BW in India

After doubling the percentage of students who study abroad at least once in four years, BW aims higher.

BW reaches ambitious study abroad goal early; ready to raise the bar

August 9, 2017

BW in IndiaThe goal to double the percentage of Baldwin Wallace University students who study abroad sounded ambitious when BW committed to pursue the dramatic increase as a new member of the Generation Study Abroad coalition in 2014. At the time, BW sent 15 percent of full-time students abroad. The University had five years to reach the higher mark.

"Generation Study Abroad brought a renewed sense of energy toward international education among faculty, staff, senior leadership and, most importantly, students," said Christie Shrefler, BW’s director of Explorations/Study Abroad.

The intense focus paid off.

2016-17 Generation Study Abroad by the numbersBy the end of 2016-17, BW had met and exceeded its formidable goal two years early, as roughly one-third (32 percent) of BW’s full-time students participated in an academic experience abroad during their college career. This not only more than doubled BW’s participation percentage, but more than tripled the national study abroad average which stands at about 10 percent.

Faculty-led seminars doubled

Shrefler credits the creation of trained study abroad liaisons and incentivized internal challenges within each of BW's eight schools with opening the study abroad door for more students. The awarding of more than $140,000 in scholarships and grants also helped.

Most importantly, Shrefler points to an initiative that doubled the number of BW faculty-led experiences representing a "more diverse group of faculty, disciplines and locations" including journeys to Brazil, Ghana, China, Germany and India.

Changing world views

For Katie Rider '19, the December 2016 faculty-led "Discovering India" seminar "blew my world view apart." She added, "I was naive to think that any of my previous travel experience prepared me for India. India forced me to grow in ways that I did not previously think were possible."

Rider’s testimony is not unusual. "We see these changes in almost every student who returns from an off-campus experience," Shrefler observed. 

"Students who study abroad tell us the experience is life and career changing," said BW Provost Stephen Stahl. "Graduates with global experience are often more attractive job applicants as well."

Raising the bar

BW’s Generation Study Abroad campaign is in partnership with the Institute of International Education (IIE) which launched the effort in the belief that the proportion of U.S. college students who graduate with an educational experience abroad is far too low.

"Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders," says Dr. Allan Goodman, president of IIE.

With that challenge in mind, BW is choosing not to rest on this early success. "We’re now aiming to raise the percentage even higher than our original goal," said Shrefler. How much higher? "The provost has challenged us to increase our goal to send 40 percent of BW students abroad by 2019."

Citizens of Earth

Baldwin Wallace University SLP graduate student Andrea Flowers works with students in Zambia.Theatre professor Scott Plate, who traveled to Zambia in May to lay the groundwork for the development of yet another faculty-led study abroad experience, summed up why raising the bar on study abroad is so consequential.

"My students will know they live not only in a nation, but on a planet, which they share with people who are directly affected by what they do or don’t do. The best possible result of an education is that students emerge with a sense that their lives matter. After traveling to Zambia, I can affirm that mine does, and that my students' will also."