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 Gen Ed 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 more intimate?
- 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 General Education, will the program accept the courses you are looking at?
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 work plans?
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.)?