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FAQ: Knox Off-Campus Study


Brenda Tooley

Director, Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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Frequently Asked Questions & Off-Campus Study Planning and Preparation Timeline

1. How long can I participate in an off-campus program?

A student can apply for a maximum of three terms (or two semesters) of off-campus study

2. Can I participate in more than one program?

Yes. As long as you make a compelling case for each program and you are aware of the difficulty for adaptation and reorientation that will come with switching cultures and/or languages. You will also need to think through the timing of visa applications, if you need two visas for two programs.

3. Do I still have to submit the application for approval to apply by February 1 even if the program-provider's application for admission deadline isn't until later in the spring or next fall?

Yes. Knox requires you to meet this deadline so that we can approve your application before the program provider requires your application for admission. This will also give you ample opportunity for any needed rewrites, completion of additional Knox coursework, or other additional paperwork.

4. May I still apply after the February deadline?

Late applications are not normally considered by the faculty off-campus study committee. You may contact the Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies with a letter explaining the late application. The College will assess a $100 late fee.

5. Do I need my parent's or guardian's signature on the Cost Estimate Worksheet & Financial Declaration of Good Standing at Knox form (and Student Contract form, a required form for students accepted into the Knox Besancon, Barcelona or Buenos Aires program)?

Yes, yes, yes!!!

6. How many letters of recommendation do I need?

For Knox College you need two faculty recommendations. If your program requests two or more faculty recommendations, you may ask the same faculty recommenders to provide letters for both the internal and the external processes. However, if your program provider does not require recommendations, or only one recommendation, you still need to get two recommendation for the Knox internal application process.

7. How are recommendation letters submitted?

The Knox application process ( - the Terra Dotta online application system) includes a recommendation module for the names and email addresses of your faculty recommenders, who will then receive email instructions about uploading their letters into your application account. You will also need to give clear and careful instructions to faculty recommenders when you apply to your chosen program's provider about how their letters are to be conveyed:  many programs have online application systems; some require letterhead for recommendation letters; a few still require snail mail letters sent directly from faculty recommenders.

8. Do my letters have to be from faculty members?

Knox requires that two recommendations be from professors. A third recommendation may be from a coach, mentor or supervisor.

9. How can I make a strong and convincing case for participation in the off-campus program of my choosing?

Applications will be evaluated on the clarity and persuasiveness with which they present the academic merits of participation in the proposed program. Among the qualities for judging academic merit are: the applicant's level of preparation, including attention to program prerequisites and the fit between the coursework on the proposed program and the student's major(s) and minor(s), and graduate-school and/or career aspirations. Applicants are expected to demonstrate their academic preparation for off-campus study by maintaining good academic standing. The applicant's short- and long-term plans are an important consideration. The applicant should work with her or his faculty advisor and/or with the faculty program advisor in preparing the application, especially the Study Plan form and application essay. The off-campus committee does not approve all proposals, but it does endorse strong, reflective, meritorious applications. Strong applications show how the plan of off-campus study fits into the student's curricular goals and long-term interests. They show careful research into the chosen off-campus study program. They include positive faculty recommendations.

10. What if my grade point average isn't stellar?

Knox requires all approved applicants to be in good academic standing. Applicants with a GPA below a 3.0 can strengthen their application essay by providing a paragraph describing how their academic performance demonstrates appropriate preparation for the demands of off-campus study. It is still possible to be approved for off-campus study! The committee may require an improvement in grades in the trimesters between application and participation. Note that program providers may have strict GPA requirements of 3.0 or higher.

11. Who decides if my application for permission to study abroad or off campus is approved?

The Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies first asks the faculty program advisor for each program to evaluate all applications. The applications are then reviewed by the faculty off-campus study committee (composed of faculty, the director of the Stellyes Center and an associate academic dean). In some cases, the committee will ask to interview applicants or request additional information before making a final decision on an application.

12. When will I find out if I'm approved by Knox?

Knox will make every effort to notify you by the end of Winter term. Notifications will come through campus mail (be sure to set approval for emails from so that the email doesn't hit your spam filter).

13. What if Knox does not approve my application?

Read carefully the rationale for having been denied. If you feel there has been a misunderstanding or you want a chance to have your case heard again, you may appeal the decision. Contact the faculty chair of the off-campus study committee or the Center director: your appeal will go to the committee for reconsideration based on additional information you provide or will be referred directly to the Dean of the College. A second appeal may go directly to the Dean of the College, who will render a final decision or in special cases ask the Curriculum Committee to review the application. You may apply again for permission to study abroad in the following year: it is often the case that the next year's application is much stronger and will be approved.

14. If Knox approves me, what happens next?

Approval by Knox for permission to study abroad / off campus does not automatically admit a student into their requested program of study (with the exception of the Knox Barcelona, Besancon and Buenoes Aires programs, where the Knox application is the only one required and will be reviewed by the faculty of the modern languages department).  Approved students may begin the process of applying for admission into the program of their choice. Each program provider has a different process. Approved students may visit the Stellyes Center to review the next steps for their particular program (for example, IES, ACM, CIEE and SIT have on-line application systems; DIS and FIE accept a list of approved students directly from the Stellyes Center at Knox and will reach out to students about next steps in their online application and information portals, and so on). Students should begin corresponding directly with their chosen program provider, watching closely for application guidelines and deadlines.

15. What if Knox approves my application but the program provider does not?

This happens. If you still wish to study off campus, contact the Stellyes Center for Global Studies for assistance in identifying another appropriate program for your intended area of study. You will not need to complete a new Knox application to apply to another program in this case.

16. Do I need to pay the program deposit to the program provider or does Knox pay the deposit?

When a student is accepted into a program, a deposit is usually required to secure the student's place in that program. Knox does not pay these deposits. Students pay these deposits directly to the program providers (i.e., ACM, DIS, IES, SFS, SIT, CIEE). Later, this deposit will be deducted from your off-campus study bill.

17. If I do not need all 4.5 credits for a semester program, can I sign up for 3 credits?

No. Program providers base their fees on participants' enrollment as full-time semester students and fees are not reduced even if a student enrolls in fewer classes. Usually, a 3 credit load (in Knox's terms - that is, 3 courses) is still considered full-time by the program provider, and therefore they still charge Knox full price. Students should know that their need-based financial aid is calculated on their enrollment as full-time students, so each student needs to take enough credits on their off-campus program to retain full-time student status. Knox College allows both need-based and merit financial aid to travel with students on approved programs (in varying percentages based on the semester/term of the chosen program).

18. May I study abroad in my sophomore year?

Yes, but you should expressly address your choice of timing in your application essay, explaining why you want to study abroad in your second year of college, what academic preparation you have made for the experience of study abroad, and how an earlier-than-usual experience of international study on the particular program you have chosen will help to shape your academic career at Knox. You'll need to make a good case for the timing, the choice of program, and your readiness for the experience. You will want a good set of grades in your first fall term as evidence of academic ability (the application process requires that you upload a transcript - you'll have fewer courses on record than sophomores applying for study abroad in their junior year).

19. Do I pay Knox tuition?

Yes. You will pay Knox tuition (a semester is half of the total tuition for the year; a term of tuition is just the same as if you were at Knox). You will also pay the *program provider's* fees instead of Knox room and board fees - you will want to research carefully what is covered (for example: meals? housing? some meals but not all? some in-country transportation costs for program excursions? supplemental health and accident insurance?) and what out-of-pocket expenses you will need to budget for. Each program is different (*and some programs have different fees for fall and spring semesters as the semesters vary in length).

20.  What happens if I withdraw from a study abroad program I have selected?

This depends on when you withdraw.  If you withdraw soon after receiving approval from Knox to study abroad / off campus and before you have submitted a non-refundable deposit to your chosen program provider (or to the Knox business office for a Knox study abroad program), there are actions you need to take to be sure you are well set for courses and housing, etc., at Knox instead of abroad.  If later:  Be aware of your chosen program provider's deadline for notification of withdrawal from the program after which your tuition and fees will not be refunded or will be refunded only in part.  It can be more expensive to cancel a study abroad experience at a late minute than to continue with your plans for the semester abroad. Do not proceed deeply into the application process if you are profoundly uncertain about your financial ability to afford the experience - the deposit you will be required to pay to your chosen program provider will be non-refundable; your ability to withdraw from a program just weeks before it begins has serious financial consequences.  In every case, you will want to inform the Stellyes Center, the Registrar, the Dean's Office, the Student Billing Coordinator and Housing of your decision as soon as you have made it.

21.  I am an international (F1 Visa) student at Knox - how does study abroad work for me?

International students will want to be sure to work closely with the Knox Office of International Student Services to ensure that your passport and student visa are valid and up-to-date (and will remain up to date beyond the term of the study-abroad experience) and that your I-20s will have a valid travel signature when you return to the United States. If you are only going to be gone for one term, the Associate Director of ISS signs the I-20 form before you leave; if for longer (a semester or two or more terms or a year), ISS makes arrangements to send an updated I-20 before you return to the States. If you (international student) are studying off-campus but within the United States, you will want to keep on hand an up-to-date I-20 form and valid passport but do not need a new visa.

Off-campus Planning and Preparation Timeline

First-year Students

Fall term

  • Be on the watch for the Study Abroad fair in October. Here you can collect brochures on the different programs available to Knox students and visit with program representatives.
  • Attend the Study Abroad info sessions offered during Fall Institute Day in October.

Spring term

Begin discussions with your parent(s) and advisor on study abroad options.

Create a list of pros and cons for different programs / destinations / lengths of stay.

Sophomore / Junior Students

Fall term

  • Stop by the Stellyes Center for Global Studies (Alumni Hall) for materials in the resource room and conversation with the Director.
  • Meet with your academic advisor to discuss study abroad options. Start working on your educational plan (the Study Plan will be a form you complete in the internal Knox application for approval process). Choose which term(s) you will be gone. Share your ideas with your advisor to be sure your plans are workable and will not slow your progress toward your degree.
  • Choose coursework that prepares you for the specific off-campus experience(s) you've chosen. Discussion with faculty advisors and mentors where you want to go and why - and if you plan to use any off-campus credits toward major or minor requirements.
  • ATTEND the Application Workshop held at Fall Institute Day in October. This is MANDATORY.
  • If the program you are applying to is NOT pre-approved by Knox, you will have earlier deadlines than everyone else. Find out what additional application processes are required  by contacting the Stellyes Center for Global Studies (basically, you will complete a petition to apply for a non-approved program in the Terra Dotta system; the deadline is always in the first week in December).
  • Begin exploring external scholarship options such as the Gilman, Boren and Foundation for Education Abroad programs.
  • Attend information sessions and luncheons with visiting program representatives, faculty advisors and returned students.
  • Before you leave campus for winter break, contact faculty recommenders to request letters of recommendation (make sure you let the faculty member know you won't need the recommendation until you return in January, and that she or he should watch for an email from the application system with instructions about uploading the letter into your application file - tell them to watch for an automated email from Make arrangements by email to visit the Coordinator of Student Billing in the Business Office in Old Main to complete your Financial Declaration form in January - schedule ahead, sharing information about your program choice and the term or semester in which it will occur.
  • Open your application account in the Knox online application portal, (the Terra Dotta application system). You will be charged a one-time per year administrative fee (no matter how many programs you apply to - for example, if you are applying for one program for fall semester and another program for spring semester).

Winter break

  • Over winter break finalize plans with your parent(s). Their signature is required on the Student Contract (for the Knox Besancon, Barcelona and Buenos Aires programs) and on the Financial Declaration form mentioned above. You will find these forms in the Knox online application portal, (the Terra Dotta application system).
  • Begin writing your off-campus application essay. Share the essay with your advisor or a writing tutor and ask for feedback.
  • Apply for a passport or renew your passport if necessary (be sure that your passport's expiration date is six months beyond the end point of the program you have chosen).
  • Check into competitive scholarships such as the Gilman, Boren and Foundation for Education Abroad programs and, if you are eligible, begin the application process. Find out if your program provider offers its own financial scholarship programs (most do).

Winter term

  • YOU will need to take several steps in the month of January. Plan ahead!!
  • Your Knox internal application for approval for study abroad / off-campus study is due February 1.  In several cases, programs may have an even earlier deadline and thus the Knox internal deadline is earlier (i.e., ACM/GLCA Japan Study and IES Oxford programs). Late materials require special permission and incur  $100 late fee.
  • Meet with your advisor to confirm your plan and complete the Study Plan form, which you will then upload into your application account.
  • Meet with the Student Billing Coordinator in the Business Office to review programs costs.
  • Request a free unofficial transcript from the Registrar's Office and upload it into your application account.
  • Revise your application essay.
  • If you did not request faculty recommendation letters before you left campus in November, ask for letters of recommendation at least two weeks in advance of the Knox deadline. It is okay to send a follow-up reminder if the letters have not been uploaded into your application account by late January.
  • By the end of Winter term, you will usually find out about Knox approval (via email - be sure that your spam filter does not block If Knox approves your application, you are ready for the next steps. In most cases, this means that you apply directly to the program provider of your chosen program. Most have online application portals; a few programs simply need a list of students from the Stellyes Center. Check with the Stellyes Center to see if your program is one of the few that accepts a roster of students from Knox. Usually, you'll NOW complete the application for admission into your chosen program on your program provider's website.

Spring term

  • Be sure to stay in good academic standing.
  • Make sure you get your FAFSA paperwork in for financial aid.
  • Let the Stellyes Center for Global Studies know when you are notified by the program provider of your acceptance (or, sadly, in some cases, denial) or if you change your mind and no longer plan to study off-campus in the following year. YOU MUST LET THE STELLYES CENTER KNOW if you decide not to study off-campus as this affects your billing!

Summer vacation prior to departure

  • Prepare by reading about your host country.
  • Keep language skills fresh by reading newspapers, watching films, and conversing with native speakers. There are several on-line services that allow you to practice with native speakers through Skype and other platforms.
  • Brush up on U.S. politics and current events. Many people you meet abroad will want to discuss these with you.
  • U.S. citizens: Register with the U.S. State Department's STEP: Smart Traveler Enrollment program - this is a free service allowing U.S. citizens and permanent residents traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

While you are off campus

  • Send your advisor and the director of the Stellyes Center a progress report. Are you learning what you expected to learn? Are you meeting the goals you outlined in your application essay?
  • If your plans change, contact the Stellyes Center for Global Studies immediately.

Returning to Campus

  • Attend the Welcome Back luncheon or dinner sponsored by the Stellyes Center for Global Studies.
  • Make yourself available to students exploring study in the same program or in the same part of the world.
  • Consider submitting a photo to the ACM photo contest. Watch for the announcement in the fall term.
  • If you expect to use some of your off-campus coursework toward major or minor requirements, you will need to fill out the appropriate form with your advisor. This won't happen automatically.
  • Consider how best to incorporate your study-abroad experience into coursework, community engagement and career preparation. Visit the Career Center to talk about presenting the skills you have developed in your resume. Consider the Peace Corps and/or World Teach.
  • Don't hesitate to seek counseling if you experience reverse culture shock - many students do experience this. It takes time to re-enter, just as it took time to acclimate to a new place. Be patient with yourself.
  • Don't allow your experience to disappear! Share your experiences in classes and through clubs. Get involved in I-Fair and other, similar events. Reach out to help welcome international students to campus. Engage in a research or Honors project focusing on your host country.

Knox College

Printed on Tuesday, April 24, 2018