A while after I started posting on study abroad forums, I realized that popular questions from students often focused on where their money was going, who they were paying, and how much they were going to have to dish out. I was lucky in that, when I studied abroad in Scotland, I just made my normal tuition payment to Holy Cross and they worked everything out with the finance office at the University of St. Andrews. But I began to wonder, what if you go through a study abroad organization that isn’t your own (or any) U.S. College or University?
My initial impression was that all independent study abroad organizations were kind of a crock. I mean, how could any institution that isn’t a college or university possibly provide the same quality experience that I had? How could they have relationships with international schools when they themselves weren’t even an educational institution? How can you know that your money is actually being well spent? How can you trust an independent study abroad organization AT ALL?
Well I’m here with some good news – my initial impression was wrong.
As I said in my post “Why Getting A Job Is A Bad Idea”, I’m about to go through one of these organizations, called CET. And guess what, Holy Cross actually sends its students (who are going to China) through CET as well! I was slapped with a new reality – a large and reputable U.S. College, which also happened to be my own, sends its students to a different country through an independent study abroad organization.
I trust Holy Cross, Holy Cross trusts CET, and so by the transitive property (good old geometry proofs) I trust CET. Like I said in that last post, my trust in CET was also a result of the rave reviews from my friends who participated in the program.
There are actually some great benefits that go along with going through a program like CET as opposed to your home college or university:
COST: The CET program in Beijing costs about $11,500 whereas I was paying my full tuition at Holy Cross while I was in St. Andrews – roughly $50,000. (From the research I’ve done, school in China can cost anywhere from $2,000 – $5,000, so I’m still paying extra but it accounts for a lot of other perks.)
VISA: Holy Cross provided me with a letter pretty much stating that I had a place to stay in Scotland and my finances were taken care of, but other than that I was left on my own to go through the Visa process. Although you personally still have to fill out the application, CET gives you the option to have them apply to the Chinese Government on your behalf, which I would assume gives you a much lesser chance of getting rejected.
INSURANCE: This one’s pretty self explanatory – CET provides me with an insurance plan that covers me while I’m
abroad, which saves me the stress of searching for one.
GUIDEBOOK: CET was actually considerate enough to send me my own copy of Lonely Planet’s China travel guide.
So don’t be afraid to check out study abroad organizations like CET, ISA, API Study Abroad, IES Abroad, CEA Global Education, or any other of the many that are out there. They’re a great alternative if your school doesn’t host a
program in the particular country you want to study in (just make sure you’ll still get credit!). I can’t personally vouch for all of them, but read reviews, ask former students questions, and develop your own opinion on which study abroad route is best for you!
(As always, I’m a proud alum of Holy Cross – the goal of this post wasn’t to knock their awesome study abroad program, just to reveal and demystify others.)
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. If you’ve ever gone through one of these study abroad programs, feel free to leave your courteous opinion below!