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ISSUE 119 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 3/24/2006

Term abroad demand high

By Tim Rehborg
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 24, 2006

In its mission statement, St. Olaf states its commitment to instilling its students with a global perspective and off-campus opportunities. St. Olaf College leads other private institutions in abroad education participation, and this year is no exception.

In fact, the number of students applying for some abroad programs in 2006-2007 is higher than usual. Especially popular are the three field-supervised programs: Global Semester, Term in Asia and the Term in the Middle East.

These programs usually accept the maximum number of students possible, which lies between 24 and 30, according to housing and traveling limits.

For each of the programs, applications this year increased by about 10 applicants, a "significant increase" over past years, according to Kathy Tuma, associate director of abroad studies.

For example, the International Studies office received 47 applications vying for 28 spots for next year’s Global Semester trip.

"Global semester just cannot be expanded, due to traveling and accommodation restraints," Tuma said. "Over the past three years, applications for this program have been about 30 to 35 in number, so a jump to 47 is quite significant indeed."

Term in Asia and in the Middle East also had large jumps in enrollment.

Term in Asia will include a biology course this next year, explaining the "unusually high amount of biology major applicants," Tuma said.

Also, Term in the Middle East will be led by a political science professor, an integration which could explain higher interest in this program.

While the terms led by St. Olaf faculty saw an increased number of applications, interest is lower for programs in a few other areas, like Britain and India.

However, this lack is also balanced by more applications to abroad locations in Latin America.

Students applying for field supervised programs are overwhelmingly from the class of 2008, a class which is larger in number than previous classes.

However, increased interest is also being attributed to "[which] professors [are] teaching, [which] classes [are being] offered, and [the] reactions of previous students," Tuma said.

Due to this increased interest in certain programs, more students will be turned away from studying a semester abroad next year.

"Possibilities for expanding the study abroad options here at St. Olaf will not be considered for this year," said Tuma.

However, if "subsequent years show that these increased applications are not a fad, but a continuing trend," the department may look at why students are choosing certain programs in such numbers, to help improve other programs, tailoring them to fit students’ needs, she said.

For the many students who will not be able to participate in semester programs due to numerical limitations, there are other options for next year.

Interim programs remain an option, and the International Studies office will have brochures and applications available starting April 9.

As an essential part of the St. Olaf education, enrollment in abroad programs will continue to be an important issue for consideration.

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