Trimester Abroad FAQ

Who participates in the Study Abroad Program?

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors in good academic standing that are interested in having an off-campus experience. Students must also be in good standing with the office of the Dean of Students, and have demonstrated a pattern of contribution to the community. All students must have parental consent. Freshman cannot participate in the study abroad program.

How do I know if I am ready to go on a Study Abroad trip?

“Readiness” looks different for each student. We found that there are two key elements students should have in order to make the most of their experience:

  • Being open to different cultural norms, habits, and expectations. Above everything else including language proficiency-what opens the door to a profound study abroad experience is the individual’s willingness to be curious about, and see value in, the experiences that they confront each day while they are abroad.
  • Collaboration: One of the most challenging and rewarding parts of a group trip is finding a way to help the group grow while honoring your own needs. In order to be a successful member of a study abroad group, students should be prepared to act in the interest of the group, which may mean individual sacrifices.

What is the process for applying?

Interested students need to complete the electronic application

Do I need to speak a non-English language to participate?

We offer a fall trimester abroad to The Bedales School in England where you will work entirely in English. For trips to countries for which their primary language is not English:

  • You need a level of language comprehension and speaking that will allow to operate successfully with those in your community abroad.
  • Typically, students have successfully completed or are currently taking Level III of the target language when they go on these trips.
  • Putney students have such incredibly varied backgrounds with regard to language, that we don’t have a set language level cut-off. We do, however, need to believe that you have the capacity and the attitude that you will need to thrive.

Who leads the Study Abroad trips?

In most cases, Putney School faculty leads the programs. In the past, we have had Putney alumni lead trips, or in-country coordinators overseeing a student’s experience rather than a designated Putney School leader.

Do I earn academic credit for going on a Study Abroad trip?

If you are in the class of 2019, you will earn two academic credits for your study abroad experience (assuming you stay fully engaged during your time abroad):

  • One is a general graduation credit.
  • One is applied to the language department for the non-English language (Chinese, Spanish, or French) that you use during your trip

If you are in the class of 2020, you will not earn any academic credit for your trip, but you will have the opportunity to document your experiences while abroad and to present your work when you return. We anticipate that students will be able to make significant progress toward meeting their competencies in areas such as art, history, and language.

How does going abroad for a term impact my classes and schedule?

  • Given the structure of the academic trimester year, in the two trimesters students are on campus, they are able to complete a year of study for most classes. For instance, if you went abroad in the winter, you could take your year of precalculus in the fall or spring.
  • By being off campus for a trimester, students do lose some flexibility and opportunity for taking classes in that year. We recommend that students work closely with their advisor to make these decisions.

How does going abroad for a term impact my language study?

Students who participate in trips to countries where they will be using Chinese, French, or Spanish as their primary language will have an opportunity to sit with a member of the language department when they return and make a plan for future language classes. Often this plan involves moving ahead in language level.

How does going abroad impact the college process?

  • If you go abroad as a sophomore, you should work with your advisor to make informed decisions about which classes you take in the two trimesters you are on campus.
  • If you go abroad as a junior, you may miss some opportunities for taking standardized tests and some college planning with the college counselor.
    • If you are off campus in the fall, you may be able to take the PSAT while you are away.
    • If you are off campus in the winter, you will miss the first trimester of the college planning seminar. This includes seeing your transcript for the first time, registering for SAT and ACT tests for the spring, and starting to build a list of college ideas. We encourage students going away in the winter to begin these conversations with the college counselor in the fall.
    • If you are off campus in the spring, you will miss the second trimester of the college planning seminars. This includes the typical dates for most juniors to take the ACT-April and the SAT-May. You should work during the fall and winter with the college counselor, advisor, and parents/guardians to:
      • Plan for taking the ACT and/or SAT at another time (fall of senior year, for instance)
      • Start the Common Application process
      • Plan for college visits
  • If you go abroad as a senior, you may miss some of the college planning process with the college counselor or some of the college application process.
    • If you are off campus in the fall, you will:
      • Miss some counseling support for the college application process. You will want to speak with the college counselor in the spring of their junior year to plan for summer work and will want to be in communication with the College Counselor and College Office throughout the summer
      • Want to have taken the SAT and/or ACT tests before you leave in the fall
      • Want to make a plan for visiting colleges, as the fall is a common time for seniors to visit.
    • If you are off campus in the winter, you will be away for some of the later months of the college application process–particularly for Regular Decision applications. If some of your deadlines aren’t until January or February, you should submit all of your college applications by the end of December.
      • If you will be applying to art, music, or theater schools, you may miss the window for auditions and portfolios, so you will need to plan ahead for these.
      • Admissions decisions will likely arrive during this time. You should make a plan with your parents/guardians on how to  handle this.
    • If you are off campus in the spring, you will be way for the months when seniors are receiving the last of the admissions decisions and financial aid packages. You will want to:
      • Make plans with parents/guardians for receiving and responding to these packages.
      • Make plans with parents/guardians to respond to colleges to which you’ve been accepted.

Do colleges look favorably on high school students going abroad?

Yes. Here is a quote from a college admissions officer: “Studying overseas for a summer can be an excellent way for younger students to expand their worldviews, master a new language, and enhance their college applications. Most importantly, the experience of living in a foreign country at that age can influence and mature a student in ways they never could have imagined otherwise… Studying abroad is not just another extracurricular to add to your list, but an overarching experience that says so much more about you than most other items on that list ever could… there is no doubt a study abroad experience helps students stand out in the admissions process… Participation in a study abroad experience signals that students possess a certain level of maturity and are equipped with the skills necessary to thrive in college… It communicates that students are accomplished global citizens who can use past experiences to enhance both their own education and that of their peers… The experience allows you to prove to colleges that you are capable of more than the average student… It shows that you can adapt to new environments and excel in them and it can give you the skills of a leader and a collaborator… Studying overseas as a high school student can also help prepare you to handle the independence of college life.”

What are the expenses associated with participating in this program?

Most of the expenses of these trips are assumed by the school. Families are responsible for airfare and incidentals while abroad.

  • Airfare for trips range from $600 – $900.
  • Students report that they spend between $200 – $500 per trimester while abroad. This spending greatly depends on the student and the location.
  • This program is supported and sustained through our boarding program. Day students have an additional cost of $2,500 to go abroad. If families are willing to host a student in the trimester exchange program, the cost for participating in the study abroad program is $1,500.

When do these trips happen?

These trips happen throughout the year. Some opportunities exist in multiple terms and some are term specific.

What happens to my dorm room and roommate when I go abroad?

When you go abroad, our goal is to have as little disruption to your dorm life as possible. Given that each year we have a different number of boarding students and students who participate in the study abroad program, we cannot guarantee that each boarding student can return to “their” dorm when they return from studying abroad. We are committed to early and clear communication about the process of remaining or changing dorms and/or dorm rooms.