Despite some speculation concerning the status of several incomplete applications, the Center for Global Studies’ study abroad results are in, as the Feb. 1 deadline has now passed.
London is the most sought-after destination for students wishing to go abroad this year, with 15 study abroad applicants. London is followed by several destinations including Denmark with 10 applicants, Chicago with nine applicants and Scotland with eight applicants.
“We have 112 applications, and that’s not all of them, because some more are coming in for Buenos Aires, Barcelona and Besançon, and there are always a group of late applicants as well,” Center for Global Studies Director Robin Ragan said.
Ragan predicts that this year will either reflect a “steady or a record-breaking year for study abroad.”
There will likely be a jump from last year, when 96 students from the class of 2013 studied abroad.
Ragan was surprised at the numbers applying for Scotland and Jordan, as well as the new interest in Brazil, calling the turnout “impressive.”
In addition to the increase in applicants overall, Ragan was enthused about the increase in male applicants.
“The male to female ratio has bothered me for quite awhile. Study abroad nationally has much higher numbers for female participants [and numbers at Knox] hover around 19 percent male participants,” she said. But out of this year’s 112 applicants, 30 percent are male.
Ragan attributes this increase to spreading the word and prompting advisers to bring it up with their male advisees, as well as urging fraternities to bring up the topic at meetings.
“When we would present to groups … I would try to mention that … this was an issue that men needed to think about … for them, it was really important to show how study abroad could fit into their careers [because] studies show that men tended to think of study abroad as a break from their career goals,” Ragan said.
As for the increase in applicants overall, Ragan called it “part of the same package: getting the word out more, reminding advisers to bring it up. … We also widened the field this year of who came to our study abroad fair.”
This year, Knox’s website has also made a point of highlighting more students who have studied abroad.
“I think that may have shown students that there were more choices,” Ragan said.
In addition to increasing applications overall and male participation specifically, Ragan, who worked as director for a year during Professor of History Mike Schneider’s sabbatical, entered the position this year with the goal of doing more with students after they have come back.
Ragan wants to give them a chance to really digest what they’ve done, and to reflect and be able to explain this to other people.
“[Students are] frequently faced with the question of ‘how was it’ … and they have to answer what was a life-changing experience in a few words,” Ragan said.
This May, for instance, the GSC will be offering returning students a digital storytelling workshop, giving them the opportunity to create a digital story using their photographs.
Meanwhile, the applicants have high hopes for their coming travels. Sophomore Matthew Klich is hoping to travel to Chicago for the Entrepreneurship Program to learn how to manage a business properly, including the inside of the company, which most people do not see.
Junior Kiley Harrison plans on traveling to a small archipelago of islands in Panama to attend a program hosted by The School for Field Studies.
“There I will be doing ecological conservation work on both marine and terrestrial habitats,” Harrison said.
Sophomore Jade Ivy intends to study abroad at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan for a year to pursue the literature and master the language deeply enough to surpass mere communication.
“Feb. 1 is always hectic because a lot of students are filling out paperwork at the last minute … I think the faculty have felt [the increase] this year … some of the faculty had to write so many letters of recommendation,” Ragan said of the application process.
Ragan advises students who may be interested in studying abroad next year to attend Fall Institute Day — especially the application workshop offered then — and to stop by the Center to ask for program suggestions.
Among applicants, the general consensus seemed to be that the process was straightforward.
“The Center for Global Studies was extremely helpful about answering all of my questions, pointing me to people I could talk to and helping me find the right links to learn more about various programs,” sophomore Stephanie Hawes said.
However, sophomore Linda Kim wished that “the Center for Global Studies had presented the application workshop … sooner during fall term instead of during Fall Institute Day, because I could’ve used even a couple more weeks of preparation and decision-making.”