SAGE Scholars Member Colleges Among Nations Top Study Abroad Schools
Studying abroad is a formative part of the college experience that expands students’ worldview and creates lifelong memories. Across the country, our SAGE Scholars member institutions open opportunities for these new experiences and all the considerations that accompany a semester aboard. In the US. News Rankings 2021 Study Abroad List, three SAGE Scholars member institutions—Goucher College, Kalamazoo College, and Arcadia University— emerge as top ten in the country, among all accredited colleges, for quality of study abroad programs.
When considering what makes a good study abroad program, you’ll want to ensure that your institution can support you throughout the process. Our SAGE Scholars colleges aim to make navigating study abroad easy. Below are some considerations to make when comparing study abroad programs and reasons why studying abroad really maximizes your college experience.
How to Evaluate Study Abroad Programs
When deciding to study abroad, where you go is only one small piece of the bigger picture. Financial aid, program costs, academic fit, and program support are critical components of a fulfilling study abroad experience that our SAGE Scholars member colleges offer generously. Robust support is particularly important to get the experience that truly transforms and enriches the study abroad opportunity.
Next to location, determining what kind of study abroad program you’re looking for is key. At our member colleges, the range of programs is extensive. From semester to summer to yearlong endeavors, there’s something that will work for every student. Considering how long you want to be abroad is particularly important from a cost standpoint, so it’s important to determine how much financial support and scholarship opportunities your institution can provide you. Going into this shopping period with a clear understanding of cost—what you may be giving up by going with less expensive options—requires lots of research and communication with your institution’s study abroad office. Don’t hesitate to keep looking until you find a program where value overlaps with the price.
While studying abroad is fun, it’s also an adjustment. Many students leave the states for the first time when they study aboard. As such, location does matter! If you want to be near the ocean, but you end up closer to a desert, the adjustment period will be that much more difficult. When evaluating study abroad programs, location is about where you stay, the cultures you’re exposed to, and the logistics of your travel experience. The most important aspect to consider when picking a location is whether your institution can accept the credits at your foreign institution as transferrable toward your degree. This is non-negotiable and does determine where you end up. Though the lessons and growth experienced during study abroad are beneficial post-academic life, not getting the credit for your coursework won’t be worth it when trying to graduate on time.
Determining the overall quality of experience brings into play the intensity of courses and academic support. Picking a program that challenges you and matches your interests and can support how you learn will make the transition to a new institution easier. Similarly, the support you receive outside of the academic environment will also enhance the quality of your experience. Support can look like help with the visa process, flight communications, airline and travel support for navigating a new system, and connections to alumni networks after the program is over. The best study abroad programs also transition this support through cultural immersion, extending far beyond the food you eat. Are there support opportunities for students to explore different cities during semester? Do opportunities exist to learn the language and give volunteer to the community that hosts you? The ability to become a well-rounded global citizen extends well beyond coursework. Be mindful that this support is included in your sticker price and not something you’ll have to pay extra for when you arrive.
Not all study abroad programs require you to live in on-campus housing. For most programs, it’s common for students to live with a host family to immerse themselves in their host city’s language and culture. Some programs also provide and place students in program housing with other exchange students. Wherever you stay, it’s important to know the specifics of your living arrangements and look at the complete scope of options are available to you. Some programs do not provide housing at all. If this ends up the case, do make sure that the program can provide support to help you arrange living accommodations for your stay. There are pros and cons to each option when it comes to housing, so take time to consider what you’d like to get out of the experience.
Navigating the study abroad experience extends far beyond choosing a location. With many of our SAGE Scholars member institutions offering world-class programs, your study abroad experience will be met with ease. Studying abroad allows students to extend their learning, develop personally, experience new cultures, and form a community that extends beyond the states. Though there are many considerations to make, it’s essential to do your due diligence to determine what works for you to prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!