Due to recent changes in application deadlines at the Office of Off-Campus Study (OCS), students who wish to study abroad during the 2010-2011 school year may need to plan further ahead than in previous years.

Starting this fall, students hoping to study away will have to submit a new, non-binding pre-application by November 2.

Previously, students had to concern themselves with only the final, binding application, due in February.

"The firm deadline for submission of fully completed applications or petitions, signed by major department advisors, is 5 p.m. on 21 February (or the first business day after that, if [February 21] falls on a weekend)" says the OCS Website.

According to Director of OCS Stephen Hall, the reason for the addition of the new pre-application is that there was an imbalance in the number of students studying off campus in the fall and spring.

This year, there are more juniors studying away in the spring than in the fall by a margin that was unacceptable to OCS.

According to Hall, even slight imbalances can cause problems for the College in areas such as housing, course enrollment, and club participation.

"We thought it would be better to get an earlier notice of possible problems," said Hall, and "knowing about [a possible imbalance balance] in November would give us more time to do something about it."

There are 137 juniors currently studying off campus for the fall 2009 semester.

During the spring semester, 152 juniors will be studying off campus.

While no current sophomores are studying away this year, any students who wish to study off campus their sophomore year in the future will have to declare their major by February of their first year.

No imbalance was expected for the 2009-2010 academic year until the final deadline when, Hall says, there was a last minute rush of students submitting their final applications and indicating that they were planning to study away in the spring.

When asked what might be done to correct an expected imbalance in the future, Hall said that his office would actively attempt to persuade students to study off campus in the fall.

"If you could plan ahead to make the fall possible that's really what we'd prefer that you do," he said.

Hall added that an imbalance in which more students studied abroad in the fall would even be preferable to an imbalance like the current one.

"We'd rather have the imbalance in the other direction," he said. "Every year we have a few students graduating early."

"The number of leaves of absence are usually higher in the spring than in the fall," Hall added.

In all, Hall said that when one combines the study-away imbalance with the other reasons that cause fewer students to be on campus in the spring, the number of students off-campus can make a difference to campus life.

Some students are undaunted by the new deadline.

"[The begining of one's sophomore year is] getting near the point where we need to decide [on a major] anyway so maybe its good to start thinking," said sophomore Alex Casbara.

Others felt differently about the changes.

"I know a lot of people who are stressing out about it," sophomore Rachel McDonald said.

"I really don't think that it's fair. I think that sophomore year should still be about exploring instead of already having to zero in on one thing," she said.