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Top Tips for Increasing STEM participation in Education Abroad (EA)

Posted By Administration, Monday, June 27, 2016
Updated: Friday, December 30, 2016

Submitted by Diversity Abroad 2015/2016 Task Force on STEM Disciplines: Ahaji Schreffler, Drexel University; Kate Moore, Academic Internship Council; Kristy Saerbry, Wake Forest University.

 

1.       Get them early (during incoming orientation) & dispel myths

2.       Find a faculty member to become a champion for EA 

3.       Offer English coursework & EA options

4.       Make scholarships & affordable options available

5.       Focus on academics, not geography (STEM students often prioritize coursework over location)

6.       Build a database to track courses & transfers

7.       Build programs that ensure smooth credit transfer

8.       Advise on the right timing (e.g. delay graduation, waiting time after tests, summer etc.)

9.       Build opportunities for non-traditional STEM students

10.   Create EA guides & customize to specific STEM students (e.g. “Guide to EA for engineering students/biology majors/math majors/pre-med students/applied arts majors” etc.)

11.   Conduct advocacy & encourage students to present results at discipline specific conferences

12.   Highlight internship & research benefits (e.g. EA can provide STEM students with level of fieldwork and project opportunities that they wouldn’t be able to do in US)

13.   Hire STEM specific advisors as in-house experts

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Family Outreach of First Generation College Students: Best Practices

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 27, 2016
Updated: Friday, December 30, 2016

Family Outreach of First Generation College Students: Best Practices

First Generation College Students (FGCS) are a diverse group of students who often identify with many other student populations on campus. They come to campus with unique experiences from intersecting cultures, and often have different family dynamics and relationships. This can pose different challenges for FCGS students that non-FCGS students may not have experienced. For example, some FGCS may have family who are unfamiliar with the university processes and culture. FGCS are learning how to navigate college while also sharing this knowledge with their parents and families. According to a study published in 2012 from the Journal of College Student Retention, “first generation college students receive far less emotional, informational and financial support from their parents than continuing-generation students.” (New, J. 2014)

For FGCS with strong family ties and responsibilities, it is important that our offices provide well-defined, easily attainable resources to express the value of international experiences, as some may see this as an unnecessary use of their students’ time. There are steps we can take to become more accessible and approachable to families of FGCS and many institutions have exemplary best practices to share.

1.       Outreach 
During marketing events, it is helpful to highlight the benefits that are academic and career-oriented more than those that are for personal development. Often families of FGCS respond more positively to tangible advantages as opposed to thinking of education abroad as a luxury. Point out how exactly the international experience will help the student in meeting academic requirements, their career search and future. For business students, this may be emphasizing our global economy and the abundance of international offices that are located domestically. For engineering students, we can connect education abroad to the technical skills students will gain during a program. Students in the Arts and Humanities may have language requirements that can be fulfilled in a shorter period of time by going abroad.

Study abroad offices can also collaborate with units that are already interfacing with families of FGCS and discuss education abroad, and actively integrate the value of international experiences into these sessions. Families can be invited to attend study abroad expos where they can ask questions of advisors, coordinators, returned students, faculty leaders and program providers. Offices that offer resources for FGCS can also be present at the expo or fair to connect with students. Other events to tap into include parent and family weekend, and freshman orientation. Common stakeholders across campuses may include the Admissions Office, Commuter Services, the Career Center, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, TRiO, Disability Services, Military and Veteran Student Center, and Financial Aid.

2.       Finances
College can be an overwhelming expense, and we know that the additional cost of studying abroad can add more shock to the bottom line. It is critical that we are transparent with the cost of studying abroad as well as being clear and specific about funding sources. Program websites and information packets should include a detailed outline of the program fee, noting what is included and what is an out-of-pocket expense. Costs to clarify can include airfare, housing, activities, meals, in-country transportation, international insurance, visas, passport fees and any other program related costs. It should be as detailed and itemized as possible. For example, when listing the cost of airfare, include what cities the price was quoted from (round-trip from Chicago-Sydney-Chicago). List the number of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that students will be responsible for on their own and give an idea of what typical meals can cost in those particular cities. Perhaps give a list of staple grocery items and average prices as well. If in-country transportation is not included in the program fee, note the different choices for public transportation passes and the cost accordingly. Itemize the costs for tickets to events, or entrances to museums if students are expected to pay for these program activities out-of-pocket. Also provide resources on discount traveling, or student discount sites for any free time activities students may decide to participate in.

Some education abroad professionals have the philosophy that students should be able and willing to research grants and scholarship resources on their own and that there is a certain independence that is required to study abroad. FGCS and their families often may not have experience with researching funding, or have a foundation for what resources are available. One way to overcome this challenge is to be explicit with grant, scholarship and funding opportunities. Funding workshops are effective in assisting students write successful personal statements. Funding workshops can also be valuable for families of FGCS by addressing a program budget and discussing the financial resources available to families and students for study abroad.

3.       Health, Safety and Security

Families of FGCS may be coping with their first child leaving home to go to college, and now the student tells them they want to leave the country. It is very common that families will have concerns about safety and security. Considering approximately 70% of Americans do not have a passport, it is possible that many students’ families perceive the world through the cable news lens, mainstream media and social media sites which may contribute to hesitations or fear about safety.  It is critical to have discussions about safety and security protocols, provide resources, and share the sources of risk and safety information institutions depend on which often come from advanced resources of international intelligence. Being well-versed in emergency protocol, medical resources and insurance coverage can help to alleviate parental concerns. Our job is to explain reasonably the risk-reward ratio of participating in international programs.

4.       Informational Resources
It is important to have resources available both online and in hard copy for parents and families regarding education abroad, finances, health, safety and other program details. Education abroad offices often focus on ensuring the information is available to students with the expectation that they will share it with their families. However, to encourage family involvement, the key is to address the families and parents directly in these resources. Many institutions are creating customized multimedia sources of information including handouts, guides and videos in multiple languages.

5.       Practical Takeaways

·         Be prepared to re-think current practices and approaches from a new perspective

·         Multilingual hard-copy and online resources

·         Easy-to-navigate website devoted to resources for parents and families of FCGS

·         Orientation sessions available for families

·         Handbook including emergency information

 

New, J. (2014, August 13). The Opposite of Helicopter Parents. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from  https://www.insidehighered.com


Contributed by the 2015-2016 Diversity Network Task Force on First Generation College Students:

Leslie Callihan - The Ohio State University; Jessica Francis - Wake Forest University; Susan Lochner - University of Wisconsin, Madison; Michelle Tolan - IFSA Butler

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Diversity Network Member Highlight: CET Academic Programs

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 19, 2016
Updated: Friday, December 30, 2016

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Institution Name

CET Academic Programs

Location

Washington, DC 

How long has your organization/institution been a member?

3+ years

Why did your institution decide to join the Diversity Abroad Network?

CET joined the Diversity Network because we believe in making study abroad accessible to all students and are committed to the creation of professional resources that allow us and others to grow in our strides towards inclusive excellence. 

What Diversity Network resource has been most useful for you and your colleagues in advancing diversity & inclusive excellence in global education?

The Annual Conference has been the most useful tool for our organization in advancing diversity and inclusive excellence. The conference provides rich resources of ideas, speakers, and thought-provoking discussion. It sheds light on what we could be doing better and inspires us with possibilities for recruiting, welcoming, and learning from students of all backgrounds.

How has membership with the Diversity Network helped your organization make global education more accessible to students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds?

Exposure to the resources and conversations started by the Diversity Network has pushed CET to examine our policies, marketing materials, staff training, and resources and make them more accessible for students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. We have been enriched by sharing our own knowledge with other network members through participation in webinars and the Annual Conference and have gained a great deal from other network members' best practices. 

Please describe any innovative initiatives related to diversity and inclusion in global education that your institution is currently undertaking. 

We have created Essential Eligibility Criteria (EEC) for each of our programs. These brief program descriptions are posted on our website, and describe not the program itself, but the circumstances under which each program operates and the demands that it naturally places on students. An EEC will tell a student not what they’ll be learning but how they’ll be learning it; not where the program’s excursions go, but how much walking, hiking or navigation of public transportation they require to get there. This kind of information allows students to assess a program at a deeper level, matching up a program’s essential requirements with their own essential needs. It also gives students a stepping stone for reaching out to front-lines staff and starting a conversation about their needs and accommodations. 

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Malia Obama and the Gap Year

Posted By Trixie Cordova, Monday, May 16, 2016
Updated: Friday, December 30, 2016

It was recently announced that Malia Obama, the eldest daughter of the first family, was accepted into Harvard University, her parents’ alma mater. However, unlike most graduating high school seniors this year who will be attending university in the fall, the Obama’s announced that Malia will be taking a gap year instead.

As International Educators, we already understand the personal, academic and professional benefits that students gain when going abroad. So what does Malia’s decision to take a gap year say about how life-experiences are valued by today’s youth, and what kind of impact might this have on diverse students’ college preparedness and travel opportunities in the future?

For those that may be unfamiliar, a gap year refers to a period of time (typically a full academic year) some students take between graduating from high school and beginning their first year of college. During this year, students typically travel around the world or take on professional roles to experience the “real world”. It’s fairly common for students in the E.U., and only recently has become a more familiar practice here in the U.S.

Now that Malia Obama has decided to take a gap year, their popularity is now poised to increase among American high school graduates in upcoming years, which I think can positively impact the number of students going on study abroad as well.

In a recent opinion piece in the Washington Post, Global Citizen Year founder Abigail Falik argues that the traditional route of heading straight to college might not always allow students to experience the type of growth a gap year affords. Without a gap year, students may continue on to college as “excellent sheep -- great at what they’re doing, but with no idea why they’re doing it.”

Going straight to college is common practice, and every year, high school students start college with little to no real world experience at all, yet manage to figure it out. However, a staggering number of students drop out after their first year, particularly black and Latino students that may find themselves ill-prepared for the high-stakes pressure and expectations of being a college student. This might seem like a stretch, but I don’t think it’s impossible to think that a gap year can help to prepare these students for life in college, and possibly impact their graduation rates overall.

While we await to see what Malia makes of her gap year, hopefully her decision encourages other families to see the value of gaining international exposure as part of overall development, and one that positively impacts young adults to be even more prepared for life as a college student. And if a gap year still seems like an intimidating process for families and their children to consider, then hopefully they’ll choose to learn more about study abroad as another way to gain that real world experience they’re seeking.

Increasing awareness about the benefits of a gap year can mean increasing awareness about the benefits of studying abroad. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact that Malia’s decision makes in the number of students and families at least inquiring to learn more, if not actually pursuing global opportunities for personal and professional growth.

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Diversity Network Member Highlight: University of Wisconsin - Madison

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 9, 2016
Updated: Friday, December 30, 2016

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Institution Name 

University of Wisconsin-Madison, International Academic Programs

Location

Madison, WI 

Institutional Profile

Large (over 15,000)

How long has your organization/institution been a member?

Joined in 2014

Why did your institution decide to join the Diversity Abroad Network?

International Academic Programs  has a commitment to having all students study abroad, and we wanted to be involved in a national organization that is a leader in the access and inclusion conversation.  We were hoping to get more resources to provide to our students to better support them and be even more intentionally involved in the dialogue and action for equitable access.

What Diversity Network resource has been most useful for you and your colleagues in advancing diversity & inclusive excellence in global education?

The country climate notes are very helpful in working with students and program leaders.

How has membership with the Diversity Network helped your institution make global education more accessible to students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds?

We have been able to send staff to the annual conference each year.  That has helped us talk with colleagues and get ideas of other initiatives that colleagues are taking across the country that we can implement on our campus.  We also are able to use the resources, such as the country climate notes, to create new advising tools for students.

Please describe any innovative initiatives related to diversity and inclusion in global education that your institution is currently undertaking. 

University of Wisconsin - Madison created a new program called the Global Gateway. Started in 2014, it is a faculty-led four-week long concentrated learning experience for 15 students in any major who have completed their first year or second year of studies at UW-Madison. The intent is to provide a study abroad opportunity and introduction to international issues to a new audience who otherwise would not participate, specifically targeting: first-generation college students, those who have not previously traveled abroad, and those from low-income families. 

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