Study abroad requirements tightened with advisor departure

The study abroad office is undergoing multiple changes. Interviews for a new staff member are underway to replace Brigette Thompson, who left to work for a study abroad provider.

In an email to students dated Aug. 23, Thompson expressed fond memories of the “friendly” Trinity community over her six and a half years at the university.

“I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you individually as you prepared to study abroad and will genuinely miss catching up with you upon your return,” Thompson said.

Thompson did state that she would no longer be able to help students with study abroad matters related to Trinity. She said that responsibility would be relegated to either Nancy Ericksen, assistant director of study abroad, or the new advisor. Ericksen, who was unavailable for comment, has been with the study abroad program at Trinity since 1986.

The required GPA to study abroad was also increased to a 2.75 last semester. Students whose GPA is lower than that may be considered under certain extenuating circumstances. A higher GPA gives students more options and a better chance of being accepted into the programs for which they applied. Students whose major requires them to study abroad will be accommodated in consultation with their department chair.

“If you want to get a B.S. at Trinity, you either have to have a significant study abroad experience or you have to have a fourth semester of a language.  The majority of our domestic students do study abroad; in fact, a lot of our international students do, too, because it is a great opportunity,” said Richard Butler, professor of economics.

Studying abroad is stressed heavily in many majors. According to Butler, it makes students more competitive in the job market.

“Our accreditors and our employers who hire graduates have pointed out rather strongly that it is a global world out there, and if our students want to be prepared for the world of global business, then they need to be more acquainted,” Butler said.

Students who are unsure about whether or not to study abroad are encouraged to go to  a First Steps presentation a year before they intend to study abroad.

“It is just an overview of study abroad and what steps you need to take to go abroad. Dec. 1st is the deadline for the intent form. They told us how we need to schedule our classes and we need to talk to our teachers about common curriculum and our major and what we need to do here,” said Allison Martinez, a sophomore.

After going to the presentation, the study abroad office suggests students research what programs they might be interested in.

“I studied abroad over the summer, so I went to the office for the first time last fall and I started working with Nancy. I told her I wanted to study in London in the summer and then Italy in spring of 2014. She worked with me and got the London stuff settled quickly and we kind of saved Italy plans for this fall,” said Kimberly Taylor, a junior.

Approximately 47 percent of Trinity students study abroad, typically in their junior year. There are multiple factors students take into consideration before they select a country and program. These include cost, language requirements, host university or program, a desire for a host family or other living situation, political state of the country and reputation of the program, among others.

“The most popular time is junior year. We have had some go senior year. I had an advisee who, as a second-semester junior, discovered Russian. He arranged to spend the second semester of his senior year in St. Petersburg. He works for the FBI now,” Butler said.

Students need to consider their majors and the classes and requirements they would need to fulfill for their programs. Then students should set up an appointment with the study abroad office.

“I went in and met with her and we kind of narrowed it down to what was actually feasible. From there, you kind of just pick what you feel is right,” Taylor said.

After filling out the intent form for studying abroad in fall 2014 or spring 2015, March 1st is the deadline to submit a new program or institution for Trinity approval.