Section: News

Students face challenges as fall study abroad utilizes waitlist

Students face challenges as fall study abroad utilizes waitlist

Kenyon’s 2021-22 Exeter cohort | COURTESY OF CGE

On Monday, the Center for Global Engagement (CGE) announced to sophomores that it was creating a waitlist for off-campus study (OCS) for the upcoming fall semester, due to an uneven ratio of students who applied for studying abroad in the fall semester and the spring semester. Twenty-five students are currently on the waitlist, meaning they may not be able to study off campus for the fall semester. 

According to Associate Director of Off-Campus Study Kerry Strader, the path for applying for OCS is typically straightforward. Students apply during their sophomore year to go abroad during their junior year, and prepare by attending various informational sessions in the fall of their sophomore year. Following those sessions, students interested in OCS have one-on-one meetings with CGE staff, attend a brief interview and complete their study abroad application. 

Strader and Director of the Center for Global Engagement and Affiliated Scholar in Anthropology Marne Ausec emphasized that every year in informational sessions, CGE staff have strongly recommended that students apply for the fall semester, as most sophomores prefer going abroad in the spring semester. Ausec added that last academic year, so many students applied for the spring semester that CGE formed a waitlist as well. 

According to Ausec, 270 students applied for OCS for the upcoming 2024-25 academic year. 143 of those students applied to study abroad for the fall semester, while 86 applied for the spring semester. The remaining 41 students will be studying abroad for the full academic year, at programs such as Kenyon-Exeter. The disparity of 57 students between semesters, according to Ausec and Strader, presents various issues for the College. 

The need for a balance between students studying abroad in the fall and spring semesters is dependent on a variety of factors, Ausec explained. The College takes into consideration the number of available beds in residence halls, desirable classes that are only available in certain semesters, stress on Peirce Dining Hall and other factors. “We know that it’s never going to be balanced,” Ausec said in an interview with the Collegian. “But we need to get it as balanced as we possibly can.” 

Though CGE has employed waitlists in previous years for OCS, using a waitlist for the fall semester presents additional challenges due to the immediacy of deadlines, the first of which are approaching this Friday. 

For sophomores hoping to study abroad, several are concerned about their ability to go abroad in their preferred semester. Jen Novick ’26, who hoped to study abroad in Tuscany in the fall semester, expressed her disappointment in how CGE has managed the situation. 

“Basically everybody I talked to was thinking that they were going to go in the fall,” Novick said in an interview with the Collegian, and added that she shared this experience with CGE staff, who reassured her that it likely wouldn’t present a problem. “I was reassured that because the deadlines are sooner for the fall, that many people will end up switching to the spring because they don’t get their application in on time,” she said. 

On Feb. 19, Novick and other sophomores received a form from CGE that asked students to state whether they would choose to switch to the spring semester, consider switching or if they had a pertinent reason to go abroad in the fall. Novick, who said she would consider switching if she had no other option, received an email a couple days later informing her and approximately 30 other students that CGE would be forced to form a waitlist if nobody moved to the spring semester. 

“My plan is to hold out hope, but if they waitlist me, I obviously want to go [to Tuscany] badly enough that I’ll have to switch,” Novick, who has since been placed on the waitlist, said. 

Novick expressed that she and several of her peers are upset by the process, which both Strader and Ausec empathized with. “I know people are frustrated, because they’re like, ‘you encouraged us to go fall,’” Ausec said. “I’ve always encouraged people to go fall. They never listened. So we were not expecting this — we were expecting the usual.” 

Ausec added that every sophomore student hoping to study off campus in their junior year will be able to do so, but it may not be the semester they prefer. “Let’s say you’re the last one on a waitlist,” Ausec explained. “You can choose to go spring — no harm, no foul. That’s fine.” However, if that student chooses to remain on the waitlist indefinitely, Ausec warned that CGE will not be able to guarantee that the student will be able to go abroad at all. 

Though it may seem like an easy decision to switch to a different semester, Novick emphasized that students’ decisions on when to study abroad are influenced by a variety of factors. Students might choose to study abroad at the same time as their friends, or based on classes they hope to take that are only available in a certain semester. For Novick, the decision to choose the fall semester was influenced by both her partner and friends, who are planning on studying abroad as well. “It’s not really that individual of a decision,” Novick said. “It really is going to affect your time here.” 

Both Strader and Ausec stressed that the influx of students choosing to go abroad in their fall semester was atypical. “We really appreciate that everyone heard the messaging,” Strader said. “That’s honestly something that was really nice. But it did come up with an unexpected challenge.” 

“Truly, we did not expect this,” Ausec said. “I’ve heard some folks say ‘well, you should have been prepared.’ We know now. Next year, we’ll refine the process.”

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