Travel Applications Increase

by Grant Rodgers

At the priority deadline on Sept. 28, the total number of applications for enrollment in May term travel courses outshined last year’s applications, and many students were left standing in the dust.

While exact percentages contrasting this year and last year cannot yet be calculated, 179 applications have been received thus far. Both faculty and staff view the increase as positive. But it also presents some challenges.

“This year we had a situation that we haven’t had in the recent past where we had a significant number of applications come in for two courses over what those courses could accommodate,” Jay Wilkinson, international program coordinator, said. “Unfortunately, we had to send out a good number of messages saying ‘I’m sorry, you weren’t accepted into the course for which you applied.”

Junior biology major Katie Sullivan was aware of the difficulties of being accepted into a program.

“I was freaking out that I wasn’t going to get in,” Sullivan, who was accepted into Renaissance and Reformation in Italy, said. “I think my essay helped. I wrote about how important it is for doctors (Sullivan’s career goal) to understand other cultures.”

For sophomore biology major Zach Lancaster, the decision was not what he hoped for.

“Going in I knew it’d be kind of hard being a biology major applying for a history trip, but I was disappointed that I was not accepted,” Lancaster said.

While Wilkinson understands these students’ disappointment, he stressed that other travel courses remain open for enrollment and encouraged students to investigate on the May term website.

“The priority deadline has passed, but that does not mean we are done,” Wilkinson said.

The increased number of applications put a strain on Financial Assistance as well. Although students can normally obtain an international studies loan, all the money has now been allocated to students.

“If students have not been in to see us already, they will not get May term loans from Simpson,” said Tracie Pavon, assistant vice president and director for financial assistance, said. “However, if a student has a co-signer with good credit and they too have good credit, there are options out there.”

Assistant Professor of History Rebecca Livingstone, who will co-teach the course heading to Italy, suggests that certain elements make an applicant more noticeable.

“One of the things that weighed pretty heavily for us was the essay,” Livingstone said. “It’s the one part of the application where a student can really become more of a personality.”

Wilkinson echoed this advice, and encouraged students to really make an argument.

“It’s got to be for an academic reason,” Wilkinson said. “It has got to explain why the topic of this course is really interesting to you and how it fits in with the rest of your coursework.”

Livingstone still insists that students should have the experience sometime during their college career even if they were denied travel this year.

“It’s just an absolutely great experience to get outside the United States and see a different culture,” Livingstone said. “You can read about just about any place in the world but being able to actually experience it is priceless.”