Destination: Useful Information

Just because it’s unauthorized doesn’t mean it’s unreliable.

It means the authors are providing information that students want to know the most, including which international schools offer their program of choice, and which schools provide an abundance of campus activities.

The authors are able to provide such detailed information because both of them have studied abroad more than once a in total of seven countries between them.

Balaban and Shields start the book with brief but reasonably specific sections that describe some of the universal experiences that come from studying abroad.

One of those experiences include staying in a youth hostel and relying on a backup copy of bank records in the near-inevitable event of being robbed.

When it comes to the college profiles, the authors included all the standard, parent-solicited information, such as male-female ratio and tuition.

However students can read the same profile and find out if living spaces and the level of campus partying will meet their expectations.

Furthermore, Balaban and Shields provide some brief comparisons of foreign customs to that of American customs. The authors emphasized at least twice that being drunk in public is frowned upon abroad as well as in our country.

What is missing from this otherwise well-done guide are the colleges that don’t instruct classes in English.

Although this has changed over the years, language immersion still remains the top factor that drives a student to study broad. Therefore anyone who is seeking an international university that specializes in foreign languages probably will not find it here.

Some degree programs are not available through the universities listed here. Business, economics and liberal arts tudents will find information, but students of other majors will have to search a little deeper, unless it’s a major that is new or hasn’t spread beyond VCU.

Graduate students will probably not find this guide helpful because all schools are categorized as having undergraduate programs. Also, most of the introductory material is written for undergraduates or young people who are close to entering college.

Even though not all international colleges are listed, and even if you’re only studying abroad for the summer this guide can help you decide what school is best for you, and if studying abroad is a good option.

Unlike some statistics-based sources, the “Unauthorized Guide” won’t leave students uninformed and unprepared.

Rating: Three bookshelves.

Study Away: The Unauthorized Guide to College Abroad. Mariah Balaban and Jennifer Shields. Anchor Books. 288 pp. List price: $13.95. Available in paperback only.

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