In a change from previous years, the results of the off-campus study preliminary application, collected on November 1, indicate that, for the next school year, more students intend to study abroad in the fall semester rather than in the spring.
"[The shift] is a little surprising because the spring is usually the more popular semester," said Director of Off-Campus Study Stephen Hall. "I think some may have chosen the fall semester because...they had heard what we were saying about the spring being more popular [in past years]."
"It's good to have roughly the same number of students on campus for both semesters," said Hall.
The Off-Campus Study Office (OCS) received 285 applications from primarily sophomores, a slight decrease from the 300 applications received last year.
The preliminary application is required for students intending to study abroad in the fall of 2011, spring of 2012, or for both semesters, although Hall noted that a handful of students may change their minds. Hall expects the numbers of students studying abroad to remain fairly stable, though.
"There are always going to be some students who think they can't study abroad and then it turns out they've got a different major from the one they [are thinking] about at this point," Hall explained. "There are always students who want to keep their options open...and then decide to stay at Bowdoin after all. Those numbers rather cancel each other out."
According to Hall, the preliminary application is intended for use as a planning tool. Students must list the programs they are considering, their preferred period of off-campus study and their intended major. The application also requires that students obtain signatures from two faculty members in their prospective major.
"It's too early to say anything firm," said Hall. "What we're doing is just working with some students who have submitted a preliminary application for the fall, but have indicated that they could really go for either semester."
"It's a planning tool for us so we can anticipate roughly how many students we'll have away and for what semester."
"It's not hugely out of whack," said Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd, referring to the balance of students studying abroad during the fall and spring semesters. "The study numbers were in the range of what we expected the numbers to be... In terms of the range [of students studying abroad] we have now, it doesn't suggest that somehow that'll create big challenges."
According to Judd, the results of the application indicate that the number of students studying abroad will not significantly affect the availability of housing next school year.
"Right now, the impact on housing I think falls in the range of what the Residential Life Staff is used to coping with in terms of balancing fall and spring," said Judd.
Emma James '13 found the application "pretty easy to fill out," explaining that it is a relatively short, one-page form.
James listed programs in Chile, India and Vietnam as her top choices. She plans to study abroad during the fall semester to avoid conflicts with the Bowdoin Teachers Program.
"I've been planning out the next five semesters at Bowdoin basically to make sure everything will work," said James. "I really need to make sure that all of the credits I would receive [studying abroad] would transfer to Bowdoin so that I would be on schedule to graduate."
"The only tough part was figuring out if I want to go for a full year or spring," said Will McCartney '13, who intends to major in history and minor in economics.
McCartney, who listed Ireland and Scotland as his top choices, eventually decided to circle a full year on his application, although he still remains unsure.
"I think it's really important to take advantage of all the opportunities that Bowdoin offers you," said James "You need to take advantage of the ability to pick up your life and go live somewhere else for a semester," she said. "You're probably not going to have that opportunity again."