Guide to goal development for Study Abroad
Options for study abroad are so varied and plentiful that deciding upon a good “fit” is not easy. Developing your own goals for your study abroad experience is key.
- Why is setting goals important? Research shows that conscious goals affect action. They direct attention, energize, and affect persistence. They can positively affect whatever experience you determine to do.
- A “good” goal is one that you are more likely to achieve!
- Be specific and realistic. (example: rather than “I want to become fluent in French”, a better goal would be “I want to improve my fluency in French by reading a newspaper in French at least once a week and by speaking in French 75% of the time.”)
- Make your goals that are sufficiently challenging and important to you. (example: rather than “I want to travel a lot”, a better goal would be “I want to grow as a person by testing my independence and ability to live and travel on my own in a foreign country.”
To help contemplate your goals, ask yourself about the following things:
- Semester - Offers time enough to delve into the history and culture of a place
- Academic Year - Allows acclamation to the culture and language
- Summer/Short Term - Opportunity to focus on particular topics (ecology, human rights, intensive language, global health, sustainable development, etc.)
- When is the best time for you to go? How much time do you have?
Course Work abroad (consult your College Policy)
o Do you need to complete major requirements while abroad?
o Are you interested in pursuing a specific academic focus?
o Do you want to study primarily language and culture?
o Would you like to be able to do research (for senior thesis or other)?
o Do you want to do comparative study?
o Are you interested in an academic internship or service learning?
o Do you want to study in another language?
o Do you want to study in English?
- In a country where the official language is English (Australia, Ghana, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa, UK…)?
- On a program where you do course work in English and study the language of the host country?
Type of learning environment/Program structure
o Direct Enrollment
- Direct your own learning experience?
- Study side by side with students from your host country?
- Be in a traditional classroom setting?
o American Study Program
- With other study abroad students
- Often focused theme
- May offer enrollment in a local university for some classes
o Field based Program
- Be in a field station?
- Conduct an independent study / research project?
- Small seminar-style classes with other study abroad students?
- Is cost a primary concern?
- Will participation in an exchange or study abroad benefit you more?
- What region of the world interests you?
- Do you have a language you want to improve or a culture you want to explore?
- Is there an academic interest that you would like to explore available in particular area?
- Do you prefer a rural environment, a small town, a university community, or a big city?
- Do you care if you are in a warm or cold climate?
- What type of housing do you prefer…dorm, apartment, or host family?
- With Americans or with host country students?