Summer Study Abroad Increases
Participation in summer study abroad programs has more than doubled from the 2009 rate. Thirty students are expanding their educational horizons overseas through NMU partner organizations, student exchanges or internship opportunities. This compares with 14 last year. The figure does not include new international week-long programs for incoming freshmen (see related story), faculty-led experiences or student teaching assignments.
“Students are looking to utilize all of their time in college,” said Miriam Moeller (International Programs). “Summer study abroad programs are appealing because they are short, intensive and cheaper than semester-long programs. During the semester, students can focus on upper-level classes they can only take here on campus. That doesn’t mean they can’t go abroad for a semester and graduate at a similar time. It just takes advance planning and coordination.”
According to the most recent Open Doors report published by the Institute of International Education, a record number of U.S. students are choosing to study overseas—most through short-term programs lasting two to eight weeks during the summer or academic year. The report says this reflects “a strong commitment to the value of an international academic experience to prepare them to live and work in a more global society.” Moeller attributes NMU’s increase in summer participation to both the national trend and deliberate efforts by International Programs staff to increase awareness on campus.
“We had a winter study abroad fair in February,” she said. “Usually there’s only one in the fall, but we decided February would still give students plenty of time to get ready for the summer. We had decent attendance for the weather conditions and we’ll do it again next year. The day before, representatives of programs we partner with joined me in doing some classroom presentations to get students interested in attending to learn more. We’re also focusing on getting the word out through Facebook, our updated website, e-mails to students who have expressed an interest and blogs by students currently studying abroad. It all helped.”
International Programs will host a group of Belize high school students July 13-19. The staff is also researching spring break volunteer opportunities in Belize, Guatemala and the U.S. Virgin Islands.