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First Gen

One of many possible ways to engage with the values and objectives of Macalester is by studying away. As you consider study away, you may want to think about how being a first-generation college student influences how you think about and live out the study away experience.

A number of factors come into play when making the decision to study away:

  • Academic goals and objectives
  • Personal goals and aspirations
  • Family expectations
  • Financial considerations
  • Timing
  • Other opportunities

Taking the time to weigh each of these separately and together will help you determine when and if study away is the right opportunity for you to pursue.

The following resources and questions are provided to assist you in determining your best course of action regarding study away. The CSA staff welcome your questions, comments, and concerns. Throughout the entire study away process, please know that you can schedule as many meetings with us as you’d like. Email, call, stop by, or make an appointment with any of us who are here to support you.

Benefits of Studying Away

  • Deepen your understanding of another country or culture while gaining knowledge specific to your area of academic interest
  • Develop new insights through learning about your academic discipline from a different perspective
  • Take courses not available at Macalester
  • Earn credits towards your Macalester degree (and possibly towards your major/minor/concentration)
  • Gain practical experience by participating in an internship or research project
  • Learn a new language, or continuing to develop a language you’ve been studying
  • Enhance skills that will improve your competitiveness in the job market after graduation (language, problem-solving, perspective-taking, etc.)

Questions to Ask Before Applying

We recognize that Macalester culture promotes and encourages study away and that it can be easy to feel that “everyone is doing it”. Students sometimes feel that they are swept up in the excitement that is built around study away – especially in the fall of sophomore year. We encourage you to explore your options and make an intentional decision about whether or not study away is the right option for you. You have a number of resources available to help you make this decision including staff in the CSA, faculty advisors, other advisors and mentors on and off campus, friends, and family.

  • What goals do I hope to accomplish through studying away?
  • When is the best time for me to study away? Which year? Which Semester?
  • Should I consider alternatives to studying away for a semester?
  • How does my family feel about me studying away? Do I need support in convincing them that this is a good opportunity for me?
  • Who else can I turn to as a trusted advisor or mentor to help me think through this decision?

Choosing a Study Away Program—Considering Support Services

In general, student support services vary by program type. There are four types of program structures:

  • Study Away Programs through approved providers: Typically, these programs offer high student support services as well as facilitated excursions or other activities. Students only take courses at a study away program center with other study away students, either taking a set curriculum, or choosing from a limited list of courses. The required coursework likely includes or offers an internship or ISP component.
  • Hybrid: Students are still working with an approved program provider, and still can expect to have significant programmatic student support and activities, but the difference here is that students are also enrolling in courses at local universities. Students take a mixture of courses at those local universities and at the study away program center. Students take courses with local and/or other international students and other study away students. Some internship or ISP opportunities may be available. The program typically organizes additional activities or excursions for participants.
  • Facilitated Direct Enroll: Students register at local universities, but have some help in doing so from a program staff who is familiar with working with study away students. Other student support resources may also be available. Students take most, if not all, courses with local and other international students. There may be fewer program-facilitated activities.
  • Direct Enroll: Students register directly at local universities without the support of a provider. Macalester offers advising support, but the student is on their own to navigate the enrollment, course selection, and housing processes independently and within specific set deadlines. Students will need to be proactive in identifying and advocating for resources they need before arriving and once on site. Students take courses with local and other international students. University-facilitated activities vary greatly, depending on the school.

Questions about Selecting an Appropriate Program Type

  • What support resources do I use at Macalester?
  • Will I need similar types of support during study away?
  • Which program type will help facilitate my success during study away?
  • If the program I select does not have similar support structures to those I utilize at Macalester, is it possible for me to find or create that type of support for myself?

Resources for First Generation College Students Studying Away

Financial Resources and Scholarships for First Generation Students

  • What does study away cost and how will I pay for it? The cost of study away will depend on which program you choose. Each program has a budget sheet which will outline all expenses associated with that program. This is a good place to start in the budget planning process.
  • If you are eligible for Macalester financial aid when on campus, your financial aid (other than work study) can be applied to the cost of an approved study away program (with a few exceptions). You can find many answers on the Study Away and Financial Aid website.
  • Meet with a financial aid counselor in advance as you consider program choices. There are many different ways of funding study away and the Financial Aid staff is eager to explain how any program fits with your individual Financial Aid package.
  • Be aware of the timeline for finances. Some items will need to be paid for in advance and you may need to work with the CSA and Financial Aid to ensure you have appropriate funds when you need them. When unsure, ask – we are here to help.
  • More and more program providers are creating scholarships for first-generation college students. Please review Macalester’s List of Scholarships, and note below some examples of scholarships specific to first-generation college students:
    • If you are studying away on a CIEE program and are eligible for the Gilman Scholarship, you are automatically eligible for the CIEE Gilman Go Global Grant.

Student Voices

After Macalester Approval

View the Pre-Departure Timeline on the Study Away Timeline webpage

We Want Your Feedback

We recognize that you came to this website looking for information and resources. If there is something specific you were looking for but didn’t find, please let us know using the feedback form link below. We will do our best to help you find resources that meet your needs and add them here as well. We also welcome suggestions for including resources that you have found on your own that we have missed.