By Tara Feeney
Most students who have participated in the study abroad program will tell you that it was one of the best choices they ever made. The memories you make and experiences you have last a lifetime. In addition, participating in a study abroad program looks great on a resume, and employers are more likely to take you seriously. It results in increased maturity and worldliness, and you gain academic skills that will help you for the rest of your life. At McPherson, roughly a quarter of the faculty have studied abroad and any of them will tell you about the endless benefits.
You might wonder how to get started and where to look, as the process can be intimidating at first glance. The first step is to browse the International Studies Abroad or ISA website. You can shop different universities according to program, location, price, and classes. Once you have settled on a college or university, the next step is to schedule a meeting with your advisor, and when meeting with them, bring a list of classes from your chosen university. Then, in conjunction with your advisor, you can decide if the school is the right fit and whether or not you’ll be able to take the classes you need while also staying on track to graduate in your personal time frame. Due to the specialized nature of the classes, some programs at McPherson might be more difficult to study abroad with, such as the teaching program and automotive restoration program. Other majors, such as business, have more flexibility.
Once you have worked with your counselor to create an academic plan, the next step is finances. Numerous scholarships are available to students interested in studying abroad, whether through ISA or your host university. It’s also recommended to get with your home university’s designated financial aid specialist to see if your financial aid can be applied at other schools.
Next, you must apply for your program by the designated deadline; for example, to study at the University of Barcelona for the spring 2024 semester, the deadline was Oct. 1, 2023. Pull together any documents you need, including transcripts, and pay attention to GPA or language requirements.
The last step in the process is logistics. When will you go? What classes will you take? You need to have an up-to-date passport and work in conjunction with ISA to go through the student visa process, which allows students to study and live in foreign countries. In addition, make sure to work with your host university to secure housing. Finally, you need to book your flights. Having all this done between 3 and 6 months before you plan on leaving is recommended.
It’s never too early to start looking, so go ahead and look on the ISA website and shop for your dreams! For more information and questions about the process, contact Prof. Ken Yohn at [email protected].