How do you choose from among 45-plus different study abroad programs? For many first-year students on campus, the answer is to attend the annual North Central College Study Abroad Fair and GO AWAY DAY, one of the largest events on campus. “Studying abroad is an increasingly popular and relevant piece of a student’s career,” says Kimberly Larsson, director of study abroad. “At North Central College, every major field of study–even scientific research and honors programs–can be enhanced through international study and travel.”
North Central College offers a holistic approach, helping you gain the most benefits before, during and after a study abroad program. “We meet with students and discuss their major, comfort level, budget, personal interests and the experience they want to have, such as an internship or research project, and then determine the program(s) that best meet their needs,” says Larsson. “We have programs in ‘traditional’ places like England, Ireland and Australia, and then we have students studying theatre and film in Singapore or improving their Spanish in Chile.”
At North Central College, studying abroad is accessible for all majors and affordable for all budgets. Financial aid is applicable to North Central’s study abroad locations, but if costs are a concern you can apply for additional aid and/or scholarships. Some destinations, like Costa Rica or Canterbury, England, deliver great opportunities and include numerous field trips on a smaller budget.
Larsson and others in the Office of International Programs have visited many of the programs abroad to meet with staff, check facilities and assess safety. Group programs in China/Japan and Costa Rica—available to sophomores, juniors and seniors—are accompanied by a faculty member. Knowledge of a second language isn’t necessary; however, the College does offer intensive language programs for students wanting French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and even Arabic language immersion.
Once you’ve selected a program, you submit an application to the Office of International Programs. The next step is attending an orientation program with information designed for both students and their parents. Where possible, students are also paired with a mentor who has previously participated in their program. Finally, students enroll in Global Studies 277, a study abroad seminar you participate in before, during and after your time away to reflect on the experience.
“Study abroad experiences help you take the next step in your future plans, like graduate school or job hunting,” says Larsson. “We assist our returnees in utilizing it as a competitive advantage.”