Prospective international undergraduate students who are planning to participate in a american university may consider incorporating study abroad as part of their four-year college experience. Students interested in participating in a semester or year of study abroad can choose between direct enrollment and affiliate program options.

Direct enrollment refers to students enrolling directly at a university abroad and applying and paying the fees directly to the school, according to the online resource Affiliate programs or third-party vendor programs manage internships abroad and other student services for a fee.

“For international students graduating from US universities studying abroad, who have already had to adjust to an education system different from that of their home country, they have the skills to make adjustments that allow them to succeed and prosper abroad, ”explains Susan Popko. , vice-rector for international programs at University of Santa Clara in California.

Here are three factors international students should consider when deciding whether to enroll directly or take an affiliate program to study abroad:

  • Structured program vs unstructured program.
  • Language mastery.
  • Cost.

Structured program vs unstructured program. Affiliate programs are structured and manage assistance with visas, travel arrangements, local accommodation and more. Direct enrollment is less structured and allows students to personalize their experience abroad, for example by finding their own accommodation and independently exploring the culture and country.

“Students choose the programs that best suit their academic needs. However, we find that students who feel more independent will often choose a direct enrollment program, while those looking for more support will choose an affiliate program. co-sponsored, ”says Kathleen Sideli. , Associate Vice-President for Study Abroad at Indiana UniversityOverseas Studies Office.

Popko says that different models provide structures that help students pursue different goals abroad.

“For example, if a student’s goal is to study with their peers abroad, a direct enrollment program offers students the opportunity to learn what it’s like to be a local student studying at ‘university and offers the most integrated experience, “she says.

Amy Ruhter McMillan, senior associate vice president of marketing at IES Abroad, a nonprofit provider, says students can choose a study abroad program like the one offered by IES Abroad because that’s what their school approves, or they get nervous about signing up directly. in a foreign university by themselves.

In addition, many provider programs are discipline-oriented, so they may also want to take a specific program abroad for writing or sustainability or health studies, for example, with field trips and cultural events that support this topic, ”Ruhter McMillan said.

Language mastery. Experts say language requirements may vary depending on the program and location.

“Direct enrollment programs tend to have more stringent language requirements and will also require the student to provide proof of their language skills in a number of ways,” said Ruhter McMillan.

As more and more institutions around the world offer content courses available in English, language capacity is a little less of a concern than in the past, says Brad Sekulich, director of the Office of Education Abroad University of North Carolina — Charlotte.

“However, direct enrollment often offers more opportunities to take courses in its main field of study in the language of the host country, so stronger language skills may be required. Many affiliate programs have a curriculum. designed to improve the language and cultural skills of the host country / region while taking English content course, ”says Sekulich.

Seamus Harreys, vice president of global enrollment at the nonprofit CIEE: Council on International Educational Exchange, says a student fluent in the host country’s language may find direct enrollment appealing “for the added challenge of work on the content of the program as well as the language element. ”He says that a student who is just starting to study a new language may prefer an English-based study abroad affiliate program.

Popko says that the main distinguishing feature of affiliate programs “is that they provide some or all of the courses taught exclusively to US or international students and therefore can teach in a more American style of continuous assessment, providing a very detailed curriculum of American style, etc. “

Cost. When considering selecting an affiliation or direct enrollment to study abroad, prospective international students should be aware of the estimated costs.

“The cost will vary for direct enrollment and affiliate programs depending on a number of factors such as length of stay abroad, location, college or university – in the United States and abroad – housing options and more, ”said Ruhter McMillan.

For affiliate programs, estimates that the average cost of study abroad programs worldwide is $ 14,295 per semester, and note that the cost depends on the third-party provider and the variety and quantity of services provided. Experts say direct enrollment is generally cheaper since students pay the school directly.

Institutional financial aid and scholarships can be used by students to study abroad. Sideli says that at Indiana University, the costs of the program are available on the school’s website so that students have access to this information before making a decision.

Sideli says there is significant financial assistance, including scholarships for international students, “to help them cover their costs, whether they participate in an affiliate program or direct enrollment.”

Experts say students should plan to meet with study abroad advisers at their home institution once their studies have started.

Counselors can help students navigate overseas offerings and select a program that meets their level of support and language learning needs, says Sekulich, “as well as other academic goals. they wish to achieve by studying abroad ”.

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