College guidance

Experiential opportunities for students to learn beyond the classroom

In this post, we share how colleges are helping students gain a global perspective during their undergraduate course through research in world class labs, community service, student exchange programs and internships in leading companies.

Devika Bhattacharya
October 14, 2022
4 min
Experiential opportunities for students to learn beyond the classroom
/* Media query for screens with a width of 1600px or more */
Experiential opportunities for students to learn beyond the classroom

International students are not satisfied with their learning being limited to the classrooms or even a single campus. They are looking for more. Holistic higher education prepares students for a successful professional and social life as well.

Speaking at the Cialfo Student Festival, university representatives explained why they have created such programs, how they are implemented and what advantages they bring to the student community.

Global education through collaboration

For students going to college in the present times, all the world's a stage. Though they take admission to a single university, they get access to many campuses. This is enabled by the collaborations between colleges and student exchange programs. Studying and doing research work in world-class facilities adds to the learning experience. 

Moreover, as students interact with an international community, they absorb the cultural and linguistic richness, which hones them as global citizens. Hence, leading universities have introduced such programs.

“We have a Chinese student who went to Peking for the program, and an Indian student who chose to go to Europe to have a real global experience. You attend the classes in a partner university and the credits are transferred to us at the end of the course.”

Kathleen Meagher, Global Learning Coordinator, University of York

Unique study opportunities for students

Universities design a variety of programs for which students can opt. They are curated to fulfill the needs of students with different needs. Here are the five types of programs that are most popular:

  • 4-10 months of study abroad- Students can attend classes in another country in a partner college. For instance, Imperial College London has a collaboration with MIT in the US that allows students to gain research experience in world-class labs, under the guidance of the best faculty. The learning is planned in such a way that it covers a part of the curriculum.

“We offer a study abroad program through what is typically called a Sandwich year, where students go to a different university for a year and study that part of the syllabus. They then return to us in the final year and carry out the dissertation.”

Beau Garry, International Officer, Imperial College London 

  • 3 months to 1 year of internships- A golden opportunity for students can be learning professional skills during their college. They can work in leading companies for a span of up to a year, and get trained in various facets of their chosen industry. Students with such experience are given preference when it comes to job placements.
  • 4-6 weeks of faculty-led programs- Some colleges have specific short-term programs where a faculty leads a group of students to another college. These programs are focused on a subject or a topic that is covered in-depth through experiential learning. They usually relate to the subject that students have chosen for their majors. The University of Houston and Cornell University have a rich range of faculty-led programs.
  • Service learning- Some colleges include community service programs as part of their curriculum. Students get a chance to work on issues related to sustainability and economic development. 
  • Cultural and language immersion program- Ranging from 2 to 8 weeks these programs stress learning a new language, cultural study in a different country, and participating in traditional activities. 

Advantages of opting for student exchange programs

Whether students want to spend a whole year in another country or on campus, or simply want a few weeks of learning experience, some programs suit their varied needs. In every format, these programs help students become more valuable to employers.

  • International internships: Students gain the opportunity to work in global companies through internships, varying between 4 to 8 weeks. Employers, especially global companies, prefer students with international training and experience in research. 
  • Research experience: By conducting research in world-class facilities, students add value to their degree and can pitch for scholarships. They can take up capstone projects and find solution to real problems.
  • Work on SDGs: Sustainable development goals are an important aspect of corporate policies worldwide. By engaging in programs promoting the SDGs, students boost their professional scope. The University of York assists students to work on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through the SDGs in Action Student Challenge, where students work with mentors at campus and develop sustainable solutions.
  • Scholarships: Leading colleges provide bursary or scholarship for student exchange or study abroad programs, which covers the cost of travel, accommodation, and basic tuition. 
  • Develop soft skills: Communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creative skills get a boost by going to a different country to study and spending time with international faculty, as well as the student community. 

Ample support is provided by universities to ensure that this program is not an additional burden or does not digress from the course pathway. 

“You are going to meet an Academic Advisor, who will look at which classes you want to take while you are studying abroad, and see how they fit in your curriculum. We want to ensure that these classes are exclusive to any classes you have taken in Manhattan. Many times the academic advisor is going to be on the trip with you.”

Jeanne Rupinski, International Recruiter, Manhattan College

Requirements for student exchange programs

Though the programs are available to all students, there are some qualifying criteria that they should meet for availing the opportunities and scholarships. Each program may have different conditions, but here are some general requirements.

  • Academic qualification: Students must be vigilant of their grades if they wish to apply for a study abroad program. Anything above a 3 GPA is considered good by most colleges.
  • Approvals: Some programs require the student’s eligibility to be approved by the faculty. Also, in the case of some research programs, students ought to secure an invitation by the faculty at the target university.  
  • Documentation: Students need to get documents for the visa and insurance in order. They can obtain assistance from the student support department at their university.
  • Cost of study: If students need the scholarship to support the cost of their studies abroad, they should fulfill the requirements related to qualifications, projects, etc.
  • Accommodation: In some cases, the university might provide accommodation facilities to visiting students. If not, then students will have to arrange for the same.

Many universities that are part of Cialfo’s 1000+ strong network offer unique study opportunities to students. These colleges have collaborated with universities across over 50 countries to provide a comprehensive learning experience. Students can opt for the International Research Opportunities Program (IROP) at Imperial College London, and also avail bursary that covers a part of the cost.

“If you don’t opt for the year-long study abroad program, but want a flavor of what research and collaboration look like in another country, the IROP program gives a really good opportunity to gain experience in world-class labs.”

Beau Garry, International Officer, Imperial College London 

Another popular program is Manhattan College’s One LaSalle program for Liberal Arts students. At Lingnan University, 80% of students opt for exchange programs every year. They have a Service learning program, providing global learning opportunities. Students get travel sponsorship and scholarships.

York University in Canada partners with 300 colleges globally and offers study abroad programs, Global Networked Learning, faculty-led programs, and global internships. IE University has a provision to split the course so that a student spends two years at the home campus and the other half at any partner university through an exchange program.

Such learning opportunities beyond the classroom form a deciding factor for students when shortlisting colleges. Whether it is a study abroad program or internship opportunity, students gain from their experience beyond academics. Students can search for courses in over 50 countries and explore the university profiles on the Cialfo platform to make the right choice. 

Listen to the webinars and learn more about the unique study opportunities available for students. 

Fill out the form below

Opt in for monthly updates

Thank you for your interest! A member of our Partnerships Team will get in touch with you in the next 24-48 hours.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a head start on your Australian undergraduate journey

Find out more about how Cialfo supports applications to all Australian universities, while giving you a fee waiver on your first application.

Get helpful insights on higher education.

Join the Cialfo Community for full access to expert insights, past webinars and up-to-date tips on the college admissions process.

You might also like this

College guidance
Pursuing sports in US colleges

The US is the premier college destination for student athletes worldwide. Here's what you need to know about pursuing sports in a US college, from scholarships to NCAA eligibility.

Read More
College guidance
Applying to art school: Choosing the right program

Going to art school? Learn from experts on how to choose the program that's right for you.

Read More