There have never been more options for Stanislaus State students who want to study abroad. They can choose from dozens of countries and programs, spend one or two semesters away, pay with financial aid, get scholarships and stay on track to graduate in four years.
The University now offers three study-abroad programs with the newest allowing students to study in one of several countries for one semester with their sole tuition cost being their Stan State tuition. Called the Stan State Exchange Programs, the new option features partnerships with universities in France, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Spain. Universities in other countries are being added as more partnerships are formed.
“Our office is thrilled to offer new study abroad opportunities to our students. The experience of living and studying in another country is like no other, providing a lifetime of benefits to personal growth,” said Jennifer Helzer, associate dean of Extended and International Education. “Students return from study abroad with increased self-confidence, a more sophisticated view of the world and skills sets that positively affect their educational goals and career paths.”
To help students learn more about study abroad opportunities, the Office of Extended and International Education conducts information sessions every week during fall, spring and summer terms, with the last session of the fall 2018 term scheduled for noon on Friday, Dec. 14. Attending one of these sessions does not commit students to studying abroad, but it is the required first step for students who are interested in doing so.
“I encourage students who have any inclination to study abroad to attend an information session and start working with us as early as possible,” said Brittany Fentress, international admissions and services coordinator. “At the sessions, they will learn how easy it is and get the facts and tools they need to make the best decision possible for their academic and personal needs.”
Students are eligible to study abroad once they establish a college GPA, Fentress said, and that means students who start planning early have the most options and the best chance of all courses taken abroad counting toward their degree. “By working with us, they can make sure they don’t take classes here that they can take abroad,” Fentress said.
Not only do the information sessions present a general overview of the available options, they address some of the concerns that typically cause students to shy away from studying abroad. For example, Fentress said, many students are surprised to learn that studying abroad can be affordable. Housing and meal costs are typically reasonable, financial aid can be used abroad and scholarships are available.
“Many students think they’ll wait until after graduation to travel, but once they graduate they have financial obligations and need to find jobs,” she said. “Traveling while they are still in school is an excellent option because they have so much support from the University. We are here to help them.”
One of the ways Stan State supports study abroad students is by thoroughly vetting programs and establishing relationships with the staff at international locations. Over the last few months, Fentress has been visiting the newest partner universities to meet with her counterparts and become familiar with the facilities and the regions where the schools are located.
“By making these visits, I can tell our students exactly what to expect at their destination. I can tell them what the housing is like, if it is on campus or how close it is to campus and how far they will be from other places they might want to visit,” Fentress said. “Also, it lets me know exactly who is taking care of our students and assures me that they are continuing the quality of support we offer our students.”