"I could scream about not taking advantage of travel abroad opportunities. I will never have that opportunity again."
Amanda R., 23, Abington, Massachusetts
One important thing about your college search process is that if you know that you want a specific opportunity in college, you need to find a school that offers that. Sometimes, we don't know that we wanted that opportunity until we are at that university and see it in front of us, but if you want to do something, this is the time to do it.
Almost all four year colleges and universities offer study abroad programs to their students. Each institution will have a different format and process for traveling while in school. Some will have the traditional semester or year-long programs, while others will have shorter programs for third terms and summer semesters. No matter the set up, it is important to research the destinations of these trips and the process for getting accepted into that study abroad program and travel experience.
In my case, both colleges/universities that I heavily pursued in my Senior year of high school, offered study abroad programs. Specifically, I wanted trips to France or French-speaking countries. (French was one of my majors) One institution offered a semester-long trip where the class spent time in Canada, France, and Senegal. The other offered a five week trip to Paris. Both universities though had study abroad opportunities to other countries and locations, so I knew that these universities would be a good fit for the experiences I wanted out of college.
My first suggestion when researching a college is to browse their website and the different aspects of it, ie: Campus Life, Diversity Office, Athletics, Study Abroad, Work Study. You'll also want to look at the student newspaper's website to see if they discuss students on study abroad programs. My second suggestion is that if there is something you think you might want to do in college, pursue it more and ask the college's Admission Counselor to explain more in depth about those opportunities on campus. Also, don't hesitate to ask a tour guide or a student phone caller when you get the chance!!
The two or four years that you spend in college are some of the best years of your life; before you are married, have kids, are employed full-time, have more bills to pay ... etc. Take advantage of every opportunity that a college education and college experience can give you, but most of all ...
enjoy the chase,
P.S. Living in Paris during the Spring of my Sophomore year was one of the best experiences I've ever had. I was already paying the tuition, so the fee for the trip was only a couple thousand dollars more (which is cheap compared to the cost of travelling independently). You make amazing memories on these trips with people who become your best friends! Disclaimer: My parents and I saved for this from the time I graduated high school until the day I left for Paris.