Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Colleges with Short Terms Encourage Study Abroad
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I recently visited Earlham College in Richmond, IN and was taken with how many students there study abroad (more than 60%). This is certainly higher than average. I believe that one reason for the high participation is the college calendar. Earlham college follows a 4-4-1 calendar. This means that students study for two semesters and then have a short, optional May term for study abroad, an internship, or an intensive course. The flexibility of this calendar allows students to study abroad who might not be able to otherwise due to the many course requirements of a double major, an education major, or a demanding science major. Biology majors in particular benefit from taking courses in the natural environment that they are studying whether it be desert or rainforest.
The Open Doors Report of the International Education Exchange states that the number of students studying abroad last year decreased for the first time in 25 years. This could be due to a number of factors including the economy. However, the same report indicates that the number of students studying abroad more than doubled over the last ten years but that many students were staying for shorter periods than previously. These statistics bear out my thought that having a shorter time available for international study will encourage more students to take advantage of the opportunity. Students who I spoke with at Earlham were quite enthusiastic about the international opportunities. One girl had plans to study in Japan as part of her Asian Studies major. Others planned trips to China and the UK. A freshman from Chicago that I spoke with said that she hoped to study in more than one country. Our interconnected world will benefit from students such as those at Earlham who gain international experience and a better understanding of cultural differences.