Define your goals and objectives
To begin, define your academic and personal objectives as the top priority. While it’s easy to imagine that the best way to begin your program search is to decide on a location, it can be helpful to consider other factors first. If you begin by first determining what you want to gain from the experience, it can help you to define the kind of program that is the best fit for you. Use the pre-departure list to get organized. Some factors to consider:
- What is your major or areas of emphasis (concentration, minor, or general education)?
- Do you have an emphasis or minor subject area that you want to focus on while abroad?
- How much time do you want to spend abroad?
- How does study abroad fit into your degree requirements?
- Is obtaining academic credit important or do you want to go mainly for the experience?
- Do you have degree requirements that might limit your options (e.g. program duration, timing)?
- Are the number and types of credits offered in line with your needs?
- Do you want to study abroad more than once?
- Attached is the Study Abroad Course Approval Form – it must be filled out before you participate in a study abroad program
- Do you want or need to take courses in a language other than English while abroad?
- Do you want to learn another language abroad?
- Do you want to take content courses taught exclusively in English?
- Are you flexible about the timing of your study abroad program?
- What semester, summer or year might be best for your graduation plan?
- Do you prefer an independent, autonomous experience in a foreign country or guided learning with Shepherd peers and instructors?
- Do you prefer a highly structured program or one requiring a higher degree of personal motivation and self-reliance?
Location and Geographic Interests
- How important is the program’s location to your decision to study abroad?
- How comfortable are you in new environments?
- How similar to or different from your lived experience in the U.S. do you want to experience?
- Are you interested in destinations in the developing world or the more developed parts of the globe?
- How do you define your travel comfort zone and how far are you willing to push your boundaries?
- Where would you like to study?
- What countries, cultures, languages interest you?
- How immersed in the culture do you want to be?
- Is there something happening in the world that piques your interest that you would like to learn more about?
- Use the US Department Travel Warning to find out what countries may be a travel risk
- Do you want to participate in an internship or service learning opportunity while studying abroad?
- What will help your résumé and/or graduate school applications stand out?
- Do you want to explore an international workplace environment?
- Have you thought about how studying abroad can increase job opportunities?
Financial and Personal Issues
- How much can you afford to spend?
- Can you afford the cost of a given program?
- Do you need financial aid to help finance your program? Schedule a meeting with Jon Piper, firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how much of your financial aid can cover your study abroad experience.
- Do you want to explore family roots?
- Are there historical or current factors in places around the world that may impact your experience there?
- Do you meet the program’s eligibility requirements?
- Do you have any personal needs that require special accommodations or consideration?
- Do you have any academic or health concerns that might make a particular program’s location, activities, or schedule difficult for you?