What is Off-Campus Study?
Each year, Grinnell students are accepted into a wide range of off-campus study programs both abroad and elsewhere in the United States. They study abroad throughout the world: Asia, Australia, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and various locations in the U.S. Participation is open to all qualified students and possibilities for study exist in virtually all subject areas.
Off-Campus Study is an opportunity to broaden your liberal arts education and enhance your major, concentration or other areas of academic interest. Although Grinnell recognizes that living and studying in a new and challenging environment is a valuable learning experience, the college believes the opportunity will be even more enriching if closely integrated with your coursework on campus. During the application process, you will notice that great emphasis is placed on selecting an appropriate program compatible with your academic goals. You will be working together with your academic advisers and the OCS Office to choose a program that complements and enhances your Grinnell education.
The programs featured in the OCS Resource Area and on the website have been carefully selected and represent some of the best opportunities available in off-campus study today. From the broad academic and geographical range of options, most students should be able to identify a program well suited to their academic goals
OCS programs offer you the opportunity to enhance your major, concentration, or other areas of academic interest while broadening your liberal arts education by learning about another part of the world. On some programs, the courses are linked by a common theme, such as women's studies, environmental studies or global development studies. On others, coursework may be closely connected to a particular major such as biology or economics. Some programs, however, are not particularly specialized and offer a range of courses in the liberal arts. OCS programs may be organized by American educational institutions, universities in the host country or a combination of both in a cooperative arrangement. Formats vary from traditional classroom-based instruction to field work, independent study and internship.
How do I Choose an Off-Campus Study Program?
Assessing the Importance of Off-Campus Study
You may already have a good idea about where and what you would like to study off campus. However, if you are just beginning to explore the possibilities, you should reflect seriously on what you are planning to do. At this point in your life and education, you are likely to be at the optimal point in your capacity to learn by living and studying in a new and challenging environment. Since an optimal point occurs by definition only once in a lifetime, and off-campus study may hold valuable personal, academic, and professional benefits, the careful choice of an appropriate program may well be one of the most important decisions you will make during your college career.
Core Academic Rationale for Off-Campus Study
Grinnell requires that you select a program compatible with your academic goals, as set out in your four-year plan and off-campus study essay. It is largely up to you to define your goals together with your academic adviser. Since your program choice is linked to your objectives, you should begin by thinking about your purpose in studying off campus, i.e., your core academic rationale. Most students choose to link off-campus study to their major or concentration while others may wish to enhance their understanding of other subjects studied on campus. The link you choose should provide a sense of academic direction for studying off campus.
Additional Objectives for Off-Campus Study
In addition to the core academic rationale described above, your choice of program may be partly determined by additional objectives. For example, you may wish to broaden your liberal arts education by studying a language or taking courses not offered at Grinnell. You may also have broader educational goals connected to the experience of living in another culture. The possibility of community service, fieldwork or an internship might be an important consideration. Such additional objectives are important to consider along with your core academic rationale and should be of help in guiding you towards a program that is right for you.