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Studying Abroad – Freshman Year or Later

college admission consultant college admissions consulting foreign school studying abroad May 27, 2023

The opportunity to live and study in a foreign country is seen by students and parents alike as not just a fun part of college, but necessary preparation for working in a global economy. In fact, studying abroad is considered so valuable that a few colleges actually require students to go abroad before graduating. Students can also do internships abroad to meet this requirement. In addition to semester or year-long programs, students can choose a three or four week intensive study abroad experience, generally offered in January or May. Some of these programs include coursework before or after the trip, which helps students integrate classroom learning with real-world experience.

In the past, students would spend their junior year abroad, often studying the language of the country they were visiting. The trend today is for shorter stays, with courses offered in English. Semester and summer programs have become very popular. At colleges that have a one-month January term, professors may take a group of students to study theater in London or to study the rainforest in Latin America. One advantage of the short-term programs is that students can go on several study-abroad trips while in college. Students who are studying engineering or preparing for medical school also may find the short-term programs easier to incorporate into their curriculum. The disadvantage of a brief study abroad program is you miss out on the total immersion in a culture that is only possible when you live in a country for an extended time.

Britain has long been a popular choice for study abroad as there is no language barrier. Australia also attracts many American students who want to spend a semester abroad for this reason, as well as the fact that the seasons are reversed, and students can enjoy beach weather in January.

Study abroad programs are often designed so students will have time to explore their host countries, with classes held only four days a week.

Studying abroad is now available as early as freshman year. Increasingly, colleges are utilizing freshman-year study abroad programs as a way to manage enrollment. At schools such as NYU, USC, Northeastern, and others, some applicants may be offered spring admission as well as the opportunity to complete their fall semester by studying abroad at a designated campus. In some cases, students complete their entire freshman year abroad. Students who opt into these pro- grams generally report very favorable experiences.

The freshmen study abroad programs can provide smaller classes, closer relationships with faculty, and a stronger sense of community than students find on the large home campus of these schools. But there are some potential drawbacks. While students who start their college career abroad become more independent and bring a broader perspective to their studies when they move on to their U.S. school, they do miss out on some of the traditional first-year campus experiences and may feel a little out of place when they arrive on campus as sophomores. Students who have never spent time away from home may find it challenging not to be able to come home for a weekend or for Thanksgiving. They need to be mature enough to handle the lack of supervision and availability of alcohol.

Whether students go as freshmen or later in their college career, studying abroad can be a valuable part of the college experience.



Photo by Yan Krukau:

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