Centre College students who study abroad—as more than 85 percent of them do—are not the only people who speak highly of the College’s international studies program. Recently, the Institute of International Education’s 2010 Open Doors Report named Centre the No. 2 undergraduate school in the nation for the percentage of students who study abroad. (Goucher College, which was ranked No. 1, requires its students to study abroad.)
The Institute of International Education is the leading not-for-profit educational and cultural exchange organization in the United States. The IIE has conducted the Open Doors Report (an annual statistical survey of the international students in the United States) since 1949, and with support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since the early 1970s.
Each year, the data presented in the Open Doors Report is obtained through surveys sent to approximately 3,000 accredited U.S. higher education institutions who report on the international students enrolled at their campuses.
Last year, the Open Doors Report listed Centre as No. 4 in the nation for percentage of students who study abroad.
Unlike most schools offering study abroad options, Centre completely runs and staffs three full-term, residential abroad programs. Held in London, England; Strasbourg, France; and Merida, Mexico, these offerings allow students to immerse themselves in foreign culture while being taught and directed by Centre professors.
“At most other schools, students who study abroad are thrown into a large university system where they don’t know anyone,” says Elizabeth Trollinger ’11, who studied abroad in London in 2009. “Being led by teachers who you’ve at least seen around campus is a real comfort when you’re abroad.”
She adds that “it’s amazing that Centre students are in such small groups in each program. The College promises ‘personal education,’ and Centre doesn’t abandon that promise just because students are thousands of miles away.”
In addition, Centre offers full-term exchange programs in China, Japan, Northern Ireland and Spain. More than 140 Centre students each year spend a term at one of these locations.
Shorter trips also offer opportunities to experience foreign life. Many professors lead trips abroad during the College’s CentreTerm, taking students around the world for three weeks in January. During recent CentreTerm trips, students have studied volcanoes in New Zealand; primates in Barbados; religion and politics in India; the sacred arts in Bali; political history in Vietnam; post-revolutionary life in Nicaragua; anthropology in Peru; the cultural history of Central Europe; and the diverse religious heritage of Spain.
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.
And, thanks to the Centre’s Your Passport program that was initiated this fall, the College provides a passport for every incoming Centre student who does not already own one—a tangible example of Centre’s commitment to global citizenship.
With study abroad being such a way of life at Centre, every student who returns to campus from an international study experience agree with Trollinger when she says that she’d “always heard other Centre students say that their study abroad experience was the most transformative experience of their lives, 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.”