10 Steps to Increase Study Abroad Participation
The following steps have been effectively implemented on various community college and universities campuses, and resulted in hugely significant increases in study abroad participation.
1. Plan Ahead & Start Early
Program selection and promotion should ideally be finalized a year to a year and half in advance. For example, if you want to offer programs in the Spring and Summer of 2018, it is recommended that program planning be completed during the spring and summer of 2017.
Starting early provides students the opportunity to save for their adventure abroad. As you all know, most students live on a very tight budget so they can’t afford to invest quickly in a study abroad trip. Also, if they are able to break down the cost over several months, the price can be far less ominous. Saving $140.00 a month over 10 months suddenly makes paying for a $1,400 trip seem possible.
Furthermore, planning this far in advance provides leeway for any unexpected hiccups that may occur. Such as getting the program approved at your institution, ensuring contact hours are being satisfied and making early reservations for accommodation and airfare.
2. Study Abroad Fair
Study abroad fairs are a great way to spread awareness of study abroad opportunities across your campus. Many schools offer a fair during the fall semester and spring semester. The fall semester brings awareness to spring and summer programs, and the spring semester brings awareness to the summer, winter break and spring break programs for the following year.
Students who went abroad the year before can share their stories and photos from their trip. Additionally, faculty can share their experiences. If you have international students on your campus invite them to get involved as a multicultural fair. Students are able to come to one location and receive information on all of the trips being offered as well as ask questions.
3. Study Abroad Table
It's highly recommended to set up a study abroad table in the student union, or other high traffic areas, to increase awareness of study abroad trips. The table can have handouts, trip details and directions on where to receive more information.
4. Campus Wide Email
If possible, send a campus wide email at the beginning of the fall semester with all of the study abroad trip information. Additionally, send the email at the beginning of the spring semester, so the new enrollees will be aware and have the opportunity to participate. Often students are coming to and from classes without spending much time on the campus. The campus wide email ensures that every student is aware of the opportunities your institution is offering.
5. Organize a Faculty Development
The faculty development is for professors who are interested in learning more about Faculty - Led study abroad trips and the process of organizing them. This is a great opportunity to bring professors together and discuss programs. This helps to provide diversity with destinations and educational focuses. Additionally, this increases participation among the faculty, ensuring there are plenty of programs being offered.
6. Scholarships - Fund Raising
One of the most frequently asked questions, is if there are scholarships, or financial aid available for study abroad trips. Many schools will offer an annual "study abroad scholarship" for deserving students to apply for. You can speak to your institution's’ foundation and see if this would be a possibility. If this isn't possible at your school, there are other ways to raise funds for the study abroad trips. In the past, we have had professors and students who were going to France make and sell Crêpes in the student union. Additionally, for an art trip to Italy, students were selling their drawings and paintings, as well as providing window art to local businesses. Students also took commissions for artwork to be created during or after their trip of the locations they were visiting. Schools can use a fund raising service similar to www.fundmytravel.com
7. Study Abroad Courses That Students Need
If you offer courses with your study abroad trips that a larger percentage of students need, students are more likely to take advantage of the opportunity. Many colleges will focus on general ed courses that students must take and customize trips around these courses.
Publicize the study abroad programs in as many locations as possible. Create a study abroad page on the college's website with detailed information: program dates, prices, itineraries, contact information, FAQ's,etc. Place eye catching posters around the campus with the different study abroad trips. If your campus has television monitors around the campus, feature the trip posters and information on the monitors. The more awareness that is brought to the study abroad opportunities, the more likely there will be a significant number of participants.
9. Regular Informational Meetings
Schedule regular informational meetings throughout the semester to build excitement for the trips. These short meetings should cover basic study abroad trip information and include a Q&A session. Additionally, the meetings can be offered as webinars, so interested students can attend without actually having to be on campus.
10. Affordable Programs
Affordability is key. Offer programs that are financially within reach for a larger percentage of the student body. Often, students will decide which study abroad trip to go on based solely on the price. Affordable and authentic programs can be organized across the globe.