Today is your day to consider study away

Increased aid and program options are making study away more financially viable

Rebekah Krotzer, Columnist

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The new year is fast approaching and now begins the time to start considering resolutions. That time of year filled with thoughts of the renewed you. Perhaps you are considering a new job, starting a war on carbs, or something bigger plans to see the world.

High hopes for the average college student, unless Mom and Dad have a credit card with your name on it. I am not shaming. That is great and makes it easier to focus on coursework. But for the rest of the economically impoverished, it isn’t so easy to execute big travel plans.

Here’s my opinion: everyone who wants to should be able to study away. I don’t need to convince you with my own experience how great it is. Chances are you have had a classmate or roommate that has been abroad, and you’ve heard all the amazing stories.

Study away is an opportunity to do more than spend a semester or year away. During this time, the perceptions about ourselves and life becomes challenged. For many, it’s a way to acquire new independence and deeper cultural awareness. The benefits far outweigh the negatives and college is the best time to make a substantial impact on your own self-awareness.

However, study away is perceived as expensive and therein lies the main issue holding people back.

Hamline has done two great things for me, one of which is that they made it possible for me to spend five months abroad. Yes, I say Hamline. Although I had to utilize some of my own financial resources, Hamline allowed my scholarships to offset costs and accepted the credits I acquired during that program. Without this opportunity, I would have missed out on an incredible wealth of knowledge, culture, and building more emotional and mental fortitude. These are priceless.

I am not saying to do this was stress-free. I am old school if you want something bad enough you find a way to make it happen. So, I did. I met with Kate Meyer in the Global Engagement Center, filled out the application and feverishly started drafting essays for scholarships. Three months later I found myself on a flight to Dublin.

I returned to the GEC to see what Hamine was doing to make study away financially accessible. Kate started by stating, “I understand that the assumption is the [stereotype] …but it doesn’t have to be. There are programs geared toward underrepresented individuals.” I didn’t have to ask a series of questions; I had received the answers preemptively. Which led me to believe these are the common critiques of the study away program. As college study away programs often come under scrutiny due to costs and limitations.

Kate pulled up the GEC website and showed me the array of various scholarships available to all individuals. From merit to diversity, to financial need and multiple departmental scholarships. There are also outside scholarships, such as the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which is based on financial need (Pell Grant recipients) and diversity. Hamline holds workshops for the Gilman Scholarship a week and a half before the deadline to help students polish their applications. The GEC hosts other events to help get students acquainted with opportunities.

Kate went on to state, “My door is always open, this is what I get paid to do. Give me 15 minutes of your life and I can help you with opportunities.” Hamline has the resources available for students to take advantage of study away. What it takes from the individual is timing, knowing in advance and EFFORT.

Hamline has other ways to enable individuals to travel. The Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate program is available. This enables you to teach English abroad but also in the US. It also carries the Hamline Plan letter P, liberal education as practice.

If you plan on putting yourself into more debt through additional loans, why not make it worthwhile? I hear people complain about not being able to afford study away, but you probably can. You just don’t know it.