Special Plans: Spring or Fall abroad

  • Why Do a Semester or Year Abroad?
    • I am straining to afford college and/or Flagship

    • I love being abroad and want to spend as much time in China/Taiwan as possible

    • I will already be abroad for a summer and want to tack on a semester before / after

    • I am doing better than average in Flagship and would like to jump to a higher cohort

    • I am doing worse than average in Flagship and would like to catch up / get ahead

    • I want/need to have more time for summer internships

    • I am a Transfer Student

    • I started Flagship late and need to catch up

    • I want/need to graduate and/or do Capstone early

  • Can / Should I Do a Semester or Year Abroad?
    • Is is really cheaper / faster?
      • UM Study Abroad office charges roughly $15k for most semester programs (including tuition, fees, insurance, and the application fee).

      • This will earn you credits and apply any UM semester scholarships you normally claim

      • IMPORTANT NOTE FOR NON-RESIDENT STUDENTS: there is no non-resident tuition fee for study abroad programs, but you cannot claim the non-resident portion of your usual scholarships, like Academic Excellence

      • If your scholarships cover most/all of the Study Abroad charges, plus airfare, food, etc., you may lower the cost of your eduction, particularly if going abroad allows you to spend fewer semesters in college.

      • Remember: for most 4-year scholarships, you have up to 8 semesters of eligibility. You can/should use a semester of eligibility for a semester abroad if …

        • The overseas program has a partnership with UM Study Abroad that allows you to receive credit and therefore receive your UM scholarships during the term(s) abroad

        Another option: go abroad without UM Scholarships and therefore, without using a semester of eligibility
        This only works if …

        • The overseas program is NOT associated with UM and is very cheap
        • You can afford to spend a semester focusing on proficiency gains (jumping ahead in Flagship) without earning any credits

        In both cases:

        • The Flagship director must approve of the program

          1. Some programs don’t offer the programming you might think they would
          2. Some programs don’t provide the quality of instruction you’ll need to make proficiency gains
          3. Some programs don’t provide a healthy environment
          4. Some programs are inconsistent from year to year (or student to student) in any/all of the above
        • The Flagship director must approve of your plan overall

          1. Is your plan the right length? Do you need more/fewer terms abroad to succeed?
          2. Will your re-entry point be disruptive to you or others?
          3. Will the plan realistically guarantee the kind of jump you hope to make?
          4. Will the plan increase the likelihood that you will attend Capstone and/or succeed?
          5. The director may feel that the plan is too risky based on your

            1. familiarity with life in China

              1. logistics
              2. high-stakes cultural interactions
              3. pollution
              4. strange food
              5. lack of typical amenities
            2. proficiency & cultural training – can you interact successfully with teachers and university staff entirely in Chinese without confusion that leads to less-than-ideal outcomes to your overall well-being in China and to your degree progress?
            3. special needs or circumstances (i.e., health)
            4. other academic plans that may suffer from a logistical strain

            Some people can handle all of these. Some could handle one or two. The combination, however, can lead to a crisis (sometimes a sudden sickness, sometimes a severe attack of anxiety), requiring you to return home prematurely. This can cause major losses (in time, money, and academic progress). This has happened more than once in the past, even in cases where the student felt prepared.

    • Is this advantageous to your academic / career goals?
      • Reasons to skip ahead in Flagship:

        1. Avoid any course conflicts
        2. Reduce courseload and time needed weekly for CHIN course prep
        3. Complete Flagship early so that full effort can be focused on other majors/programs
        4. Complete Flagship early, and turn your attention to other languages of interest
      • Re-assess annually what your career goals are and what programs / majors are essential / beneficial

      • Will your career require graduate / professional school, and is it necessary / beneficial to graduate early (or on time even with Capstone)?

      • Could it be better to stay in college longer in order to complete more programs?

      • Would it really be cheaper / easier / strategic to speed things up, or would taking an extra semester (or two) be just as good to give yourself a significant competitive advantage

      • Does your career path already expect you to have one or more years of meaningful experience, and could this be accomplished just as easily by doing more while in college and while abroad on Capstone?

        More time / fewer courses in the semester could mean:

        1. More time for meaningful projects that would be impressive to employers
        2. More time to volunteer, do part-time work or otherwise involve yourself in activities that relate directly to your intended field
        3. More time to work on an impressive thesis
        4. More time to research and secure an ideal Capstone internship, which in turn will better prepare you for your target career
      • Recap: factors to consider:

        1. Minimizing semester courseload and avoiding major conflicts
        2. Saving time / money
        3. Maximizing the number of programs, majors, special training (including other languages) you can complete before moving on to grad school or the work force
      • Mental Traps to Avoid :

        1. Putting yourself in a stressful, drawn-out situation when the savings are minimal (You MUST be very realistic in calculating your actual savings)
        2. Rushing to graduate early / on time just because all your friends are
        3. Focusing on short-term gains that cancel out all your hard work

          • Have you spent enough time immersed in Chinese that you won’t start to lose it as soon as you start work / grad school?
          • Have you spent enough time immersed in Chinese that you have a broad base in both academic and every day vocabulary that you can’t easily work on in the future?
          • It’s exciting to receive a job offer based on your current proficiency level, but will this sell you short in the long run?
          • Will your current proficiency level be enough to ensure that you continue to have a linguistic edge 5 years from now?
          • Is a potential employer impressed with your Chinese proficiency because they don’t know any better? Will you later be discovered to be less able than they expected?
          • Do you really have the cultural competency to match your proficiency yet, or do you just know enough to be dangerous?
          • Are you really ready to

            1. Go to China on your own?
            2. Find, and negotiate for, your own apartment?
            3. Find, and negotiate for, a job?
            4. Prevent a multi-national corporation from “owning” you (i.e., taking care of your housing and giving you a cushy work environment but preventing you from advancing beyond your entry level)
            5. Branching out on your own if you start to change your mind about what you’re doing / where you’re headed?
            6. IMPORTANT: the answer may be yes; just don’t assume it is before thinking through it carefully
    • Will this affect your participation in Capstone?
      • Flagship requires that all students at all times plan to attend and successfully complete Capstone

      • This is a non-negotiable. They consider this a necessary component of the Flagship identity, which exists to

        1. provide students with professional skills
        2. provide government agencies and private companies with a pool of employees who have the necessary proficiency and cultural competency to be effective

        3. raise the status quo in language expectations
        4. raise the status quo in how languages are taught and how they are assessed from kindergarten on
      • If going abroad early would change your overall strategy and affect your commitment to Capstone, you may need to consider the following:

        1. Would my program abroad allow me to reach an acceptable / strategic level of linguistic and cultural competence if I’m unable to continue in Flagship when I return?
        2. Is this plan my only way of reaching an acceptable / strategic level for a price that I can afford?
        3. Will this plan leave me with enough CHIN credits to complete a major or minor, and is that a priority for me?
          Count your credits carefully:

          • Outside of Flagship, you will usually earn credits more slowly
          • Make sure you know how many credits you’re earning abroad (must be 300 and above to count toward the major/minor)
          • Make sure your credits abroad don’t leave you with too few credits to take on campus

            1. You can only count 15 credits (out of 30) from abroad toward the major (9 out of 15 for the minor)
            2. If you place out of the 300 level, there won’t be enough remaining on-campus courses to complete the major
          • See our advising page for more details.
    • Is Flagship likely to approve of your plan?

      Considerations

      • How does my current Flagship instructor view me?

        • If you are one of the best in the class with strong cultural competency (i.e., a model student), you are easier to recommend
        • If you are struggling in class but seen as having a good attitude and work ethic, they may agree that time abroad could be helpful / necessary for your long-term success
        • If you feel like an “average” Flagship student, don’t rule yourself out; just be ready to acknowledge this and make a strong case for yourself
      • Do you know of anyone who has already completed a similar pathway?

        • How much does your situation match?
        • How much does your current proficiency, cultural competency, and overall class standing match?
        • Are there compelling reasons to believe that this plan will work for you, even if it has never been tried by a Flagship student (or a Flagship student like you) before?
    • Would you likely have the backing of any/all other majors / programs you’re involved in?
      • Have you discussed your situation with your advisors?

      • Are there any known issues that this plan creates or solves for those programs?

      • What is the relationship between your other program(s) and Flagship? Are they in regular communication? Is your plan similar to one/others that they have coordinated before? (you don’t necessarily need to know the answer; it’s just helpful to consider and communicate when/if you propose your plan)

  • If Yes,…
    • Best / Acceptable Programs and Costs
      • CET Harbin

        Visit site here

      • Others

        • We do not actively promote any other programs. CET Harbin is so flexible in terms of what you can take regardless of your major, and so consistently effective that we consider it by far the best generic option.
          If you have found a program that you believe may be of more use to your academic and career path, you should inquire with Dr. Yang as early as you possibly can as to whether it is a viable option.
          Keep in mind that, whether the reasons are financial or practical (from an academic standpoint), no program is worth attending if you finish with minimal proficiency gains and lose your Flagship standing as a resul.
      • In addition to costs on a program’s website, remember that UM Study Abroad office will add AT LEAST the following charges per semester

        Item

        Cost

        SA Tuition & Fees $1,023.75
        Mandatory Insurance $250
        SA Application Fee $100
        SA Safety Mobile App Fee $10
        Approximate Total $1,400
    • Necessary Steps
      • Write up the basics of your plan in a simple fashion so that you have a reference for yourself and others.

      • Email Dr. Yang about meeting to discuss. Make sure that your email has a tone of inquiry, with no assumptions about what the outcome of your discussion will be. Make sure your meeting is well before any deadlines are approaching.

      • With Dr. Yang’s approval, discuss the general feasibility of your plan with any other advisors from other programs.

      • With full support from all programs:

        1. Inform the Flagship Manager (Nate) so that he can assess any special administrative needs and deadlines
        2. If your plan involves participation in a program advertised on the UM Study Abroad website, ..

          1. Contact Study Abroad and set up a meeting.

            Their office can help with a number of details related to planning and to confirm all associated costs.

          2. Access the Study Abroad application form for your term as soon as it opens.

            • Download the Course Approval Form from the SA application for your program.
            • Fill out the basic questions, such as your name and the program name.
            • Ask Dr. Yang to meet again so that she can sign the form. Ask her what sections (if any) she would like you to fill out before your meeting, such as courses and credits.
              Once the form is signed, take a scan / picture and save it for future reference. This can save you a lot of trouble about a year from now. By the time the program is over and you begin thinking again about the credits you’re supposed to earn, you’ll want good, easily-accessible records to remind you.
          3. Access the overseas program’s application (i.e., from their website), and complete all sections on time.

            Some programs require documentation to be submitted from our Study Abroad office – another reason to meet with them and submit applications well in advance.

        3. Determine whether you can and should apply for any outside scholarships (Flagship scholarships cannot be used toward semester programs)
          Fall / Spring Scholarships
        4. If you are combining a semester program with a summer program, and if you are eligible for Flagship funding for the summer in question, confirm with the UM Flagship manager (Nate) that there will be no issues with your Flagship scholarship and that you have followed all normal steps for its disbursal (i.e., determining your exact summer credit and submitting the UM Financial Aid Summer Application with the correct info on programming and credits)
          External Summer Scholarships
        5. Inform the Financial Aid office if you intend to pause your UM scholarships while you are gone.
          They can pause your scholarships for one or more semesters, thereby saving your eligibility for future semesters.
          You could also opt to let the scholarships pay out, but if there is any chance of your aid exceeding the full cost of attendance for your program, you could potentially lose out on some of your scholarship funds.
        6. Begin thinking about your visa

          1. Passport:

            Is it expiring before you would return? If so, start renewing NOW!! Students procrastinate this step more than any other. It often leads to huge amounts of stress and extra fees when it needs to be rushed. Remember, the overseas site can’t even begin generating the documents needed for your visa application before you have a valid passport.

          2. Check with the program to see what procedures they require, and complete them ASAP

          3. Check whether you need to use a specific visa broker or if you can use ours at a reduced group rate.

        7. Make sure you establish your re-entry plans with Dr. Yang. Most likely, she will require that you meet with her to verify your language proficiency upon your return, but it will help with registration (which you will likely be doing from China) if you already have a course you’re supposed to sign up for as a place-keeper. Make sure to also look at other courses before and after it, just in case you don’t place into the course you expect. Be ready for any potential time conflicts, and plan the rest of your semester to minimize them.
        8. Before leaving: confirm with the program director and manager that you are indeed leaving. Sometimes students change their plans without informing us, which leads to confusion and occasionally a missed opportunity. Remember that we must submit reports to Flagship on what our students are doing, and this has a bearing on the scholarship funds they award us in the next cycle.
        9. While abroad:

          • Check in with us over email and/or WeChat so that we know how you are doing and can deal with any questions/problems you are having, just in case they get bigger than you expect. If we know about them, we can often act or advise you to salvage your situation.
          • Take lots of photos and videos but avoid posting anything online (social media or otherwise) that could get you in trouble, especially with the host country. Keep in mind that even objectivity can come across as a negative critique, which is often inappropriate in a Chinese cultural context. Find healthy, non-public outlets where you can vent any frustrations or just give full, truthful observations about your experience, preferably before you go abroad. Your creativity and mental health will thank you.
          • Check in with friends and family at regular / appropriate intervals. This prevents frauds (some scams capitalize on communication vacuums / breakdowns), and it also prevents anxious calls from loved ones to program offices (and sometimes law enforcement) either stateside or in China. You certainly don’t want to over-communicate if it limits the time you spend interacting with China and its people. Don’t stay in a bubble! But, staying connected with home can prevent disorientation while abroad and extreme reverse culture shock when you return.
          • Make / contribute to a Flagship handbook for the program you’re doing. There will inevitably be surprises, positive and negative. Many of these, you wish you knew about. Make sure Flagshippers who come after you don’t miss out on your positive discoveries and avoid the negative ones. This will also help you process the experiences in a positive way.
        10. Upon your return:

          • If you are planning to transfer back credits, remember that getting transcripts back from China can take a while, and getting them processed at Ole Miss is no trivial task, either. Plan on this taking an entire semester after you return.
          • Share your stories photos with us!
          • Share your stories and opinions with us. We may be able to influence the overseas program in positive ways that you cannot. We can also help to advise students in how to approach the progam in the future (if at all).
          • Share your experiences with other Flagshippers, especially younger students who may wish to follow in your footsteps (or not).
          • Share your photos and experiences with teachers and friends from high school. They may know of someone who would / should be doing something similar and could use the inspiration.