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From Peer Advisors to Program Assistants

Guest Blogger: Kaitlin Kuhl

As we head into the 2014-2015 academic year, the Study Abroad Office is seeing a multitude of changes. With the goal set to send more students abroad in the future, current staff have been working on ways to reinvent the study abroad message and its outlook. One of the biggest changes the office is undergoing is replacing the Peer Advisors with Program Assistants. As the Study Abroad Office looks to hire recent study abroad returnees to fill the former Peer Advisor position, the office has taken the initiative to give these students more responsibility and sponsorship for the hard work they demonstrate in the office; thus, we are changing the job title from Peer Advisor to Program Assistant.

Program Assistants work to find a program that fits for students and guide them through their application process

For those who don’t know who Peer Advisors are, these students are the front line for those who want to go on a study abroad program. Although Peer Advisors facilitate outreach events and aid the office with general day-to-day operations, often times Illinois students visit the Resource Room in the Study Abroad Office in order to talk to a Peer Advisor about where they should study abroad. Peer Advisors are knowledgeable on the range of programs offered by the Study Abroad Office and can assist students with finding a program that meets their academic, personal and professional needs. When assisting students, Peer Advisors must also be sensitive to a student’s financial means, academic standing and personal limitations. As Peer Advisors, we lead the student through the process of choosing a program and aid them in applying. Peer Advisors are often the ones who help students in the post-acceptance process as well. Whether it is the course approval process or filling out the host institution application, Peer Advisors are knowledgeable on everything that must be completed in order to participate on a study abroad program.

So then, why the name change from Peer Advisor to Program Assistant? The Study Abroad Office wants to recognize the work that the Peer Advisors do and complement their knowledge. It is because of their work that students are able to go abroad. Although area advisors deal with institutions and partners abroad, broker agreements and manage student applications, Peer Advisors are the ones who are able to get students to apply when they might have thought that study abroad was out of the question. As a team within the Study Abroad Office, Peer Advisors hold and share the most knowledge on the options available and the process that needs to be followed in order to study abroad.

It is the Peer Advisors who are able to assist students to find

a program that meets their academic, financial and personal needs. Without Peer Advisors, most students wouldn’t know how to even

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begin looking for a program. With that said, it is time that the office recognizes the Peer Advisors as more than just study abroad returnees who aid students with the study abroad process because it is the Peer Advisors who truly keep study abroad alive.The new Program Assistants will be distinguished for their incredible knowledge on all the programs available, their work with office operations including facilitating with applications, and will aid in joining the campus-wide goal to send twice as many students abroad in years to come.

Come meet the new Program Assistants this Fall semester to get help finding the right program for you!