The Office of International Programs (OIP) introduced its new and evolving programs to 2,000 Boston College students at its annual Study Abroad Fair on Wednesday.
At the event, which was held in Conte Forum, the various study abroad programs were divided by region. OIP invited representatives from several departments and offices on campus, including the Office of Financial Aid, the Career Center, the Carroll School of Management, and the Lynch School of Education. These representatives answered questions students had relating to study abroad and provided them with resources.
Nearly 2,000 students attend the fair each year, according to Nick Gozik, the director of OIP.
“The fair [was] a great way for students who are even just beginning to consider going abroad to learn more about their options,” Gozik said. “We want our students to have the highest level of experience possible.”
OIP sends about 50 percent of BC students abroad on semester programs, year-long programs, and summer programs, Gozik said. This year, he expects the numbers to increase to 56 percent of students based on the number of applications OIP received in February. Gosik attributes this increase to a boost in recruiting efforts.
BC is ranked 16th among national research universities in the percentage of students who study abroad, according to the Open Doors survey conducted by the Institute of International Education.
The most popular abroad programs are in Western Europe and Australia, Gozik said. However, OIP is looking to change that.
“One of the things we have been looking to do over the past few years is to diversify [the programs] a little bit,” Gozik said. “We want students to push themselves, get outside of their comfort zones, and grow the most they possibly can.”
This year, OIP added programs in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. The office also removed some programs based on student feedback.
“One of the things we have been looking to do over the past few years is to diversify [the programs] a little bit. We want students to push themselves, get outside of their comfort zones, and grow the most they possibly can.”
—Nick Gozik, the director of OIP
For example, the abroad program in Florence was adjusted because student evaluations were not coming in as strong as other programs in Italy, Gozik said. OIP looks at student evaluations to see where students have the most meaningful experiences and adjusts programs based on that feedback. BC in Parma, an immersive program in Italy, received very positive feedback.
Program additions include the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates and the National University of Singapore (NUS). Both programs provide an American curriculum with classes conducted in English.
Students can also participate in programs not held by BC, called approved external programs. About 80 percent of students who go abroad engage in BC programs, while 20 percent engage in approved external programs, according to Gozik.
Students interested in studying abroad who did not get a chance to attend the fair should first look online at the programs BC offers, Gozik said.
Once students have an idea of where to travel or what to study, students will meet with an OIP advisor in the fall to discuss his or her thoughts.
“We have a two-step advising process,” Gozik said. “It’s actually more in-depth than other places I’ve been, including Duke University, where you didn’t have to do any advising. Here we want students to feel like there is really a support network.”
The second advising session takes place with an expert adviser on the region in which the student is most interested. The adviser walks students through potential options and helps create a class schedule.
There are two sets of winter deadlines students must meet in order to apply for an abroad program. Students will then be approved for their programs based on eligibility and class rank.
In the spring, a pre-departure process begins for accepted students. OIP recommends that students talk to their academic advisers and exchange students to prepare for their time abroad.
Gozik hoped that the fair demonstrated a key goal of OIP, to provide programs that will allow students to grow personally and professionally, which is a part of BC’s Jesuit mission.
He encouraged students to take an interest in abroad programs because he believes these programs will provide students with abilities required in today’s global workforce.
“One of our primary goals for the fair—and more broadly for study abroad at BC—is to make sure that all students know that study abroad is something available to them, regardless of background, major, or area of interest,” Gozik said. “There is a program for virtually every type of student, as well as a way to finance an abroad experience.”
Featured Image by Isabelle Lumb / Heights Staff