Study-Abroad Enrollment Sets Record

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

International study is becoming a central part of the undergraduate experience for a growing number of BC students as enrollment in overseas programs has reached an unprecedented level.

The interest in foreign study also is expanding across the student body, according to Center for International Studies Director Marian St. Onge. While junior year remains the time when most students who choose to study abroad do so, greater numbers of seniors and even a few sophomores are following suit.

This trend bodes well for BC's goal of ensuring that 50 percent of its students graduate with an international experience on their resume, she said.

"BC has made a commitment to international study and with good reason," said St. Onge. "There is not a profession now where you don't need some kind of exposure to other cultures or societies. Seeing something from another perspective enriches you in so many ways, and you carry that with you through the rest of college and into your professional life."

This year, St. Onge said, 501 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled in semester or year-long international programs, compared to 227 in 1993. She expects the number to rise to a minimum of 600 for next year, and even higher in 2001.

Of the current group of undergraduates participating in an overseas program, St. Onge added, 465 are juniors, which constitutes about 25 percent of the class. In past years only a handful of seniors usually embarked on foreign studies, she said, but this year 27 have done so. Three sophomores also are enrolled abroad.
Marian St. Onge.

St. Onge cites several changes which have made foreign study more attractive and relevant to students, such as the University's growing number of partnerships with overseas institutions and development of study-abroad programs it administers directly.

"It used to be that you'd go overseas just to have a semester or year of international study, and there was less of a concern about what you were studying there," she explained. "Now, if you're majoring in accounting, or economics, or political science, you find a similar program at a foreign institution. The idea is to connect the foreign study with your overall undergraduate experience. It simply makes the opportunity all the more valuable."

St. Onge points out that more students are choosing to enroll in Boston College-administered programs than in larger, less-tailored programs operated by other institutions or associations. In the 1992-93 academic year, 14 students traveled abroad under BC auspices and 213 went through external programs; this year, 347 students are in University programs and 154 are in external programs.

Students no longer have to withdraw from the University to attend a foreign institution and can pay their overseas tuition to Boston College, St. Onge said. Some courses taken abroad can now be used for core curriculum credit, she adds, while changes in certification regulations enable education and nursing students to do their practicums in foreign institutions.

"There is every reason to want students to go abroad and BC is trying to make it easier and more desirable," said St. Onge.

Another trend BC hopes to encourage is students' enrollment abroad for the fall semester or academic year, St. Onge said.

"American students in general opt to go in the spring because they don't want to miss the football season - it's just ingrained in the American college culture," she said. "But if you start in the fall, you're not competing with so many others for space in a program, and more importantly you're not arriving in the middle of the academic year."

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