The decision to study abroad is significant, and students as well as parents often have questions about the process. Included here is some information to give parents a basic sense of the time line and tasks associated with study abroad planning. Of course, if your question is not answered here, please feel free to contact the Office of Intercultural Learning at (512) 863-1857 or e-mail the Office of Intercultural Learning. We look forward to hearing from you!
When should my son or daughter begin planning for study abroad?
We invite students to begin visiting with us in the first semester of the first year at Southwestern, but as a minimum, students should plan on beginning the process at least two semesters in advance of travel abroad (eg, if the student wishes to study abroad in Spring 2012, we need to meet during the Spring 2011 semester or earlier). There are two deadlines per year for semester study abroad: October 1 for the spring semester and March 1 for the fall semester. Bear in mind, these are deadlines — the date by which the application needs to be completed. We ask students to come in no later than the semester before the deadline so that there is sufficient time for planning.
How much will it cost?
That question is best answered by looking over the following informational handout. In short, the cost varies considerably depending from one program and location to the next. The linked handout includes detailed information on how financial aid applies to study abroad. financial aid
With so many study abroad programs out there, how will my student make the right choice?
One of the primary functions of the Office of Intercultural Learning is to provide advising and guidance to students planning to study abroad. Many study abroad programs advertise and may seem wonderful from a website, but not all programs are sufficient for transfer credit to Southwestern nor are they necessarily safe or well-run. For this reason, students are required to study with programs that have been approved by the Office of Intercultural Learning. We work with students to help them choose programs which are appropriate for the major, rewarding personally and intellectually, and rich with opportunities for cultural learning. Click here for a list of programs included in Southwestern’s approved program portfolio.
Will my son or daughter receive credit for study abroad?
All approved study abroad programs are eligible for credit transfer. In order for credit to transfer toward the major or minor, students will need to complete the credit transfer form. During orientation sessions, your student will receive information regarding completion of the credit transfer form, as well as regulations and limitations on credit transfer.
Students should only choose programs that are approved by the Office of Intercultural Learning. During individual advising sessions, students will be given a selection of programs with a number of factors in mind including the major, personal interests, cost, and the program that will most effectively advance the student toward graduation.
Why is study abroad important?
Benefits of study abroad are being continually documented and researched by professionals in the field. From increased academic performance, to enhanced empathy skills, to increased knowledge about global systems, study abroad provides an avenue for students to grow and change in ways they could not while remaining in Georgetown. A carefully selected program can add depth to a student’s major by offering courses that are different, but complementary to those at Southwestern. Students gain new perspectives on their major field of study and develop interests they never knew they had. Study abroad can indeed be life changing, or better said; students can indeed change their lives by studying abroad!
Is it safe to go abroad? Will my student have support abroad in case s/he runs into problems?
We work to choose study abroad programs that are well run and which place a high priority on student safety. Students will receive detailed pre-departure information as well as extensive in-country orientation to help them be knowledgeable and informed about how to conduct themselves successfully and safely while abroad. Southwestern policy restricts study abroad travel to countries currently under a State Department Travel Warning. Only with specific waivers and under certain circumstances is travel to one of these countries permitted.
While in the host country, students will have access to on-site support staff for help in case of problems or emergencies. Staff will also provide orientation for students to let them know about appropriate and safe behavior in the host culture. The student definitely has a responsibility for respecting the host culture and staying safe while abroad.
All approved study abroad programs include health insurance as part of the program package so that students will be covered in case there is need for medical attention. Information about the specific health insurance policy will be available from your student’s study abroad program provider.