A college education doesnt begin and end in the classroom and its definitely not limited to the borders of your college campus. At the University of South Carolina Wilmington, youve got the world at your fingertips! As part of My College Guides study abroad series, we caught up to study abroad Director, Education Abroad, Mark Gallovic who says it best, “Going to college today is more than just going to a campus for an education; it is about utilizing that campus as a springboard to the world.”
Tell us all about it! What study abroad programs are offered at the University of North Carolina Wilmington?
The University of North Carolina Wilmington offers more than 500 education abroad opportunities in more than 50 countries! Every student interested in study abroad receives advising and support in finding the program best suited to their personal and academic goals. One can study abroad with a group of fellow Seahawks on a faculty-led program or at one of our many global partner schools. UNCW offers programs with internships abroad, service- learning components, honors courses, as well as foreign language classes or subjects in English. There is something for everyone, whether one wishes to study abroad for spring-break, a summer, a semester or full year. Students do not just attend UNCW, they are offered the UNCWorld.
What are a few of your most popular programs?
We offer many quality programs so that each student can find the program best suited to academic and personal goals. The most popular destinations include Australia, Spain, the U.K, Chile and South Africa. Some programs focus on particular majors. For example, we have a teacher licensure program in Belize, a Nursing clinical program in Peru, a Communication Studies program in the Netherlands, and more than 30 short-term and summer programs led by UNCW professors from a wide variety of disciplines. Students looking for something off the “beaten Path” will certainly have many exciting choices.
Do you have any programs new to this year?
We offer new programs every year, based on the growing interest of our faculty and students. For example, this summer there will be an exciting new art program in Macedonia. New programs are also being launched in China, Sweden and Belize in areas such as Environmental Studies, Recreation Management and Criminal Justice. UNCW students also have new opportunities in Vietnam, Panama, and Morocco.
We noticed you have a Facebook Page for students interested in studying abroad – what other tips or tools are available to students?
Our tools and resources guide students through every step of the study abroad process, from program selection to pre-departure preparation to participation and return. At our annual fall Study Abroad Fair students can obtain information on programs and speak to program providers, international students from partner schools abroad and study abroad returnees. Students take the first step towards study abroad by attending one of our general information sessions, held twice weekly throughout the year. An education abroad professional takes the guesswork out of this transformative experience by providing one-on-one advising to each student. Students are also supported by a team of Study Abroad Ambassadors, returnees who are trained to support and share their expertise with peers. Finally, a comprehensive pre-departure orientation prepares students for a smooth, safe and successful experience abroad.
If a college bound student is thinking “study abroad” is there anything they should be doing to prepare in advance?
Make sure you select a school that truly supports and facilitates study abroad. Nearly every school will have some form of study abroad opportunities but they are not all equal in terms of quality, choice and support. When deciding on what school is right for you, look into the array of programs they offer abroad, the quality of those programs and the support services they offer to students looking to study abroad. The website of the school’s international office is a good place to start. The University of North Carolina Wilmington places a lot of emphasis on supporting every student on the path towards study abroad, overcoming obstacles to making that plan a reality and preparing our students to make the most of their experience abroad. Beyond that, there is nothing that one needs to do in advance of attending college other than perhaps discuss this interest with their parents and make a personal commitment to follow through with their goal to do it!
At My College Guide we often hear that a student would love to go abroad but can’t because they are afraid it would cost too much – is there financial aid available or are there programs that run a bit less than others?
Access to scholarships and financial aid for study abroad can vary by school but generally is available. Any financial aid one receives at the University of South Carolina Wilmington can be used towards education abroad programs, and one’s aid package will be adjusted based on all costs associated with such an experience (inclusive of one’s flight and passport). In addition to the multitude of study abroad scholarships available for students across the country, UNCW’s offers need- and merit-based travel grants.
Additionally, exchange programs in which one pays UNCW tuition for a semester or academic year at a partner school abroad, can be just as cost effective as staying home. Expensive programs do exist, but so do many economical options. Recent research shows that a study abroad experience improves retention and graduation rates, grade point averages, and chances of getting a job upon graduating. One may argue, then, that in today’s global society, you cannot afford to not study abroad! Don’t assume it is too expensive before talking to a study abroad advisor!