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Applying for Off-Campus Studies

Greta describes study abroad at Carleton, finding her dream program, and what she's doing to apply.

Greta describes study abroad at Carleton, finding her dream program, and what she's doing to apply.

Let’s take a trip into post-COVID dreamland and talk about study abroad. Or, as it’s known here at Carleton, Off-Campus Studies.

In normal times, 70% of students study abroad at least once in their four years at Carleton! (And last spring, it was 100%… at least according to this satire piece I wrote in the Carletonian.) In all seriousness: OCS has definitely been hit hard by the pandemic, but over fall term and winter term there still have been some programs running, with strict quarantines upon arrival and other safety precautions in place. The biggest program was a DIS-Carleton partnership in Denmark. 53 students did the program the fall, which you can read about here.

My personal preference has been waiting to study abroad until things look a little more normal. But that hasn’t stopped me from dreaming about an OCS experience! Here are some of the options for Carleton students:

  1. Carleton programs: Carleton is somewhat unique as a liberal arts school in that it runs many of its own Off-Campus Studies programs! They’re led by faculty and based on their interests, which means they must be super cool. They also include some winter, spring, and summer break programs, which is a great way to spend time off-campus without missing out on a Carleton term. And more learning = more fun, in my opinion 🙂
  2. Non-Carleton programs: If none of the Carleton programs strike your fancy, never fear! Carleton lets students apply to dozens of other programs, too. Because of Carleton’s trimester schedule, the most common time to do a non-Carleton program is Fall Term of junior year, which can accommodate a semester-length program. However, there are also select programs that can fit Winter or Spring Term. In my experience, the OCS staff have been really helpful finding a program that will work for my schedule… and my interests!

I’m currently applying to a program in Fall 2021 called Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Language through the School for International Training, or SIT.

Since it’s a non-Carleton program, I need to apply on SIT’s website and submit it for approval for Carleton. This is a little bit of extra work, but it’s worth it, because I’m super excited about this program! It combines my interests in human interaction with the environment, Indigenous politics, and social movements. It’s taught in Spanish and also includes lessons in Quichua, an Indigenous language family from the Andes region. It’s based in Quito, Ecuador, and also includes time in the Cloud Forest, the Amazon Basin, and yes, the Galápagos Islands. As a potential Latin American Studies major, all of this learning and travel sounds just thrilling.

How did I find out about this program and choose to apply? And what happens next?

  1. I did some digging on the program gateway! I also attended info sessions hosted by the OCS office, and checked out these guidelines for selecting a program.
  2. I scheduled an appointment with Helena, the director of OCS. She was super helpful, and she connected me with a Carleton alum who had gone on the program. It turned out I knew her from a class last year, before she graduated! Oh the lovely small world of Carleton. We had an hour long Zoom call which totally sold me on SIT Ecuador (and gave a great opportunity to reconnect).
  3. Right now, I’m in the midst of the application process. Carleton’s deadline for approval is April 15, and my program’s deadline isn’t until May 15. However, most non-Carleton programs conduct their admissions on a rolling basis, so sooner is better. Most Carls who want to study abroad in the fall apply during the previous winter.
  4. Next is dealing with the financial side of it… ugh. The good news is, financial aid translates onto OCS programs!! I’ve been told that my program will probably cost the same or less than a Carleton term. Plus there are plenty of scholarships to apply for, including these through Carleton.
  5. Once I apply, I’ll probably find out if I get in after about 3 weeks. The turnaround for OCS is quick! Then I’ll have to let them know if I accept, but thankfully, because of COVID, no decision is final.

Thanks for bearing with me through probably more OCS application info than you ever wanted to know! The bottom line: Carleton has lots of study abroad options, and although they do take extra work, there are plenty of people to help with the process. And from everything I’ve heard, it’s worth it.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out at! Meanwhile, it’s time for me to go work on that application.

Greta is a proud Vermonter and Carl who’s getting the best of both worlds by doing school from home. She has weathered the pandemic by writing constantly, playing piano, and spending time outdoors. Then eating lots of chocolate. She wants to learn everything, but she might major in Latin American Studies and minor in Creative Writing. Meet the other bloggers!