Choosing a Program
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, students generally 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.
**To view Grinnell's featured programs, see the left menu tabs "Programs by Geography" and "Programs by Theme." More details can be found in the program database and on GrinnellShare (Grinnell login required)**
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 choose 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, in consultation with your academic adviser, a program adviser, or OCS staff. For example, you may wish to broaden your liberal arts education by studying a language or taking liberal arts courses not offered at Grinnell. You may also have broader educational and future goals connected to the experience of engaging with 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 a good match.
Students who are unsure about whether to study a language while off-campus for a semester are strongly encouraged to consider the many and unique benefits of language study.