Apps up for Fall study abroad

By Amy Lieberman

The administration’s recent attempts to balance study abroad numbers, capping the program at 115 students per semester, appear to have workedƒ?”at least for now. According to Provost Diane Michelfelder, 129 studentsƒ?”123 new applicants and 6 deferred from last semesterƒ?”have submitted applications to study abroad this coming fallƒ?”a substantial increase from the 74 that studied away last semester. The rise of fall study abroad applications could ease pressure on sophomores who are planning to apply for spring semester, when more Macalester students traditionally study away. This spring, 176 students studied away-a record-high number that contributed to a loss of $200,000 in vacant on-campus housing.

The college also exceeded its study abroad budget by approximately $500,000 this year, as it had originally allocated funds for 220 students, not for the final 250.

With the 115 per-semester cap, sophomores have been forced to think twice about their plans and the probability of acceptance for the traditionally more popular spring semester. In February, Michelfelder sent an e-mail to all sophomores alerting them to the policy switch. She also encouraged sophomores who intend on studying in Spring ƒ?TM07 to sign a form indicating their intent to study away in an effort to provide an estimate of spring numbers. Signing the form does not increase individual studentsƒ?TM chances of admission, nor does it decrease those of students who do not sign according to the Provost.

One hundred thirty sophomores have either signed the form or expressed interest with Study Abroad coordinator Katherine Yngve. The number holds promise for anxious sophomores, as the college may allow a few extra students in over the cap, Michelfelder said. But it is difficult to assess the number of sophomores who plan to study abroad Spring ƒ?TM07 and have yet to sign the form.

Other uncertainties remain at this stage in the game, as the Study Abroad Review Committee (SARC) has just begun looking at applications.

ƒ?oeBecause the information is preliminary, it [130 students for the fall] isnƒ?TMt a hard and fast number,ƒ?? Michelfelder said. ƒ?oeThe number may change.ƒ??

Still, Michelfelder said she was content with how the cap has worked thus far. ƒ?oeWe have been better able to communicate,ƒ?? she said. ƒ?oeIƒ?TMm so happy everyone responded in a serious way. Overall, itƒ?TMll be a benefit for the entire community.ƒ??

Tyler Richmond ƒ?TM08, an English and art major, has applied to study abroad in the fall at University of Otago, in New Zealand. He said that the cap influenced his decision, as he had been wavering between fall and spring before it was announced.

After hearing of the cap, and the possible increase in competition for Spring ƒ?TM07, Richmond changed his mind. ƒ?oeFall just seemed like a better choice,ƒ?? he said.

Richmond said most of his friends plan on studying abroad in the spring, if at all, but that hasnƒ?TMt affected Richmondƒ?TMs choice.

ƒ?oeThe experience is more for me. Iƒ?TMll have fun regardless,ƒ?? he said. ƒ?oeIƒ?TMll have so much work to do for my major when I get back that I wouldnƒ?TMt have had a lot of time anyway [spring semester].ƒ??

Morgaine Reinl ƒ?TM08, a French major, has applied to study in Paris for Fall ƒ?TM06, but said her decision was made independent of the cap.

ƒ?oeThereƒ?TMs a translation course I want to take here next spring,ƒ?? she said. ƒ?oeI didnƒ?TMt have really good reasons to want to study abroad in the spring.ƒ??

Reinl said several of her close friends studying abroad in the fall also influenced her decision.

Maggie McKenna ƒ?TM08, on the other hand, still plans on studying Spring ƒ?TM07, despite the possibility of increased competition.

McKenna said she had mainly personal reasons for studying during the spring.

ƒ?oeIf I took off summer, fall and then J-term, I would come back with this rich experience and then have to hit the books,ƒ?? she said. ƒ?oeI donƒ?TMt know if I could be motivated for that. Itƒ?TMd be difficult for me.ƒ??

According to McKenna, the cap has made her ƒ?oereally, really nervous,ƒ?? about applying for Spring ƒ?TM07 but even so, she does not think she would have had enough time to apply for fall semester. Applications for fall semester study abroad were due March 10, a little over a month after the cap was announced.

McKenna said that she heard of the cap over spring break and, only at that point, began ƒ?oefreaking out.ƒ??

ƒ?oeI had always planned to go in the spring,ƒ?? she said. ƒ?oeI would have had to shift gear and re-plan. That was something I didnƒ?TMt want to do.ƒ??
McKenna isnƒ?TMt alone.

Reilly Pruitt ƒ?TM08, a psychology major, also remained uninformed of the formƒ?TMs importance until her interview with The Mac Weekly.

ƒ?oeWait, was I supposed to?ƒ?? she responded when asked if she had signed the form.

Pruitt said she knew of the form before, but she said she simply forgot about it.

ƒ?oeThe general trend for people studying abroad in the spring makes sense,ƒ?? Pruitt said. ƒ?oeMost of my friends will be gone in the spring. And I want to get out of the winters.ƒ??