CANTON -- Nearly two-thirds of students at St. Lawrence University study abroad at some point during their undergraduate years, earning SLU national recognition for the number of students who participate in overseas programs.
St. Lawrence ranked favorably among the nation’s baccalaureate institutions for the total number of students who study abroad and for the number of students who take part in semester-long overseas programs, according to a recent report by the Institute of International Education.
“Students find that study abroad programs are a useful addition to the need to learn about other cultures and to function in those cultures that are not their own” said Karl Schonberg, associate dean of international studies. “St. Lawrence has a long tradition of doing this well, and students come to St. Lawrence because of what we offer.”
There is a rising trend for students to take part in short-term study abroad opportunities, typically for eight weeks or less, but St. Lawrence students tend to take part in semester-long study abroad programs.
The university ranked 18th in the nation among four-year institutions for the total number of students taking part in semester-long study abroad programs, sending 240 students overseas in 2011-12, according to the report.
“Semester-long is the important number here,” said Kelly Lawson-Khalidi, director of off-campus programs. “It’s definitely a factor in a student’s decision about where to attend, as more students are looking for that option. A full semester gives them more cross-cultural experience, and that’s the bigger focus for us in the Center (for Intercultural and International Studies).”
In the 2012-13 academic year, 51 percent of St. Lawrence students took part in either a semester-long or yearlong study abroad program, up 3 percent from the previous year.
St. Lawrence ranked 27 in the nation among baccalaureate institutions for the total number of students who studied abroad for any duration, sending 353, or 66 percent of the student population, overseas in 2011-12.
“We’re a bit unusual in that all students, whether they are athletes or in a rigorous academic program such as pre-med, are actually encouraged by their professors and their coaches to take a semester off to study abroad,” Schonberg said. “That’s not always the case at other institutions.”
The news comes on the heels of St. Lawrence’s upcoming celebration of its program durations of 40 years in Kenya and 50 years in France, the institution’s first study abroad program.
Both programs will be recognized during Reunion Weekend in June 2014.