Few takers for Kean’s international studies program

The Palace of Westminster at night as seen from the south bank of the River Thames. Photo: Andrew Dunn

The Palace of Westminster at night as seen from the south bank of the River Thames. Photo: Andrew Dunn

By: Redina Demushi | Published April 28, 2016

Only eight students are currently studying abroad, not including Kean’s Wenzhou campus, while many others find it unaffordable.

According to the Center for International Studies, eight students are studying abroad during this spring semester. Eleven were abroad in the fall.

“I think that only having 8 individuals a semester study abroad says a lot about our student body,” Shira NesSmith, a senior Psychology major, stated. “We are made up of mostly commuters and a lot of us can’t afford to study abroad. As great as studying abroad is, it is a luxury not a necessity and an unobtainable thing for a lot of Kean’s students.”

Anna M. Nieves, the Principal Clerk of the Center for International Studies, shared that the office has had many interested students come in, but most change their mind because of financial reasons.

“Student back out for different reasons,” Tandieka Johnson, a Graduate Assistant at the Center for International Studies, said. “Financial is always the number one reason why. They want to go. They may have the desire to go, the grades and everything that meets the requirement, but they can’t afford to pay for it.”

According to the center, students may use financial aid as well as apply for different scholarships to pay for the school of their choice. The cost of tuition varies depending on the school and location. The main reason students are not taking advantage of these opportunities is the cost of living in another country.

Kelly Barata, a senior English Writing major who commutes to Kean feels that paying for a place to live, on top of tuition costs, is a big financial burden.

“Also, a majority of us have jobs we can’t leave because we have things to pay for,” Barata stated.

Another reason why students at Kean may not be utilizing the opportunity to do a semester abroad is because they are not sure where to begin.

A survey revealed that one out of the six students asked, was aware of the different options available for studying abroad as well as where the university’s Center for International Studies office is located on campus.

Kean University’s Center for International Studies, located in the Center for Academic Success building, directs students of all majors who are pursuing a semester abroad to the country of their choice.

“We work with providers and these providers have agreements with different schools,” Johnson explained. “Based on where the student wants to go and what subject area they are looking for, when we contact the provider, they may have a list of schools the provider works with that has that subject area. We don’t choose for the students. The student chooses. What we do for the student is we provide guidance.”

Despite the financial obstacles that may come along with a semester abroad, the students surveyed all agreed that there are many benefits to studying in another country.

“Studying overseas can be an excellent way for young adult students to expand their worldviews, master a new language and learn about a different culture and their education system,” Hira Subhani, a sophomore Global Business major mentioned. “Studying abroad offers a unique opportunity to grow academically, professionally, and personally, while going on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.”

There are several opportunities for Kean students to study elsewhere, such as dozens of countries to choose from, like the U.K., France, Spain, Australia, etc. Students can also do a semester at sea, and the Travel Learn program, which is a faculty lead program where students go on a one to two-week trip with their class.

“The purpose of college is to gain knowledge, open perspectives, and prepare for the real world,” Mahin Chowdhury, a junior Global Business major, stated. Studying abroad helps a student achieve all of those things as well as absorb a different culture.”

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