This past Wednesday evening, the Office of Off-Campus Study hosted its second annual Study Abroad Fair in the Hall of Presidents.
This event is a new venture for Colgate’s office of Off-Campus Study and their Director of International Programs, Barbara Gorka.
“Last year… two seniors came to us wanting to do this [Study Abroad Fair] and we had been thinking about it. It just took that initiative from the students for us to give it a shot,” Gorka said.
In previous years, Gorka stated, her colleagues in the study abroad office had held a study abroad forum. Here, younger students had been able to question seniors who had just traveled abroad about their personal experiences.
“It was standing room only,” Gorka said.
With the advent of the new study abroad fair, Gorka focused on creating an environment for student interaction.
“It made sense to us to have students talking to other students,” Gorka said.
The walls of the Hall of Presidents were lined with tables representing study abroad options that ranged from the Czech Republic to a Semester at Sea to Washington D.C. Groups of students who had already participated in the various study abroad options were on hand to answer questions, provide insight, and offer personal testimony of their experience abroad.
The Office of Off-Campus Study also made a concerted effort to have representation from both Colgate University and non-Colgate University sponsored abroad groups.
“We can’t fulfill all student interest with our own programs so we do have students representing non-Colgate options as well. We made a concerted effort to have student representation from all study groups,” Gorka said.
In an effort to find the best representatives, Gorka and the office of Off-Campus Study contacted the Colgate faculty and staff members who had accompanied groups abroad and asked them to make recommendations for the event.
“We couldn’t have ten students from one program,” Gorka said. “We were hoping for two or three students per program.”
The Study Abroad Fair was conducted as a very informal event. The main purpose was for students, mainly sophomores, to have the opportunity to visit as many different tables as they wanted so each student could gain an idea of what traveling to that particular country or city would entail. In the case of procedural or more technical questions however, representatives from the Financial Aid, Off-Campus Study and Career Services were available at their own stations.
Recent statistics show that Colgate University is a leader among its peer institutions in the number of students who decide to study abroad.
“Among baccalaureate institutions, Colgate ranks second in the country for the number of students we send on semester programs,” Gorka said.”[Of] students who study abroad at Colgate, 75 percent spend at least one semester, compared to 38 percent for the United States population in general.”
For students who were unable to attend the study abroad fair this Wednesday, they may contact the Office of Off-Campus Study by e-mailing [email protected] or by making an appointment with their office.