Friday, December 10, 2010

Studying abroad is the act of a student pursuing educational opportunities in another country.Length of study can range from one week, usually during a domestic break, to an academic year, encompassing a couple academic terms, to an entire degree program that spans several years. The most common are semester long programs that cover either the spring or fall semester. There are also winter and summer semester programs. The winter semester programs, for public, 4-year universities, are usually more focused on a specific area of the countries culture due to the shortened time students have in the country.
Some students choose to study abroad to learn a language from native speakers. Others may take classes in their academic major in a place that allows them to expand their hands-on experience (e.g. someone who’s studying marine biology studying abroad in Jamaica or a student of sustainable development living and studying in a remote village in Senegal). Other students may study abroad in order to get a credential within the framework of a different educational system (e.g. a student who goes to the United States to study medicine), or a university student from Albania who goes to Germany to study mechanical engineering.

For several important reasons, academic and administrative, the college officially prefers a-semester or full-year academic leaves. Therefore, students who wish to study away for b-semester only must provide strong reasons for needing to be on-campus during a-semester. Those who do not prove sufficient academic need may be required to study away for a- rather than b-semester. This policy applies only to study in those countries where a- and b-semester programs are academically equally valid. Some European and Asian programs do not begin until October. Hence, a too short a-term is valid justification for b-term study abroad. A final assessment procedure is also crucial to fall term
study. A reasonable assessment must take place in order for the work to transfer to a Vassar College transcript.

The Application for Permission to Apply to Study Abroad Programs

To be considered for study abroad status by the CLP, the student must submit a Study Abroad
Application, which can be accessed online at The deadline for submitting this application, no matter whether you plan to spend a full year or a single semester away
(fall or spring), is always the second Monday in December. The application consists of five parts:
Part I: Request for Permission to Apply for Junior Year Abroad (including proposed coursework abroad)
Part II: Statement of Purpose
Part III: Recommendation of the Major Adviser
Part IV: Instructor’s Recommendation
Part V: Recommendation from a Language Instructor (if required)

Proposed Coursework Abroad

The kinds of courses available at the various programs under consideration must be carefully researched and detailed, so that students and advisers can plan how the semester or year spent abroad will harmonize with and advance the student's work on campus. Listing the proposed coursework to be taken abroad as accurately as possible (given the obvious difficulty of such projection many months in advance) provides a foundation for the Statement of Purpose and allows the members of the CLP to assess how the student's plans comprise a coherent academic program. Students should address in the essay the ways in which they believe that the courses taken abroad will provide necessary background for further work on campus.
While the CLP and the Study Away Office recognize that it is often difficult to adhere to a list of courses compiled far in advance of actually enrolling in a study abroad program, they expect students to conform to the spirit of the plans set forth in the application, and where possible or practical, to the letter. If substantive changes in coursework are called for, these must be made in consultation with the majoradviser, with details provided in writing to the Study Away Office.

The Statement of Purpose

Along with recommendations from faculty, "The Statement of Purpose" is the most important part of the JYA application. This essay should be considered an academic exercise that would be turned in for a grade. Five members of the faculty will be reading it. The more formally you treat your subject, the better your argument will be. Not everyone agrees that study abroad is essential to every liberal arts education, so use the standard academic approach of an introduction, a reasoned argument—providing evidence, proving points—and a conclusion. Clarity, brevity, coherence are important. Beyond general form and seriousness of approach, however, each applicant will have different reasons for study abroad.
In general, the essay should seek to prove that study abroad will provide tangible academic benefits not available on campus, and the more research the student has done beforehand, particularly regarding coursework, the better the essay will be.

Faculty Recommendations

A few points should be taken into consideration concerning faculty recommendations:
1. The end of the semester is just as hectic for faculty members as for you. Therefore, please make sure that you have handed out your recommendation forms well in advance of the deadline, and preferably by early November.
2. Since many advisers are unable to devote several lengthy sessions to each student's study abroad plans, it is advisable to prepare in advance for your consultation with your advisor. This may entail researching programs ahead of time, drawing up a tentative list of courses, thinking about where and why you wish to study abroad, or even writing a draft of the essay. The more material you provide,  the more fruitful your talks will be.
3. Never send a recommendation form to a faculty member whom you have not already asked to write on your behalf. Faculty members who have not agreed in advance to write a recommendation for you are under no obligation to do so.
4. Faculty recommendations must be from at least two different faculty members.
5. Students with double majors must request a Recommendation of the Major Adviser form from both advisers.
Please note: applying for JYA precludes applications for Exchange, Washington Semester programs or other academic leaves of absence during the same period.