The short answer? Everywhere! Study abroad or study away, students at High Point University are going places. From Italy to India to right here in the United States, High Point University students are here, there, and everywhere! My College Guide spoke with Dr. Kelly Norton, the director of experiential learning, as part of our study abroad series.
You have study abroad and study away programs? What’s the difference?
Study abroad is what students traditionally think of when they consider spending a semester or a summer away from High Point University, international programs at institutions in a country of interest that can provide training in students’ fields of study.
Study away is a newer concept at HPU, where students spend a semester or summer away from HPU but don’t leave the U.S. For example, Kevin, a junior, is spending the Spring 2011 semester in an outdoor education and leadership program in Wyoming in connection with the NOLS program. He is majoring in Human Relations with career aspirations that include working in the outdoor industry. Since outdoor education programs are scarce, he is taking full advantage of the opportunity to personalize his degree program at HPU.
High Point University seems to really believe that study abroad/study away is an important part of the whole education process. Why is that?
Americans were once able to work for decades without using a language other than English and without interacting with other countries and cultures. However, intercultural communication and global thinking have become essential skills for graduates in any professional field. With this shift, higher education institutions must respond by providing the means for learning and practicing these skills.
We would be doing our students a disservice if we didn’t encourage them to stretch themselves in these contexts, to challenge their ways of thinking, and to prove to themselves and others that they can succeed in a global society. These emphases are in line with other character-building lessons, including generosity, joy, stewardship, and customer service, that High Point University models.
HPU doesn’t just talk the talk – you’ve got quite a lot of study abroad programs in place! What’s going on in 2011?
High Point University offers a number of study opportunities for students, depending on their varied interests and needs. Opportunities fall into two categories: independent programs and short-term, faculty-led programs.HPU offers 20 full-semester programs and a dozen summer programs in 16 countries.
Independent programs are a great chance for students who want to have an intense, enriching experience with a lot of challenge and less support than our other options. Our most popular programs are Bond University (Queensland, Australia), American University of Rome (Italy), and Oxford Brookes University (England, UK). The more recent additions include programs in Czech Republic, Fiji, and South Africa.
Short-term, faculty-led programs, which we call HPU Unleashed! study programs, are courses that typically have a traditional classroom component and a travel component. HPU Unleashed! programs are planned, taught, and led by full-time HPU faculty members with help from Experiential Learning staff. Some courses are taught during the spring semester with a post-semester travel experience in May, while others are taught entirely in the May term or Summer Session.
Exciting HPU Unleashed! study programs for 2011 include:
Politics and Policy Inside the Beltway (Washington, D.C.)
Cutting-edge Exercise Physiology (Colorado)
Human Behavior across Cultures (Germany, France, and Italy)
Planet Girth: The Cultures of Health and Fitness (Sweden)
Mayan Heritage, Traditions, and Customs (Guatemala)
Modern Spain (Spain)
Shakespeare in Performance (Staunton, VA, and England, UK).
For the first time, HPU will offer fall Unleashed! options as well. Faculty from the School of Business and the Modern Foreign Language department will lead students to various cities in India to explore Business in the Hub of Globalization.
When can a High Point University student typically have studying abroad as an option?
Students can participate in HPU Unleashed! and independent summer study programs as early as the end of their freshman year. Some exceptions exist in that foreign language majors and minors may have language skills that are best served by study abroad programs in their sophomore year. Students in certain majors must study abroad during sophomore year due to the scheduling of sequential courses. In short, we try to create opportunities so all students have a program that meets their interests, needs, and financial limitations.
Is it necessary to know a foreign language before studying abroad?
Many of HPU’s study abroad programs are hosted in non-English-speaking countries. However, we try to find opportunities for students who are learning the language as well as students who want to study courses in English.
For example, Italian language courses have been incredibly popular since they were added to the curriculum, yet we find that students who study in Italy are interested in our art program in Florence (Studio Art Centers International), but then who wouldn’t want to study art in Florence! Or they want to experience a part of their family’s ancestry by learning more about their Italian culture. While studying in Rome, one student met her 92-year-old aunt and many cousins for the first time. She credits High Point University for making it possible for her to share such an incredible experience with family that she might not otherwise have met.
What are some of the trips that High Point University students have gone on in the past?
Students go some phenomenal places (and of course I live vicariously through them all). Independent trips have taken students island-hopping through Greece, on multi-city programs in China, and mountaineering through Patagonia.
Is this something that translates out of college? How does a study abroad experience look to employers? What value does this sort of experience provide?
Employers want to see that students have the ability to communicate with coworkers and clients from a variety of backgrounds. Study abroad opportunities provide that type of context. So many interview questions for professional positions or for graduate schools can be based on study abroad experiences.
Anything else that our college-bound readers should know?
Students interested in High Point University should believe the hype! HPU provides incredible opportunities in a number of areas for students learn about their chosen fields of study and learn about themselves. It is often the latter that helps students discover and fulfill their own definitions of success.
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