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Northwest Missouri State University

Considerations for program selection

Studying abroad presents numerous challenges that are different from pursuing an educational program here at Northwest. Thus, in deciding whether to apply, students, along with their parents, should do a candid self-assessment of their strengths and weaknesses and consider whether they can meet those challenges or whether the challenge would be too great to make the experience worthwhile. Likewise, those who decide to apply should do a similar evaluation in deciding whether they can handle a "full immersion" type program or would best be served by a more structured program led by a member of our faculty.

Different factors students should consider before deciding on what type of program are as follows:

1. Program type
The Study Abroad Office offers full immersion programs: semester long or year long at different universities which offer different teaching and grading styles. There are also summer sessions and faculty-led, short- term programs. These types of programs are led by a Northwest faculty member.

2. Language ability
Although most of the classes offered are in English, the host country's first language will most likely not be English. Students must realize that there will be other languages spoken and that English is not everyone's second language. Language proficiency and survival language courses can be taken to learn the host language.

3. Type and size of institution
All institutions vary in size. Some of our partner universities can vary from just a few hundred students to 100,000 students. Some institutions have different buildings on campus, different campuses spread throughout the town, urban campuses, or even conduct all activities in one building.

4. Location
Students should also take into account the location of the program. Large cities and small towns show huge differences in cultures. If you are used to a small town, this may be better for you and vice versa. Also take into consideration traveling costs and opportunities from larger cities and suburbs.

5. Visa requirements
Students are responsible for researching and applying for student visas if required by host country. Some countries will require an FBI criminal background check or will require you to declare any criminal charges or convictions. Please note that any charges for having committed a crime can lead to a refusal of a student visa by the host country. In case of having a criminal record, the student will be asked to submit supplementary information to the Study Abroad Office in order to further evaluate the application.

6. Housing and meals
Students must remember that the housing and meals are very different from what they might be used to. The host country may not even produce or import someone's favorite product. Think about the difference of living with host families, student residence halls, apartments, etc. Students must also think about how they can meet others to enjoy experiences and how they might handle roommates.

7. Dates
Students should take note of important dates and base program selection on dates they may not want to miss at home. Also, some programs may run longer or shorter compared to the Northwest academic calendar.

8. Health and safety
It is very important that students remember to consider their own health while abroad. If certain situations, locations, etc. will hurt a student in some way, then that program choice may not be the best idea. Also, students should not travel or commute alone. The Study Abroad Office holds voluntary self-defense classes before students depart.

***The Study Abroad Office prepares an outgoing orientation for all students studying abroad before departure. The orientation informs students of all issues stated above among many others. This orientation is required and helps prepare students for their experiences abroad.***

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