A Letter to Study Abroad: Help Make Our Dreams Reality

Dear Auburn Study Abroad,

I am a college student that comes from humble beginnings. In my ideal voyage through college, I set the course of just going through my four years here by simply going to class, participating in some clubs and attending some football games.  

It was not until your representatives with their shiny brochures, smiles and Prezi presentation stepped into one of my classes that I even considered meandering out of my comfort zone and going to places I had never dreamed of. 

Through your presentations that I have sat through (going on 5 now), I am sold on the idea of getting out there and exploring the world.  Your representatives speak of life-changing experiences, resume boosters, and the desire of fulfilling the U.S goal of promoting intermingling of cultures to better the world. Who doesn't want to fulfill their own personal wanderlust to go to places we have only seen on Travel Channel? 

The problem is, I’m broke. It’s not just me either.

As you probably know, a lot of students at Auburn are not as well-to-do like the larger demographic. Many are struggling to remain on campus because of the ever-rising tuition rates and the unexpected fees that seem to pop up here and there in life. Your department wishes to push a more diverse group of students to study abroad besides the typical “well-off students who travel abroad every year anyway” but do not really offer means of coming up with the money to pay for everything.

Yes, there are scholarships, but not enough to cover complete costs. Yes, our financial aid can be directed toward a trip, but what if that’s not enough? What of the students that make “too much” but at the same time “not enough?” Those students cannot apply for the Gilman scholarship or others like it. When students want to go abroad from the amazing presentations speaking of adventure and excitement, why is the talk of cost skimmed over?

I’m writing to you to work on that.

To work on the financial side, really. Why, for a program, there are only 2 payment dates instead of possibly a coherent payment plan for a trip? Not everyone can drop $5,000 in one payment and $5,000 another in a close amount of time. Instead, have it so that students can invest in a trip by announcing their choice early and paying in increments in advance.

Does one student want to go Seville, Spain (which is about $11k for the program fee) in Spring 2018? Let them apply a year in advance and pay toward that amount until the official registration period.

Study abroad, your staff is amazing and want the best experience for all Auburn University students, but please consider being more helpful to the financial needs of the lower income students. You want a more diverse group to send abroad—reach out to them and work with them in a more realistic way. If students are serious about going abroad, they will make their payments. 

Just a suggestion.

Sincerely, 

Ariel C. (Who's working toward going abroad!)