Webster University’s study abroad program has regained its position as one of the best in the country. Webster was one of the 1,608 colleges and universities surveyed in U.S. News World and Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” 2012 edition.
After not receiving this distinction in the 2011 edition, Webster was one of 27 universities to be featured on the “Academic Programs to Look For-Study Abroad” list this year.
In the 2010 edition of “America’s Best Colleges,” Webster’s study abroad program was one of 34 ranked. This is the ninth consecutive year U.S. News has compiled such a list.
“I’m always 100 percent confident in our programs,” said Carrie Mosebach, study abroad advisor. “So when I saw (this year’s ranking) I was like, ‘OK, we got it back!’ because last year it was a real disappointment to us.”
To compile this list, U.S. News invited faculty members from over 1,500 schools across the country to nominate institutions they thought had excellent examples of study abroad programs.
Mosebach said major components of Webster’s study abroad program’s excellence are its international campuses and the fact the university has set aside scholarship funding for airfare. She said that is “really a huge indicator that we want students to go.”
Mosebach said she did not know why Webster did not make the list last year. She believed it could be attributed to the fact that U.S. News may only count the number of U.S. citizens studying abroad from each school when researching for the list. She said approximately 25 percent of Webster’s study abroad students aren’t citizens, and most likely aren’t being counted by U.S. News.
“Our students are still going abroad,” Mosebach said. “They’re just going abroad here (the Webster Groves campus).”
Webster’s study abroad rate is about 40 percent, Mosebach said, while the “America’s Best Colleges” 2012 list placed its rate at lower than 34 percent.
“We are honored and proud to have our study abroad program ranked,” said President Elizabeth Stroble. “Webster is one of just 27 institutions to share this distinction. That, in itself, is exciting news for us. Even more so, when you consider the other schools that merited this special recognition.”
Webster was named along with schools such as Duke University, Dartmouth College, Columbia University and New York University in this year’s list.
Emily Congdon, a junior graphic design major currently studying abroad in Vienna, said she’s heard a lot of complaints from non-Webster students studying abroad on Webster’s Vienna campus. They said it is because of the difficulty of transferring to another school just to study abroad.
“They have to go do all these things and fill out forms and everything with their school that they also had to do with Webster,” Congdon said. “But, because we’re through Webster, we only have to do that process once, and we’re directly connected to the people that can help us with it.”
Congdon is from Peoria, Ill., and said she came to Webster mainly because of the study abroad program.
“It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, “Congdon said. “I feel like you can’t really go to Webster and not consider studying abroad. I think that’s the definition of Webster, honestly. That’s the reason you go.”
Webster’s application for studying abroad asks applicants why they chose to do so.
“I wish I could tally how many students write, ‘I came to Webster because of study abroad,” Mosebach said. “There are so many.”
In addition to having the study abroad program ranked, Webster was also placed No. 28 in the Regional Universities-Midwest category, a list it has been featured on for the past 11 years. Webster was ranked first in its class — Regional Universities-Midwest — in the St. Louis area for the third year in a row, and given a position on the “A+ Schools for B Students” list.
“While we are proud to receive these recognitions,” Stroble said. “We are more proud of the work for which we received the recognitions and those who make Webster distinctively excellent: our faculty, staff and students.”
U.S. News World and Report’s complete 2012 list of “America’s Best Colleges” can be found at http://usnews.com.