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Evaluating Study Abroad Programs/Websites

How can you tell if a program is a good fit for you?  How can you tell if it is worth your time and money?
There are no “right answers” to the questions below.  If you don’t find what you need online and don’t like how things go in a phone call or by email that may be a sign the program is not for you.  Programs should be able to put you in touch with past participants.

Ask Yourself:

  • What are my goals (academic, personal, professional)? 
  • What living arrangements and opportunities for community engagement do I want?
  • Do I need/want credit?  Do I want to study, volunteer, or work? 
What to look for on a program website:
  • Does there seem to be a strong academic focus?  Is it easy to find out about classes, professors, credits/accreditation? Will the transcript come from an accredited college or university?
  • Does the program have high or low standards for admission?
  • Does the program emphasize health and safety? 
  • If language learning is a goal, do they place an emphasis on language teaching (significant number of credits for the language part of the program; language faculty with training in second language instruction; opportunities for immersion, homestays)
  • Are activities and excursions provided in the cost of the program, are they available for an extra fee or do I have to arrange my own?
  • Does the program have strong connections with local, national or international institutions (Note: this is particularly important for service/community engagement).
Don’t hesitate to call a program.  Things you can ask:
  • How many students typically participate on this program? 
  • What is the background of program participants? (Are there major sending schools?  Are they all college age?  Are there other international students or only “Americans”?)
  • What kind of support can I expect before I go? (visa assistance; pre-departure materials to help prepare for arrival, etc.)
  • What kind of support can I expect while I am there (are there one or more dedicated staff members who works just for this program?)
  • How long has this program been running?  If it is new, how long has the organization been running other similar programs?
  • AND the most important question:  Do you have past participants I can contact?

GSA Partner

Cornell Abroad 300 Caldwell Hall Ithaca, NY 14853 p: 607.255.6224 f: 607.255.8700

In an EMERGENCY for a student abroad, call the Cornell Police: 607.255.1111
Last modified 08/15/2013