By Ellie Koewler, IEP Senior Campus Coordinator
As summer kicks off, your study abroad office may be participating in first-year student orientations (And if you aren’t- ask to join!). When confronted with the idea of incorporating a global experience into their time at college, students and parents alike may be thinking “Wait a second, I just got here! I can’t even think about leaving the country!” We hear the same slew of reasons to not go time and time again throughout the recruitment season.
Thanks to training in our field, your staff likely know exactly how to combat student perceptions of barriers to going abroad, but how will your faculty directors respond when confronted with these perceptions during recruitment for their programs? Faculty and academic advisors are often the first point of contact students direct questions to. We want them to be active champions of our mission, yet they may feel overwhelmed by student questions and concerns. Consider formalizing your office responses into a tangible piece to give to other people on campus who don’t give the study abroad “elevator pitch” day in and day out like we do.
At one IEP campus, we created a “If you hear…, You can say…” half sheet to provide faculty directors accurate and positively-framed messaging to respond to difficult inquiries/perceived barriers to going abroad. In addition, the piece showcased the education abroad office as a hub of expertise and best practices, as it listed resources such as worksheets and events to show to students who need more nuanced support…and to nudge faculty directors to familiarize themselves with these resources too!
Below are samples of messaging provided to faculty on the resource:
If you hear… “It won’t fit in my major and will delay graduation.”
… you can say: “Students often fulfill gen eds or electives abroad. Students who study abroad are actually more likely to graduate on time than their peers who do not. Plus you can check out short term options like spring break and summer if you have a tight schedule during the semester.”
If you hear… “This program isn’t relevant to the job I want.”
…you can say: “You will build a professional network while you develop skills needed for the global job market. Employers want to hire people who can think on their feet, solve problem creatively, and communicate with people from different backgrounds – all skill you’ll gain or sharpen abroad! Plus you can attend the study abroad office’s career/resume workshop when you return to practice talking about your program in an interview!”
If you hear…”It’s too expensive!”
…you can say: “Think about how this program may put you ahead for graduation and add value to your resume. Have you calculated the total cost of a semester here on campus? Consider the total cost of the program over the number of weeks you’ll be there. Especially in non-traditional locations, you may be able to find a program with weekly cost that is similar to what you spend here. Plus, did you know the study abroad office awards $200,000 in study abroad scholarships every year? The deadline to apply is October 1! Let me know if you need a reference.”
If you hear…”It’s not safe.”
…you can say: “I work with the study abroad office, local vetted vendors, and an international security company to evaluate risk. Mandatory pre-departure orientations help prepare you to make healthy and safe decisions while abroad.”