Study Abroad Website Offers
The UConn Office of Study Abroad has a new website designed to make it easier for students and parents to find details on various programs and prepare to study abroad.
The website, https://secure.sa.uconn.edu/sap/studioabroad, offers a streamlined, web-based information center and application process for students looking to spend a portion of their college experience in a foreign land.
Ross Lewin, director of the University’s study abroad programs, says, “The website does two things – it provides an online brochure for any program that we offer, and it provides the ability to apply online.”
Lisa McAdam Donegan, an advisor for a number of programs and exchanges, including programs in France, Greece, and Australia, says the site complements the office’s informational study abroad ‘fairs’ by providing access to a roster of study abroad options that includes more than 200 programs in 65 countries. Along with simplifying the process, she says, the office is now “able to help students make really informed choices.”
By specifying parameters such as their level of experience in a foreign language and academic area of interest, students can also use the site’s search engine to find programs tailored to their interests. Sections of the site also offer advice on financial aid, health insurance, travel, and the culture shock that can arise on arrival in foreign countries.
Applicants can use the site to make appointments with advisors, and students who have been accepted to study overseas can access information about acquiring passports and visas, making travel arrangements, and earning course credit. In addition, the site is integrated with PeopleSoft, so students can easily find and submit personal information that is already registered in the University database.
The study abroad office has installed new computer stations in Room 303 of the CUE Building, enabling students to access the site and complete applications within easy reach of program advisors.
Once students have completed their applications, the forms can be reviewed by faculty and program administrators through the website. The site offers an online questionnaire for referees providing recommendations for applicants, reducing the amount of time needed to provide a reference.
The website was designed by TerraDotta, a company that specializes in sites for study abroad offices, and was launched with the technical assistance of Timothy Stumph, a UConn graduate student, earlier this semester.
The site has received favorable feedback from independent study abroad organizations, such as the Council on International Education Exchange and the School for International Training, as well as from UConn students and faculty.
Lewin, who became director of study abroad programs last spring after heading a similar program at the University of North Carolina, points to increased student enrollments for the upcoming sessions as evidence of the site’s popularity and utility.
He adds that the transition to greater reliance on the Web has “revolutionized” his office, by reducing paperwork and telephone traffic.
The site is the latest step in Lewin’s efforts to increase student participation in study abroad. His goal is to have 20 percent of the student body involved by 2010.
The site enables administrators to compile and access statistical analyses of the applicant pool, and target marketing efforts accordingly. For example, data on participation by engineering and business majors has led the office to seek out and develop study abroad options tailored to these fields, including a partnership with the National University of Singapore and programs at Baden-Wurttemberg in Germany.
The office also hopes the site will encourage participation in study abroad by an increasingly diverse range of students.