Students studying outside the library

Wofford ranks in top 10 for study abroad participation

November 30, 2005

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College ranks among the nation’s top 10 college campuses in the percentage of students receiving credit for study abroad, according to Open Doors 2005, an annual report published by the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES). Wofford has been among the top 10 consistently over the past 10 years.

The percentage of Wofford’s student body of 1,176 students who participated in study abroad programs for credit during the report year (2003-04) was 42.45.

The top 10 campuses sending very high proportions of their students abroad for some period during their undergraduate careers, each sending more than 40 percent of their students abroad, are (in alphabetical order), Austin College, Carleton College, Centre College, Elon University, Grace College and Theological Seminary, Lee University, Lewis and Clark College, Lynn University, St. Olaf College and Wofford College.

Studies abroad programs at Wofford range from a full year at universities in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Australia and Asia to travel study seminars and independent research during the college’s January Interim term. Among the 2006 Interim destinations are Germany, Spain, China, Italy and Ireland. Wofford is affiliated with several study abroad consortia, including the IES and the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE).

“More students are interested in a wider variety of destinations, including Latin America as well as Europe,” says Dr. Ana Maria Wiseman, director of Wofford’s programs abroad, assistant dean and associate professor of foreign languages. “These are good locations, especially for students trying to find a destination to specifically meet his or her interest, linguistic abilities and academic needs. Many of our students also are choosing to stay longer, in some cases a full academic year in one location rather than two separate semesters or going to different destinations. We hope we can develop more students staying in one place for a longer period of time because they can get more culturally integrated.”

Wiseman says she is seeing more and more students majoring in the sciences taking advantage of Wofford’s study abroad program and finding it fits into their academic program. “The science faculty is very supportive of students studying abroad. We have students studying in Denmark in bioinformatics and marine biology, for example.”

Wofford’s preparation of study abroad students and the ability to stay very involved with them are among the reasons for the success of the program, Wiseman adds. “We provide good, strong advisement and try to steer the students in a direction that’s academically appropriate for them. We provide on-going orientation, a program I brought from Amsterdam, and have strengthened our pre-departure and return orientation.” Wiseman spent time in 2003 directing the IES Amsterdam Center, and in 1999 she received the Professional Development Award from the IES for her work in the study abroad field.

A student in a study abroad program at Wofford spends the semester prior to departure in a variety of orientation sessions, including visa orientation, health and safety meetings, geopolitical awareness forums and family orientation. Upon their return, students participate in Wofford’s “Beyond the City’s Northern Borders” essay and photograph contest, in which they reflect on what the study abroad experience means to them. The college also provides returning students with career workshops, advising them on building their experience into a resume for a job or graduate school. Returning students also serve as peer advisors to other study abroad students.

Wofford’s study abroad program allows students to apply their financial aid assistance to foreign study fees, giving them flexibility and the ability to extend their time studying in another country.

With a growing recognition of the importance of international experience, U.S. students are heading abroad in record numbers, according to the Open Doors 2005 report. The number of American students studying abroad for academic credit increased by 9.6 percent in 2003-04, building on the previous year’s 8.5 percent increase. This surge in interest brought the total number of U.S. students abroad to a record 191,321.