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Off-Campus Study

Selecting a Program

With so many program options, it is easy to become overwhelmed.  Use the below tips to help narrow down the options to 2 - 5 programs that you know would be a great fit.

Above all, don’t hesitate to come talk to us!  

Consider these factors when choosing a program:

  • Academic Program - are there specific courses you need to take for your major, minor or general education requirements in order to stay on track to graduate on time?  Make an appointment with your academic advisor to find out courses you need and how the credits will transfer. Off-Campus Programs will help you find what you need.

  • Language ability – do you speak another language or want to learn?  Are you comfortable enough in your foreign language ability to take some — or all! — courses in the host language?  Some programs may not require any language pre-requisite, though many will require or offer language study on-site.  Programs in Japan usually require at least 1 semester.  Others may require 4-6 university-level semesters of a language before participating.  Check the eligibility section on the profile to determine the level you’d need.

  • GPA - Many Lake Forest programs and some third-party options require a 2.5.  Most ISEP and third party  options require a 2.75. However, you may find programs require a 3.2 or higher. Again, check the eligibility requirements to ensure you’re qualified!

  • Experiential learning - Many programs have internships, service-learning, volunteer opportunities, or independent research available. Some may be for-credit, others may be non-credit, but all will be great resume-building experience.

  • Tolerance for ambiguity and your readiness independence — this is a time to be honest with yourself. Are you comfortable advocating for yourself on campus, and finding the resources for success on your own (with a comprehensive orientation and on-site coordinator, of course)? Are you OK not having some amenities such as constant access to internet or air-conditioning? Do you prefer an environment with similar amenities and services found on a US campus? Each program profile mentions in the intro section, the type of student that would be most likely to thrive in that location.

  • Type and size of institution –   Do you want to directly enroll in a foreign institution, or do you prefer a style of learning closer to that of the U.S.? Smaller programs (think Lake Forest/ACM) or small institutions could offer more personal attention; large universities may have more course options or a different kind of student life on campus. 

  • Housing and meals - living with a family, in a student residence or in an apartment involves different levels of independence and integration. Some programs may offer meals with a family, a dining hall, or a stipend to purchase and cook your own meals.  Other programs may not include any meals.  What suits you?

  • Financial considerations – while all students pay Lake Forest tuition plus a program fee, the program fees can vary based on location.  Cost of living, and cost of airfare, can mean several thousand dollars difference. Be sure to check cost estimates at the bottom of each program profile page.  Finally, when considering scholarship funding, programs outside of Western Europe and Australia/New Zealand tend to be viewed more favorably by review committees for national award funding. Some countries may have specific scholarships available, too. Check out our listings!

  • Dates – because of differing academic calendars of some countries, you may only be able to do a semester-long program during the spring semester.  However, you may find the best availability (and less competition for exchanges)  for programs in the fall.  If you’re a winter sport athlete, we even have a tab to help you find options. Keep in touch with Chris Pier in Athletics and Stacy Oliver-Sikorski is Residence Life to be certain you understand the requirements for staying on campus and/or retaining eligibility for your sport.

  • Chances of placement – Getting into your preferred program is never a guarantee.  We always recommend choosing several back-ups just in case, and we can talk you through the process.  Some sites have less space available than others. BUT - don’t choose alternates that you would not be thrilled to attend, as we cannot guarantee placement on any program.