To go or not to go?

The key to having a successful off-campus study experience is to spend time researching possibilities, thinking about your goals, considering your plans, and talking to others. We encourage you to speak to returned off-campus study students, OCS Advisors, and to your academic advisors. The more people you speak with, the more research you do, and the more thought you invest into choosing your program, the better your ultimate choice will be!

What to consider?

  • Your academic goals: Do you want to take in-depth courses in your major(s) to gain a different perspective? Explore a minor interest or new subject for a semester? Master a foreign language? Conduct independent research or fieldwork? 
  • Types of programs: Do you want to study at a study center program, a field-based program, a language intensive program, or pursue an academic internship program? Unsure which is right for you? 
  • Housing options: Do you want to live with a local family? Stay in a dorm with local or other international students? Camp in a tent? Some programs give you a choice of housing options or mix several over the course of the semester. 
  • Costs and fees: Program and university costs differ. You will be paying the cost of the program (not Colby tuition) plus a $1,500 off-campus study fee each semester you’re away. Financial aid is available and portable. For questions about how your financial aid package would translate into an off-campus study experience, consult Student Financial Services. 
  • Community engagement: Do you want to volunteer during your time off campus? Do an internship? Conduct research? Think about how your housing option will determine your contact with locals, and think about opportunities to get involved beyond the classroom. 

Other considerations include location (and its characteristics, such as urban, rural, the political climate etc), accommodation for learning differences (if applicable), pedagogy style (methods of assessment, types of assignments in your program’s curriculum), and your physical and mental health. 

How NOT to choose: Make your academic and personal needs your top priority in this process. Find the best program for your own individual needs; don’t choose a program or semester simply because your friends are applying there. 

Keep in mind – it is perfectly fine to also remain at Colby! Deciding to go abroad because your friends are going, to escape from an unsatisfactory campus or personal situation, or because you feel pressure to go off campus in order to succeed are not good reasons to study abroad. Remember that there are other study abroad opportunities including summer experiences, JanPlan, fellowship opportunities, or graduate study if a semester or year abroad isn’t feasible for you at this time.


Grossman 100
(207) 859-4500
[email protected]

Office Hours:
Mon – Fri: 8am – 5pm

Walk-In Hours:
Tue/Thu: 2:00-3:00pm and
Fri: 10:00-11:00am