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Parent Guide to Off-Campus Study

Denison University recognizes off-campus study as integral to an undergraduate liberal arts education and academic experience. Developing global competencies, including the ability to understand and value the importance of different cultures, perspectives, languages, and world views are critical for all students. These competencies help them prepare for post-graduate success, understand what it means to be a citizen of the world, and live meaningfully in a globalizing era. To develop these competencies, one size does not fit all. Off-campus study is one of the biggest commitments that students can make, with the largest payoff in development of one's sense of self and place in the world. With active, thoughtful advising along the way, students begin to develop a narrative, a story, about who they are and what they have learned from all of the experiences that prepare them for life beyond the Hill. Here are some key elements of off-campus study at Denison:
 
  • Approximately 50% of the junior class studies away from campus. With hundreds of carefully vetted programs offered by trusted partners in roughly 60 countries, students have plenty of opportunities to find a program that aligns with their academic interests and personal goals.
  • Denison does all that it can to ensure that off-campus study is financially feasible for all students. Financial aid [merit and need-based, except work-study] can be applied to offset the costs of semester off-campus study. The Office of Financial Aid also assists students in identifying pathways to financially support off-campus study.
  • Denison offers a variety of summer programs and other short-term opportunities, such as faculty-led trips embedded in semester-long courses (Denison Seminars). These programs give students the opportunity to earn 2-4 academic credit hours, and integrate an off-campus component with a particular class.
  • All students who are accepted for off-campus study are required to attend a pre-departure orientation. Topics covered are: identity and managing cultural differences, health & safety (including drug and alcohol use, mental health, and COVID-19, and safe sexual practices), costs and budgeting, financial aid, and travel documents. In addition, students are invited to enroll in a credit-bearing pre-abroad and post-abroad course to prepare them for off-campus study and to help them integrate the learning from their time abroad into the arc of their four-year study at Denison.
  • Our office works with each student to provide academic advising at every step: from selecting a program, to identifying appropriate academic courses, to completing the application, and more. We partner with their academic advisors to help them map out a plan for off-campus study that aligns with their personal and academic goals.
  • While abroad, our office stays in touch with students through email and social media. The program provider, a third-party organization Denison chooses as an approved partner, has on-site staff who are the first point of contact for all questions/concerns while abroad.
  • Denison students are expected to be independent and self-reliant in their academic and non-academic pursuits while they study off campus, yet they are supported by colleagues at our partner universities and programs abroad. To this end, our first point of communication is the student participant.
  • Off-Campus Study can help students develop a sense of direction for their future professional lives. Many companies, not-for-profit organizations, graduate schools, think-tanks, and other sectors of the economy increasingly recruit individuals who have demonstrated the ability to live successfully outside of the United States and work with people of different cultures and backgrounds.
  • Parents can help their student maximize off-campus study by:
    • Encouraging the student to learn all that they can about their host country, recognizing that host country norms and values will differ from those in the U.S.;
    • Talking candidly with the student about health and safety;
    • Recommending students read all materials provided by OCS and the program provider (typically through a specially designated student portal and emails);
    • Asking your student to share with you what information they receive from their program provider around logistics, and encouraging them to follow up, to be proactive, and to ask questions, supporting them but allowing them to take responsibility;
    • Recognizing and appreciating off-campus study as an academic experience, similar to a class, or a lab, and not an extended vacation in a foreign country. Many students have already extensively traveled abroad. But traveling abroad is not the same as living, learning, and studying abroad for an extended period of time.
    • Visiting your student at the end of the experience, after the program has ended. At that point, your student will have fun showing you how competent they have become in a new environment

While studying away is a wonderful opportunity, we know that as a parent you probably have many questions and concerns. We hope that this section of our website will help answer some of them, and help YOU support YOUR student during the exciting journey. We want to partner with you to make this one of the most transformative academic experiences your student will have at Denison. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Dr. Katy A. Crossley-Frolick
Executive Director, Center for Global Programs
Denison takes the health and safety of our students very seriously. Today’s world is increasingly unpredictable, with political, extreme weather, and social change rapidly shifting, in often unpredictable ways.  We rely on a variety of sources of information to assess levels of risk in evaluating programs and advising and supporting students, including the Department of State, the CDC, the WHO, and our program providers with local knowledge. It is important to note, however, that neither Denison nor the Center for Global Programs can guarantee or assure the safety of all participants or eliminate all risks associated with off-campus study. Our goal is to empower students with the information that they need to make good choices for their health and safety, and to partner with reputable programs with proven records of response in health and safety emergencies. All Denison students studying off campus will have access to the AlertTraveler app on their phone, which will provide real-time health and safety updates and alerts.

The Center for Global Programs routinely reviews CDC, DoS, and WHO travel advisories, as well as safety and risk updates from our program partners around the world. Denison generally does not permit study abroad in countries with elevated travel advisories. Denison reserves the right to withdraw its approval for study on an off-campus program at any point due to elevated travel advisories from any/all of the aforementioned agencies and/or advice from our program partners.

Emergencies abroad: Should a situation occur that poses an immediate threat to a student’s health and/or safety, Denison University has emergency procedures in place for university-approved programs. In the event of an emergency, the participant’s FIRST CALL should be the contact person in the program on site. 

COVID-19: Off-campus study programs are proceeding as planned, but are subject to modifications due to COVID-19 and ongoing staffing shortages in the travel industry and agencies overseeing immigration and travel. Programs set their own requirements regarding vaccination and boosters. We urge students planning to go abroad to be prepared to carefully read emails and review updates from program providers about their vaccination policies, mask policies, entry restrictions, and rules regarding travel.
 
General Health and Medical Advice: It is important for students to be informed about and tend to basic health and safety issues before leaving the U.S. Health-related problems can impact the quality of the off-campus study experience. Communicating their medical conditions and concerns before the student departs with program providers, and understanding resources for health care in the location the student will study will help them stay healthy and safe. Denison is extremely limited in its ability to intervene or coordinate care for students; Hoaglin staff and counselors cannot provide telehealth or other remote care.
 
What are some general recommendations related to health and medical advice for parents to help prepare the student for off-campus study?
  • We strongly recommend that all students studying abroad undergo a full medical exam prior to departure.
  • Update prescription medications (including allergy shots, eyeglasses or contacts, birth control pills) and obtain copies of all important medical records and remind students to put them in carry-on luggage in the original, labeled container or package. Ensure that prescriptions are written in generic and brand names, preferably on letterhead from a doctor’s office. 
  • If the student needs to take a prescription medication for the duration of off-campus study, check the legality of taking the medications in the host country. First they should first work with their doctor to try to obtain a supply for the full duration. This will take additional time to fill and may require special insurance authorization. If they cannot take an adequate supply, they should talk to their physician about how to obtain the remainder of the prescription abroad, or begin an alternative prior to departure.
  • Communicate with the study abroad program about any health concerns or conditions. Not all locations are prepared to accommodate all students’ health needs, but they also cannot accommodate needs unless they are aware of them in advance. Disclosing information will help the program be better prepared to support the student. 
  • Depending on the destination, certain immunizations may be recommended or required prior to departure. The program provider will be able to convey that information.
Will my student have health insurance while abroad?
Most program providers include medical/health insurance coverage into their program fee, but this is not universal. Insurance policies differ in what they cover, and we encourage students and their families to make certain that their insurance will provide adequate coverage while the student is abroad, or purchase supplemental insurance. Denison covers all students participating in an international off-campus program with supplemental international emergency medical and evacuation insurance coverage through EIIA International Travel Insurance. See the OCS Handbook for more information on insurance. 

Denison's student insurance plan through Wellfleet is an annual plan, so students must either opt in or opt out for the whole year. Students can only opt out if they have other coverage while on campus at Denison. More information regarding this plan can be found here.

Will my student be met at the airport upon arrival in the host country?
That depends. In some cases, students will not be met and will have to take a taxi or public transportation to their final destination. Some program providers arrange group meetings and pick up at airports. Please consult your student’s program provider student portal for the most up-to-date arrival information.
 
What advice do you have about data privacy and traveling with technology?
Denison’s ITS department developed a very helpful list of tips for travel. It can be found here: Tech Savvy Travel.
 
What can I say to my student about illegal drug use and possession, beyond “don’t do it”?
In many countries, local laws make no distinction between “hard” and “soft” drugs. U.S. law does not protect U.S. citizens abroad who violate foreign laws. U.S. citizens are subject to the same penalties for drug violations as the nationals of the country they are studying in/visiting. Penalties may be severe. Penalties for possession or trafficking of any kind of drug can range from 2-25 years and include a heavy fine. In some countries, the penalty may be death. U.S. standards of due process do not apply in overseas legal proceedings and Denison cannot provide or pay for legal representation of participants.
 
Is my student subject to the Denison Student Code of Conduct while off-campus?
Yes. While abroad your student is an ambassador for the university and their home country, and expected to behave in a responsible manner at all times. They must observe the national and local laws of the host country- U.S. laws for domestic programs- and Denison University standards for student conduct according to Denison University's Code of Student Conduct. Illicit drug use, excessive alcohol consumption, harm to self or others, physical, sexual, emotional harassment, bullying and other behaviors are prohibited. Should an incident involving any of the above occur, eligibility may be immediately revoked, the student will be removed from the program, and subject to on-campus disciplinary procedures.
 
Is there a penalty if my student is dismissed from a program?
Yes. You can read more about Program Dismissals in our OCS Handbook on Global Tools. 
Where can I find more information about a specific study abroad program?
The list of current approved programs is found at Global Tools. Students must select a program from this list (hundreds of approved programs). The list is vetted and updated every summer.
 
Can my student go on an off-campus study program that is not on the approved list?
No. With so many options currently available, we are confident we can help students identify several viable options that align with their academic and personal goals. Please note:  it is not possible to withdraw from Denison, participate in a non-approved program, earn credit, and then transfer credit back to Denison.
 
Where can I find out more about the application process?
All phases of the process, including deadlines, are described at the OCS Application Process section of Global Tools.
 
What are the eligibility requirements for off-campus study? What role does disciplinary history play in the approval process?
Students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing with the university, and must have a minimum 2.3 GPA at the time of application. These requirements are listed in more detail on our website. Each program has specific academic eligibility requirements, which can be located on the program’s brochure page on Global Tools.  
 
Is my student guaranteed a study abroad “spot” and are they guaranteed admission to their first choice program?
No. Off-campus study is a privilege. Students are expected to treat it like any other academic experience. No student is guaranteed an off-campus study placement, nor is any student guaranteed placement on any specific program in any specific semester. Nevertheless, Denison strives to accommodate the off-campus study proposals of all qualified students. There are, however, two related points that impact this policy. First, we establish limits on the number of participants in some programs in order to facilitate optimal integration into the range of experiential learning contexts and communities. Second, to facilitate the sustainable management of Denison's on-campus housing resources, slots for off-campus study in the fall and spring semesters are awarded on a first come, first served basis. Students are strongly recommended to complete the Advising and Program Selection form as early as possible. This provides the best chance to secure the preferred term and program of study. 

What happens if my student is not accepted to their first or second choice program?
The majority of students are approved by Denison for either their first or second choice program. In cases where that is not possible, students who meet the minimum criteria to study off campus will be contacted by CfGP staff to discuss other options. This often requires that the student be flexible in thinking about off-campus study. Advisors will discuss programs with the student that meet their academic goals and give the student time to consider the options with their faculty advisor before making a selection.
 
What happens once my student has been accepted into a particular program?
Once a student’s application is approved by the Center for Global Programs, they will be instructed to begin the application process with the program provider. This application is independent of the application the student has submitted in Global Tools and is typically online.  Denison's acceptance does not guarantee program acceptance. The student is responsible for submitting the program application in full by the program provider’s deadline, but we recommend they apply as early as possible.
 
Your student will receive information from the program provider, usually via an electronic portal, with separate login and passwords, and by email at various times before departure. It is important that students carefully read updated information and adhere to program deadlines. Once Denison approves a student for a program, the program provider becomes the main point of contact for all questions related to airline travel, visas, passports, course registration, housing, etc. Please note: the student will be asked to complete additional tasks in their Global Tools application before departing for off-campus study, including a mandatory orientation session. Students are required to complete these tasks or their approval may be revoked.
  
What kind of contact can you expect to have with us while your student is abroad?
The main point of contact, once the student is approved by Denison, is with the program provider. Our office does not initiate contact with parents/guardians unless there is a critical health or safety incident abroad. Staff with our partner programs abroad are available to assist students with particular problems or questions. They also have 24/7 emergency contact information that they share with students.
Will my student need to obtain a visa prior to departure?
Possibly. In many cases, a visa will be required as a condition of participating in their program. Information about visas can be found at the program provider’s website through the student's application portal. 

The visa application process is complicated and students need to read their email on a daily basis to ensure that they successfully obtain a visa. Students should begin the visa process as soon as possible. Once their application to the program is accepted, the provider will communicate instructions on how to obtain a visa and will be their primary point of contact with questions about the visa application. Therefore, it is in their best interest to apply as soon as the application window opens and to immediately start the visa application process once their provider sends instructions.

Specific questions about visas that are not resolved by the program provider can be directed to Dr. Morayo Akinkugbe, International Student Advisor at akinkugbem@denison.edu.

How long does it take to obtain a visa?
Processing times widely vary, from weeks to months depending on the country. Spain, France, Italy, Austria, and the Czech Republic have particularly lengthy processes. Students are responsible to know this in advance by conferring with their program provider. This list is not exhaustive.

How does my student apply for a visa?
Students may need to travel to a consulate or embassy in Chicago, Detroit, New York, Washington D.C., or another city to submit a visa application in person. This requires  surrendering the passport and so students will need another form of official identification for a return flight. The Consular jurisdiction depends on the rules of the host country and the consulate. The instructions for the visa application will clearly note the proper jurisdiction. Some countries outsource their visa processing services to third party vendors (such as VFS), and students may need to work with these vendors to successfully submit the visa application. 

In some instances it may be possible to submit an application via mail. This depends on the rules and regulations of the specific country. In such instances, students provide a self addressed, prepaid envelope with the application so that the embassy or consulate can return the passport and visa. Students may contact an advisor with the program provider or an advisor in the Center for Global Programs for assistance. After surrendering their passport for visa processing, students cannot travel outside of the U.S. until the passport is returned. As processing may take several weeks to several months, booking other international travel during this time is not advised. 
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Some, but not all, program providers offer “group visa appointments” or “batch processing” which would eliminate the need to travel to an embassy or consulate. It is IN STUDENTS BEST INTEREST TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS SERVICE if available because it will save time and money. 

What if I have additional questions that are not addressed here?
Check our FAQs here, that help to answer many of these general visa-related questions. Students should work with their program provider if they have visa application questions and reach out to Dr. Morayo Akinkugbe in the Center for Global Programs at Denison if they are uncertain about the process after contacting their program provider. It is important to do this well ahead of deadlines!

What documents do students need to have to apply for a visa?
First and foremost, students must possess a valid passport. Currently, processing times for a U.S. passport can fluctuate from 6-18 weeks and it is in students' best interest to apply for a valid passport as soon as possible. Once students receive their passport, they should review it to ensure all information is accurate, e.g. name (correct spelling), date of birth.

Students will need to collect a variety of documents, including but not limited to, bank statements, photos, fees, proof of enrollment, proof of housing in host country, fingerprints and other biometrics, criminal/FBI background check, etc. Obtaining these documents and background checks take time. Many of these documents will need to be signed by a notary. Students may consult with the Center for Global Programs to learn what a notary is and the purposes of notarization for off-campus study, or view the FAQ page on Global Tools.

The requirements for a visa application may change from semester to semester and students should first consult the program provider’s website or provider advisor to obtain up-to-date information.

My student is not a U.S. citizen. What should they do?
International students, permanent residents, and refugee/asylee who do not hold a US passport may have different requirements when applying for a visa. In these cases, they should work with their program provider, and if they still have questions, speak with Dr. Morayo Akinkugbe in the Center for Global Programs at Denison.
Will my student pay Denison tuition, room and board while away?
Yes. Students will pay Denison tuition, room, and meal plan, the program deposit, and Denison’s OCS administrative fee- currently $1060 for the semester, $320 for summer 2024. Students are responsible for paying Denison tuition, housing & meals, off-campus administrative fee and any other charges on their student accounts in full prior to departure. Failure to pay the student account balance will result in late fees and suspension of study abroad eligibility. 

In exchange for paying Denison tuition, room and meal plan, and the OCS Administrative fee, students will:
  • Retain course registration priority, as established for their class year
  • Retain housing priority status for housing selection
  • Receive faculty pre-approval for proposed coursework
  • Have access to their academic advisor, class dean, Academic Resource Center (ARC), and the services offered by the Center for Global Programs, Knowlton Center, and Lisska Center
  • Receive credit and grades for off-campus coursework, which will be posted to student’s official Denison transcript by the Office of the Registrar
 
Can student aid be applied to the cost of off-campus study?
Denison students may pursue off-campus study with institutional, need-based or merit aid, minus work-study. Aid eligibility is based on the estimated cost of participation for the proposed off-campus study program and the estimated family contribution from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service).  Denison’s Office of Financial Aid assists students to meet full need through a combination of loans, grants, and other sources. Please see our website for full policy details.

There are generally fewer financial aid resources for summer study; however, our office is available to help students consider funding sources that may exist.

What factors should we consider regarding the cost of a program?
Students should develop a budget for out-of-pocket/personal expenses for the time off campus. We encourage students to make an appointment with the university Financial Wellness Coordinator to learn how to create a realistic budget and savings plan. 

What are some examples of unbilled, discretionary costs?
Students should consider, anticipate, and budget for the following costs to be paid from their own, personal funds:
  • personal expenses
  • personal travel and sojourns
  • food costs above those budgeted by the program
  • enhanced living accommodations
  • personal meals/snacks during personal sojourns
  • lodging during travel to and from the host city
  • passport, visa fees, residency permits
  • local transportation
  • immunizations
  • books and supplies
  • security fees
  • cell phones, extra cell-phone data, additional WiFi data
This list is not exhaustive. It is important for students to remember that incidental and personal expenses are, in almost all cases, significantly higher for off-campus programs because of personal travel and other activities undertaken on a voluntary basis.

Most students spend anywhere from $2,000-$4,500 on personal expenses, above and beyond living costs, while studying away. The biggest single category of personal expense is recreational travel, in or out of the host country. 
 
Will students pay a program deposit or application fee?
Yes. Program providers often charge a nonrefundable deposit, application fee, commitment fee, or combination thereof within several weeks of acceptance into the program. It is the student’s responsibility to pay these fees. 

How do I send money to my student while abroad?
Most students use an ATM to withdraw cash from their U.S. bank account in local currency. An authorized user may deposit funds to their account. There are often fees associated with withdrawals, as well as foreign transaction fees for debit and credit transactions, so students should check with individual US banks to learn about fees and daily maximum withdrawal amounts. Students should be aware that in some parts of the world, cash is increasingly obsolete and credit cards may require a chip and PIN. Some students may choose to open a local bank account to obtain a regional debit card and avoid fees from US banks. If this option is taken, it should be done shortly after arrival, as it can take several weeks to open an account. Regardless of what option is considered, money and money matters require some research in advance. Norms around money, such as contactless payment apps, are rapidly changing. Program providers can offer some excellent guidance in this regard.

Can I pay the costs of off-campus study on a monthly plan?
If your student/your family are enrolled in a Tuition Management Systems plan and that account is current, your student may use it to pay the invoiced fees associated with OCS. For more information, contact Kaye Parker at: parkerk@dension.edu or (740) 587-6761.
 
Is there a financial penalty if my student withdraws from a program abroad?
This depends on the timing. Students who withdraw from a program after being admitted are required to notify us immediately in writing because students will not have housing or the ability to register for classes until we change their status back to “on campus.” Withdrawals after confirmation in the program will typically result in loss of the program deposit and any other non-refundable fees. Please view the full Financial Policy for details.  
 
Are there any scholarships for off-campus study?
Yes! If your student receives a Federal Pell Grant, we strongly encourage them to apply for the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship offered by the U.S. Department of State. More information and additional scholarship opportunities can be found here. Staff at The Lisska Center for Scholarly Engagement are available to advise and help students with their applications.
Will the courses count towards the Denison degree?
Yes! To receive transfer credit for an off-campus study experience, students must seek pre-approval for courses they will pursue on their off campus program by completing the Course Approval process with the Registrar’s Office, ensuring they stay on track with requirements. Students wishing to apply a course toward a major, minor, GE, or concentration requirements must receive approval directly from the relevant academic department/program. Failure to get approval for courses could mean that credits do not transfer back to Denison.  
 
How many courses are students required to take?
Students must enroll for a minimum course-load of twelve (12)  transferable U.S. semester credits for each semester of off-campus study, but may choose to enroll for up to 18 U.S. semester credits per semester. Additional charges may be assessed for each registered hour in excess of 18 hours. Students should consider these costs at the time they apply to the program and consult the Denison Catalog and the Office of the Registrar for advice and further details. A student may request twice during their Denison career to take up to 20 hours and request to waive the excess credit hours fee. Any such request should be submitted with this form to the Registrar's Office prior to the beginning of the semester in question. Hours that are not waived will be charged to the student’s account.  Additional requirements for students are listed in our OCS Handbook on Global Tools under the Academic Regulations section.
 
Can my student request academic accommodations during off-campus study?
Students seeking academic accommodations for OCS must contact the Academic Resource Center well before leaving for their program. 
 
How will grades from the OCS program appear on the transcript? 
All courses reported on the program provider’s transcripts are posted to the Denison academic record with course titles, credits, and grades. This includes any course for which a student receives a failing grade, even though credit will not be awarded. Grades earned during off-campus study do not impact a student's cumulative GPA. Additional requirements for students are listed in our OCS Handbook under the Academic Regulations section.
 
Can my student earn credit in an internship as part of an approved program?
Yes, internships abroad offer a great learning opportunity, and policies are posted on our website in the Academic Regulations Section.
 
Will my student be required to take a foreign language class while abroad?
Denison students studying in a non-English speaking country will be required to take a foreign language course offered by the program or partner university. This requirement is waived for students with a documented language disability accommodation on file in Denison's Academic Resource Center (ARC).

Can my student take courses in English, in a non-English speaking country?
Yes! The vast majority of our approved programs have English as the language of instruction. 

What should I expect when my student returns home?
Remember that this is a significant experience, and your student may change during OCS. They may be more independent, or miss their friends from their program. They may have developed new interests, changed some opinions, or compare their home to their study abroad location. This is a common, but temporary phase of returning home. We encourage you to help your student keep up with their new interests and friends, while re-engaging with a community at home that has also changed, and take advantage of this period to learn more about what their time away was like.