By Megan Andrews—
All across the globe, students at Tarleton State University have the chance to earn credit toward their bachelor’s degree in a foreign country through study abroad. Tarleton’s study abroad program has been sending students across the world for 20 years, and has grown significantly since their very first study abroad.
Carlos Figueroa, the coordinator of international programs, said Tarleton’s study abroad program started in 1996. At that time, the study abroad options included seven countries, six of those through the European study tour with College of Business Administration, and one in Mexico through the agriculture program. 20 students went abroad the first year, 10 students in each program. The number of study abroad students in 2016 was 258.
Figueroa believes the biggest reasons for the growth of study abroad programs in the last 20 years is due to the growth in faculty interest in international education, as well as the addition of new international partnerships and connections.
“We expect this trend to continue and we will continue to add options for students. It is imperative that Tarleton Texans have a broader understanding of the international landscape, as their leadership skills will be tested in a continuous interdependent global economy upon graduation,” Figueroa said.
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This year Tarleton has faculty-led, exchange and independent programs. According to the study abroad website, in faculty-led programs, Tarleton faculty members establish a program in their area of expertise and teach students in a foreign environment. Students receive credit and a grade for the course work they complete. This type of program is usually provided during the May semester or summer term and generally involves two to three weeks of study in a foreign country. There are some students that are enjoying studying abroad so much that they are looking at places like the best caribbean medical schools in hopes they will be able to make the move abroad.
The study abroad program also has the reciprocal exchange programs. Through an agreement with a foreign institution, Tarleton students pay tuition and fees at Tarleton only; international students pay tuition and fees at their home institution. Then the students exchange places in the classroom. Students register for courses approved by their academic advisor, and Tarleton course equivalents are matched with the courses selected abroad. Reciprocal exchange programs can be for a semester or two long, according to the study abroad website.
Another part of study abroad is the Independent study program. This program is more ideal for graduate or undergraduates in their junior or senior year. Students wishing to complement their studies at Tarleton with a semester abroad can acquire special skills in languages or other academic studies. Tarleton’s membership in the Institute of International Education (IIE) opens possibilities for a variety of study abroad programs.
Figueroa and Dr. Marilyn Robataille, director of international programs and study abroad, are working with several universities in the U.K., Cuba, and Mexico for more options for students.
“Study abroad provides opportunities for the student to enhance their skillset and boost their resume, take classes not available at Tarleton’s campus, broaden intellectual and personal horizons, navigate different environments, practice or perfect a language and broaden his or her career options,” Figueroa said. For foreign students coming to study in the US looking to hone their English skills, AJ Hoge offers effective courses that can lift the language barrier.
Katie Lisle, a senior agriculture education major, studied in the Czech Republic and Poland in the summer of 2015. She believes that students should study abroad if they are given the opportunity for a multitude of reasons.
“There is no better way to understand our world than to experience another side of it and to immerse yourself into a different culture,” Lisle said.
Lisle said that her experience studying abroad gave her a better understanding and different perspective of the world.
“You will be able to relate to others, understand society better, and be the change that you wish to see in the world….most of all, you will create memories that will last forever and learn life lessons that simply cannot be taught in the classroom,” Lisle said.
Financial aid is available to help students who cannot afford to travel outside of the country on their own.
Figueroa said funding assistance is provided to students through the International Educational Fee Scholarship. This award ranges from $500 to $2,000 depending on the length of the program. The financial aid office is another good resource for students who want to find out more about this.
There are plenty of different ways that students can find out more about Tarleton’s study abroad programs, such as visiting tarleton.edu/studyabroad or attending the Study Abroad Fair and Photography Expo that will be held on Sept. 29 in the Thompson Student Center ballrooms.
“Additionally, we have a whole week of study abroad presentations taking place the week of Sept. 19 to encourage students to attend the Study Abroad Fair. Times and locations will be advertised through the email digest and university calendar,” Figueroa said.
Texan News has created an interactive map with locations of the different study abroad locations and majors that are offered through Tarleton.
For an interactive map, click here: