Admitted – Yes! …But Freshman Year Must Be in Paris, London, Florence, Madrid…
With more students applying to college than ever before and with each of those students submitting more applications than in previous years, college administrators are finding new and innovative ways of not rejecting qualified applicants. Offering these prospective freshmen an acceptance contingent upon them spending their first year abroad is becoming more common for some highly selective colleges. According to last week’s “Wall Street Journal” article, “More Students Head Overseas in Freshman Year,” colleges such as NYU, Middlebury, Colby, Hamilton and others have employed this program.
So is this a new trend in college admissions? Perhaps. In the past, study abroad programs have typically been for juniors. While very few college administrators will admit it, by sending freshmen to study abroad, they alleviate overcrowding in the dorms. Then, when these study abroad students return for their sophomore year, they fill the spots vacated by students who have transferred out.
Studying abroad certainly does have its perks. One perk in particular is that students are immersed in the language and culture of the country, and potentially learn to speak that language fluently. On the downside, study abroad programs can be very expensive, especially in a time when the U.S. Dollar is severely deflated. For some students, being exiled to Europe is not what they imagined their initial college experience to be. When students are eager to bond with their classmates their first year, that’s not going to happen in a study abroad program where only a few freshmen are enrolled.
For some parents, studying abroad can present another concern. With no minimum drinking age outside of the U.S., spending freshman year overseas may not be all that appropriate for their immature and inexperienced 18 year-old. This may not be the ideal college experience, but it can be the opportunity for many students to attend the school of their dreams.
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