By Kaitlin MacRae
As Rider’s study abroad program expands and improves, applicants are discovering the necessity of planning ahead before experiencing what many consider to be the best time of their lives.
According to Dr. Sara Young-Singh, assistant director of the Center for International Education, students who want to go abroad should start planning as soon as they arrive on campus.
“What we do is we start urging students to think about studying abroad as soon as they get to Rider,” she said. “We want to tell them the key words: Map it out. If you map out your study abroad [experience], you’re not going to have any problems and it’ll be the best experience.”
While the initial planning stages may be difficult, the Study Abroad program at Rider continues to grow and foster the interests of students.
According to Dr. Linda Materna, director of the Center for International Education, participation is expected to triple in the upcoming fall semester, and quadruple during the summer.
“We are adding providers and programs and will continue to do so throughout this year as we move to cover the globe with programs that articulate with the majors and minors and interests of our students, all being part of the new five-year internationalization plan,” Materna said.
Young-Singh added that by expanding the study abroad program, the university is meeting the needs of students by providing them with the opportunity to travel through different programs.
“Our office has brought on several more providers,” she said, referring to the increasing number of students choosing to study in countries where Rider doesn’t have a large presence.
As the number of programs grows, so does the number of students interested studying abroad. Although many would recommend students spend their junior year abroad, the number of underclassmen and seniors is increasing.
“I think we’re expanding in our population,” Young-Singh said. “Typically we have seen in years past that juniors tend to go overseas. We’re going beyond the junior year abroad.”
The key, administrators say, is proper planning, starting early and working ahead. Application deadlines must be strictly followed, the appropriate paperwork filed and those participating must enroll in the appropriate courses.
“You can see where [Study Abroad] fits in nicely with your academic career,” Young-Singh explained. “[For example], education majors have other stipulations that they need to adhere to, such as student teaching and the Praxis exams. They need to be in the States in order to do those.”
However, depending on when a student chooses to study abroad, coursework may dictate when and where they are able to go.
As a result, those at the Center for International Education encourage students to plan their Rider career prior to applying to study abroad. Those who study abroad later in college may experience difficulties in fulfilling major requirements if they don’t plan courses accordingly.
Senior communication major Amanda Earle experienced these kinds of issues with classes upon returning to Rider from her 2007 stay in Perth, Australia.
“My problem with credits was, I set up my classes when I arrived in Australia while my friends set it up prior,” Earle said. “I tried to get [my credits] cleared when I got back.”
Despite those minor troubles, Earle described her experience in Australia as “the best ever.”
“It was a huge hassle getting all the paperwork cleared,” Earle said in a written statement. “But it was smooth sailing once I got there… I had the best time and I would recommend everyone to go.”
Students wishing to study abroad should be aware of several requirements and qualifications they must have. They should have at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average and be in good financial standing with the university. While abroad, students must maintain a C average with a minimum of 12 credits.
However, applicants must be in good behavioral standing as well, which can interrupt the planning process.
“We review everyone’s disciplinary standing prior to studying abroad,” Young-Singh said.
If a student has been involved in an incident that the program feels could potentially impact his or her behavior overseas, a review of the student’s case will determine whether he or she is mature enough to participate in the program.
Still, Young-Singh advocates studying abroad.
“Our main overall goal is that we want the student to be successful while studying abroad,” she said.
To apply for a study abroad program, students can visit www.rider.edu/studyabroad or visit the Center for International Education suite in the Bart Luedeke Center.