A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it’s better than no inspiration at all. ~Rita Mae Brown
Study abroad programs are advertised with deadlines, which do not mean much if enrollments are lower than expected. Because program fees and profit margins are established by a predictable number of payees (enrollees), anything less can drive a program into the red. If this happens, then program personnel have three choices: (a) to take a loss, (b) to cancel, or (c) to extend the application deadline. Most will opt to extend their deadline en lieu of the other two choices, unless a negative profit margin is part of the start-up business plan.
If the application deadline has passed, you may still be able to get into a program. When space is available, and warm bodies are needed to make a program cost-effective, your chances are good, provided that you meet the minimum requirements. The deadlines for Summer/Fall programs are usually between February and May. The deadlines for Spring programs tend to fall between September and November. Although deadlines may be extended, study abroad offices get busy around this time of year, and therefore may not get around to posting them right away. Don’t assume you’ve missed the boat; ask.
If you’re applying after the deadline, chances are you’ll have to do a number of other things late, too. So, look before you leap. You may need to apply late for a passport, obtain a visa, sign up for courses, make sure you have enough financial aid, visit your doctor for a physical checkup, get recommended and required immunizations, have your courses pre-approved, arrange for your housing, and purchase your airfare. This is why it is always better to apply early, because the time it takes for passports and visas doesn’t fully depend on you.
Believe it or not, it is possible to obtain a same-day passport. You must provide proof that you are leaving within three working days to qualify for this same-day service and you typically have to go to a major passport office (like Chicago or D.C.). It takes about four to six hours to process. I knew a professor who was denied entry on the plane because her passport was due to expire within 6 months. She had to pay an extra $60 for expedited service, but she was able to get a new passport and get on a plane the next day.
This is a partial excerpt from the latest updated edition of Study Abroad 101 by Wendy Williamson.