Study Abroad – Part II

(The Daily Deac is on vacation and will return Tuesday, June 21. The following covers a frequently discussed topic.)

Today we pick up our conversation about study abroad, this time to discuss timing.  When should my student go abroad?

Conventional wisdom has been that the majority of students go abroad in the fall of the junior year.  That is not a Wake Forest rule, that is more student custom.  And, as always, there are pros and cons.

Some pros of going abroad in the fall of one’s junior year:

There will be more of your friends abroad at the same time you are, which means you might have free/easy places to stay in other cities/countries if you visit them (or vice versa).

For those going to France, fall is harvest time for grapes and there are wine festivals in Dijon and other cities.  Germany has Oktoberfest.

Depending on where you go, you might not see much of winter if the semester ends in early December.

You’ll be back for basketball season and spring recruitment for those in Greek life.

Some cons to going abroad in the fall of one’s junior year:

The biggest one – and the one that seems to cause students the most agita – is that you will probably not have your choice of residence hall or roommate when you return to the Reynolda campus for the spring semester.  As I tell my advisees, there is no mythical magic unicorn hall that sits empty in the fall awaiting juniors to return.  Because students who are enrolled at the Reynolda campus during the fall semester mostly stay in their same room for the spring semester, returning-from-abroad students have to fill in the available beds in residence halls that will be emptied because of students going abroad in the spring, taking a gap semester, going on medical leave, transferring, etc.  This often means you have to room with someone you do not already know (or may not choose), or in a residence hall you would not have chosen had you stayed on campus in the fall.  If you value living with a roommate of your choice or in the residence hall of your choice, then you may be better off going abroad in the spring; that way you will have the opportunity to pick your roommate and have the greatest number of options for your fall housing.

There are certain majors with sequential coursework (or courses are only offered in the fall) that might make your academic path more difficult.  I believe the Finance track in business might be one of them.  My advice is always that if your major department discourages you from going abroad fall of junior year and suggests you go abroad in spring of sophomore year, listen to them.

You will miss men’s soccer and football seasons, Hit the Bricks, Project Pumpkin, Family Weekend, Homecoming, and the Lovefeast.

Wake Forest also offers more study abroad-specific scholarship funding (need and merit-based) for students who study abroad in the spring semester, so there’s financial incentive to consider a spring semester abroad….

Again, there are no right or wrong answers, just points to consider so you make an informed choice.

— by Betsy Chapman

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