As the Admissions Director here at Global Routes I applaud students and families who come right out and ask me, “What questions should I even be asking!?” Unlike purchasing a pair of shoes or a cell phone, selecting an international program is not something most of us are familiar with.
Below are three topic areas that I highly recommend you explore with all organizations you are looking into. You will be surprised at how many more questions come to mind once you have the ball rolling!
What Makes the Program Unique?
This is one of the best ways to begin differentiating between organizations. There are many wonderful options out there and finding a good fit is critical for a successful experience. For example, do you want to be in a rural area or a city? Are you looking to take classes overseas or contribute to a service project? For more tips on identifying the type of experience you are looking for check out this list at Transitions Abroad.
How Does the Organization Approach Safety?
Consider this on both a macro and a micro level. For example, what policies are in place in case of a natural disaster or political unrest? How does the organization handle illness in the field? What kind of insurance do they provide or require of their students?
What is the Organization’s Process for Hiring Leaders? Who do they hire? What kind of background are they looking for in their leaders? What kind of training does the organization provide? While it’s important for leaders to have significant travel experience, it’s just as important that they have extensive experience working with young adults.
Talking with other students and/or parents is one of the best ways to get a sense of what an organization is like. Ask for a reference list and take the time to make a few calls. It will be worth it!
Even though email may seem easier, I recommend calling organizations when you are doing your initial research. From an admissions perspective this allows me to get a much better sense of what you are looking for, and I can elaborate in more detail on the topics listed above. And, quite frankly, most of us in the international education world got into this line of work because we enjoy making connections with people and our email inboxes are a poor substitute for the real thing!
Have fun, reach out and find that perfect program!