Off-Campus Study Decisions Released
Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
This year's off-campus study application process saw more students apply and more asked to revise their applications than in years past, according to Director of the Center for Global Engagement Marne Ausec.
This year, 226 students were approved for OCS, up from 214 in 2011, while only four were denied as opposed to last year's 10. Conditional acceptances, pending the students' fulfillment of academic requirements, went up only slightly from seven to 13. The number of students who were asked to rewrite their applications changed the most drastically, however, from 25 last year to 44 this year.
The CGE is also making changes within its internal list of approved programs, cutting the list from 650 to 350 programs. The cuts are intended to make Kenyon's relationships with programs more meaningful, according to CGE administrators.
"We took out programs that hadn't been used in the last five years. But we've had some students in this year's application process who have wanted to use one that we took out, so we'll add it back in," Ausec said.
Though Ausec said that the CGE does plan to cut more from its list of offered programs, she made it clear that the point is not to limit students but rather to expand the relationship Kenyon has with each program.
"It makes it sound like we have a target number [of programs], or that we're looking to cut programs, but that's not it. We just have to make sure all our programs are quality programs," Ausec said.
Assistant Director Lisa Swaim added that the fewer programs offered, the better the CGE is able to manage and help students who want to go abroad. "It makes it hard for us to advise if there are 600 programs [because] we can't know them all as well as if there are 200 or 300 solid ones," Swaim said.
As part of the process of gathering more information about each program on the approved list, the CGE has started sending administrators and faculty members to programs as visitors for a few days in order to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses more thoroughly.
"When you have 350 programs, you can't get to all of them within the first couple years of doing this, but we have a plan for how we want to do this," Ausec said. The first evaluator left in March and an administrator will choose evaluators based on suggestions from the chair of whichever department sends the most students on any particular program. The administrator has so far been someone from the CGE office, but Ausec said that they eventually plan to ask for interested administrators from other offices. President S. Georgia Nugent weighed in on this new development, saying, "What we are going to try and do is engage faculty more. I think typically OCS is done very independently, and I think [Ausec] is looking at it and saying, ‘You all probably have more information about these areas of the world than we do,' and asking faculty to participate in that process."
Other than a move toward partnering more thoroughly with a smaller number of programs, the process of applying to study abroad is staying the same despite the switch to online applications. If denied, students can petition the Committee on Academic Standards for permission to resubmit their applications, a policy that has not changed for the past decade.
"We have about 30 or 40 students each year that we ask to rewrite some part of their application, and sometimes they interpret that as a denial, and it's not intended to be that," Swaim said. "It's intended to mean that there is some aspect that is weak that you need to strengthen, but if you do the rewrite well and seriously then you'll be approved."
There is, however, a cap on the number of students who can be approved — roughly 30 percent of the junior class — that is used to help estimate Kenyon's budget in advance while factoring in the tuition money that will be missing from students who are abroad. According to Ausec, no one has been denied because of the cap in the past six years. Although acceptances exceed the cap almost every year, most students are denied because of the content of their applications, not because there are too many applicants, Ausec said. There are no plans to change the acceptance system in the future.
For now, it is only the number of approved programs that is under revision, and even that policy allows exceptions. "What I think we've been moving toward is we're a little concerned that there are a gazillion different places students potentially go, and we felt that we really, in some instances, don't have a good understanding of how valuable the programs are," Nugent said. "So I would say we have been kind of slowly working toward trying to identify fewer sites, but to learn more about those sites and probably also build stronger partnerships with them."