||U.S. News ranks Centre College No. 7 in nation for percentage of students who study abroad
RELEASED: September 3, 2009
By Leigh Ivey
DANVILLE, KY— Centre College is committed to transforming its students into global citizens, and this commitment has led to the College being ranked No. 7 in the nation (in a two-way tie) in the 2010 U.S. News & World Report college rankings for percentage of students who study abroad.
"In many ways, though, we're number one," says Dr. Milton Reigelman, Centre director of international programs, professor of English, and special assistant to the president. "No other school in this or other surveys has programs that they run themselves. None of these schools send 85 percent of their graduates to study abroad programs that they control. In that way, for five or six years, at least, we've really been number one."
With study abroad programs in Mexico, England, France, New Zealand, India, Vietnam, Hawaii, Nicaragua and many other countries, students can opt to spend weeks, months or even a year studying and living in foreign cities.
Almost 85 percent of Centre students take advantage of these options and study abroad at least once. Twenty-five to 30 percent study internationally two or three times, and a few have even chosen to take part in four study abroad trips.
Unlike most schools offering study abroad programs, Centre completely runs and staffs its own long-term, residential programs, which are located in Strasbourg, France; Merida, Mexico; and London, England. In each of these cities, students live with fellow Centre students and are taught by Centre professors.
"The fact that Centre faculty head up each program is unique," says Elizabeth Trollinger '11, who participated in Centre-in-London last spring. "At most other schools, you're thrown into a large university system where you don't know anyone. Having teachers that you've at least seen around campus is a real comfort. And it's amazing that Centre students are in such small groups in each program. Centre promises you 'personal education,' and they don't abandon that promise just because you're thousands of miles away."
For those who wish to study abroad independently for a term or two, Centre offers exchange programs with schools in China, Japan and Northern Ireland.
Many Centre professors also lead study abroad trips during the three-week CentreTerm. Barbados, Nicaragua, Turkey, Vietnam, Germany, New Zealand, Indonesia, Italy and Spain are but a few of the many places students have visited during these terms.
For several years, students have also had the option to study in Strasbourg for a three-week session in early summer. As the study abroad program continues to improve, Centre now offers a similar summer term in Merida; the first group of students in this program will travel to Mexico next summer.
"These summer options are perfect for those students who for some reason, be it academics or athletics, are unable to leave campus for a long term or during CentreTerm," Reigelman says.
Whether they choose to take part in a long-term program or a three-week trip, students return to Danville with a new worldview.
"You can learn a lot about a country by studying its history and culture and by traveling to that country and staying in a three-star hotel," Reigelman says. "But that's fundamentally different from living in that country while you study. Doing this, you learn things that you couldn't learn any other way, like the people's rhythm of life and their unstated value system. It's really hard to think of 'the other' when you've gotten to know someone this way."
To allow all students the opportunity to participate in one of the long-term programs, the cost for each is the same as the cost for studying on the main Danville campus; the only exception is that students pay a $350 surcharge and their airfare.
"Everyone has an equal opportunity to study abroad," Trollinger says. "It's not just for those students who can afford it. This just goes to show that the Centre community and the Centre Commitment stay intact no matter where you are across the globe."
The new summer term in Merida is not the only improvement to the College's study abroad program. Last year, the first pair of Centre students studied in China, and since then, interest in this program has grown tremendously.
This fall, ten Centre students will study at the University of Shanghai, where they will take six hours of intensive Mandarin along with two other courses, one in Chinese history and culture and the other in global economics.
"One feature of that program," Reigelman says, "is that because so many Chinese students want to perfect their English, our students are able to travel all around China—not really knowing the language—with Chinese students. And that's hard to do in study abroad programs. People tend to do what's most comfortable, especially when there's a language barrier."
Breaking down language and cultural barriers is a necessary step in Centre students becoming global citizens, a key component of the College's strategic plan.
"We want to turn out people who are globally fluent," Reigelman says. "I think we'd all agree with Dwight Eisenhower, who conceived the idea for Sister Cities International. He thought that if the world is going to survive, people everywhere have to escape their own national identities. To be educated in 2009 is to know a lot about your own country and culture and history but about other countries and their histories as well."
Dr. Mark Rasmussen, Centre professor of English, agrees. Having directed several abroad programs in Strasbourg and co-directing the London trip last spring, he believes that "what matters most about study abroad is that it exposes students to new ways of thinking about the world. Other places and cultures have different values from ours, and one of the best things you can do is test your own assumptions and beliefs against those of other people. Time and again I've seen students become more mature and thoughtful through that process. To me, that's a big part of the transformation that happens when Centre students get part of their education abroad."
Trollinger is a perfect illustration. "I'd always heard other Centre students say that their study abroad experience was the most transformative experience of their lives," she says, "but I never put too much stock in that. Now I'm one of those students—I'm not only dying to get back to London, but I'm also ready to go see the rest of the world."
Along with its No. 7 ranking for percentage of students who study abroad, Centre maintained its place among the Top 50 national liberal arts colleges in the 2010 U.S. News & World Report. The College remains the highest nationally ranked Kentucky college or university by a wide margin. Centre was also included in the U.S. News "Great Colleges, Great Prices" list (in the No. 25 spot) and was ranked No. 11 for on the "Strong Commitment to Teaching" list.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
For news archives go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
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