When you submit your preliminary application for study abroad in November, you will be asked to specify your choice of semester for off-campus study and to justify that choice on specific academic grounds. Semester choice is NOT guaranteed. Due to the College’s need to balance enrollment across the fall and spring semesters, students may not be able to study off campus in the semester of their choice. By vote of the faculty, academic reasons for needing to study away during a specific semester take precedence over extracurricular and athletic participation.
Thus, you should make your choice of semester carefully in consultation with your major advisor(s), and remain open to options in both fall and spring. Academic reasons for choosing a particular semester may include: a program that is particularly appropriate for you and only runs in a particular semester; courses for your major that you must take on campus in a particular semester (you must specify them); an off-campus program focus that is different in different semesters; specific courses toward your major that you intend to take off-campus; language preparation for a particular program that would require an extra semester at Colby prior to departure. Your application must be specific about courses and programs if you cite any of these reasons. Your overall reasons for going off-campus and the appropriateness of the program to your academic goals are also part of the decision.
Keep in mind that some programs are not in session or approved by Colby for both semesters. For example, as the fall term in the UK university system is not long enough to qualify as a semester of credit at Colby, attendance at many universities in England for the fall term only is generally not allowed. Exceptions are programs with “Early Start” terms in September (University College Cork, Trinity College,) or institutions on the semester system, where you must then stay through January to complete exams. Some programs in England run by U.S providers may also be options because they run on a U.S. calendar.
You will be notified by the OCS office in late December if your choice of semester is approved.
At a small college such as Colby, the process of preserving the balance of students on campus throughout the year is a challenging one. Such imbalances affect all aspects of the college from housing, to faculty, staffing and finances and they create inefficiencies and waste resources. Colby has been very careful to balance these concerns and this is certainly part of Colby’s careful financial strategies. In such situations, OCS looks carefully at students’ plans and academic justifications for their choice of semester to study abroad, weighing them compared to those of other students.
An enrollment imbalance on campus is created when too many students choose to go abroad during one of the semesters (usually spring) and some students, whose academic justification is not compelling enough, are not approved for their first choice but are approved to study off-campus in the alternate semester (usually fall). These students are then asked if they accept to go in fall or wish to be placed on a waitlist for a spring slot. They will remain approved for the fall until a spring slot is opened and they are removed from the waitlist. In most cases in past years, the wait list usually clears in time for students to go off-campus on the program and semester of their choice but we cannot guarantee this.
While language and area studies majors (studying in the target language both semesters), participants on the Dartmouth engineering exchange, and students who enroll in the fall Colby at Bigelow program are automatically granted a full year abroad, all others must petition the Advisory Committee on Off-Campus Study by February 20. When you request to study off-campus for a full year that is considered above and beyond the norm and there are a limited number of slots available for full year off-campus study. We do the best we can to accommodate student wishes. You must show compelling academic reasons to be allowed to study away for more than a semester, and you must have the solid support of your major advisor/s. You will be contacted by OCS for an appointment if you indicate on your preliminary form that you hope to study abroad for two semesters.
Language studies majors are encouraged to study in the target area for a full year to maximize their language fluency.
For the Dartmouth program, the policy will be that if you apply to Dartmouth, you will be placed on leave for the fall and spring of your junior year regardless of whatever sequence Dartmouth offers and you will not be permitted to return to Colby for the fall.
Students who are abroad for a full year, are exempt from Jan Plan for that year (and may not return to Colby for Jan Plan that year).
It will not be possible to extend your stay once you are already abroad as a junior; the request for more than one semester off-campus must be made as part of the sophomore-year application process.