Advising and Career Center provides study abroad options

Sarah+Kinerson

Gunter Kleist

Director of the Advising and Career Center Sarah Kinerson

Each year, millions of Americans contract a virus that is very costly and time consuming to cure: the Travel Bug.

Fortunately, JSC’s Advising and Career Center provides several remedies for this nasty bug, sending upwards of 20 students per year on study away trips.

“We have lots of study away options,” said Sara Kinerson, director of the Advising and Career Center at JSC. “Some of them are coordinated out of this office, some of them are coordinated through faculty departments, and some of them are external organizations we work with. The sky’s the limit.”

The National Student Exchange (NSE) program is the only group JSC is officially a part of, explained Kinerson. “We have partnered with about 200 universities through NSE and our students can study at one of these universities for a semester or a year and usually they pay our tuition while they are doing it [housing and meal plans vary by school]. This program is very accessible as far as paperwork and cost,” she said.

In this program, each state has at least one participating university. Canada, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands all have participating schools as well. The deadline for this program is Feb. 8 for the following year, whether you want to study away in the fall or spring semester.

“Some students really want to go overseas, the truest sense of study abroad,” said Kinerson. This option is highly individualized, as there is no specific program for it. “If a student is interested in study abroad, the first step is to come and meet with me and we’ll talk. The student tells me about either where they want to go if they have identified a place or country, or if they haven’t they’ll just tell me what they are looking for in the experience and we’ll talk about what their major is and where they are at in their time here. Then I try to do my best to find a program that matches that student’s particular situation. So we look at academics, finances and location.”

Students can go abroad either through a program at another university, or through a company whose sole existence is to help students go abroad, explained Kinerson.

Another option is “Wisdom Tours,” which are offered through Castleton State College. Students earn six credits for about three weeks abroad. “They are incredible, from what I’ve heard, and we definitely have a fair amount of students who go [abroad] through those programs,” said Kinerson. Other short tours include faculty-run trips, which are classes students can sign up for.

Kinerson said JSC aims to make study away accessible to all students. Requirements to study away include a 2.5 GPA minimum as well as good standing on campus.

Financial aid is applicable towards all study away options to cover as much of the cost as possible. Although no scholarships are offered through JSC for study away, students can apply for a variety of nationally sponsored scholarship and grant opportunities.

The benefits of study away are innumerable. “One very clear benefit is that students gain a lot through the experience of travel,” said Kinerson. “A lot of students haven’t done a lot of traveling yet because they have been in school their whole lives. Students have shared with me upon their return from abroad that they feel so much more confident in their ability to travel, which is so great for when you graduate. It opens up the world to you.”

Kinerson also said that study away can expand your academic experience, exposing you to all different sorts of programs and professors. Another benefit Kinerson explained is an increased appreciation for Vermont, once students return. “Some students can’t wait to get out of Vermont when they go on exchange, it’s like the number one reason they are leaving: they just have to get out of Vermont. It’s often these students who discover, ‘wow, I really love Vermont.’ Those students are so happy to come back and the rest of their time at JSC and in Vermont is so much better because they appreciate it.”

So if you have been bitten by the travel bug, Kinerson urges you to come to the Advising and Career Center to make an appointment and begin crafting your future as a globe trotter.