Community College Study Abroad Programs provide instruction by accredited faculty to community college students in foreign locations. Programs range from single-subject two-week courses for minimal credit to full semester with a full academic load with instruction in arts, foreign languages, humanities, natural and physical sciences, social sciences, and occupational fields. Travel and living arrangements are typically arranged by the college, a 3rd party provider, or both.
Community college student population mirrors a multicultural and multiethnic mixture of local communities. Therefore, community colleges tend to serve a greater proportion of lower income and minority students than in any other post-secondary institution. This is also evident in study abroad programs offered by community colleges.
Numerous studies confirm the benefits gained from studying abroad for all students, and especially for under-represented students. Benefits for all students from studying aboard include definite changes in perception and attitude towards global relationships, increased empathy towards politics and social service, significant learning curve growth in interpersonal skills, academic performance and reduction of cultural stereotypes. While short-term programs may not allow beginning language learners to gain in terms of grammar skills, they do gain in life experiences. For 1st generation or immigrant students, all forms of study abroad provide an opportunity to re-learn their own cultures and histories. For students who have not traveled beyond their own neighborhoods, studying abroad becomes a life altering experience. In addition, Study Abroad is typically looked upon favorably by universities and employers.
Study abroad is a recognized investment in the future ability of the student to interact in our multicultural world and assists them as they transfer to a four-year institution or as they proceed into the workplace environment. Most importantly, however, is that what benefits four-year college students in terms of study abroad also benefits community college students.
Many CCIE member colleges belong to other consortia that specifically emphasize study abroad cooperatives, and which have ties to single study-abroad contractors. There is no conflict of interest in belonging to CCIE and to these other study-abroad consortia:
- Foothill Consortium for Study Abroad, includes: Antelope Valley College, College of the Canyons, Citrus College, Crafton Hills College, MiraCosta College, Mt. San Antonio College, Palomar College, Rio Hondo College, San Bernardino Valley College, Victor Valley College. Citrus College is the fiscal agent and lead college;
- Northern California Study Abroad Consortium (NCSAC) : Santa Rosa Junior College, Contra Costa District; San Mateo District; Los Rios District;
- Study Abroad Consortium of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community College Association: MiraCosta College, Miramar College, Mesa College, San Diego City College, Grossmont College, Southwestern College, and Imperial Valley College;
Study Abroad is distinct from study tours in that they have a university accredited curriculum, that frequently matches transfer requirements and provides WSCH based funding (ADA). Similar to regularly scheduled classes, study abroad provides the college with state funding based on an established ratio of faculty to student contact hours. As such, study abroad class hours must match the state-mandated measurement of teacher-to-student contact hours per unit per semester.
Study Abroad adheres to the community college “open door” philosophy, as it includes all ages, aptitudes and backgrounds without sacrificing academic standards. Students are not denied an academic experience since they have a choice of taking classes either abroad or on-campus since a domestic section is always offered. Therefore there is no exclusion to academic experience. As in all academic programs, some pre-requisites may exist, but for the most part, neither GPA, campus standing, nor disabilities can figure into admittance into the study abroad program. Finally, community colleges are bound by their mission to offer high-quality and low cost academic programs which enables opportunities for all students to participate. The open access philosophy makes study abroad accessible to many students who would not otherwise participate in these educational endeavors. The diversity of students, and the academic open access policy does not fit a traditional higher educational profile for study abroad.
Indeed, community colleges have become the place to expand opportunities and challenge the notion of higher education as an elitist venture intended for only the few and are significantly impacting the field of study abroad.