University of Mississippi study abroad programs are carefully vetted to assure us of your student’s safety while abroad. We make sure there is a support system abroad that can help your son or daughter navigate the new culture and new academic system that they will find in another country. This same support system, usually the host university’s international student office, will be there should a student become ill, have problems with immigration, need advice for traveling, help with housing issues—the same support they receive here at their home university, but, of course, different because it’s a different culture.
We will not operate study abroad programs in countries for which the US State Department has issued a "Level 4 - Do Not Travel" advisory on their web site, www.travel.state.gov. Any country at a "Level 3 - Reconsider Travel" level will be assessed through the appropriate channels at UM to determine its fitness for student travel.
We require our students to be enrolled in our study abroad insurance which includes comprehensive health care coverage, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation, evacuation during political unrest or a natural emergency (when deemed necessary), and many other benefits.
The biggest threat to students abroad is their behavior when under the influence of alcohol. We cover this topic in our orientation, but some help from parents is always a good thing. The next biggest threat is traffic accidents. Students need to be aware of who they are traveling with, wear seat belts, look both ways, maybe even twice, before crossing the street, and in general use the same common-sense safety they use in the US. If they feel uncomfortable in a situation, they should leave. They will benefit from trusting their instincts.
Often the biggest adjustment for our students is learning to operate in a big city. City smarts are important to avoid crimes of opportunity just like they are here in the US. Remind your student that his safety is to a large extent his on responsibility.
Is studying abroad worth the extra money?
Of course, we say yes. There are many ways that study abroad will benefit your son or daughter. Obviously, they will be exposed to a new point of view in their academic field that will make them more marketable in our global society. But, to add to this knowledge, a student will return home with many other plusses. Students return much more self confident. If they have been able to deal with missing a train in Madrid, even though they don’t speak Spanish, they’ll be much more comfortable dealing with an interview in Dallas once they’re back home. Students return more focused on what they want to pursue in studies, a career, and their own lives. Often they return with greatly improved foreign language skills. Mostly, they come home more mature. Many parents have said that studying abroad was the best thing their student ever did.
Also, having studied abroad is a plus for the job search. First of all, it gives a student something to talk about in an interview. And it’s something interesting that is particular to the student. Plus, it shows the potential employer that your student was brave enough and persistent enough to wade into a different environment, and not only make it through to the end, but to have done so with success. That’s the kind of strength that makes a job applicant stand out.
What about academic credits?
An important part of studying abroad is just that—studying. It is important that students talk first with their academic advisors at Ole Miss about the courses they must take and which semesters they must register for them. Generally, the best study abroad courses to select are general studies electives or electives in your student’s major. It is rare to find a foreign class that is identical to one offered here, but departments are helpful in working with students to find foreign courses that will count towards the necessary course work for graduation. The student’s Study Abroad Advisor will also work with the student in this selection. We require our students to complete a Course Approval Form that is approved by departments and academic deans. This form makes it clear to the student before he goes abroad what credit he will earn if he takes certain classes abroad.
We record grades from abroad to resident credit courses here. The grades are based on the transcript we receive for each student. There are NO pass/fail credits allowed while studying abroad. Students are required to carry a load abroad that is equal to or higher than the minimum 12 or 15 semester hours required here to be a full-time students. Students usually perform at an equal level when abroad as they did before they left.
How about financial aid?
We recommend a student go to the Financial Aid Office on campus as soon as they are interested in going abroad. There, they can find out what financial aid they can use. Almost every scholarship can be applied to the cost of studying abroad, as can grants and student loans. We work closely with the financial aid office so your son or daughter can be clear about how much study abroad will cost them.
Currently study abroad fees are $1,260 per semester for fees and insurance and $760 per program plus $48/month in insurance for winter and summer programs. These costs are billed to the student's Bursar account for the term abroad and are in addition to exchange tuition or affiliate program fees.
What should I do to help?
Encourage your student to have an abroad experience. Give them an idea of how much, if any, extra money you might be able to offer them toward this experience. This is a great time for a grandparent or relative to consider buying a plane ticket or donating money towards the experience. It’s also a good reason for a student to get a job the summer before or part time during the year to earn some extra cash.
Let your son or daughter do the leg work. It’s very tempting to do it for them, we know. That way you know it’s done, and it’s done right. But your son or daughter is now considered officially an adult. Step back. Make them do the homework, order the passport, complete the applications. All of this adds to their self confidence and also establishes the independence they will need while abroad. If you cannot get them to do this, maybe they’re not yet mature enough to take this step.
Learn about the country your student is visiting. Talk about its politics, its history, its art or literature. Pique your student’s interest. The more one knows about the destination, the more interesting the trip will be.
How much money does my student need?
This is hard to answer. Obviously people spend money differently. Study Abroad will have liberal budget we have created to cover the required expenses like airfare, books, tuition, housing, meals. But probably, your student is going to want to travel some, go to museums, plays, events. All these things cost extra. It’s important to know about the cost of living in the area. Often it’s higher than in the US. And of course, your student would love to have more money for more travel. Frankly, there’s never enough time or enough money, so we advise you to make sure the minimum can be covered. Then set a firm budget for the additional activities.