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When students think about spending a semester abroad in Paris or Beijing, few think about doing it in their final year of college. This year however, Penn has seen a marked increase in the number of seniors opting to study abroad. 

According to data from Director of Penn Global Nigel Cossar, seniors made up 30 percent of the total students currently abroad. That is nearly double the percentage from the past two academic years

Credit: Gillian Diebold

Cossar said the office is pleased to see the increase in seniors and suggested that Penn Global's marketing may have had an impact.

“We’ve been working very hard at Penn Abroad to make it known to seniors that its not too late for them to study abroad," Cossar said.

But while more seniors are choosing to spend their final months as a student abroad, the total number of Quakers abroad has fallen. This fall, only 194 students are abroad — the lowest number in recent history. This is due in part to the shift of On Campus Recruitment from the spring to the fall, which has discouraged students from jetting off in the fall. 

Of the 194 students, 57 of them are seniors. Some students suggest that seniors might be insulated from concerns over OCR given that they are more likely to have secured jobs or internships for post-graduation, and thus less likely to be involved with job-hunting. 

This was the case for Wharton senior Jameson Mah, who is currently studying abroad at Cambridge University in Cambridge, England. 

“I got my junior year internship very early, it was my top choice, and the group had a very high rate of return offers," Mah said. "I felt very comfortable I wouldn’t have to recruit senior year, so my senior year would be relatively free.” 

Mah added that he felt studying abroad in his senior fall could be “the best of both worlds” since more senior Penn traditions occur in the spring. 

"I think if I look back on my last year, I went from Penn to New York for my internship, then to study abroad, and then back to Penn to finish it off," Mah said. "That’s a very diverse experience. I think other people wished they could’ve had that, as well."

College senior Summer Osborn, who is spending her semester in Cork, Ireland, delayed her acceptance from junior year to go abroad senior fall in order to spend more time with her upperclassmen friends during their final spring at Penn.

“There’s a lot of lasts that happened last fall that I didn’t realize were going to be lasts," Osborn said, reflecting that her choice meant she would never experience another New Student Orientation. "I am happy, I think, to have some sort of different experience."

Some seniors, however, said they didn't have the choice to study abroad before senior year.

Nursing senior Liat Greenwood, who is currently studying abroad at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said the Nursing School only allows nursing students interested in studying community health to go abroad senior year.  Other nursing programs in Australia and the United Kingdom, which focus on medical surgical rotations, are offered to juniors.

"I actually applied to Penn knowing that this program happened senior year and wanting to do this program as part of my Penn experience," Greenwood said. Three other Penn seniors are currently in the Israel program with Greenwood.

According to Cossar, other seniors abroad are located in many of the other popular fall destinations for Penn students such as the United Kingdom, Spain, Australia, France, and Italy. 

Correction: A previous version of this article stated 57 seniors were studying abroad in the fall. The article has been updated to reflect that 55 seniors are studying abroad this fall. The DP regrets the error.

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