Welcome to part two of my series on admissions terminology! Now that you know what types of schools and degrees are out there, it’s time to dig deeper into some of the opportunities that colleges may offer their students.
I’ll be focusing on three particular academic programs, research, internships, and study abroad, and what questions to ask when evaluating the role that they may play in your college experience. As with my disclaimer in the last blog post, these are only three of the many academic opportunities colleges can offer students and should by no means be the most important or only things you look at when choosing a school.
Research, at its most basic level, is the creation of new knowledge. Often times we envision researchers as people in lab coats surrounded by beakers and test tubes. While that certainly is one type of research, another is the less immediate though equally accurate idea of students sitting in a library surrounded by books making connections nobody has made before. Research is open not only to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields but to students across all academic programs including the arts, humanities, and social sciences.
If you have this drive to discover and synthesize information, research opportunities should be a big part of your college search. Some schools, like Tufts, are Research 1 level universities, meaning we offer the highest research degrees and opportunities. It’s important to make sure that the schools you’re looking at offer research programs not only to graduate students but to undergraduates as well. Can freshmen get involved in research? Does the school offer research programs in the summer? Are there opportunities to be the primary on your own research project? All of these are great questions to ask when looking at research programs within colleges and universities.
One easy way to think about internships is as test runs for full time employment with a particular company. Internships offer students the opportunity to experience working in an office or field environment with professionals in that discipline. More and more, businesses will first turn to their summer interns when looking at post-graduation hiring, making internships an even more critical part of a student’s college experience.
When researching colleges, look beyond the admissions page. Go onto the website for that school’s career services and see what programs they offer for their students. Are there drop in hours? Are there field-specific advisors to help place you in internships and research positions that will help you get your dream job after graduating? Do they offer internships only in the summers or during the academic year as well? How many of their students have internships over their four years at school? Often times internships are linked to career prospects, making them a very important resource to be aware of.
While the general concept of study abroad, leaving your home institution to study in a different part of the world, is pretty straightforward, the variety in study abroad programs can leave many students unsure of what their options truly are.
Study abroad programs can happen during the summers, for a semester, or for a full year. Many occur during students’ junior years, when they have the proficiency needed to succeed in a foreign country, but programs also exist that allow students to study abroad before they enroll in a gap-year like experience (like our 1+4 Bridge-Year Service Learning program). Most programs will focus on other countries, but domestic options also exist to allow students to experience other American cities.
Important questions to ask about abroad programs mostly relate to availability, experience, and credit. How often do students study abroad? Are the programs full immersion (foreign peers, faculty, perspectives, etc) or is it an American experience but in a different city? Are there programs that are automatically approved for credit or is there a risk of having your classes not count? Do any programs have additional features to them such as organized home-stays, excursions, or internships? For many students, going abroad is a transformational experience that changes not only how they view their academics, but how they view the world.
Next and last up will be a post that will talk about all of the different ways to apply to colleges, as there certainly are a few!
Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Let us know in the comments!