Seniors study away

Bellamy Richardson, Executive Editor for Features

Many juniors choose to take breaks from the Purple Bubble to study away and return refreshed for their senior years. But each year, a handful of seniors decide that their penultimate semester is instead the perfect time to study away. 

Director of International Education and Study Away Christina Stoiciu gave insight on why students choose to study away during their senior years. “We have a very small number of students that do so every year, roughly 5-10, for various reasons,” she explained. “Because we are a residential college, traditionally, junior year has always been the ideal time to study away.” 

Stoiciu also brought up the requirements that students must fulfill to graduate. “Seniors need to be mindful of completing major requirements including thesis, capstone and colloquium work,” she said. “Seniors also need to be sure to have completed their coursework and earn a transcript in order to be eligible to graduate on time.”

With all of these logistics to keep in mind, studying away during senior year can seem tricky, but for Belle Furman ’20, senior fall was the perfect time to go abroad. Furman is currently in Budapest, Hungary, where she is studying math. 

“I didn’t start the math major until spring of sophomore year, so academically it didn’t really make sense to go abroad junior year because I hadn’t taken enough upper level math classes yet,” she said. “Socially, a lot of my closest people were in the class of 2019 so I wanted to be on campus when they were.”

Some students who study away as juniors  have such great experiences that they choose as seniors to pick up where they left off at the end of the previous year. Kelvin Tejeda ’20 and Angela Yu ’20 are both currently at Harvard University, where they studied during their junior spring. 

Tejeda is enrolled in Harvard’s Visiting Undergraduate Student program, which lets him take any class at Harvard College and at most of the university’s graduate schools. Mostly intended for international students, the program accepts a small number of domestic students each year. 

“I definitely recommend studying away if you start having a hard time picking classes you’re really interested in or you just feel you need to leave the campus for a while,” Tejeda said. “I chose to study away because I wanted to experience a more hands on approach to learning and I knew Harvard offered that.”

Even though studying away is highly recommended by students and faculty alike, it can be a big decision that requires careful consideration. “I would absolutely recommend studying abroad, but it really depends on what each person is looking for,” Yu said. 

“If you’re enjoying your time at Williams or just started to hit your stride, I don’t think there’s any reason to leave,” Tejeda said. 

Stoiciu encourages students to meet with their academic advisors to plan their study away itineraries. “Some majors have coursework offered one semester or another so early planning is key,” she said. “Co-curricular factors come into the decision of when to study away, including athletics and clubs or organizations that students are involved with here on campus.”

Alternatively, Stoiciu also recommends the Williams-Mystic program for sophomores who want a head start on studying away. “It is a great opportunity to study away early in the Williams academic career and earn distribution requirements in an experiential setting,” she said. “Still for others, studying away for the entire junior academic year is ideal for language immersion and deeper cultural understanding. No two goals for studying away are the same. I encourage students to think deeply about what they are hoping to gain or achieve from studying away [and] how that might help them enhance their experience at Williams.”

Studying away can foster love for a new place, but it can also strengthen appreciation for the College. When asked if he missed the College, Tejeda said, “Of course! I love Williams. If anything, my time away has just reaffirmed how great Williams is. The school just takes care of you in ways you don’t really appreciate until you don’t have it anymore. I enjoy Harvard a lot, but Williams will always be number one for me.”