Wheaton College has more than 28 times the number of students studying abroad than any other US University as per Deb Kim, Director of Study Abroad. At least 42% to 48% of Wheaton students have been to study abroad. The national average of the US is 1.6%.
The trend has surged in 2018-19 with 26.4% increase in semester program enrolments. Kim pointed out that in 2017 there were 72 students studying abroad. The number went up to 91 students in 2018. Wheaton is trying to incorporate study abroad programs into the academic curriculum.
Wheaton offers a number of study-abroad programs such as:
- Wheaton in Mexico
- Wheaton in England
- Wheaton in China
- Wheaton in Spain
It also partners with 60 secular and faith-based study abroad programs to make the program diverse. The list of all the study abroad programs can be found at the GEL (Global and Experiential Learning) website. Students can also participate in programs other than the ones offered through GEL.
Samantha Steeves, a student at Wheaton, travelled to Tanzania in 2018 for 3 months. She believes that it is important to understand the influence of other cultures.
Dr Brian Howell, Professor Anthropology, feels that the media has had a massive influence in increasing student participation. Students are now more aware that there are things to learn in countries other than the US.
Studying abroad is mandatory for students who are majoring in foreign languages. A Spanish major, Yuni Lopez, took part in the Wheaton in Mexico program in 2018. She says that the experience has been valuable.
Even though the popularity of study abroad programs is on the rise, yet many students do not participate due to financial constraints. Wheaton is taking measures to make sure studying abroad is financially accessible to its students.
Prof Howell encourages students to opt for inexpensive countries if they find the study abroad programs expensive. Study abroad programs in countries outside of Europe aren’t as expensive.
Financial aid provided to students at Wheaton, however, does not apply to summer programs as they are expensive. The financial aid which is offered during the year can, however, be used for study abroad programs. The cost of living abroad is often less than what it is at Wheaton, as per Wheaton Record.
With more students participating in study abroad programs, these programs are becoming more and more competitive. For the Wheaton in Holy Lands program, there were 95 applicants. Out of these only 29 were selected for the program.
Student participation in study abroad programs, have no doubt increased in recent times. However, Kim and Prof Howell believe there is scope for even more student enrolments. They expect the numbers to rise even higher in the near future.
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Posted on January 23, 2019