Unbeknownst to us over here in Japan, it turns out 2006 was designated by Congress in the US as the Year of Study Abroad! This was done to “recognize the important role that study abroad plays in shaping American education and global leadership”, and “encourage all U.S. citizens, higher education institutions, secondary schools, businesses & government programs to promote and expand study abroad opportunities”. (Quotes from above-linked site.) Well, 2006 is 3/4 of the way over, and there are still approximately 295 million Americans who haven’t found their way to GenkiJACS, so apply now, while you still have time! Who knows what 2007 might be designated as. At least one website already has it down as the Year of the Antichrist, so I’d get my study abroad in now, if I were you…
Other news from the same sources: just over 1% of US undergraduates (191,321 students) study or intern abroad every year, although over 50% are interested. The aim is to increase this to one million students per year by 2017. And less than 7% of those students (about 13,392 people) go to Asia! Two-thirds of study-abroad participants are female.
The factors they list as preventing more undergraduates from study abroad:
Awareness/Access to opportunity
Of course, we can’t deal with all of those concerns here at GenkiJACS. However, we do try our best, especially in these areas:
Awareness/Access to opportunity: We approach universities about giving information on our programs to undergraduates, and provide leaflets ad other materials they can use.
Costs: While we don’t offer scholarships, we do have discounts where appropriate (mostly for groups of students coming together), and our courses are priced at the low end of the market.
Curriculum constraints: We are always happy to work with universities to offer our courses for credit, by meeting any curriculum demands they might have. This allows students to study with us without slowing down their university degree. Currently students can study with us for credit at 3 American universities, and we aim to double that by next summer. If you would like to have us talk to your university about accredited study, please send us an email and we’ll do our best!
Language skills: As we’re a language school, we should have this one covered…
Safety concerns: Japan is of course one of the safest countries in the world.
Family support: Home sickness and culture shock are of course serious issues with going to a very foreign culture (as Japan definitely is!). That’s why we provide weekly counseling sessions at school, as well as have a staff member always on hand to help students with any problems they might have. Finally, we also offer homestays as an accommodation option, and would definitely recommend this for students who would be worried about leaving their own family and support network behind.