Program leaders discuss student concerns of studying away

Lydia Ho, a junior interdisciplinary studies major, worked with small groups of people when she studied abroad in South Africa last semester.

As a current resident adviser at University Village, Ho feels that the skills she learned abroad helped her become a better listener.

“I feel like I’ve learned to connect with people I didn’t usually connect with,” Ho said.

Every semester, students trade their familiar surroundings at APU for the opportunity to study away either at a different campus in Southern California or across the globe through the Center for Global Learning and Engagement.

Yet, while APU’s study away program boasts more than 500 alumni, declining enrollment and the university’s fiscal shortfall resulted in the recent closing of the High Sierra campus and the end of the global studies major.

Enrollment in the global studies major fell from 108 in Fall 2013 to 37 in Fall 2017.

Kate Kimanzi, assistant director of communications and recruitment for the Center for Global Learning and Engagement (CGLE), said the decision of students to study away should not be influenced by the recent changes made in the study away program. Instead, Kimanzi urges students to apply for the upcoming academic year opportunities.

“I believe utilizing the study away semester or short-term academic program opportunities allow students to dive into learning and to be better-informed citizens and scholars,” Kimanzi said.

“Can I afford it?”

One of the biggest concerns students have about studying away is the cost of the program.

Kimanzi explained the CGLE office works to match the cost of on-campus living with the cost of studying away, and that financial aid from APU still applies to study away programs.

“The cost of studying away is similar to the cost of spending freshman year on campus where students pay for tuition, housing and a meal plan,” Kimanzi said. “In an APU study away program, students are paying for the same three expenses which total around the same cost.”

Kimanzi explained the extra cost that tends to increase expenses are excursions which are optional to students. To cover the costs of studying away, Kimanzi said students should seek out scholarships and other financial aid options.

“Will I miss out on leadership opportunities?”

Some students feel that studying abroad prevents them from pursuing leadership opportunities on campus, such as becoming part of the student government body or a Discipleship group leader.

Kimanzi said timing and planning is crucial when applying for study away programs.

“You can still be a D-group leader in South Africa or you can still learn leadership skills in Ecuador,” Kimanzi said. “It is all based on how you take initiative and how you ask questions and things like that. But those are just as crucial of leadership positions as the one’s here on campus.”

“Does my major have a study away option?”

Many students are unaware that their major is compatible with a study away program.

APU’s most recently established study away program, the Center for Public Affairs in Sacramento, will act as an academic pathway for students seeking careers in government, legislation, and other areas of public service by combining the classroom experience with internships at various government agencies, according to the Sacramento semester’s website.

The program will commence its first semester this spring.

Dr. Brandy Chapell, director of the Sacramento semester, explained that Sacramento can potentially host students from a range of majors.

“[Whether you are] a political science major, a history major or a communications major, all of the internship offerings we have lined up support a career trajectory that’s going in that direction,” Chapell said. “We’re excited because our center is not limited to just one major specifically, so we are able to create opportunities for students.”

Chapell added that “focusing heavily on internship opportunities” will help teach students professional  skills and gain experience, both for their resumes and potential careers.

The CLGE will also offer department specific undergraduate programs in the summer of 2019, such as the communication studies program in Spain, the psychology program in Estonia and social work program in Ecuador.

“Switch up your classroom.”

Nick Beeson, a junior social work major, studied in Ecuador in the spring of 2018. Beeson said the cultural  immersion that one experiences while studying away can be a life-changing.

“Choosing one of these programs is not just an experience of shaking up where you take classes,” Beeson said. “Where you go is your classroom. It is an opportunity to step out of your regular routine and be a part of a community and culture that may transform you.”

Correction: Oct. 18, 2018

An earlier version of this article stated that enrollment in both the global studies major and study away programs fell from 103 in Fall 2013 to 103 in Fall 2017. The statement has been updated to:

“Enrollment in the global studies major fell from 108 in Fall 2013 to 37 in Fall 2017.”