1. Why do you want to study abroad?
Begin the decision-making process by asking yourself why you want to study abroad, as well as what you hope to get out of this experience. For instance, do you want to study abroad because you’re interested in a particular culture? Are you looking to broaden your worldview? Do you think that it would look good on your resume? There is no wrong answer—it’s simply important to be honest with yourself about your motives. Figuring out your reasoning for wanting to study abroad will help you find a program that suits your individual needs, both academically and culturally.
2. What is your target destination?
You’ve likely heard the phrase, “Location, location, location.” This applies when choosing a summer study abroad program. If you are going to be spending several weeks in a foreign country, it’s important that you be interested in the place you choose and that it suits your personality. Do you favor large, cosmopolitan cities or quiet, rural environments? Will it be easy to get around town? How will you manage living arrangements and day-to-day expenses? What’s the weather like in the summer? Whenever possible, read online reviews from students who have attended the program before to get their perspective on their experience. Gather as much information as you can about areas you are interested in visiting, and decide if a particular destination—particularly in the summer—is the right fit for you.
3. Does the program you’re interested in meet the academic requirements for your school?
Don’t put yourself in the situation where you complete your study abroad experience, only to discover that it won’t help you academically. Once you have narrowed down a program, submit your request to your school ahead of time and get the necessary approvals to ensure that your credits will transfer (assuming that the program is not offered by your university). Make sure you talk with the study abroad program representative several times throughout the process. They should be willing to answer your questions, be easily accessible, and enthusiastic about your interest in their program.
Given the plethora of choices, picking a study abroad program can be both exciting and daunting. It’s important to take it one step at a time. Once you figure out where you want to study, research available programs, and determine which program best fits your academic and personal needs.
Niki Bridges is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world’s largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.