As a science major, it’s hard for me to study abroad during the semester. Unfortunately, not enough programs allow me to take required classes abroad.

I thought I’d have to choose between going abroad and falling behind in my major—or just not studying abroad at all. But while searching the international programs office at my school, I noticed they offered summer and winter sessions abroad.

It never occurred to me that I could take summer classes abroad—which led me on my journey. For those of you in the same predicament, this is a potential solution. Here’s why:

You Won’t Fall Behind

Before signing up for summer classes abroad, speak with your academic adviser to make sure you won’t fall behind. After talking to my adviser, I found out it was absolutely doable.

At my school, summer session isn’t factored in to the academic year. That means any classes I take become extra courses to fulfill my degree. If all pans out for me, I’ll come back from Thailand (my desired place of study) with 6 to 8 credits, which means fewer courses senior year—woohoo!!

You Can Get Funding

When you choose a study abroad program for the summer, you can apply for financial aid to cover it! Here are some things to keep in mind if you do:

  • Summer aid is available: My adviser gave me a heads up that the majority of summer aid is usually loans. If you are a Pell grant recipient like me, though, you qualify for the equivalent of that grant during the summer. That is, obviously, preferable since you don’t need to repay grant money.
  • Summer programs are much cheaper: My school’s summer session is broken up into two parts, and you can either do one session or both. My program for Thailand is only $6,000 for both sessions—compared to the fall or spring semester abroad fee of $13,000. The fall and spring semesters are only ONE month more than summer, so it’s a bargain!
  • There’s less competition for scholarships: Studying abroad in the summer is less common than other points of the year. That means various summer-specific scholarships are at your disposal. The abroad office at your school can help you find them. Also, go with a PARTNER study abroad program if you can. They’re affiliated through your school, so these programs offer internal scholarships.
  • Apply for the Gilman Scholarship: This popular scholarship awards up to $8,000 for any student applying to an abroad program. The scholarship is very competitive, but if you study during an odd time (such as the summer) your chances of getting it are much higher. Applicants must receive the Pell grant, and the award has rolling applications so you can always apply.

If you couldn’t already tell, I’m extremely excited to go abroad!! I’m hoping everything works out in my favor.

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