Considering studying abroad but not sure where to start? Get ahead on the application process and figure out which program is best for you.
So, you are thinking about studying abroad, but you don’t know where to start. Or maybe you started the application weeks ago but haven’t touched it since. Let’s be real – going abroad can be scary. How do you organize your schedule? What about your friends? Heck, what about the money? Well, first thing is first. Focus on the application and plan. Distraction talked to Nina Castro and Tara Ann George, the assistant director and program coordinator for UM’s study abroad office, to get the best tips for your application. Also, a friendly reminder the fall application deadline is right around the corner – March 1st to be exact.
DISTRACTION: What is the most important part of the application? Is there something students frequently mess up on or something you look for specifically?
STUDY ABROAD OFFICE: We have made an effort to ensure that our application process is clear and that it includes straightforward instructions. If a student is considering studying abroad, they should be sure to finish the application process before the deadline. The application consists of questionnaires, professor and academic advisor recommendations, a UM transcript, a deposit, and a potential interview. For the recommendations, students should notify their professor and academic advisor that the recommendations will be sent directly to their e-mail.
When the Study Abroad Office reviews applications, each is considered comprehensively, but we recommend that students pay close attention to the essay portion of the application. This is especially important for more popular programs that can only accept a certain number of students. For the essay, students should make a personal statement about what academic, career, and personal goals they have and how their program of choice will fulfill these goals.
D: If a student is caught between two (or more) programs, how can they tell which one is better for them?
SA: We encourage students to take many factors into consideration before choosing a program. First, they should consider the program’s academics and how the courses abroad will fit into their academic plan. This should include speaking with their academic advisor. Additionally, we recommend they research the location of the program, the host university, the program inclusions, and the program costs. All of our programs have an online brochure to give students more information on programs, including the costs. We have eight U programs and over 60 UM partner programs so UM students have the flexibility to find the right program that fits their academic and personal goals.
Additionally, for more information on our programs, students are encouraged to join a site-specific info session where they can learn more about the program, speak with the advisor of that program and Study Abroad Global Ambassadors.
D: What is the benefit / drawback of a U program? What about an exchange?
SA: The benefit of studying on a UProgram or a UM Partner Exchange Program is that scholarships and financial aid apply to both types of programs. Additionally, participants of both programs receive UM credits that will be a part of their UM GPA and that count toward their degree progress.
UPrograms are an excellent choice for students who would like to study abroad with a group of UM students and for students who are interested in a well-structured experience abroad. Our UPrograms typically have 10-20 UM students who study together at an overseas institution for one semester and who participate in co-curricular activities together. Another great benefit of studying on a UProgram is that housing is included.
Through our UM Partner Programs, students can study at one of our partner universities overseas. This is like a traditional exchange program. With over 60 partner universities around the world, UM Partner Programs allow students a great deal of flexibility in choosing the location and university that best fits their needs and goals. A UM Partner Program is an excellent choice for a student who is searching for independence and full cultural immersion.
D: A main concern of students is money. Does study abroad usually cost more? Or less?
SA: UM study abroad programs, particularly our U and UM Partner semester programs, are comparable to a semester at UM. In fact, depending on the program and the location, some study abroad programs can be more economical than a semester at UM. Students who are considering studying abroad are encouraged to review the program budget sheet found on the program’s online brochure before committing to a program. The budget sheet demonstrates a cost breakdown of the study abroad program compared to a semester at UM.
It’s important to note that scholarships and financial aid apply when studying on a UProgram or a UM Partner Program. Students are also encouraged to research and apply to local and national study abroad scholarships, in addition to applying to the Study Abroad Stipend offered through the UM Study Abroad Office. We also recommend that students begin to budget and save money once they decide to study abroad.
D: Which programs are the most popular? How does that impact the application process?
SA: Our most popular UPrograms are the URome, UPrague, and UParis programs. Our most popular UM Partner Programs are in London, Hong Kong, and Sydney.
Some of our popular programs can be more competitive than others, depending on how many students can be accepted into the program. Students are still encouraged to apply to their first choice program, but they can state an alternative program of choice on the application. If students are not accepted into a particular program, the Study Abroad Office will work with the student to find a program that meets their academic and personal goals. The Study Abroad office’s goal is to provide all students with an opportunity to study abroad.
D: Any additional tips/advice/reminders
SA: All students, from all majors, are encouraged to add study abroad program experience, a short term program or a semester program, to their academic plan. It’s important that students begin to consider studying abroad early in their collegiate career and they should speak with their academic advisor to identify the best time to go abroad. Studying abroad opens the doors to exciting opportunities and helps students stand out on resumes and applications for graduate schools, internships, and jobs.
*questions were conducted via email
words_marissa vonesh with collaboration of the Study Abroad Department’s Nina Castro and Tara Ann George