Top 10 questions to ask study abroad providers
Before you apply to a study abroad program with ANY provider, it's important to do your research. The biggest question on your mind right now should be, "what are the questions I should be asking?".
Similar to when you had to choose a university to apply to, or like when someone buys their first car or home, most people don't know the right questions to ask the first time around. This is normal, because there's a learning curve. You may have never done this before, so how are you to know the right questions to ask? Unfortunately, not collecting the right information, could also lead to mistakes, lost opportunities, unmet expectations and more costs.
So, here's a list of the top 10 questions I believe everyone should ask when looking for a study abroad program provider:
- Do you have opportunities related to my major?
Program providers that understand the importance designing programs around your major and career path are worth considering.
- Do you have opportunities to learn the local language?
Learning a second language is extremely powerful on a resume, in an interview are throughout your career. But, you'll need to find a program that can adapt to your language competency level. If your current level is low, perhaps a program that offers content courses in English while taking beginner level language courses. Or, an internships with co-workers that know English.
- Do you have opportunities to take transferrable courses?
This is BIG. It's really important to line up any classes abroad with requirements toward your major BEFORE you go abroad. This way you can kill multiple birds with one stone by studying abroad, take great classes and satisfy credits back home.
- Do you have internships related to my major?
If you can, I highly recommend you perform an internship abroad. International internships make you extremely marketable as both a candidate for grad school, as well as, when interviewing for your first job. Your experience abroad has the potential to dominate your interviews for years to come.
- When is the best time for me to go abroad?
Believe it or not, there are optimal times to go abroad. I often say, "the more time abroad, the better", but this will depend more on your academic discipline than anything else. For example, students in the STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) areas tend to have strict academic agendas that don't allow for semester programs. Summer programs tend to be the best option.
- Do you have any scholarships?
This is literally the most popular question. Let's face it! Money is important and scholarships and grants are awesome. There are multiple approaches to financing your abroad experience. Check out our page on Financial Aid and Scholarships.
- Can I apply my financial to your programs?
Usually, financial aid is most easily applied to programs on which you must be recognized a full time student. If you choose a summer program, it should award a minimum of six credits to make it eligible for financial aid funding.
- What destinations do you offer and are they safe?
This is kind of a trick question. We are living in trying times and safety should be paramount to any program provider. No destination can be deemed 100% safe. But the way in which a provider answers this question can give you a clear idea as to how involved provider become at minimizing risk.
- What housing options are available?
This is probably the second most popular question I receive. Housing placements that complement your lifestyle are more important than many people think. If you're independent, older or have strict allergies or dietary restrictions, apartment living may be a better option compared to family living.
- What sort of post-program support do you offer?
A study abroad program provider that offers post-program support is demonstrating a commitment to their students and ultimate success. Post-program support can take many forms such as resume reviews, profession references, letters of recommendations, alumni resources, etc...