A New Study Abroad Campaign Might Solve Shortage of Housing in the Future
Recently, the Skidmore News reported on the on campus-housing situation. Assistant Director of Residential Life for Operations, Ryan Ballantine, shared many ways that Skidmore could potentially solve their housing problems in the future. If the Office Off-Campus Study & Exchange’s (OCSE) new campaign, which they are launching in the fall, is effective, then there might not be a need for Ballantine’s possible suggestions of ways to solve a future housing shortage.
Currently, there are more students who study abroad in the spring compared to the fall. During the past few years, there were about 50-70 more students studying abroad in the spring. This year, that number is much higher at 127 students. “The last time this imbalance became a concern was in 2005-2006,” said Cori Filson, Director of Off-Campus Study & Exchanges.
In order to solve this problem, several initiatives were implemented to re-balance the enrollments. The initiatives included extending fall study abroad deadlines, speaking with departments to remind them of the advantages of study abroad in the fall and asking them to encourage their students to go abroad in the fall, and creating three fall-only study abroad programs (India, China, and Shakespeare program in London), but ultimately these programs have closed due to low-enrollments. “The results [from the initiatives] were rather good, leaving us with an imbalance of only about 25 students by 2007-2008” said Filson. Filson also shared that the imbalance affects more then just housing as it can also affect, class offerings on campus and the overall financial planning for Skidmore.
OCSE is considering new initiatives to implement in the coming year to address the current imbalance. This will include a new campaign called “Fall Into Study Abroad.” The campaign will include some minor incentives for fall study abroad that will be announced in the fall, “but the major focus is trying to get students to think more carefully about why they are studying abroad in a given semester and highlighting the advantages of fall off-campus study” said Filson.
Some of advantages of studying abroad in the fall include: students being able to spend spring semester of junior year working on campus with a faculty member to develop their senior projects, greater opportunities to link their work and time abroad to their senior capstone and research, and the option to decide to stay for a full year. “We often hear from students that they wish they could have stayed longer, refined their language skills, focused more intently on an area they were introduced to in their first semester abroad, strengthened emerging friendships with people they met abroad,” said Filson, and for students who go in the fall they have option to study abroad again in the spring.
Nation-wide, more students study abroad in the spring “leading to programs and classes that tend to be overenrolled and staff and instructors who might have less time to offer individual attention” said Filson. So, those who study abroad in the fall tend to have a richer academic and co-curricular experience.
In 2015, OCSE surveyed students about study abroad participation, and found that the number one reason for students choosing the semester they study abroad is because they want to go abroad when their friends go abroad. OCSE does recognize that not all students can study abroad in the fall due to other commitments, they “want students to think carefully about which semester will work best for their academic and extra-curricular plans and to be deliberate in a decision to study in fall or spring. We want students to question the notion that “everyone studies abroad in spring” as a viable rationale to choose spring over fall,” said Filson.