How to Choose a Study Abroad Program

 

Once you have decided that you definitely want to have a study abroad experience in college, you need to decide on a program. This is an extremely difficult and important step because the program you choose determines almost everything else about your study abroad experience. It is important to be intentional and take time choosing the best program for you.

I finally found the program that is right for me after a long time searching. I always knew I wanted to go abroad in college, and I had to be diligent and patient to find the perfect program. I am leaving for my experience abroad this summer, and I am so excited. I am going to share my tips and experience to guide you on your search for your perfect study abroad opportunity.

 

  1. 1. Make a List of Priorities

    There are a ton of important aspects and features you want in your study abroad. Listing them out will guide you in evaluating and ranking programs. Some examples are priorities are location, duration, cost, classes, level of independence, time of year, etc. Some priorities are more important to you than others. And your priorities are not the same as anyone else’s priorities. If a program fits only a few it is probably not the program for you. If a program hits almost all of them, but not the top two priorities, you may have to evaluate what is really important to you.

    For me, Duration and time of year were towards the top. I knew I didn’t want to spend an entire semester or year abroad at first, so I looked for summer programs or program during breaks. Location was extremely important to me, so I almost went on an Honors study abroad trip to Italy for Spring Break, but then I found my program that is over twice as long for almost half of the cost. I was not even focused on that location, but I realized that it was a hidden gem. It is near the other places I was looking at, and it fits every other priority on my list, plus a lot cheaper.

    As I said, my priorities do not match yours, so just because ideal cost outranked ideal location for me, doesn’t necessarily mean it will for you. Find what’s important to you and go from there. This is arguably the most important tip I have for narrowing down and ultimately deciding on a study abroad program. Once you have several options, your priorities will determine what makes the cut.

  2. 2. Talk to a study abroad advisor

    Most schools have a study abroad office with advisors who are there to guide you on your study abroad experience from start to finish. If you are unsure about options or cannot find the program that is right for you, they can help you. They will help you search and apply for programs and determine which program fits your needs the best. The study abroad office is full of experts that are sure to help you.

  3. 3. Stay updated on campus news and information from advisors

    I actually found my program through my academic advisor. I would not have known about it otherwise. If you are having trouble finding programs in the first place, ask your advisors or professors you admire. Campus newsletter and flyers will also advertise awesome study abroad experiences that you might not have seen on a catalog or other search method. I learned about some programs I was considering through a flyer posted outside the honors office and near the elevators in one of my class buildings. You can find the right program if you are looking for it.

Studying abroad is an amazing experience to have in college. It takes a lot of work and dedication to have a successful study abroad trip, and that work starts at the very beginning of the process. These three tips and strategies helped me find the perfect program. So if you are starting your search for adventure, start with this advice. And remember to always fill your life with adventure because we were not meant to stay in one place.