It’s important to prepare for your first meeting with Drake’s Education Abroad Advisor.
Usually in the first meeting, students may be looking for advice on choosing a program, or they may already have one selected, but need practical advice on course approval, financial aid, scholarships, housing options, and more.
It’s never too early to consider which program might suit your interests and needs. Choosing a program can be one of the most exciting, yet challenging parts of the study abroad planning process. There are many questions you should consider when narrowing down which program would be best for you. Asking these questions will help you meet personal, academic, and professional goals through your study abroad program.
Due to English becoming an international language of business and tourism in many countries, English has become a widely adopted second (or third or fourth) language for many individuals around the world. This has also led to more and more universities adopting English as a language of instruction within some of their academic programs. For students with limited second language skills, this can open the door to more program options. Many students now study in places where English is not an official language but are still able to take coursework at a local university in English.
Work with your Academic Advisor early on to plan for the best term to be abroad. Some academic programs are so packed with required courses that it becomes very challenging to do a semester abroad. Other programs are more flexible though, and your Academic Advisor may even know which semester would be the best term to be away from campus. Additionally, if you are living on campus, there is some advantage to studying abroad the spring semester, as you can then pick your roommate for the fall term and be away during the spring. Lastly, when you consider you primary objectives for going abroad, thing about how that might determine how long you go abroad. For students wanting to improve communication skills in another language, you may want to be abroad more than a month so you get time to acclimate and meet locals to talk to during your time away.
Many students prioritize international programs that help them stay on track for graduation (or even get ahead on credits). Meeting with your Academic Advisor early to discuss studying abroad can help you save courses that are easier to take abroad. Many students save AOIs (or “Gen Ed” courses) for their term abroad. For example, it’s not uncommon to take an Artistic Experience, Engaged Citizen, Historical Foundations, or Global or Cultural Understanding AOI while abroad. Students can also take major and minor-related equivalent courses while abroad too, but our office recommends getting those courses pre-approved before departing.
Housing options vary widely by location and term. In general, students on short-term programs, like J-term and Summer programs, are more likely to stay in a program-selected hotel or in a dormitory. Semester programs typically have a broader range of housing options, including apartments, dormitories, and home stays. If the type of housing is important to you, make sure you read what type of accommodations are available for you on your program. Some programs allow you to book a single room at an additional fee, but not all programs have that option.
The costs of international programs vary widely. Short-term programs, like J-term and Summer, tend to be the most affordable. Drake J-term and Summer programs typically don’t bill students for tuition, and only for the cost of travel, so those programs are some of the more affordable in our portfolio. Additionally, experiential programs like interning or doing service-learning abroad also tend to be affordable programs, because they bill for housing and other on-site programming, but sometimes do not need to bill for tuition. On the other hand, students participating in semester programs are billed Drake tuition, so the cost of tuition is the same whether the student is in Des Moines or abroad. Students do pay the cost of housing and on-site programming fees at the rate that the partner charges, so depending on the city abroad, the housing can be more or less expensive than Des Moines.
Our eligibility requirements apply to all students. Drake students need to be in Sophomore standing or above in order to participate in a study abroad program. Students must also have a 2.5 GPA at the time of application. Students are expected to maintain Drake’s Code of Conduct before and during the international experience. Drake Student Life reviews students' disciplinary records, and they notify our office if students are eligible to participate in an international program. Students must also complete a study abroad application before the deadline, as well as attend all required pre-departure meeting, like a general Pre-Departure session and all Faculty Leader meetings (if you are joining a Faculty-Led program). Lastly, some programs abroad have more stringent program requirements, such as you may be required to be a Junior to participate, or a 3.0 GPA. Make sure you read the fine print when applying to programs.
After narrowing down program options based on academic and future professional interests, these are other important questions to consider: Do you want to be in a huge metropolitan city with all the hustle and bustle of urban life, or would you prefer a mid to small sized community where you could get to know locals better? Do you want to be in a specific region for personal reasons or professional interests? Do you want to learn the local language better? Do you want access to internships or volunteer opportunities so you can build your professional network? If one of your primary goals is to travel, how close is the university to a train station or airport? Also, do you want to be somewhere that is hot and sunny or cool and rainy (or anywhere in between)? Just as well, do you prefer indoor activities, like cafes, museums, and on-campus activities, or would you prefer to be on a beach or hiking in the mountains on the weekends?
Visit our Study Abroad Program Search to narrow down your options. You can search by location, term, area of study and program type to help you find the best fit for you!