With countless locations to pick from, and even more study abroad providers, choosing your program can be, well, overwhelming. This guide will help you to narrow down your list of potential study abroad programs and providers. Consider these factors to help you figure out which program and provider are best for you.
The cost of a study abroad program can be a deal breaker for budget-conscious students. If price is a make-or-break factor in your study abroad program search, find out which study abroad providers have programs that work well with your budget. At the most cost effective end of the spectrum are exchange programs. With exchange programs, you pay your university the tuition and fees that you normally pay, and then you switch places with a student at a school abroad! Just be sure to check which international schools and programs your home institution partners with to determine the destinations you can choose from.
More costly programs typically have a few more bells and whistles, such as additional excursions you can choose to go on during your standard program abroad. No matter the program type, don’t be shocked by the initial sticker price. Most providers offer scholarships that students can apply for. Some even offer discounts for students who attend member universities, such as our Diversity Network Scholarship! Also, talk to the financial aid office at your home institution. Your university may allow you to take some, or all, of your financial aid package when you go ahead.
All-in-all, studying abroad doesn’t have to be expensive! Diversity Abroad has already debunked that myth.
Even if the price is right, the program might not have the location that you want! Not quite sure where you would like to study? You can narrow down your options by asking yourself the following questions: What language would I like to learn? What climate would I like to live in? Do I want to live in a big city or a small city? These questions are sure to help you figure out a location that would be a great fit for you. After figuring out what your preferences, read a few of our country guides to see which locations match up to your preferences.
Also, your choice of location could help you stretch your budget. For example, picking a country that is close to the United States, like Mexico or one in the Caribbean, can save you money on airfare costs. However, if the location you love is far away from the United States, still don't say no! A lot of other countries have a really good exchange rate or a lower cost of living, so your dollar can go further while you’re there.
AREA OF STUDY
Contrary to some myths, studying abroad doesn’t make you fall behind on your studies. To make sure your semester abroad credits count towards your major, look for programs that offer classes in your area of study. You can also use your semester abroad to fulfill basic university credit requirements (such as foreign language credit, humanities classes, or other general education courses). In both cases, double check with your academic advisor to make sure the credits will transfer seamlessly.
(If you’re still in doubt about how you can make study abroad work with your major, read more tips here.)
TIME OF YEAR
Is your schedule busy to the point where you can only study abroad during a particular time in the year? You can further narrow down your list by weeding out which programs don’t fit your academic schedule. Outside of spring and fall semesters, many study abroad providers also offer programs during summer and winter or spring break to accommodate busy students’ schedules. If you have a lot of commitments during the academic year, try one of these short-term programs instead.
When picking a study abroad program, it’s helpful to think about what type of living arrangement is best for you. For example, a home stay is excellent for students looking to be fully immersed in the the local culture, and apartment living is great for students who are looking to live more independently. However, a study abroad program may only offer one of these options and an additional option like staying in a dorm on a university’s campus. Knowing your preference upfront will help you sort through potential programs.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER…
Finally, one of the most important aspects to consider when choosing a program is how you feel about it. There may be more than program that appeals to you. Go with the program that speaks most to you and you won’t go wrong!