COD Study Abroad Ranks Second Among U.S. Community Colleges
By Jennifer Duda
Whether it’s a burning desire to learn a new language or a quest to explore the world, thousands of students both young and old have turned to College of DuPage to expand their global horizons.
Because COD’s Field and Experiential Learning/Study Abroad/Global Education program is so successful in creating new opportunities for students, the Institute of International Education recently ranked it second among community colleges nationwide for international study opportunities.
“Students and community members feel comfortable traveling with College of DuPage. They see the value of study abroad opportunities and want to travel with a professor to get the added benefit of that expert insight,” said Maren McKellin, Field Studies/Study Abroad/Global Education program manager.
The College offers trips of varying length to a variety of places each year. For students wanting to immerse themselves fully in a language and culture, the office coordinates traditional semester abroad opportunities. Individuals interested in learning a new language or improving one they already speak can choose from among seven Summer Language Immersion programs to locations including Italy, Costa Rica and Japan. Students interested in diving a little deeper into a single subject, like Russian History or the Geology of Iceland, can enroll in short-term Field Studies.
“Fewer than 10 percent of students in higher education study abroad and we want to change that,” McKellin said.
While studying abroad is more expensive than studying locally, financial aid options can make an impossible-sounding trip doable. Field Studies/Study Abroad/Global Education staff work with students to investigate all their options, said Sue Kerby, Study Abroad coordinator.
“We always talk to our students about building their story, finding things that set them apart from other students,” she said. “Study abroad does that. It gives students a unique chapter in their story and they take that experience with them when they leave COD, whether that’s transferring to a four-year school or down the road when they start their careers.”
Another benefit to the College’s program is the diversity of the student groups, whether it be ethnicity, age or gender. Diverse groups of students can make for a more meaningful study abroad experience, McKellin said, as the COD travelers often have different perspectives on the culture based on their own personal life experiences. It’s a strength for the student groups traveling and for the overall program.
“Being a community college, and serving the populations that we do, there’s value in going to class with people who don’t look like traditional students or who come from very different backgrounds,” she said. “One of the things we enjoy is seeing groups of students who are at different points in their lives come together because of their common interest in a culture.”
COD is one of the founding members of the Illinois Consortium of International Studies and Programs, which seeks to build and expand international opportunities for community college students. The long-standing membership means College staff have built strong relationships with partner institutions around the world, enabling COD to offer such a diverse program.
“It’s our ability to have different programs for different needs that sets us apart,” Kerby said. “We offer International Field Studies, Summer Language Immersion, and Semester Abroad. We have three types of study abroad programs and that’s unique for a community college.”
For more information on all College of DuPage study abroad opportunities, visit cod.edu/field or call (630) 942-2356.
College of DuPage
425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn IL, 60137
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