Ohio State’s Office of International Affairs launched a new search engine on its website making it easier for students to look for study abroad options.
The new tool helps students narrow their search for programs by dividing it into eight categories — country, language, academic course subject, scholarship options, region, academic term, program length and type of study abroad program.
“The search engine is much easier to understand and is open 24/7,” said Grace Johnson, director of the study abroad program.
The new search engine was launched in August 2011 at no cost to the university, Johnson said.
Melissa Poeppelman, a fourth-year in architecture, said before the tool was created, she learned about her study abroad option through talking with fellow classmates and fliers in academic halls. Poeppelman said the process seemed frustrating to get all the necessary information.
“There were questions I didn’t know about. I had to ask other students,” Poeppelman said. “In terms of frustration, the search would’ve been helpful.”
Alexis Barnhart, a second-year in English, needed a program in a French-speaking country that was less than a year long. Barnhart used the new search engine to help her find a study abroad program in Quebec and several options in France.
“It was a springboard into searching for a program. It helped me out a lot and helped me narrow it down,” Barnhart said. “I like how there are a lot of categories and ways to look at things.”
Other students had to find more difficult time searching for programs.
Lindsay Fisher, a third-year in actuarial science, had specific qualifications when choosing her independent program in Australia. For example, she needed it to be during Winter Quarter 2012 and have a generic course of study.
“I looked for one through Ohio State, but didn’t work,” Fisher said. “I needed a general program with academic courses. I Googled online and searched for different programs.”
Fisher said the new search engine could have helped her out when searching for a program.
“It took me a while to find a program,” Fisher said. “With something like that, it would have been a lot easier.”
As the search engine is a great start to finding a study abroad program, Johnson said it is only a start to the study abroad process and “is still important to talk to (program) coordinators” at OIA.
Barnhart agreed that the search engine is only the beginning to organizing study abroad.
“I think it’s a really great tool, but you also need to talk to people about it too,” Barnhart said. “It’s a great starting tool. I looked online and then talked to a French adviser.”
Approximately 2,000 students travel and study abroad per academic year, and numbers have increased steadily from 1,600 in 2009 to about 2,000 in 2010, Johnson said.
OSU offers more than 100 programs in more than 40 countries, according to Office of International Affairs’ website. Students can also learn about study abroad program options in information sessions, meetings and the study abroad expo, Johnson said.