Seventy percent of the 340 sophomores who indicated interest in studying off-campus next year specified a preference for the Fall 2014 Semester in their preliminary intent forms submitted earlier this week.

According to Director of International Programs and Off-Campus Study Christine Wintersteen, students nationwide tend to favor studying away in the spring semester, but a preference for the fall semester is not unusual for Bowdoin students. This year, approximately 30 fewer juniors will study away in the spring than in the fall.

Left unchecked, the disparity would create housing problems on campus next spring. The Office of Off-Campus Study is currently trying to alleviate the imbalance.

“In addition to fall, spring and [full-year], there’s an option to say, ‘Able to study in either semester,’” said Wintersteen. “Right now, in that flexible category, we’re asking those students to study abroad in the spring.” 

Some students have reasons that they need to study abroad in a particular semester, such as major requirements or athletic commitments. 

“I really wanted to do cross-country [here] in the fall,” said Tracey Faber ’16, who intends to study abroad in the spring.

The Office of Off-Campus Study will honor these requests, as long as they are for so-called legitimate reasons. 

“What is not ideal is students who are simply studying off-campus because their friends are studying off-campus that semester because that causes a dangerous ripple effect,” said Wintersteen.

Housing challenges are always a consideration when assigning students to study off campus. 

“I anticipate having a bed for every student that wants to live on campus,” said Lisa Rendall, associate director of residential life. “However, there are students returning that won’t get their first choice of where to live.”

Depending on which semester is more popular in a given year, different housing challenges will arise. 

“If the imbalance is [towards studying abroad in the spring], it makes the [official] housing lottery more difficult for students as they are selecting,” said Rendall.

Rather than participate in an official lottery, students studying away from campus in the fall submit spring housing requests to the Office of Residential Life.