The Outreach Triad for Successful Study Abroad Programs: Students, Faculty, and the Local Community

The Outreach Triad for Successful Study Abroad Programs: Students, Faculty, and the Local Community

Jennifer Joy Robertson (Valencia College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6252-8.ch007
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The old adage “build it and they will come” does not apply in the context of study abroad at the community college. Community colleges have historically struggled with study abroad enrollment due to a number of factors including inadequate funding, insufficient institutional support, and a lack of interest and awareness on behalf of their students. While there are many factors that go into successful programming for study abroad, one key element is outreach. This chapter will define outreach in terms of the marketing and communication methods to three key stakeholders in study abroad: students, faculty, and the local community. It will be argued that program administrators need to better understand the various ways in which outreach is used to increase both student enrollment, minority students in particular, and the number of faculty engaged in leading study abroad at the community college. The chapter will conclude by proposing some strategies for identifying funding opportunities from local community partners.
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The benefits of study abroad in higher education are well documented in the academic literature, particularly when it comes to sufficiently preparing our future leaders how to effectively navigate the global marketplace. However, community colleges have historically faced a myriad of challenges when it comes to study abroad program enrollment. A common theme among many program administrators has been the lack funding and staffing to sufficiently develop and promote study abroad programs on campus. With tight state budgets for higher education, international education has become a peripheral activity to the core mission of workforce education in many the community colleges. Moreover, community college faculty may not have the experience or knowledge to effectively develop and promote study abroad programs on campus. Compounding these challenges is a student body, especially minority students, who do not pursue international experiences as part of their academic goals.

The purpose of this chapter is to identify the influences on a community college student’s interest in global learning opportunities, outline the obstacles they face when it comes to study abroad participation, and offer suggestions to campus administrators and faculty on how to increase outreach efforts to market and promote study abroad experiences particularly to racial and ethnic minority students. Recommendations are also provided on how to engage the local community in study abroad.

It is important to note that several of the studies presented in this chapter come from research done at community colleges in the state of Florida, which is one of a growing number of states that allow community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees to increase students’ access to higher education at a lower cost (Povich, 2018). While these institutions may be changing their names and degree offerings, the mission continues to be to serve the local community; and therefore these community colleges can serve as models for other institutions of higher education when it comes to internationalizing the campus and curriculum.

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