Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Academic suggestions, finances prompt changes in off campus studies

For many students, the study abroad experience is one of the most important parts of their Whitman experience.   In fact, nearly half of Whitman juniors studied abroad during 2009-2010.   This increase of study abroad students is reflected in the decision of the Off-Campus Studies Office to expand their study abroad program beginning in the fall of 2013 to better serve the needs of students and the College.

“Whitman has been, for a long time, very committed to study abroad and off-campus studies,” said Susan Holme Brick, director of off-campus studies. “We’ve provided a lot of institutional support for it.”

The study abroad office at Whitman was first created in 1994, and since then, the proportion of students studying abroad for a semester or a year in their junior year has increased dramatically.

While the opportunities currently in place for students are plentiful and varied – with 44 study abroad programs in 23 countries – the overhaul of the system aims to increase the number of options.

“One of the goals of this transition is to have more advice from the academic departments about where they prefer students in their major to go study off-campus and to convey that to students in a consistent manner,” said Brick. “Along with that, we’re going to be expanding our Partner Program list. . . our goal is to have maybe 60 or 70 on the list [of study abroad programs] that will be available to students starting fall 2013.”

The change stems from two larger goals. The first is to more closely align the study abroad options with Whitman majors.

“In spring of 2010 we had an external review team come in,” said Brick. “A number of offices and departments on campus have had reviewers come in from other colleges and give us ideas from their institutions and give us assessments.”

According to Brick, the results of the review suggested that the college more effectively tie in study abroad with Whitman majors, so students don’t see studying abroad as time away from Whitman with an entirely separate academic experience. The Office of Off-Campus Studies will be working more closely with faculty to find high-quality programs that are recommended for specific majors.

“We’ve always gotten input from the faculty and departments here,” said Brick.

However, they’re now hoping to have a list of several programs that are especially compatible with specific majors. It won’t be a restrictive list and students can still choose to go where they want with a large degree of freedom, but it will make it easier for students to see where their professors suggest they go abroad.

The change has also stemmed from financial constraints.. Whitman has always subsidized study abroad options, but the college cannot keep up financially in this day.

“The reality is that most private liberal arts colleges have embraced what’s called the home tuition model,” said Brick. “Students can continue to enjoy the benefits of using our home campus need-based and merit scholarships and apply the credit to their Whitman degree, but for that opportunity they pay the home campus tuition.”

Although Whitman tuition will be charged for all programs beginning in the fall of 2013, financial aid will be calculated off the total cost for each student.

“We’ll charge Whitman tuition in place of the program tuition and then students will pay local or program room and board and local airfare,” said Brick. “Their need-based aid and merit scholarships, their whole package, would be based on that total amount, even if it’s higher than Whitman.”

Students looking to study abroad before 2013 won’t have the options available to students in the class of 2015 and beyond, but are still excited about the prospect of studying away.

“For me, if the partner programs included a wider array of theater programs, that would have been nice,” said junior Jeremy Kotler, who has applied to study this spring in England with the British American Drama Academy. “Having had the opportunity to look at more options might have been neat.”

The class of 2015 is the first class that will be directly impacted by the change, since most students choose to study abroad their junior year.

“I think it’s a good idea they’re expanding the list of countries,” said first-year Nate Higby. “My only concern is that we wouldn’t utilize the entire list if it’s more expensive to go one place over another.”

“It’s nice to have options,” said first-year Audrey Kelly.

While not all from the class of 2015 know specifically where they’re interested in studying abroad, they know it is something that they’ll be looking into in the future.

“I’m absolutely interested in studying abroad,” said first-year Annie Sirski. “I’ve wanted to [study abroad] since I was five.”

Brick suggests any student curious about the program changes or the study abroad process take a look at their office’s website and click on the class-specific red and blue buttons to find out more.

“Study abroad and off-campus studies is really important to us and we think it’s a very valuable part of students’ education,” said Brick. “We wish every student participated, and so we’re willing to provide that support.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *