tibet, Genocide & Reconstruction in Rwanda, Literary Theory in the United Kingdom, and more! Through the exchange programs, short-term courses, and other study abroad providers, the opportunities are limitless!
* Increase your proficiency in a foreign language. The best method to learn a language is through immersion. Continue your language studies, or learn an new language not available at The New School, through a semester abroad.
* Enhance your sense of independence and confidence. Students often return from having studied abroad feeling more prepared to confront challenges both during and after college.
* Travel beyond tourism. In addition to your academics, study abroad affords you the opportunity to travel, but with more depth and understanding of global cultures than simple tourism. You will undoubtedly learn about your own position as a member of the global community, and the fascinating points of convergence and divergence between cultures.
* Internationalize your resume and skills. Employers in all professional fields are interested in prospective employees with international experience and cross-cultural competencies. By positioning yourself in a new environment abroad, you will sharpen these skills.
Study Abroad Step-By-Step Instructions
For more information about studying abroad, we encourage you to read through the step-by-step instructions for students from Lang College here.
Suggested Preparation by Class Level
For more assistance with planning an experience abroad, we also recommend you review the suggested preparations for students by class level here. It's never too early to plan, even as a freshman!