Early steps to take toward study abroad



Rachel Hagenbaugh

More and more students are choosing to expand their college experience by taking advantage of Kent State’s semester abroad or short-term study abroad programs. Rather than trying to fit it into your schedule later in your college career, international advisers recommend preparing early to make studying abroad a possibility in your college career. Here are the first three steps freshmen can take to ready themselves to go abroad in the future.

Step 1: Apply for a first-time passport or renewal

Sarah Hull, academic program officer for the Office of Global Education, said students should apply for a passport as soon as they decide to study abroad. To obtain a passport, students need to go to the Web site travel.state.gov/passport/.

Students will need to complete an online application. The application, evidence of U.S. citizenship, application fee and two passport pictures will need to be mailed to the Department of State or turned in at a regional passport agency. Hull said the Department of State indicates that it will take approximately four to six weeks to process a passport application.

Step 2: Meet with a study abroad adviser to select a program

Students can research programs on their own, but shouldn’t rely solely on the information they get, Hull said.

“Those websites are flooded with information you don’t need,” Hull said. This makes choosing a program overwhelming to students.

A lot of students don’t know where they want to study abroad, said Tori Nethery, academic program officer for the Office of International Affairs. It’s good to start with a program that coordinates with the student’s major, she said.

“It’s part of our job to narrow down a program that fits their needs,” Nethery said.

Step 3: Look at the program budget and begin saving money

Mary Ann Saunders, executive director of global education, said it’s important for students to think about studying abroad as freshmen because it enables them to have time to save more money.

“Instead of spending their summer job money, they could be saving it for a study abroad experience,” Saunders said.

Hull said she always recommends students set up an appointment with the financial aid office to discuss grants, loans and scholarships.

Any other questions you have can be answered by your academic adviser or the Office of Global Education.

Contact Summer Kent Stater reporter Rachel Hagenbaugh at [email protected].