Types of Programs
University Direct Enroll Programs
Mainly in Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand with a couple in Europe and in some opportunities in Latin America.
Potential Benefits: large course catalog, chance to work with peers who specialize in a specific academic area from the very beginning of their college years; exposure to a vital research environment particularly for those interested in pursuing graduate studies; some opportunities to be a research assistant. The tutorial system often compensates for large university lectures, focusing on small group discussion, independent reading, and presentation of thoughtful analytical essays that must be defended to peers or the professor.
Potential Drawbacks: harder to guarantee availability of specific courses if needed for a requirement; some students may have a hard time taking courses in multiple subject areas because they are admitted to a School or Department rather than to a University; less hands-on teaching style; grading often falls on one midterm or final exam.
Language Immersion Programs
Hamilton programs in Madrid, and Paris; some in Latin America, Italy, Germany, Japan, and Jordan
Potential Benefits: students see a significant improvement in their language skills; students see strong improvement in intercultural communication skills and cultural awareness. Instruction may be fully or partially in the host country language.
Potential Drawbacks: a few programs focus only on language acquisition and culture making it difficult for those students who are trying to find coursework in specific disciplines.
Theme-Based/Discipline Focused Programs
This is a large category of programs often focusing on global issues, interdisciplinary courses, or crucial skill sets (e.g. the arts). Programs focus on specific themes or subject areas like environmental studies, computer science, social justice, global health, film studies, theater, art. Examples include programs run by School for International Training (SIT), School for Field Studies (SFS), SEA Semester, AIT-Budapest, Cinema Sarah Lawrence, Frontiers New Zealand Geoscience and Environmental Studies Field Programs.
Potential Benefits: In-depth and often hands-on course work; small class sizes. Many of these programs often include an opportunity for an independent study project or directed-research.
Potential Drawbacks: Students not interested in taking coursework focused on one specific area may find these programs unsatisfactory; in some of these programs, students will find themselves interacting more with other N. American students and must make a stronger effort to get out of the program bubble; while in others, students are engaged in deep cultural immersion. Deep cultural immersion can be highly challenging to some students yet such immersion can become fertile ground for learning about culture through direct engagement.
These programs have two or more components from the previous categories. For example, they may offer direct-enroll courses at the local university and customized courses designed for American students. These programs may offer students a wide range of courses in a variety of subject areas and the ability to focus on a particular subject or issue; they may offer a traditional classroom experience and well-designed experiential learning opportunities. Examples: DIS Copenhagen and Stockholm, Swedish Program, Trinity in Vienna.
Potential Benefits: Students with multiple interests or interdisciplinary interests will find a variety of options; strong program support as they process cultural differences.
Potential Drawbacks: Students can easily retreat to a place of comfort by hanging out with other N. American students; students will need to make a concerted effort to get out of the program bubble.