Study Abroad enrollment remains consistent

T'Nerra Butler, Multicultural Editor

Over a span of two years enrollment has gone down, but the percentage of students enrolled at the Office of Study Abroad remains constant.

Kurt Olausen, the director of Study Abroad, said the office has maintained an overall participation rate of two percent in the last couple of years. He said it would seem like the office is seeing a decline, but the same percentage of students are enrolling.

In the 2012-13 academic year, the Study Abroad program had 211 students enrolled. In the 2013-14 academic year, 188 students were enrolled, and in the 2014-15 year, 170 students studied in 25 countries.

The program has 14 students overseas this fall semester, which is just two students less than in the fall of 2014.

Olausen said the most popular semester is the summer semester, because Study Abroad offers the most programs in summer, and students have more time to enjoy the experience. A common major among Study Abroad participants is elementary education, with 28 students enrolled in the 2014-15 year. The elementary education department has a faculty-led program students may go through.

“There are ways that we can fit every major. We really don’t have anything we teach here that is only here,” Olausen said. “Every subject exists at least one other place in the world.”

This last academic year, participation from Latin Americans and African Americans doubled from 2013-14, with 13 Latin American and 14 African American students enrolled. The program also saw 129 women and 41 men enrolled for the 2014-15 year.

“Some of that can go back to our biggest major being elementary education,“ Olausen said, “There are probably a whole lot more women that study elementary education than men.”

Over the years, the United Kingdom has been the country most students gravitate toward. In 2013-14, the program had 42 students study in the UK, and in the 2014-15 academic year, 29 were enrolled there.

Olausen said the United Kingdom is popular among students, mostly because of the language.

“The returning students are talking about it, so many are talking about it,” Olausen said. “There are many other English speaking countries, many other places that might not speak English, but that teach in English, but it’s familiar and what’s comfortable.”

164 undergraduate students participated in study abroad in the last academic year. The most involvement came from the seniors, with 84 enrolled.

“Graduate study abroad is tricky,” Olausen said. “With undergrads it’s a lot easier to fit it in there. Graduate students have fewer opportunities and not as much flexibility in their course studies.”

Olausen said during the 2015 freshmen orientation, the department met many students who took interest in the program. Last academic year, four freshman studied abroad.

In the 2014-15 year, students were awarded $60,000 in scholarships for studying overseas. $46,370 was awarded by the Office of Study Abroad Grants.

“Right now, with the state of the state and the state of the university, money is not easy to come by,” Olausen said. “The goal of scholarships is to diversify study abroad, and by going after people with the highest financial need you’re going to say ‘it’s not just for the rich kids, it’s for everybody.’”

The average GPA of students enrolled in the program is 3.36, based on 166 students.

Olausen said short term programs are also popular among students. With Spring Break in Guatemala, students receive two credits from spending one week overseas.

“If a student did that in their freshman or sophomore year, they would get a taste,” Olausen said. “That kind of opportunity is fantastic for a student who thinks they want to do it but needs that introduction or shorter term to know that they’re capable,”

Oct 2 is the deadline to apply for the spring semester of the Study Abroad program.

 

T’Nerra Butler can be reached at 581-2821 or [email protected]