Choosing a Program
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Goals for Studying Away:
One of the first steps of program selection is to think about why you want to study away and what you hope to gain from the experience. Making a list of goals or answering some of the questions below may help you select a program because you will be able to identify the aspects of studying away that are most important to you.
- Do you want to learn or develop language skills?
- Do you want to study your major or something complementary to it? Do you want to take courses in something not at all available at LCSC?
- Do you want to focus on academics, an internship, service-learning or learning more about the culture?
- What size university, city or program best suits you?
- What sorts of extracurricular activities do you want to engage in? Are sports, Greek life, clubs or other things available you want to participate in?
Duration and Timing of Program:
Study away programs vary in both length and the time of year they are available. Students should consider how long they want to study away and the time of year that is best for them in terms of course scheduling, club, family or athletic obligations, as well as the climate of the location.
- Short-term: Short-term programs are usually a month or less; these are generally available during the spring, summer and winter breaks. Students usually do intensive language study, service-learning or a field component of a class they are enrolled in.
- Summer: Summer programs usually occur during summer break (sometime in May, June, July or August) and vary in length from a few weeks to a few months, although most programs are 4–6 weeks.
- Semester: Semester programs are approximately 3-4 months in length, but can sometimes be slightly longer or shorter. Some semester programs follow the American academic calendar, although others start earlier or later than U.S. universities. Universities in the southern hemisphere have seasons and calendars the reverse of LCSC.
- Academic year: Students have the opportunity to study away for an entire year. These programs usually allow for the most in-depth study away experience. Typically, students have vacation periods where they can travel or visit family and friends.
Other Factors to Consider:
One of the most important aspects of the study away experience is the opportunity to learn in a different academic environment. Programs outside the U.S. may offer different academic systems that affect teaching style, as well as course structure and offerings. You should consider these aspects of the program, as well as if you will need to take courses in your major or fulfill general education requirements while away. Study away is a great opportunity to expand or complement your major in a way not possible at LCSC.
Study away programs can be offered in the language of the host country, English, or a combination of both. It is important to determine whether the courses you want to take are offered in the language of your choice. It may also be helpful to know which language is commonly spoken outside of the host university and if you will need any second language skills before applying for a program.
Students often ask, "How much does it cost?" There is not simple answer, however; study away programs vary widely in cost. Price is determined by factors like program length, location, included services, and the type of program or host institution. It is important that you know what you can afford before applying. Typically, financial aid can be used for study away programs, but please contact the financial aid office for specific information. Also visit the scholarships page if you are interested in applying for these.
It is important to research where programs are located, including the country, region, city and the university. You should consider climate, population, languages spoken, history and culture, available health services, how much interaction you may have with Americans versus locals, and any other aspects of the location that are important to you. It may also be helpful to find out if there are travel opportunities or unique activities that you can participate in through a particular program or location.
You will find that study away programs vary in size from small groups to universities with thousands of students. Program size can impact your study away experience in many ways, such as interaction with other students and faculty, who may be mostly American, international or local, depending on the program. You should consider your preference when selecting a program.
Depending on the location and length of your program, you may need a student visa to study away in the program of your choice. It is important that you consider whether you will need to apply for a visa in terms of both time and cost. Some student visas require several weeks to process applications and that students visit the consulate for an appointment. Appointments may not be available for weeks or months and are likely only available in locations like Seattle, Portland or even San Francisco, so you must leave plenty of time to apply for a visa before your study away program begins. Also, many student visa applications require a fee, which may need to be budgeted for in addition to travel costs for a consulate appointment.
Where you live while away can be an important aspect of your experience. Housing options vary, but choices usually include a combination of university housing, off-campus housing, or home stays. Some housing options may also offer opportunities to live with other students (American or international), or on your own. It is important to consider your preferences and the cost of housing when selecting a program. When thinking about housing, it is also helpful to research cooking and dining options. You may find that some programs offer limited meal plans and expect students to prepare meals independently, while others offer meals with your host family.
It is important to consider the services available for study away programs. Some programs may not offer the same facilities or services that are available in the U.S., depending on where they are located or how the program is structured. If you have any requirements, it is important that you ensure they are available to you while away. Requirements may range from dietary requirements to counseling or learning services. To request accommodations, please contact the LCSC Counseling and Disability Services Office several months prior to the program application deadline in order to allow sufficient processing time.