How are decisions made regarding admission to study abroad programs?
Study abroad applications are reviewed both by administrative staff from the Office of Global Education, and by faculty representatives from program committees (in the case of Dickinson Programs). Typically, OGE staff focus primarily on whether a given applicant has met certain baseline requirements and prerequisites; they also review the student's disciplinary record (if any). Faculty are then charged with considering the applicant's academic background and motivation. In some cases, interviews may be a required part of the application process. For applications to non-Dickinson programs, Global Education staff are responsible for screening all of these aspects of a student's application, in addition to ensuring that the student has made a reasonable case for studying outside of the Dickinson network of programs.
A number of factors are taken into consideration in determining students' eligibility and suitability for study abroad. Among these factors are:
- The personal statement; this is students' chance to describe for us – in detail – their academic reasons for wanting to study abroad and their motivation for applying;
- The letters of recommendation;
- The cumulative GPA;
- The trend of a student’s academic performance; in other words, did they earn lower-than-average grades first semester of the first year, but have since shown improvement, or did they start out with excellent grades, only to see them slip significantly over the course of successive semesters?; and
- If the GPA is lower than normally required, are there any extenuating circumstances that should be considered (death in the family, illness, recently diagnosed learning disorder, etc.)?
In addition to the information included in the student’s application, we also take into consideration what type of program the student is applying to; we try very hard to make sure there is a good fit between the student and the program. For example, we look at program size, the amount of academic and social support that is available on site, and the length of the program. When a student’s application to study abroad on a semester or academic year program is denied for academic reasons, we often recommend that they consider a summer program instead, since short-term programs are typically more structured and more closely supervised than longer term programs.
There are a number of categories of admission, including:
- Accepted: The student meets all general and program-specific requirements. The acceptance letter will state that the student is expected to maintain current levels of academic achievement.
- Conditionally accepted: The student may fall short of a requirement, but we expect he/she will be able to meet it before going abroad. The acceptance letter will outline conditions for full acceptance.
- Deferred: The student falls significantly short of an academic requirement (usually GPA). The deferral letter will state that a final decision will be made once updated academic information is available.
- Denied: The student does not meet general and/or program-specific requirements; or does not state a strong academic case for studying abroad; or other serious concerns are raised during the application process (e.g., weak letters of recommendation, serious disciplinary problems, etc.).