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Study Abroad continues to set records

By Jenna Fernandes

Section: News

November 17, 2006

35% of the junior class will have spent at least one semester abroad this year, equaling the record setting percentage of last year. This is a large jump from the 28% who ventured outside of Brandeis in the 04-05 academic year and the 22% who did so in 03-04.

In all, there are two-hundred and fifty programs represented in seventy different countries. The top destinations this year are the UK, Spain, Australia, Israel and Italy, in that order, according to Scott Van Der Meid, Director of Study Abroad.

Study Abroad Advisor Melissa Matsubara attributes the increase to the recent change in policy that allows financial aid to travel with students. In the past, students would pay the tuition of their overseas or domestic institution and would not receive the assistance given to them at Brandeis. The Home School Tuition policy, which became Brandeis procedure approximately two years ago, allows students to continue to pay Brandeis tuition and retain their financial aid for the semester.

Study abroad is no longer just for those who can afford it, Matsubara said. If you can afford Brandeis with the assistance youre given, you can afford to study abroad.

Matsubara cited national demographics, which show that the majority of students who study abroad are white females of high socioeconomic status. Helping to balance the opportunity, she said, is important to the office.

Assistant Director Eowyn Greeno agreed with Matsubaras analysis and added that the office has been engaging in more outreach and trying to collaborate more with other student affairs offices, such as Student Financial Services and Residence Life. Greeno points out that this was made possible by an increase in staff, saying that the university has made a larger commitment to helping students navigate the process.

Despite the growing number of students going abroad, the office works to ensure that all students are fully equipped and prepared for their time away. According to Van Der Meid, our office is working hard with the many academic departments on campus to build better advising resources and information sharing for student considering a study abroad experience. We have a designated faculty liaison in each department solely focused on advising students who wish to go overseas. Our office is also working on making department specific advising pages on our website to assist in answering the most commonly asked questions.

Additional measures have been put in place for the spring for this purpose, including a new policy which requires students to meet with an advisor before receiving an application. Van Der Meid says this will help ensure that all students planning to study abroad will have an opportunity to discuss their plans not only with the department, but also our office. We hope this will allow students to get more advice on program selection, academic issues, personal concerns and financial resources.

Samantha Lakin, 08, who is traveling to Paris next semester, agrees that despite the number of her peers traveling with her, she was able to get what she needed from the office. I had a meeting with Scott Van Der Meid and he helped me get my application together and decide which programs to apply to;

which ones would best suit my needs, she said. I have had all of my concerns met even though there are many, many students going abroad.

The Study Abroad office is currently launching several new programs in order to further increase the population of students who go away, including a Fall Initiative, specifically encouraging students to consider leaving first semester. Benefits of this include less competition for programs and internships, more personal attention from program staff, and the advantage of being back for the spring, when many students interview for summer jobs and internships.

Editor's Note: Jenna Fernandes works in the Study Abroad Office

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