After being accepted to and enrolling in unique summer programs, many students were disappointed to learn that they no longer had summer plans.
Students who planned on participating in the Penn-in-Venice, Buenos Aires and Athens summer abroad programs were notified by email that the courses had been eliminated.
Penn-in-Venice was canceled on January 18, Penn-in-Buenos Aires on March 15 and Penn-in-Athens on March 22.
Executive Director of the College of Liberal and Professional Studies David Bieber said that the programs were canceled because not enough students had signed up.
“They were canceled [due to] lack of enrollment — low interest from the students,” he said.
The minimum enrollment varies as each program can function with a different number of students.
“[The programs] all vary in size, anywhere from 35 or 40 down to 15 or 13,” Bieber said. “If there’s insufficient enrollment, that means that we don’t have tuition revenue that will cover the cost to run the program.”
Penn Summer Abroad is trying to accommodate students who still wish to participate after their program was canceled.
“We encourage students to look at the portfolio of offerings and see if there is something else that they might be interested in,” Bieber said. “And since they’ve already gone through the application process, we can facilitate their review.”
College sophomore Rachel Pester, however, was only interested in the Penn-in-Venice program.
“Kind of the whole point for me applying to Penn-in-Venice was that I take Italian as my language at Penn, and I still have two more semesters of it to take,” she said. “So that would have been nice to a) immerse myself in the language and get better at Italian, and b) knock out my Italian requirement for the College.”
Pester also saw this as her only opportunity to study abroad at Penn, which made the cancellation more upsetting.
“Because I’m a transfer student, I can’t study abroad and finish all of the credits that I want to, if I want to get the two minors that I want to get,” she said. “I hadn’t completely set my mind on it, but I definitely was upset that they canceled the program.”
College sophomore Hannah Sanders, who was originally enrolled in Penn-in-Buenos Aires, decided to switch to the Penn-in-Madrid program after the unexpected cancellation. Since she would be taking Spanish classes in either program, the transition was rather simple from a logistical perspective.
“They offered to transfer our applications to the Madrid program,” she said.
While the decision wasn’t an automatic one for Sanders, she decided to enroll in the Madrid program anyway.
“I’ve been taking Spanish since I was in eighth grade, and I’ve always had the idea that study abroad or immersion is the best way to solidify all of your knowledge,” she said.
Both programs would allow her to complete her certificate in Spanish. Nevertheless, Sanders would have been happier studying in Argentina rather than in Spain.
“I wasn’t as excited about Madrid as I was about Buenos Aires,” she said.
The uncertain ordeal caused her anxiety about what to do with her summer.
“It was a little stress that I didn’t need at the time,” she said.
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