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Study abroad No. 2 in national survey rankings

CSB/SJU is ranked highly in a comprehensive survey on study abroad participation released Monday.

The Institute of International Education released the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange–a national survey of universities with study abroad programs. The survey reflects the number of students from the fall of 2011 and the spring of 2012.

Open Door breaks down results by the type of institution. CSB/SJU falls into the baccalaureate category.

In this category, CSB/SJU is tied for No. 2 overall in the nation for the number of students who participate in mid-length (semester) study abroad programs. Colgate University in Hamilton, New York is also No. 2.

CSB/SJU is No. 4 overall for total number of students participating in programs of any length. For the fall of 2011 and spring 2012, this was 546 students.

CSB/SJU is ranked 34th for percentage of students studying abroad. Open Doors calculates this number as 66.7 percent. CSB/SJU calculates it differently, advertising that 50 percent of students study abroad during their time here.

Director of Education Abroad Peggy Retka said it is important to realize this survey only recognizes U.S. students studying abroad. International students who may study abroad are not factored into the results.

“We’ve really built a culture and reputation around international education,” Retka said.

For the 2011-2012 school year, 283,332 U.S. students studied abroad, an increase of 3.4 percent. However overall, only 10 percent of U.S. undergraduate students study abroad, whereas about 60 percent of Bennies and 40 percent of Johnnies do.

“We’re doing great compared to the national average,” Retka said.

Last year, CSB/SJU was ranked No. 1 in the mid-length category, again tied with Colgate. CSB/SJU did not experience a slip in participation.

A growing number of students are interested in short-term programs, and the Office for Education Abroad is expanding those options to cater to student interests. However, CSB/SJU prides itself on the semester-long study abroad experience.

“We talk about the value of being immersed in a culture for a longer period of time…you’re going to get more out of it the longer you’re there,” Retka said.

Retka said the semester-long programs help internationalize campus because students and faculty leaders can bring their knowledge and experiences back to campus.

Senior Bridgette Springer studied in Guatemala last spring. She said study abroad was one of the reasons she was attracted to CSB/SJU.

“My college life is so different since studying abroad,” Springer said. “I’m pursuing new interests.”

Springer said since her international experience, she has been seeking out similar opportunities on campus. She says that volunteering at Casa Guadalupe is currently one of her favorite things to do–something she would not have had the confidence to try before going to Guatemala.

Retka credits the high number of CSB/SJU students who study abroad, particularly in the semester-long programs, to a successful model and commitment within all campus offices and departments. She says the goal is to make a study abroad experience approachable to all students.

“We’re trying to remove some of the barriers to study abroad,” Retka said.