group of U of M Students in front of a windmill in Spain

Choosing a Program Based on Your Goals

    What Is Important to You?

    Use the following sample questions to learn what is important to you in your study abroad experience. Thinking about your goals is important, as it will help you choose a program that matches your interests and goals. After deciding which of these questions are important to you, try to summarize your findings in a few sentences. Bring this information with you to a Learning Abroad Center advising appointment if you are having trouble selecting a program. 

    An example goals statement might be; "I want to find a semester-length, affordable study abroad program taught in French that will allow me to complete credits toward my psychology major and do an internship or research."

    Questions for Identifying Your Goals

    Academic

    • What is your intended major or areas of emphasis, and do you want to earn credits towards those while abroad?
    • Do you have another interest or a complementary subject area that you want to focus on?
    • Do you have a senior project, honors paper, or second language requirement you could work on abroad?
    • Do you want to study one topic intensively or take a variety of courses?

    Learning Style

    • Do you learn better in the classroom or in the field?
    • Do you like independent or guided learning?
    • Are you able to adapt to different styles of learning?

    Career Path

    • How do you want your experience abroad to impact your career and professional development? 
    • What skills do you want to develop while abroad that are important in your intended field? 
    • How important is an internship?
    • Does your internship abroad need to be in English, or do you have the language skills to do an immersed internship?
    • What activities abroad will help your graduate school applications or make your resume stand out?

    Geographic Interests

    • Are you interested in a region of the world or a specific country?
    • Is there something happening in the world today that you want to learn more about?
    • Is there a political system that intrigues you?

    Personal Identity

    • Do you want to explore family roots?
    • Do you want to live in your home country?
    • Are there historical or current factors in places around the world that may impact your experience there?

    Other

    • Do you want to study abroad more than once?
    • How immersed in the culture do you want to be?

     You may have other ideas; include them all!

    Identify Challenges

    To really hone in on your statement also think about what, if anything, might prevent you from studying abroad. Use the same sort of brainstorming technique to record the challenges. Consider how these factors affect studying abroad. The aim of this is to list the real challenges along with your goals. Identify the factors you'll have to consider:

    • Family
    • Money
    • Job obligations
    • Social, academic, or athletic commitments

    Prioritize

    Once you have your ideas written down, you can start setting priorities. Try ranking your responses in order of importance. You may place the number 1 beside a geographic location that is extremely important to you, and then the number 2 next to money if affordability is a major factor. Remember, you aren't making final life decisions here, just setting down on paper where your priorities lie. Be honest with yourself.