Thursday, October 4, 2012

Studying Abroad over Thanksgiving Break?

As many know, I post a daily "Study Abroad Tweet of the Day" over on IHEC Blog's Facebook page (which is really the place to be right now as my schedule has been so busy that I haven't posted here on IHEC Blog for a long time and I'm using the FB page as a micro-blog).  Today I selected the following tweet"

"Got an email about study abroad in Cuba thanksgiving break"

There are a couple of reasons why I selected this to be the tweet of the day.  The first reason is because last week the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) within the U.S. Treasury Department began to renew people-to-people licenses.  Second, and more importantly, I was struck by the use of the term "study abroad" during Thanksgiving break.

To be sure, there are many unknown variables about this Cuba study abroad program such as how long would this program be?  Would it be 4-5 days and does this include travel?  What is the itinerary and the number of academic contact hours?  You could fit 30 contact hours into this type of short-term program.  You get the picture...I don't need to list more.

A question I have is:  Is this really study abroad?  In other words, can you really have a study abroad program over Thanksgiving break?

There are many opinions on this short-term study abroad programming and I would love to hear what you think in the comment section below!

For the sake of argument let's say that this visit to Cuba is five days long and is indeed a study abroad program where the participants receive academic credit (thus making them eligible to be counted in the annual Open Doors data collection effort).  These study abroad participants return to campus with grades and academic credit in hand, they join the study abroad alumni club and hopefully integrate this experience into future academic work such as writing a paper or BA on Cuba.

As these returned study abroad students enter their fourth-year (aka Senior year) they learn that highlighting a study abroad experience one's resume or working it into an interview may provide an advantage over other applicants who did not study abroad (according to some research).

Questions I have about this scenario include:

How should a student list a five day study abroad trip to Cuba on their resume?

Would recruiters/employers view this time in Cuba as a study abroad experience?

Could listing a five day academic experience in Cuba on a resume as participation on a study abroad program actually hurt one's application?

What are your thoughts?