What is Important?

Use the sample questions on this page, many of which are from University of Minnesota's Learning Abroad Center,  to discover what is important as you consider your Off-Campus Study experience. Thinking about your future is prudent, as it will help you choose a program that matches your interests and goals. It is also important to consider the increasingly interdependent global world and how you can do your part through Off-Campus Study to have a positive impact as a global citizen and an F&M Diplomat. After being thoughtful about priorities, try to summarize your findings in a few sentences and bring this information with you to your Off-Campus Study advising appointment.

An example goals statement might be, "I want to find an affordable Off-Campus Study program taught in Spanish that will allow me to complete credits toward my psychology major and do an internship or research while living with a host family in order to improve my language skills."

Another example goals statement might be, "I want to find an Off-Campus Study program in the United Kingdom in which I can take economics courses alongside local students while exploring the effects of Brexit on the local economy. I also hope to explore my Scottish family roots while I am abroad."

Another example goals statement might be, "I am currently conducting research with a local organization that provides support and services to refugees, and I am interested in immigration law. I would like to find an Off-Campus Study program that focuses on migration and transnational identity."

  • Academic

    • How will the experience be integrated into your major or field of study? Do you want to earn credits towards your major or minor while off campus?
    • Do you have another interest or a complementary subject area that you want to focus on?
    • Do you have an independent study project or second language requirement you could work on off campus?
    • Do you want to study one topic intensively or take a variety of courses?
    • Do you need to take courses in English, or can you take courses in the host language?

  • Learning Environment

    • Do you learn better in the classroom or in the field?
    • Do you like independent or guided learning?
    • Do you prefer to have flexible, unstructured time to yourself or more structured routines?
    • Are you able to adapt to different styles of learning?
    • Who do you envision your classmates to be? (F&M students, U.S. students, other international students, local students from the host country)
    • How immersive of an experience do you want to have?

  • Career Path

    • How do you want your experience abroad to impact your career and professional development? 
    • What skills do you want to develop while abroad that are important in your intended field? (e.g. adaptability and flexibility, self-confidence, cross-cultural sensitivity, political awareness, interpersonal communication skills, language competency, problem-solving skills, dependability, analytic ability, etc.)
    • What activities abroad will help your graduate school applications or make your resume stand out? (e.g. professional networking, campus or community programs, leadership roles, volunteering, internship, research)

    Visit the UMN Career Relevance of Learning Abroad page.

  • Geographic Interests

    • Are you interested in a region of the world or a specific country?
    • Is there something happening in the world today that you want to learn more about?
    • Is there a political system, public health system, environmental issue, or type of art or architecture that intrigues you?

  • Personal Identity

    • Do you want to explore family roots?
    • Do you want to understand your own identity(ies) in another cultural context?
    • Are there historical or current factors in places around the world that may impact your experience there?

  • Global Citizenship

    In an increasingly interdependent world, we have a responsibility to develop our understanding of how actions affect both local and global communities, and subsequently identify personal strategies to effect change. By addressing the world's most pressing and enduring issues collaboratively and equitably, we can create more just, inclusive, and sustainable communities.

    • Review the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Do any resonate with you? Can you explore them more deeply in an Off-Campus Study program?
    • Is there a local organization that you are involved with via volunteer work, internship, or research? How might this organization impact or be impacted by what is happening in another part of the world?
    • What local or global issues do you care about and how can you learn more in an Off-Campus Study program?

Identify Challenges & Priorities

Challenges

To really hone in on your statement also think about what, if anything, might prevent you from studying off campus. Use the same sort of brainstorming technique to record the challenges. Consider how these factors affect studying off campus. The aim of this is to list the real challenges along with your goals. Identify the factors you'll have to consider:

  • Family
  • Money
  • Job obligations
  • Social, academic, or athletic commitments

 

Priorities

Once you have your ideas written down, you can start setting priorities. Try ranking your responses in order of importance. You may place the number (1) beside a geographic location that is extremely important to you, and then the number (2) next to money if affordability is a major factor. Remember, you aren't making final life decisions here, just setting down on paper where your priorities lie. Be honest with yourself.