June 17, 2019

GEO Announces New Study Abroad Finance Policies

by Rachael Baldigo ('20, Staff Reporter)

Students listen to a lecture during the Gordon Orvieto program. Photo from Gordon.edu.

Gordon College President D. Michael Lindsay announced this past August that the Global Education Office had incorporated a new policy which limited the number of students approved to study abroad to 25. This kept some from being able to study abroad and made others concerned that they might not be one of the chosen students in future semesters.

On the 29th of January, 2019, Jewerl Maxwell, Dean of Academic Initiatives and Global Education, announced to students in a new email that the cap was a “one semester policy”. There will no longer be a limit on how many students will be approved. However, there will be a limit to financial aid given overall, and approved students will have their financial aid reassessed. These policies apply to non-Gordon semesters only and do not impact the Gordon In Orvieto or the Balkans Semester programs.

Maxwell explained that this policy change was due to the many students and faculty who were discouraged by the cap on the overall number of students. He said, “We wanted to make sure as many students as possible could have the opportunity to study abroad.”

One student who suffered from the previous policy is Tori Thompson ‘20, who tried to apply to the LA Film Studies Program for the 2019 spring semester. She had planned on going her junior year since coming to Gordon. “They deferred me to go Fall 2019. I tried to push back because I am also a history major and have to take a mandatory class that the history Dept only offers in the fall. The GEO office still said no and that I could go in Spring 2020.” Because of this change, Tori decided to not go abroad due to other commitments.

When asked how the previous policy affected students Maxwell said: “to our knowledge, all eligible students who were not able to attend in Spring 2019 had space in their schedule to study abroad in a future semester.” In Tori’s case, this was a personal decision she had to make, but a few other students also faced a similar dilemma.  

Maxwell further explained “The policy in August was a recognition that as an institution we wanted to balance fiscal stewardship with global engagement opportunities. It was also a response to the fact that while short-term international experiences have significantly increased for most colleges across the United States; fewer Gordon students have taken advantage of short-term experiences over the past five years. As a result, we were able to help subsidize our international seminars for the first time.”

Since the change, Maxwell says that they have received much thanks and approval from students, and went on to say that the Global Education Office does not want to make studying abroad a system of ranking students; he hopes that this new policy “will result in more students getting engaged globally.”

Digging deeper into the numbers, Maxwell shared, “all students will still receive their full allotment of financial aid if they attend one of Gordon’s own programs – the programs in Orvieto and the Balkans.” The programs are recognized as two of the top programs among CCCU institutions and Maxwell noted that if a  student is concerned about affordability, they should consider either Orvieto or the Balkans. He also explained that many students who opt for a non-Gordon program will probably be “surprised to find out that even if their fees increase for a given semester, the increase will be relatively minor in most cases.”

According to Maxwell, Gordon’s history of supporting global engagement is “second-to-none among Christ-centered institutions” and expressed that GEO hopes to continue to inspire students to get involved in global engagement activities “through semester abroad, short-term international seminars, missions, or even the many intercultural opportunities that exist on the North Shore and the Greater Boston region.” Maxwell said that students are welcome to contact him directly with any questions.

This policy will continue to be in effect for the foreseeable future as the GEO “feel[s] that the current policy will allow for the highest number of students to study abroad, while at the same time maintain good financial stewardship.”  The deadline to apply to study off-campus at a non-Gordon program during the Spring 2020 semester is March 31, 2019.

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