Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Zac Clark Contributor
Arriving as a on-campus junior during fall quarter at Kalamazoo College can feel strange. The awareness of feet planted on U.S soil rather than traipsing about the globe is reinforced by the river of photos taken by friends and fellow students, downloaded from iPhones and digital cameras, and shot out of social networks and blogs. It is almost constant.
Junior class dean Ed Menta remarked that such students used to be known as “deviants.”
“We [juniors] have a sense that we don’t have a community on campus. Almost as if we are doing something crazy by being on campus,” said Katherine Curley K’14.
As one of those that remain, I initially believed isolation was inevitable. Instead I found it hard to avoid finding a face from the class of 2014.
This fall 40.8 percent — or 175 out of the 296 students that make up the class of 2014 — chose not to study abroad, according to the Student Census Report compiled by the Office of the Registrar. This number does not take into account those that will study abroad in the spring of 2013, those that have studied away or those that plan to study away.
“[In] the dataset compiled from the graduates of the classes of ’10, ’11 and ’12 the study abroad participation rate was 80 percent,” said Associate Provost for International programs Joe Brockington in an email.
One possible explanation for the 20 percent gap may be a financial one.
K does not cover airfare costs, a policy they implemented during the 2011–2012 school year.
“There are now travel subsidies awarded to students based on a scale of financial need,” said Director of Financial Aid Marian Stowers in an email.
Airfare funding is tiered according to financial need as determined when a student files a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
“There may also be 10-15 students a year whose airfare is covered by private funds or grants,” Stowers added.
Luisa Garnica K’14 had no problem with finances, but instead “wanted continuity.”
As a four-year international student who studied away in Philadelphia in the spring of her sophomore year, Garnica “was interested in going to France — but I wasn’t interesting in feeling frustrated or limited all over again.”
She feels comfortable at K because of her familiarity with professors, students and campus resources.
Curley also had no problem with airfare and was accepted to the Budapest program for neuroscience.
“I had my heart set on it,” she said, “but I found that attending university in Hungary would conflict with plans for graduate school. I felt that graduate school was more important than going to Budapest.”
Dana Allswede K’14 was accepted to her program in Chile, but fell ill late last year.
“I got sick at the end of spring quarter and withdrew from the program three weeks before my flight date,” Allswede said.
Menta thinks students should make the best decisions for their own education.
“My personal hope would be that students would take advantage of one of the many SA [study away] programs at K – since we have a such long history of doing it so well – but if they do not, whether it’s because of a Spring SA program in [s]oph year, family, finances, or something else, we want them to have a junior year that is special for them, and one where the really can contribute as leaders to the life of the campus,” he wrote.
As for Allswede, she said: “I made my peace with it.”