Before you start looking at all the program opportunities available through Illinois
Wesleyan University you should realistically assess your academic objectives, language
abilities, and personal goals.
What do I want or need to study?
Do I need to earn credits toward a major, a minor, or the Shared Curriculum while
I am abroad?
Am I fluent enough in a foreign language to take classes in it or will I need to take
at least some -- if not all -- of my classes in English?
Where do I want to go? Why do I want to go there?
Do I want to live and study in a large city or would I prefer something smaller and
How much structure do I want? How comfortable am I with being self-directed?
Do I want to directly enroll in a foreign university? If so, would I feel comfortable
in a very large university (30,000+ students) or do I want something a bit smaller?
What kind of living experience do I want -- living in a dorm with other American students?
Living in an apartment and cooking for myself? Staying with a host family?
Once you have answered these questions for yourself, you have some guiding principles
to help you assess the options available to you. The next steps are to begin looking
at the study abroad programs IWU offers and to make an appointment to speak with a study abroad advisor who can help you sort through your choices.
You can also contact previous study abroad students for their perspectives.
Choosing the right program for your needs can be a difficult task and requires careful
thought. As you sort through the many options available to you, you will want to assess
the programs using the criteria that are important to you. The questions list above
are a great place to start, but as you are comparing programs, you should also consider
the following issues:
Field of study: Does the program offer the kinds of courses you need -- and offer a wide-enough variety
of them? Is your field of study a particular academic strength for that program?
Academic credit: What is the average course load for the program? What credit unit does the program
use and how will those credits transfer back to IWU? If you need credit in a major
or minor or for the Shared Curriculum, will the program accept the courses you are
Language requirements: If the program has a language requirement, are you at the appropriate level of proficiency?
Timing: What are the program’s start and stop dates? Will those dates interfere with your
return to IWU? Will they interfere with other plans -- such as summer internship or
Experiential opportunities: Does the program offer internships or work experience? Do you have the opportunity
to conduct independent research? Can the program help place you in volunteer activities?
Cost: What would the total cost -- not just tuition, room, and board -- be for the program?
That is, what are the additional “expected” costs (i.e., round-trip airfare, ground
transportation, additional insurance, visa fees, etc.)?