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UT Strengthens International Component with Freshmen Program

Published: August 30, 2010
For 32 freshmen entering The University of Tampa this fall, packing for their first year of college will include a passport and a map of the London Underground.

An opportunity usually reserved for upperclassmen, study abroad is now available for select first-semester students at UT. The 32 students will start their college careers at Roehampton University in London this fall as part of the new UT Freshmen Abroad program.

The students in the program will participate in a pre-departure orientation at UT. Then at Roehampton they will carry a full load of classes, can participate in extracurricular activities, will live in a single room in an American-style dormitory and will participate online in one of UT’s freshman first-year transition programs, Gateways or Pathways to Honors for students enrolled in the Honors Program. Once in London participants will receive an Underground pass and an international cell phone and will be eligible for excursions around Britain.

Plus, the students will pay approximately the same tuition and fees as if they were studying in Tampa. After the fall semester abroad, the students will resume their studies at UT.

Kevin Beach, associate dean of the baccalaureate experience , said the program will offer students a unique college experience that will benefit their future classroom experiences at UT. Beach, along with another UT professor, will lead instruction of the Gateways and Pathways to Honors programs utilizing instructional technology and a mid-term visit.

"The program attracts students who are independent, adventurous and who want to do something different than what everyone else is doing,” Beach said. “And, the program instills a lifelong appetite for intercultural experiences.”

Beach added that completing study abroad freshman year clears many of the obstacles students struggle with as upperclassmen.

"Students get involved in a routine, they get involved in athletics, they get in clubs and organizations or, they put it off for so long that they can't fit it into their curriculum," he said.

He added that students who complete similar programs at other universities often become campus leaders and advocates for study abroad.

Gary Luter, director of UT’s Honors Program and professor of speech, theatre and dance, said the freshman study abroad experience will be rewarding, especially for Honors students who elect to attend.

“Roehampton offers our Honors students opportunities they could not have in Tampa, such as access to renowned historic sites and world-class museums, galleries, theaters and more,” Luter said.

Freshmen year abroad programs are distinctive, with only a few universities offering them and less than 4 percent of U.S. college students participating. UT joins such institutions as Arcadia University, Syracuse University, Florida State University, University of Mississippi, New York University and Plymouth State College in offering such a program.

Dennis Nostrand, vice president for enrollment, developed Arcadia University’s program in 2003. He said students who show an interest in a college's freshmen study abroad programs are significantly more likely to come to the college than students who do not.

At UT, students were screened for admission to the freshmen abroad program. Only the top 20 percent of the entering class was invited to apply, and students were only accepted to the study abroad program after phone or in-person interviews.