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Apps In, Passports Out: Applying to Study Abroad 101

Let’s get real, collegiettes: we know you have been dreaming up your own EuroTrip ever since Scotty and Cooper first went looking for Mieke in Germany (and possibly even since Mary-Kate & Ashley brought their passports to Paris—we’re not judging). The only thing standing between you and your ticket to Bratislava (or Sydney, Capetown, or Cusco—the possibilities are endless!) is your application. It can be hard to know where to start when there are so many places we want to see, and so many classes to choose from. But don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Follow these five steps and you will be racking up the frequent flyers in no time.

1. Visit the Office of Off-Campus Study & Exchanges
You know how the early bird catches the worm? You should also know that the collegiette who visits OCSE early gets to catch the accented men in her city of choice. Stop by the office as soon as you start thinking about study abroad. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for yet—OCSE is there to help you figure it out and to make sure you can get there once you do.
2. Research, Research, Research
We say it three times because we wish someone had said it to us! The last thing you want is to discover (too late) that your major department doesn’t accept credits from your dream program or that going away for a semester or year would keep you from taking that one little classthat you need to graduate. It’s avoidable! The best way to save yourself from that “Oh sh*t” moment is to ask questions. Which brings us to number 3…

3. Ask Questions!
Ask OCSE, ask your advisor, ask the program provider, ask your family or guardians, ask your older friends… just ask! Some questions to keep in mind:

  • Am I in good enough academic and social standing to study off-campus?
  • Is it a Skidmore program? An approved program? If it is not approved, is Skidmore likely to accept my petition for approval?
  • How much will it cost?
  • When is the application deadline? (Watch out, because some spring programs ask for apps almost a year in advance!)
  • How many transfer credits will my major department accept?
  • Which classes does the program offer?
  • What will my living situation be like?

4. Declare Your Major
You may think that you have plenty of time to declare, and you probably do; but you have to declare before you submit your apps, and these deadlines can creep up on you. You know that awkward moment when you realize in the middle of winter break that your study abroad app is due in three weeks and you have yet to declare your major or submit a preliminary approval app to OCSE? We do, and it bites. Be a savvy collegiette—don’t let this happen to you!
5. Apply!

After all of your planning, you will be the champion of the study abroad app. Ask your favorite professors for recommendations, bring your course list to your advisor and major Department Chair for approval, request your transcript, photocopy or apply for a passport (gotta love those photos), and submit any other essays, paperwork, and fees the app requires. Note:applying to study abroad programs is not like applying to colleges. You can only have one application in the system at a time, so you can’t just try for a few options for the same semester and choose your favorite once you have received multiple acceptance offers. Make sure you decide well in advance which program is right for you!
Pack your bags, collegiettes! Once you have applied to your program, all that is left for you to worry about is how you are ever going to fit your shoe collection into such a tiny suitcase (you can take two carry-ons though, right?). The world awaits!
For information, deadlines, forms, and contacts, check out: http://cms.skidmore.edu/ocse/

Kate is the Associate Editor of Her Campus. Before joining the staff full-time, Kate was the Campus Correspondent for the HC Skidmore College chapter as well as an editorial intern, Love editor, and national contributing writer for HC. In addition to her work with Her Campus, Kate has been a Sex & Love stringer and digital editorial intern for WomensHealthMag.com and an Inner Circle Trendspotter for MTV. Kate graduated from Skidmore College summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts in English and French. In her spare time, Kate is usually spotted writing fiction, playing tennis, reading pop culture blogs until her eyes hurt, baking cookies, or dreaming up her next travel adventure.
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