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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Study Abroad fair highlights travel opportunities

Published: January 27, 2012
Section: News

Representatives from the Brandeis Office of Study Abroad Thursday invited representatives from a selection of the university’s 250 approved study abroad programs to a mini study abroad fair in the Shapiro Campus Center atrium.

The university approves programs in 70 different countries worldwide. Most popular study abroad locations include the United Kingdom, Spain, Australia, Denmark, China, France, Italy, Japan, Israel, Morocco and The Netherlands.

While studying abroad at Brandeis is common—with 40 percent of each junior class studying abroad each year and additional students traveling each summer—the process surrounding applying to go abroad remains somewhat obscure.

This year, as the Brandeis internal study abroad application (Feb. 17) looms in the near future, many questions are arising for students applying to go abroad in the 2012-13 academic year.

Current applicant, Emma Balmuth-Loris ’14 describes that since starting her planning, she has “been really stressed about choosing the right program. I thought for a while that I had selected the right one, but I’ve recently freaked out making sure it is the best option.”

Balmuth-Loris explains that—after much discussion with family, friends and study abroad advisers and consideration of such factors as program location, semester, type and what university credits the program will count toward for majors and minors—she will be “going to Thailand because the program just fits perfectly with what I want.”

The Office of Study Abroad—located in Usdan—is the center of application information and advising for all students who study abroad each academic year.

One of the most common questions in the study abroad application process is that of acceptance rates and program competitiveness. Hundreds of students seeking advice and assistance visit study abroad counselors each semester to ensure the quality of their application.

“When students engage their faculty members and the advisers in the Office of Study Abroad, they are generally able to narrow and refine their program choices to the point that they are competitive for the programs they hope to participate in,” J. Scott Van Der Meid, director of the Office of Study Abroad, said.

Advising resources for students hoping to go abroad stress the importance of completing all application components promptly, and the office confirms that this has much to do with program acceptance. “Since most students work closely with our office, we find that the majority of students get accepted into their top two program choices,” Van Der Meid said. But this is not always the case. “Sometimes students apply late in the admissions season or to very popular programs. In that case, there is always a risk of students ending up on a wait list.”

To avoid this outcome, the office emphasized a focus on remaining on top of requirements and submitting all necessary elements of the application promptly.

Max Keilson ’13 encourages students to endure the dreaded application process, saying that this past fall in Edinburgh “was one of my best experiences at Brandeis. It’s a little ironic that my best experience at Brandeis was me leaving Brandeis, but it’s definitely true.”