5Cs diverge on study abroad policies for the spring

Many students stand on a green quad in front of a long white building.
While Scripps College and Claremont McKenna College are allowing students to study abroad in Spring 2021, Harvey Mudd College students will not be studying abroad and Pomona College and Pitzer College will come to a decision later on in the year. (HuxleyAnn Huefner • The Student Life)

Veronica Show HM ’22 had hoped to study abroad during college. 

She applied to University of Edinburgh in Scotland twice — for fall 2020, and then spring 2020. But after Harvey Mudd College suspended study abroad for the fall and spring semesters, Show said she will have to postpone her hopes for an experience abroad until graduate school.

“I’m a bit upset but I expected it and have come to terms with it,” Show said via email. “It was something I was really looking forward to.”

Pomona College and Pitzer College also suspended study abroad for fall 2020 but have yet to make a final decision on spring study abroad.

However, Scripps College and Claremont McKenna College will not prevent students from studying abroad in spring 2021 and will instead evaluate situations in particular countries on a case-by-case basis to determine if students can study abroad.

Pomona to announce decision on spring study abroad by Nov. 2, will not allow virtual programs

Pomona allowed students to apply for study abroad programs for next semester “under the condition that sufficient improvement in traveling and public health conditions will be needed in order to move ahead with study abroad for spring 2021,” Nicole Gowdy, Pomona’s director of study abroad, said via email.

In an email sent to Pomona’s study abroad applicants, students were told they can expect a decision regarding spring programs from the Travel Risk Advisory Committee by Nov. 2. 

The email also mentioned that Pomona will not approve travel to countries that have been designated Level 2 or higher by the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory due to COVID-19 or Level 3 and higher by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Warning.

Currently, the only locations that meet Pomona’s standards are Taiwan and Macau, two places where the college does not have established programs. 

According to an Oct.1 meeting hosted by the Office of Study Abroad for prospective study abroad students, students are not allowed to apply to backup programs and cannot apply to study abroad if they are currently on a leave of absence unless given approval by the Study Abroad Committee.

Pomona will not support full-time virtual study abroad programs, Gowdy said.

Pitzer to evaluate study abroad on a ‘case by case basis,’ possibility of total cancellation

For now, Pitzer has taken a new approach to study abroad for fall 2020. With first semester study abroad programs suspended, students currently have access to fall courses taught by the study abroad program directors, as shared via Instagram

A July update from the college said it “[plans] on running” study abroad programs in spring 2021. However, a September email from Pitzer’s Office of Study Abroad said that in the current state of the pandemic, “spring 2021 study abroad is looking less and less likely.”

While some spring programs have already been canceled, the Pitzer Office of Study Abroad has considered evaluating programs on a case-by-case basis, according to the email. 

But whether the programs happen or not will also depend on if other countries feel “comfortable having visiting students from the United States, “which of course, is the epicenter of the pandemic,” the email said. However, there is still the possibility of all spring 2021 programs being canceled by Pitzer.

Many prospective study abroad students are upset to learn of their dwindling chances to go abroad. 

Daniel Molina PZ ’22, who had planned to go to Berlin, Germany, said via email that if spring programs are canceled, “It would eliminate my chances of going abroad altogether.” 

With recent program cancellations, the Pitzer Office of Study Abroad said it is still planning to run “special summer programs” in all of its direct-run program sites if conditions allow “to try to accommodate students who missed out on a semester abroad but who can still go abroad over the summer.”

Scripps will allow students to study abroad

In spring 2021, Scripps College students are currently permitted to study abroad, a continuation of the policy for fall 2020. The ability to study abroad will hinge on the comfort level of students and their families and the determinations of program partners based on regional standards and a program-by-program basis, Neva Barker, director of Study Abroad and Global Education, said via email

“The main challenges are just having to deal with the coronavirus itself. I haven’t faced any particularly challenging moments in planning my career abroad,” Alejandra Butcher SC ’22 said.

Butcher plans to go to Paris in spring 2020. She had planned to study abroad her junior spring early on, needing to study abroad for her French major. 

As for virtual study abroad programs, they will be considered on a “case-by-case basis,” according to Barker.

Three SAGE students are studying in domestic programs this semester, and there are currently no students studying abroad in SAGE programs. 

Students have the option to defer their participation in study abroad programs to a future date. However, students deferring participation to their senior year must make arrangements to ensure that SAGE participation will not conflict with their senior seminar and thesis requirements.

For students on a leave of absence in study abroad programs, credits will not be counted toward a Scripps degree.

“All students must be approved by the Scripps processes set by the Committee on Study Abroad (COSA) and remain enrolled as Scripps students to receive credit from any semester program not on the campus of a US institution,” Barker said.

This is the same policy across The Claremont Colleges. HMC, Pomona, CMC and Pitzer also do not allow the transfer of credits earned on leave in study abroad programs. Pomona’s policy is the most stringent students on leave cannot even apply for study abroad programs, according to their website.

CMC will allow students to students to study abroad, encourages back-up programs

CMC will not prevent students from studying abroad in spring 2021.

“CMC continues to work with students planning to study abroad for spring 2021,” Kristen Mallory, Center of Global Education director, said via email.

The college and prospective study abroad students are focused on health, safety, academic content and course availability, according to Mallory. 

However, with host country travel restrictions and other COVID-19 conditions likely to lead to program cancellations, CMC students planning to go abroad have been “encouraged to apply to back-up programs and destinations,” Mallory said.

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