Studying abroad has been shown to be one of the most impactful college experiences for a student, both personally and professionally. Thinking about studying abroad brings lots of questions – Will I be receiving course credit? What types of programs are out there? How much does it cost? Academic advisors across campus encourage students to explore this area of the college experience, so consider the following steps when exploring your study abroad options.
Start by identifying what type of study abroad experience you are seeking. The University of Arizona has over 200 study abroad programs and options, ranging in duration from a few weeks to up to 10 months. Narrowing down the choices can be made easy with the Study Abroad Search Tool, which allows the student to select programs from different regions, fields of study, duration, and program type.
“It can be overwhelming to choose a program,” said Danny Vander Ploeg, manager for study abroad recruitment at the UA. “Push yourself to choose a program that is outside your comfort zone, whatever that means for you. You should be finding a program that is a good fit for your major, and your regional interests.”
Next, make a financial plan. Although tuition waivers, such as the QTR and the Wildcat Excellence scholarship, are not eligible to cover study abroad expenses, FAFSA loans and grants, as well as most third-party scholarships and loans, can be used to help with the cost. The UA Study Abroad office can also help you identify and apply for study abroad-specific scholarships. Of course, if the exploration is done early enough, you can start saving now for a study abroad experience.
The Study Abroad website is transparent about fees and expenses for each program, and financial aid and study abroad coordinators can help you explore your options.
Lastly, plan early and speak with your academic advisor about your options. Your major advisor will be able to tell you the best time to take a study abroad semester or year. They will also be able to help you explore credit options for each of the study abroad programs and identify how credits can be used for degree requirements. Students interested in studying abroad should see their academic advisor in their freshman year, or as early as possible.
Studying abroad can be one of the most fulfilling and enriching experiences a student can ever experience, and now more than ever there is a study abroad program for every kind of student. We encourage you to schedule an appointment with your academic advisor to begin exploring study abroad.