We’ve been talking a lot lately about studying abroad, but I haven’t had anyone ask me about spending two years out of the country until today.
Michelle’s eager to spend that second year abroad, but she’s worried that the American college that’s interested in her won’t wait around forever.
Dear Mr. Judge Josh,
Hello my name is Michelle and I am 17 years old. I graduated high school this year, when I was still 16, and decided to pursue a high school exchange program / gap year abroad. I will be in Finland this August and won’t come back until January. My GPA is a 3.0, but I read what you feel about GPAs.
Now, now, I like GPA just fine. 🙂
My question is that, because of my age, I am able to pursue a second abroad program, and was wondering if I should.
I don’t know what the financial situation is regarding this second year abroad, but if it’s doable, then sure, I’ve got no problem with it at all. If you’re 17, you’ve got loads to time to do something like that. If it were me, I might wait until I hit the legal Finnish drinking age of 18, but then again you’re probably less of a degenerate than I was at 18.
My college of choice is the Art Institues of Colorado, and I have done my interview and all that basic beginning stuff. I was told I was a perfect match for them. My only problem is that I have not been able to afford the meager tuition fee. That being said, they are pressing for me to send in my application.
What’s the nature of the study-abroad program in Finland? Is it through a college? I’m assuming it’s not through the Art Institutes of Colorado, anyway. I’m just asking because I don’t 100% understand why you’re applying if you’re not planning on attending. I’ll assume for our purposes that your mind just isn’t quite made up yet and you’re covering all your bases, which makes sense.
The catch to going abroad again is that the college might be angry with me for not attending it for at least another two years. I am worried that they will not want me and see me as a slacker because I am, essentially, ‘taking a break’. Although I will still attend classes while abroad.
Frankly, I wouldn’t worry about this too much. I can see your college getting pissy with you if you’re giving them the idea that you’ll be attending in the fall when you’re really going to Finland. In that case, I’d probably just ask if they’ll hold your admission until Fall 2011, and if they won’t, just re-apply whenever you get back.
I hope that that was not too confusing. In a nut shell, I want to know what your opinion on a second year abroad is?
I’m completely fine with it.
How would it affect my application?
I think if you’re an 18-year-old who has two separate international/study abroad programs under your belt already, then you’re a stronger applicant than you were before the second year abroad. That’s a rare thing, and there should be no lack of colleges who will jump at the chance to admit you.
And how should I let the college know of my plans, especially without making it look like I have no real intention to go to their school or study hard?
You should just tell them straight out what you plan to do. I don’t feel the whole “slacker” vibe at all and I don’t think the college will either, especially if you’re taking courses abroad. If you said you were going to hitchhike across Australia for a year instead of sign up in the fall, then yeah, maybe they’d make some kind of notation in your file about whether you’re a serious student (not saying you’d deserve that, just saying it’s possible).
But if you’re spending a year abroad and you’ll be in college while you’re there, I’d have no reason on earth to think you’re some kind of slacker. If Art Institute thinks you are, then tell them to piss off and move on to another school. (Don’t know how married you are to the school, but as I said above, plenty of schools will find it impressive that you’ve already done two years abroad at 18).
Thank you very much for your time and advice!
You’re welcome! What about you abroad-studiers — got any advice for Michelle? Let us know in the comments below.
I think I’m off to check out “Inception” this evening, I think. Have a good night!