Every semester, Colgate sponsors approximately 20 sought-after semester-long study abroad programs. But despite these options, every year, about 150 students opt to go on non-Colgate programs.
According to Off-Campus Study Advisor Mary Druke students have many different reasons for choosing not to go on the Colgate programs that are offered. For instance, some don’t get into the Colgate program they applied for and use a non-Colgate program as their back-up option. Furthermore, some do not like the specific locations where the Colgate-led study groups are held. For senior Lindsay Colby, the decision seemed just this simple.
“I already knew I wanted to go to [Florence], and Colgate doesn’t have a program there,” Colby said, so she opted to go to Florence in the spring of her junior year through NYU. “The main advantage of a non-Colgate program is that you meet all new people, and you don’t go into [the experience] with friends or cliques.”
Senior Grant Stauffer, who is a varsity athlete and double majoring in Sociology/Anthropology and Philosophy, had a slightly different approach. He decided to complete a summer semester through the University of Hawaii at the Tell Tamai Archaeology field school in Egypt.
“Colgate doesn’t have a field school, and I didn’t want to sacrifice a season as a varsity athlete,” Stauffer said.
Although Colgate does accept certain transfer credit from summer courses, Stauffer decided to go through this program simply for the experience.
This view, not unlike Colby’s, is one that resonates with many Colgate students. It is almost surprising, based on student reactions, that more undergraduates do not attempt to explore the non-Colgate route.
“One important thing to know is that if you go on a non-Colgate program, financial aid does not transfer, so that can be a deterrent for some people. Others are worried that their credits won’t transfer, and that they will then be behind,” Druke said.
And although the study abroad office can provide a wealth of information about different programs to each individual, this is sometimes a deterrent.
“People can feel very overwhelmed, because there are a couple thousand study abroad options in any given semester,” Druke said.
According to Associate Registrar Tori Carhartwho is in charge of assigning transfer and pre-matriculation credit, each department spends a good deal of time and effort reviewing non-Colgate courses. Besides those courses that will count toward a student’s major or minor, English and Natural Science are the only two divisions that require departmental approval for a student to receive credit, even if they just want it to count towards graduation.
“[Some] departments do have pretty rigorous standards, but I don’t think they’re unreasonable,” Carhart said.
Although she does not have a record on file of the courses that have been denied transfer credit, Carhart cited that overall, “12,675 courses have successfully transferred since 1997, that’s about a thousand a year. As long as students go through the vetting system of the off-campus study office to find a program that works well with our curriculum, my sense is that people are able to transfer back the full semester of credits.”
“Usually, if a student is going to study abroad at a big university, there are other options if some courses won’t count at Colgate. Sometimes it’s the niche programs with limited course offerings that have trouble with credit transfer,” Druke said.
“Also, if you are organized and meet with your department head and the Registrar ahead of schedule, you will be able to find something that works very well for you. We advise students to avoid financially committing to a program until they know if their credits will transfer.”
“Students always ask if these Colgate study groups are competitive to get in to. The answer is no,” Druke said. “There is usually a GPA requirement of 3.0 and the lowest I’ve seen is 2.5, but it is usually rolling admission, first come-first served. The only thing that might cause students trouble is a disciplinary record.”
Junior Bess Magnuson is about to travel to Florence through NYU in the spring.
“I haven’t felt pressured to do a Colgate program throughout the process. I was surprised because I heard differently,” Magnuson said.
The Off-Campus Study office has a resource library that students are free to browse for both Colgate and non-Colgate Study Abroad options, or they can make an appointment with a Study Abroad advisor. The office also has informal sessions Tuesdays at 11:30 a.m. and Fridays at 3:00 p.m.