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Workshop helps OHIO faculty, staff plan for study away programs

Ohio University faculty and staff involved and interested in study away programs met recently to discuss how to best recruit students to these international programs.

OHIO currently offers nearly 100 study away programs, including an increasing number of opportunities offered in the U.S. Often, though, the leaders of these endeavors are looking for ideas for how to attract interest from OHIO students.

On Aug. 31, the Office of Global Opportunities (OGO) held a workshop designed to assist faculty and staff with recruiting students to their programs. Throughout the academic year, OGO will host several workshops revolving around issues faculty and staff members face when coordinating these programs.

Harold Perkins, associate professor of geography, leads the study away program “Canada and U.S.A.: Transboundary Resource Management, Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change in Waterton Glacier International Peace Park.” He explained during the workshop that one way he recruits students is by visiting classes taught by faculty members in his department and giving short descriptions of the program.

Having the chance to talk in the classes for just 5-10 minutes and show images of the locations that students will be able to visit has been key in his ability to attract students to the program, Perkins explained.

Haley Duschinski, associate professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Law, Justice and Culture, agreed that it is important to get the word out to other faculty members about the study away opportunities. In her presentation, Duschinski also shared how important it is to let students know what to expect on the trips and how they will benefit from taking part in the experience.

When she first began recruiting students for her program, “Northern Ireland: Human Rights, Law and Justice,” it took a lot of effort, but now she is assisted in her recruiting by the students who have already gone on the trip. They encourage other students to take advantage of the opportunity.

Keely Davin, assistant director for OGO, explained that communication with students is key because there are many misunderstandings about study away programs. 

“There is a myth out there that you need to study in your major [during your study away program],” Davin said. While OHIO does offer major-specific programming, the majority of the programs offered through OGO are open to students in any major and apply to general education requirements.

Ellie Koewler, senior campus coordinator for IEP at OHIO, added that many students and some advisers also believe that taking part in a study away program will delay a student’s graduation. This is not true due to several reasons. First, if students spend the spring or fall semester studying away from OHIO, they are still able to take classes that will help to meet general requirements and sometimes major requirements. In addition, many of the opportunities are offered during the summer semester or during school break periods, so students who participate in those programs do not miss any of the main academic year.

“I studied abroad three times,” Koewler said. She graduated on time after she spent one full semester studying abroad, then studied away during school break periods. 

Davin and Koewler led the workshop and also presented information from several recent surveys of OHIO students about their interest in taking part in study away programs.

The surveys found several items of note, including the fact that students who took part in recent study away experiences listed location as the most important factor when deciding on a program. Students then looked at price, course of study and length of stay as the next most important factors.

Prices vary from program to program, but the presenters at the workshop stressed that scholarships are available for students who wish to study away. In addition, students need to consider everything that the programs offer, including classes, field trips and a wide range of unique activities, when they are considering the prices.

“There is a value in what you are offering,” OGO Director Catherine Marshall explained to the faculty members at the workshop. She encouraged them to explain all of the different benefits available to students when they are trying to market their study away experiences. The programs provide unique opportunities the students cannot get anywhere else and the experiences the students have while studying away from campus will help them a great deal.

Fewer than 10 percent of college students in the U.S. study abroad, but research shows that study away experiences help them in their educations and in their careers.

OGO staff members assist OHIO faculty members with creating and managing their study away programs throughout the year and will be offering several workshops during the 2016-17 school year for faculty and staff members. The next workshop, “Pre-Departure Orientation for International Programs,” will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 26, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in Baker University Center 235.

For more information on the workshops and on the Office of Global Opportunities, please contact Davin at davin@ohio.edu or visit https://www.ohio.edu/global/goglobal

This article was provided by the Office of Global Affairs and International Studies.