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Parents & Family

Application Update: For an update on this year’s study abroad application process, please see our application update page.

We are happy you have come to this webpage to learn more about study abroad at SCU. We know that studying abroad can be one of the most impactful and important learning experiences that students have while at SCU and we hope you will talk with your student about this important opportunity early and often. We talk with many parents and want to help you understand a little about why study abroad can be so impactful and transformative for students and what you can do to help support that.

Understand that students who try something new and different should expect that the experience will be challenging -- this is a wonderful thing! Students who challenge themselves are the ones who learn and grow the most. Part of the challenge means that every moment will not be easy or fun. We know that students who grow the most from study abroad talk about how impactful their time abroad was and they also talk about experiencing doing things that are confusing, scary and frustrating. They tell us about experiencing loneliness and confronting their own goals and values in new ways that made them uncomfortable at times. They always tell us, “It was so different from the US”, and really, that is the point. The more that you can expect that study abroad is about grappling with unfamiliar and sometimes difficult situations, the more you will help your student embrace the challenge and learn from it.

We want you to know that you can help your student prepare and experience their time abroad by remembering a few key points:

  1. Our Study Abroad staff are skilled advisors and in advising your student we expect that they will research study abroad programs, attend our Study Abroad 101 information sessions, arrange for individual advising and follow-up with any questions. As is the case with all good advising, our goal is not to tell students what program they should attend, but to guide them to goal setting and information to help them make informed decisions and meet all deadlines. Know that study abroad is not actually about “where” students go but instead what opportunities they are able to create to learn while they are abroad. Some of SCU’s post-graduate Fulbright recipients studied abroad on a program that was not originally their first choice - but which ultimately led them to their Fulbright success.
  2. For 2018-19, study abroad at SCU is highly competitive and not all qualified applications will be approved; around eighty-five percent of students who apply to study abroad are nominated. You can help your student by reinforcing with them the highly competitive nature of the program. Students are eligible to study abroad during the academic year in their junior or senior years and summer programs are available as soon as the summer after their first year at SCU. Encourage your student to have a back-up plan if their application is not approved in their first try. Our Study Abroad staff work hard to send as many students abroad as possible working within the resources provided by the university. We know how impactful the experience can be and want as many students as possible to have the experience.
  3. Expect and urge your student follow-up on questions about their program, details related to their housing, or visa, etc. themselves. In other words, do not call or take on this responsibility for them! Often these experiences are the first encounters with the local culture and it is part of the experience for your student to learn about how different cultures handle these things -- even if it can be challenging or frustrating. You will help your student most by helping them do these things for themselves.
  4. The links below will help you follow along with the phases of study abroad along with your student. If you have questions - we urge you to encourage your student to get the information you are seeking and share with you and remind them that SCU’s study abroad staff is available to help them.

Planning and Application Phase

SCU Study Abroad believes you play an important role in your student's decision to apply to study abroad. It is the student’s responsibility to research programs and complete the study abroad application yet you can assist in the process by pointing your student to valuable resources and upcoming deadlines.

Study abroad at SCU is competitive and not all qualified students are nominated to study abroad. Around eighty-five percent of students who apply to study abroad are nominated.

Applications that get nominated for study abroad demonstrate how the program fits into, and enhances a student’s SCU education. This allows students to develop professional skills and provides them with opportunities to engage in the local community. A student must also meet the program eligibility requirements to be nominated. Study abroad at SCU is not about where a student goes but what they will get out of their study abroad experience.

You can help us successfully prepare your student by bringing this opportunity to their attention early and often; and support them by learning about the process through this website and encouraging them to contact us directly with any questions or concerns.

 

Santa Clara works hard to make study abroad an integral component of an SCU education for those nominated to study abroad. The study abroad office offers over 100 programs for all majors and minors, over 40 programs that offer research opportunities, and about 45 programs that allow students to pursue academic internships. By participating in an SCU study abroad program, SCU students:

  1. Earn SCU Units. Students earn regular SCU units and cannot only “stay on track,” yet often make better progress toward graduation by participating in SCU Study Abroad because they participate in semester-length programs.
  2. Complete Major, Minor, and Core Requirements. The process to get courses approved is simple and students have access to a database of pre-approved study abroad courses that currently contains over 6,000 courses.
  3. Earn grades that count in their SCU GPA.
  4. Have access to all of their federal, state, institutional, and private financial aid to support program participation.
  5. Are eligible for additional study abroad scholarships. Need and merit-based scholarships are available from SCU and from many of our partners. More and more of our partners are offering Pell Grant matching scholarships, early award notification so that students can secure funding before they apply, as well as scholarships for diverse groups such as students of color, first-generation college students, LGBTQ+ students, and others. SCU also has 20 Santa Clara Fund Scholarships. Our cohort of fall 2018 study abroad students received an additional $131,000 in aid from national scholarships and our partner organizations. This is up from $30,000 from the fall of 2015.

 

Study abroad is an academic experience that happens to take place in another country. It is important to consider what your student wants to study and help them understand that this experience is not a vacation. Your student should have academic, professional, cultural, and personal goals established for their time abroad. These goals will help a student navigate our database of over 100 program options and assist them in finding the program that is best suited for them. Students can only apply to one study abroad program per application cycle and there is a capacity limit of 30 students per study abroad program, per term.

Here are resources to help students find the right program:

  1. Major Advising Guides. We offer programs for all majors and minors. These guides provide highlighted (not all) programs for each major and gives students a glimpse into the ways that they can actively engage with the local community.
  2. Program Database. This searchable database allows students to search programs by academic disciplines, cost, language of instruction, and much more.
  3. Contact Returned Students. This is a database of SCU students who have previously studied abroad. These students are willing to answer questions prospective students have about the program they participated on, the study abroad application process, etc.
  4. Study Abroad Pre-Approved Course Database. This webpage contains large amounts of valuable information. First, if your student’s major/minor has any restrictions regarding study abroad, they will be listed on this page. At the bottom of the page is the database of pre-approved study abroad courses by program. The courses listed here are not the only courses students can take while abroad; the database is a list of courses students have taken in the past and have been approved. Students must verify with the study abroad programs they are looking at to see if the courses listed in the database are being offered the term they plan to be abroad. If not, students can easily get courses approved and added to the database.
  5. Attend a Study Abroad 101 session & the Study Abroad Fair. Students must attend a Study Abroad 101 session before meeting with study abroad staff for drop-in advising. The fair provides an opportunity for students to learn about all the programs SCU offers and get any outstanding questions answered by our study abroad partners, returned students, study abroad staff, and faculty. With your student, you can develop a list of questions and encourage your student to visit the Study Abroad Office.
  6. Prepare for the application by reviewing the application questions. The application can take time to complete as students must answer four short essays questions, write an academic essay, and upload an Academic Planning Form that has been completed and signed by their academic advisor.
  7. Preview the rubric used to score the study abroad application and the tips from the selection committee.
  8. Understand the different types of study abroad programs offered. Determine who classes will be taken with (only other participants on their program, with local students, with other international students, a combination of the above). Where will classes be taught (at a local university, at a program study center, a combination of local university and program center, at a field station, etc.)? Will students be responsible for finding their own housing (exchange programs only)? Different types of programs require students to either be more independent or to push themselves outside of the program bubble to interact more with locals. It is important for a student to know which type of program they are applying to and how to address any challenges they may face with that type of program. The Study Abroad Office can help a student answer these types of questions regarding their programs of interest.
  9. Verify students meets (or will meet) program eligibility. At the time of application, students must meet program minimum GPA requirement to be eligible. Students must also have a declared major to be eligible to apply to study abroad. Students must also meet program language and course specific requirements (for example 1 year of Biology courses completed) by the start of their study abroad program.

The SCU Study Abroad application process is ahighly competitive, two-­step process.

Students first complete an SCU study abroad application. Students are only able to apply to one program per application cycle. In the application, students must complete four short essays, an academic essay and upload a complete Academic Planning form that has their academic advisor’s signature. All applications submitted to the Study Abroad Office by the application deadline date (December 15th for fall/winter/spring programs and January 15th for summer programs) will be reviewed and scored by multiple readers from across campus (on average about 60 faculty and staff from across campus). The reviewers use this rubric. Scores are ranked and students are nominated until the budget and allotted spots are depleted. About eighty-five percent of students who applied for 2018-2019 were nominated. Some students may be placed on a waitlist, redirected to an exchange program that works for them academically, or may not be nominated. Notifications are distributed in mid-February.

For students who are nominated, they must confirm their nomination with us within a stated time frame. If a student does not confirm their nomination by the stated deadline, they will be withdrawn from study abroad and we will move to the waitlist. For confirmed students, their next step is to complete their program specific study abroad application by their determined application deadline. It is imperative that students complete their program specific applications as soon as possible as some programs have rolling admissions and programs fill up quickly. If a student misses their program specific application deadline or if a program fills before the student has completed their application, the student will be withdrawn from study abroad.

Students who complete their program specific applications by the deadline and before a program closes, should be accepted by their study abroad program. If a student is not accepted by their study abroad program, they should contact the Study Abroad Office immediately.

 

Timeline for Study Abroad Planning

  • 12-18 months before studying abroad
    • Chat about study abroad as a family
    • Visit the SCU Study Abroad page
    • Browse program options by major
    • Understand SCU study abroad pricing levels
  • 9-12 months before studying abroad
    • Narrow program choice
    • Encourage students to attend Study Abroad 101 Session (pre-requisite to meeting with a Study Abroad Advisor) and attend the Study Abroad Fair
    • Suggest students meet with Study Abroad Advisor and Academic Advisor to discuss study abroad plans
    • Review with students the study abroad application requirements and deadlines
  • 6-9 months before studying abroad
    • It’s time to apply! Students are responsible for submitting all application materials before the application deadline. Due to competitiveness of study abroad, no deadline extensions are possible.
    • Encourage students to apply for study abroad scholarships.
    • Talk to students about possible outcomes of their application. As the study abroad process is competitive, not all qualified students will be nominated. Some students may be waitlisted, redirected to another program, or not nominated at all.
    • If students are nominated, take time to ensure that the program is still a good fit, that you all understand the SCU pricing levels and out of pocket expenses associated with the program before confirming participation. Once students confirm participation they will then be assessed a $500 SCU withdrawal fee plus any unrecoverable costs if they withdraw from the program.
    • Visit the prepare page of the SCU Study Abroad website.
  • 3-6 months before studying abroad
    • Apply for a passport or confirm the existing passport’s validity (must be valid 6 months after the conclusion of the study abroad program)
    • Research student visa requirements
    • Learn about host culture, language, history, etc.
    • Assist in making flight arrangements
    • Schedule any doctor appointments and/or make arrangements for needed immunizations
    • Ask students to share with you information they receive from their study abroad program (most communication to students will come directly from the study abroad program provider and not from the SCU study abroad office)
  • 1-3 months before studying abroad
    • Encourage student to let their bank know that they will be out of the country
    • Make copies of their documents
    • Plan how and when you will communicate with each other
    • Work with them to understand packing restrictions and airline weight limits
    • Know when and how students will be billed for study abroad experience

It is important to look at the cost of study abroad when researching programs as some programs are similar in cost to attending SCU and others can be thousands of dollars more. Each program in the database will have a pricing level between A and F. All programs that take place during the academic year (fall, winter or spring quarters) are charged SCU tuition. Based on the type of program a student chooses to participate in, an additional program fee that includes basic housing will be added to the SCU tuition costs. You can find current SCU study abroad pricing levels here and pricing levels for programs can be found in the program database. Students on exchange programs will only be charged SCU tuition as they will make their own housing arrangements for their program and pay the housing provider directly. About sixty-five percent of our programs are level B or C programs (close to the cost of attending SCU and living on campus).

Students on SCU study abroad programs are fortunate that SCU allows all financial aid to travel with students while abroad. For students participating on semester programs is should be noted that programs are on average 5-6 weeks longer than SCU’s quarter and fall participants will come back with more quarter units than they would receive while at SCU.

Students are responsible for paying program application fees, but should not make deposit payments to their study abroad program. SCU will pay their program deposits. Partners will also bill SCU directly for the basic costs of the students’ program; costs associated for upgrading (single rooms, housing options with additional fees, etc.) and additional course fees will be billed directly to the student. SCU will bill the student account the appropriate pricing level. Study abroad billing follows the regular SCU payment deadlines:

Fall – August 21

Winter – December 21

Spring – March 21

Please note that southern hemisphere programs in the fall, usually begin in July but payments for the program are not due until August 21.

Students on summer programs are billed in one of two ways:

  1. If the program is run by SCU, students will be charged tuition and a program fee and will be billed during the SCU summer billing cycle for the program. Summer payments are due May 21st.
  2. If the program is run by a partnering program provider, the student will pay the program fee directly to the partnering program provider by their stated deadline.

Preparing to Go Abroad Phase

Each program in the database has a pricing level between A and F. All programs that take place during the academic year (fall, winter or spring quarters) are charged SCU tuition. Based on the type of program a student chooses to participate in, an additional program fee that includes basic housing will be added to the SCU tuition costs. Current SCU study abroad pricing levels can be found here and pricing levels for programs can be found in the program database. Students on exchange programs will only be charged SCU tuition as they will make their own housing arrangements for their program and pay the housing provider directly. SCU allows all financial aid to travel with students while abroad.

Partners will bill SCU directly for the basic costs of the students’ program (tuition and basic housing); costs associated for upgrading (single room, housing options with additional fees, etc.) and additional course fees will be billed directly to the student. SCU will bill the student account the appropriate pricing level. Study abroad billing follows the regular SCU payment deadlines:

Fall – August 21

Winter – December 21

Spring – March 21

Please note that Southern hemisphere programs in the fall, usually begin in July but payment for the program is not due until August 21st.

Students on summer programs are billed in one of two ways:

  1. If the program is run by SCU, students will be charged tuition and a program fee during the summer billing cycle for the program. Summer payments are due May 21st.
  2. If the program is run by a partnering program provider, the student will pay the program fee directly to the partnering program provider by their stated deadline.

SCU provides emergency evacuation and repatriation insurance for students studying abroad. Students must have health insurance coverage while abroad; check with your current health insurance provider to verify if your student will have health insurance coverage while abroad. You should also have your student check with their study abroad program provider to see if they provide supplemental health insurance through their program. If students need assistance in finding health insurance coverage for their study abroad program, they should contact studyabroad@scu.edu. Students going abroad must also complete the SCU insurance waiver if they intend to waive SCU’s coverage while abroad; otherwise, they will be billed for SCU’s insurance.

Students will receive a large volume of information in preparation for their study abroad experience; a large portion of that information will come in the form of orientations:

  • Online SCU pre-departure orientation
  • SCU in-person pre-departure orientation
  • On-site orientation
  • Some programs will also provide additional pre-departure orientations

If you have questions about the program, logistics, etc. start by asking your student. Students will receive large quantities of information from their programs and it is important that they read all information received as there are often deadline dates and to do lists within those emails. Students are responsible for completing all post-acceptance materials in a timely manner.

You as a parent can also begin to do research on the country, culture, and current events where your student will be studying. Look at information your student shares with you and do your own research online. Gaining more knowledge about your student’s study abroad destination will help answer questions that arise.



While Abroad Phase

You should develop a communication plan with your student for their time abroad. Navigating across time zones and with different forms of technology can be difficult. It is important to stay in touch yet not to the extent that it can impede the students’ experience abroad. You may be used to communicating daily with your student while they are on campus but know that that level of communication may not be possible on many programs and can significantly hinder their development. Students will be adjusting to and learning about a new culture, city, and possibly language. They will need time to explore and begin to make their study abroad destination feel like home. Work with your student to find the appropriate balance between communicating with home and interacting with the local culture.

Adapting to a new culture can be exciting, frustrating, challenging, and rewarding. No two people transition to a new culture in the same manner or at the same pace. There’s been research completed by leading intercultural specialists and psychologists on the effects of study abroad on college-aged individuals which demonstrate that people move through phases on a non-linear scale; progress and regression can occur and is dependent upon a student’s day-to-day activities. Here is a brief overview of the different phases of cultural transition that your student may experience during their study abroad program.

Surprise: This phase is typically early, and rather positive in which students become aware of new, exciting, visible, surface-level, and startling differences. While this can be exciting and energizing, it can also lead to overstimulation and fatigue.

Exploration: This phase is more focused on seeking out understanding of a new cultural context. While this typically begins with visual cultural differences such as food, fashion, and music it can turn toward deeper investigation which can result in an individual discovering elements of their host culture they agree and disagree with.

Stress: This phase is typically common when an individual has been overexposed to stimulation. This manifests in behaviors such as oversleeping or higher than usual emotional responses.

Adjustment: This phase is in direct response to high stimuli and making decisions that reflect an ability to navigate daily life in the new cultural context. This phase may be characterized by overcompensation and subsequent recalibration in an effort of adapting one’s home and host culture.

Fatigue: Like the stress phase, this phase is in response to a high level of stimuli, yet for a more prolonged period of time. Fatigue sets in when people make a plethora of adjustments to their new culture which leads to a decline in interest in the new culture, increased irrationality, and a general high level of emotional responses. This is often seen through ‘language fatigue’ when individuals are making efforts to primarily use the target language.

Conflict: This phase is normally revealed through observable behaviors in the host culture that may irritate or annoy an individual such staring or an event that challenges one’s values and beliefs.



If you want to visit your student while they are studying abroad, consider making your travel plans coincide with academic breaks or at the completion of the program. This will allow your student time to become familiar with the location where they are studying and the language(s) spoken and will not make them choose between spending time with you and their academics.

Health and safety of students on SCU study abroad programs is our number one priority. We work with our students and our study abroad program providers to prepare students for their study abroad experiences. During the course of a study abroad program, we communicate regularly with our study abroad program providers and we work in tandem with them in the case of an emergency.

If an emergency occurs during business hours (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST), please call the SCU Study Abroad mainline at 408-551-3019 for assistance.

If an emergency occurs after business hours or on weekends, call SCU Campus Safety at 408-554-4444.

 

SCU provides emergency evacuation and repatriation insurance through Ace American Insurance Company for all students participating on SCU study abroad programs. A description of the insurance coverage can be found here. In case of an emergency, you should also refer to the health insurance policy your student has for their term abroad.

When traveling abroad students should follow a number of precautions. Students should:

  • Consult the US State Department Travel advisories for up-to-date information on travel to their study abroad location.
  • Register with the US State Department Smart Traveler’s Enrollment Program (STEP) if they are a US citizen. Citizens of other countries should register with their country’s embassy. Registering will assist students if an emergency occurs in the country in which they are studying. SCU Study Abroad requires this as part of their online pre-departure orientation.
  • Adhere to information given to them by their program’s on-site staff.
  • Notify their study abroad program if they plan to travel outside their host city.
  • Monitor their SCU email accounts for updates from SCU and their on-site program staff.

Returnee Phase

It is important to remember that your student has just spent several weeks living in another country, learning about new cultures/languages/food/etc. This experience may have been a real growing one for them and upon return they may not be the same as they were before going abroad. Your student will want to talk about their experience. Listen to their stories, look at their pictures, and ask clarifying questions. Let them share with you the details of their experience. Know that just as when your student started their study abroad experience and faced some obstacles when adapting to the new country and culture, they may face some of the same challenges returning home. They may have a different perspective in viewing the world and may challenge some of their previous thoughts/beliefs. They may struggle a bit adapting back to SCU and the quarter system.

Some of our study abroad program providers have put together resources for families of students returning from study abroad; please see a sample list below. Even if your student did not participate on one of the programs by the providers below, the resources for parents will still apply.

A Readjustment Manual: A Handbook for Parents of Study Abroad Students Returning Home

IES Parent Reentry Resources