Policy Change Unwelcome
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 00:11
Coming into sophomore year, one of the main things on my mind was finally getting to look at study abroad programs. I had talked to a number of rising seniors over the summer, all of whom had done their best to describe indescribable experiences that they had while abroad. Being a student who has to pay full tuition at Kenyon, I was also excited about the possibility of saving a little money for my family while I was abroad.
The latter part of that dream quickly dissipated when I learned of the changes to study abroad financing. Now, a student going abroad for a semester will pay tuition and room and board to Kenyon. Kenyon then pockets the leftover cash.
This system does not affect all students equally and has less of an impact on students whose tuition is covered by need-based financial aid, whether completely or only partially. These students will be paying the same amount that they would in the previous system because their financial aid is transferred to their study abroad programs. However, those people who, like myself, must come up with a $26,000 check for their semester abroad are likely going to pay more than their program is worth. In addition, if their program is more expensive than Kenyon tuition, which is sometimes the case, students not on financial aid must pay the extra cost themselves. In other words, I do not see a single way that this new program helps students. Sure, it affects some less than others, but no one comes out on the winning side either — other than the College, that is. Clearly the College is trying to make more revenue, which is understandable. I just do not think the study abroad program is the best place to do this. About half of Kenyon students go abroad, and this new program is going to discourage students from doing so if the bill gets too high.
The College also implemented this new program extremely poorly. If Kenyon absolutely must change study abroad finances so dramatically, then it is only fair to have students come to Kenyon with knowledge of how the program works. One way to do this would be to start this system for the class of 2017. At least incoming students would know how the program works before they arrive. At least they would know they may be spending a few extra bucks should they want to study abroad.
I am not saying that I would have changed my college choice had I known that I would have to spend a little more money to study abroad; however, I think it is only fair to let students and their families know exactly what they are getting themselves into, particularly when it comes to finances.
All in all, I still have yet to talk to anyone — students, staff or faculty — who is really happy about this change. As I do not fully understand the workings of the Board of Trustees, the Center for Global Engagement and other entities on campus, I cannot completely condemn this choice. At the very least, Kenyon needed to do a better job implementing the new system. After all, students and their families are the ones who have to pay $26,000 a year, and blindsiding them does not make sense to me.
Joe Walsh ’15 is a classics major who looks forward to studying abroad in Greece or Italy next year. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.