Selecting a Program
Choosing the education abroad program that ultimately fits a student best involves research, and it is critically important that students begin early and take the time to consider their options carefully. The items below are intended to aid in this research and include descriptions of program types as well as questions students should ask themselves while looking at different programs.
The Education Abroad Starter Kit offers a good overview of education abroad opportunities and processes.
Students interested in participating in an education abroad program should make an appointment with an Education Abroad Advisor in the Office of International Programs (OIP) to discuss their plans and options. The easiest way to do this is to call the OIP front desk, but students can also complete this online form. Appointments generally should be made at least one day in advance. However, walk-in advising is also available during designated Open Chat times.
Education Abroad also holds several informational events throughout the year, particularly in Fall Semester, which students can attend to obtain more information. Please see the Education Abroad Calendar of Events for time, date and location.
Education Abroad 101
Education Abroad 101 is a short presentation that gives an overview of education abroad opportunities at The University of Akron.
Education Abroad Fair
Held each October, the Education Abroad Fair is an opportunity for students to ask questions of many UA faculty program directors, third-party program provider representatives, Education Abroad staff and other relevant UA offices in one place.
Education Abroad Forum
The Education Abroad Forum is an opportunity for students interested in education abroad to speak to fellow students who’ve been abroad and returned about their experiences, as well as to students from UA partner institutions about their home countries and universities.
The University of Akron maintains exchange relationships with more than 20 institutions in 10 countries, at which students may study for a summer, semester or academic year. Bilateral exchanges are the type of program that comes to most people’s minds when they think about education abroad, wherein UA and its partners “swap” students.
With an exchange, UA students generally pay a program fee equivalent to and in lieu of UA tuition and fees to the Office of International Programs and then pay the costs of housing and meals in the host country. The overall cost will be similar to staying in Akron for the given term, though may be higher or lower based on the specific location and the attending costs of living. Estimated costs of attendance are included on each program description page.
Depending on the location, one may be the only student from UA, so a high degree of autonomy and independence are needed.
Foreign language proficiency may or may not be required. Even in non-English-speaking countries, many of our partners offer courses conducted in English.
Many UA colleges and departments run short education abroad programs taught and led by UA faculty and awarding UA credit, usually—though not exclusively—for 2-5 weeks in the summer. These are typically subject-driven and may or may not require a given prerequisite, though it will depend on the program structure and specific course(s) offered. Models vary, but this type of program may, for example, consist of a Spring Semester course with an embedded travel component or one or more courses fully conducted abroad. Costs vary by program, but may include both tuition and a program fee covering travel, etc.
In some instances, UA departments operate international internship programs that may last up to one semester in duration.
Students should not rely exclusively on the Office of International Programs for information about such programs, but should be sure to consult advisors in their department and, for specific program details, the faculty program director.
Students may also participate in programs not sponsored by The University of Akron. For example, students may directly enroll in an international institution as a guest student or participate in a program offered by a “third-party provider”, which could be another US institution (e.g. Kent State University) or a company that operates education abroad programs.
UA is a member of the Ohio International Consortium (OIC) and also has affiliation agreements with certain providers. These affiliations may provide certain benefits to UA students, such as marginally reduced program fees and/or access to provider-administered scholarships. The Study Abroad Library in the Office of International Programs has materials on many such programs, and many online resources are also available.
Receive work experience and international insight in your field. Options vary and may or may not be credit-bearing or paid. Many third-party providers offer internship opportunities, as do some UA academic units. Through the Bliss Institute, qualified students may intern in the Canadian Parliament. The College of Engineering has some international co-op programs, and teacher-candidates may work with the Office of Student Teaching to fulfill part of their requirement abroad. Interested students should also consult with the Career Center.
Participate in volunteer and service projects abroad.
Conduct research in one’s field abroad.
Attend and/or present at an international conference in your field.
Some programs offer opportunities to be an English teacher or teacher’s assistant abroad, usually after graduation. Examples include the JET Program in Japan, EPIK in South Korea and the Teaching Assistant Program in France. Enrolled UA graduate students may also be eligible for a teaching assistantship at the Université du Maine through UA’s Department of Modern Languages. Students may also be able to find independent opportunities to teach English or other subjects abroad at language schools, international schools, etc.
When researching programs, students must consider their goals for the experience. Ask oneself, Why do I want to go abroad? Do I want to study, intern or volunteer? Do I want to immerse myself in the host culture? What type of courses do I want to take: major requirements, minor requirements, electives, general education requirements?
The notion of traveling abroad can be daunting for some. While breaking through one’s comfort zone is part of the point of education abroad, students must be cognizant of their tolerance threshold nonetheless. Students should consider their level of independence, their travel experience and their ability to adjust to new and unfamiliar situations. They should also consider whether they would be comfortable throwing themselves into a culture and studying with local students or whether they would prefer a greater safety net and study with other US students, other UA students or perhaps of mixture of one or more of these.
Naturally, cost is an important and frequent concern for students. Students should consider their personal budgets, as well as program costs and available financial aid resources. When looking at costs, students should carefully examine what is included in the fees to determine what the better value is. In the same vein, while semester- and academic year-long programs are more expensive in absolute terms, they tend to be a better value when the overall time abroad and other benefits are considered.
When considering location, students should not only consider the country or city, but also the type of environment that suits them. Which is preferable, a large university or a smaller university. A big city or a small town? Would one prefer to be in a well-developed area comparable to Akron and the US, or is one comfortable with a developing area? Should the program travel to multiple locations?
Students should consider how long they wish to be abroad; there are options that last anywhere from a few weeks to a full academic year. However, they also need to consider during which term they want to go abroad and how it fits their degree program. The student’s academic advisor should be an integral part of these discussions. Finally, students need to consider the application procedures and deadlines. Many program and scholarship applications are due much earlier than students might think, and some may be take time to complete all components. Students should allow at least one semester before their desired term abroad for the application.