The idea of studying abroad in a different country is extremely exciting and fun to think about – the application process…not so much. Luckily, Marist has such a strong study abroad program that it isn’t difficult at all to apply; afterwards, they even help you through the visa process. In fact, the application, and everything following it, is the easy part! In my opinion, finding the perfect place to spend that semester or year is the hardest part. For those of you who are on the fence about going abroad, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Most programs cost around the same amount as Marist and, in the majority of cases, financial aid transfers to the abroad institution.
- If you’re already paying the money to study in New York for a semester, why not study abroad?! How many chances are you going to get to go to a foreign country of your choice and live there for four months? Once you leave college, there aren’t many opportunities this great.
- Actually living in the country abroad allows you to truly experience the culture and become a part of the country you study in.
- Study abroad sets you apart when looking for a job! Yup, employers look to see if you have had that cultural experience and want you to incorporate the experience into your work.
- GREAT FOOD! I mean who doesn’t want to eat pizza and gelato in Italy or crepes in France??? Let’s get real.
Okay, now on to the application! Here are all the steps laid out for you to stay on top of your study abroad application:
- Get your passport
Do this before the application even comes out! It can take a while to get processed and you will need it to apply for your visa. Keep in mind that your passport must be valid for six months AFTER you return from abroad. So if you study abroad in the Fall of 2014 and return in December 2014, it must be valid through at least June 2015.
- Think about what country you would like to study in and have a back-up plan
This may take some research on the culture and the country in general. Most upperclassmen at Marist have studied abroad so ask around! See where people have studied and what they thought of the program. Have a second choice on the off chance that your top choice program fills up. If Marist doesn’t have the program you want, talk to International Programs – they’re always open to new program ideas and are willing to work with students.
- Go to the Study Abroad Fair and Information Sessions
Marist International Programs (MIP) hosts a study abroad fair and a set of information sessions every semester. This is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the abroad programs and MIP staff. You can ask all of your questions here, as well.
- Check out the courses offered at your country of choice
On the Marist International Programs website, there is information on every current study abroad program and links to course offerings. Check these out and make sure to work the courses available into your four-year plan. For example, if you’re taking a Literature course abroad, make sure you save a literature requirement for that semester.
- Anticipate the application opening
It is very important to apply for your top choice program as close to the application opening as possible. With study abroad so popular, it is a good idea to apply early as to ensure that your application will be considered. The application for fall study abroad typically opens around Thanksgiving while the spring study abroad application opens beginning of April. Always check with International Programs for updated application dates.
- Request recommendations early
For your application, you will need two faculty recommendations: one from your advisor and another from an instructor of your choice. It is important to request these recommendations in advance so that they are ready to go when the application opens.
- Get your passport photos
MIP requires eight passport-sized photos as part of your application, so say “cheese” and head over to Rite-Aid! Get these done in advance to cut down on time later once the application is open.
- Request a transcript
As part of the application, you must submit an official transcript that includes your final grades from the semester you are in when the application opens. That said, you can fill out a transcript request form at the Registrar and check off a box at the bottom of the form that says something along the lines of “hold for current semester’s grades” (you get the idea). If it is the first transcript you are requesting then it’s free. If this is not your first transcript request, then it’s five dollars. They will send it directly to International Programs.
- Get a check or money order
There is a fifty-dollar application fee that must be submitted as a check or money order made out to Marist College. If you don’t have access to either of these then plan ahead! Here is a guide to obtaining a money order. 10. APPLY Apply as soon as the application opens up! This doesn’t mean rush, you have a few months to apply. All this means is don’t dilly-dally and wait until the last minute. Popular programs get a lot of applications and deadlines are sometimes moved up. 11. Essay Portion Yes…there’s an essay. It’s not really an essay though – just 500 words or less on why you want to go abroad. By the time you know which country you want to go to, this is a piece of cake. Make sure you edit and proofread, watch out for grammatical errors, and consider taking it to the writing center if needed. The English professors there will be more than happy to help you finish or edit the essay in order to show off your best qualities. 12. Submit! Once you submit, there is quite a bit of a waiting period since the application is open for a few months. Sit back and relax! Once you’re accepted you’ll be ecstatic! Good luck!