BCA Study Abroad recommends that you begin planning early for your custom program. Typically, we like to begin working with faculty and their study abroad office at least one year in advance of the program. This allows us the time to work through all of the program details together and for BCA to have ample time to identify unique, local elements for your program such as guest lecturers in topics related to your course, visits to related organizations, etc. However, we may still be able to help with programs that are happening in less than a year, so please do contact us to see if we can help.
The steps outlined below provide some basic guidance on how the program planning process works
Contact BCA About Your Custom Program
Approximately one-year (or longer) before you are hoping to run your custom program, contact us either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing our custom program form on the website. In many cases this will happen after you have had an initial conversation with the Study Abroad Office at your institution and have an understanding of the customized program, or faculty-led, program process there. In your correspondence to BCA, provide some basic information about your program such as:
- Program Location
- Program Dates
- Program Discipline/Topic
- Your Contact Information
BCA Review and Further Discussion
BCA will review your initial request and respond quickly. In our initial review, we will consider if we are able to help facilitate your request based on the program location, availability of on-site staff, and other bookings. For programs that we are able to support, we will be in touch to request more information and set up a time to speak with you. By having a phone call discussion with you early in the planning process, we are able to better understand your needs and gather the information that we need to submit a detailed proposal for your program.
In the event that we do not feel that we are able to offer our services for the program, either due to issues of availability or concerns over providing high-quality resources that meet our standards, we will communicate that information quickly in order to give you an opportunity to explore other options.
BCA Submits Program Proposal
Typically, within six weeks of the original contact BCA will submit a detailed program proposal to you. This proposal will clearly outline the inclusions and exclusions for the program. At this stage, the proposal is still customizable and you should feel free to contact BCA with any questions or concerns. Our aim is to work with you to ensure that we have created a program that fits your needs, meets best practices for customized programs, and provides a quality experience for you and your students.
Once the proposal has been fully negotiated, it should be forwarded to the appropriate person from your institution for signature. Each institution has their own procedures regarding this step. We encourage you to be in touch with your Study Abroad Office to determine the policies and procedures early in your planning.
BCA holds a pre-departure webinar session with the faculty leader(s) and a member of your Study Abroad Office staff (if possible). During this session we discuss general health and safety topics, the final program itinerary, and answer any questions that you may have. In most cases, this session will include members of the BCA Central Office staff and the BCA resident director or representative that will be the on-site contact for the group.
We are also able to participate in, or host, a pre-departure orientation webinar for student participants. This allows us to review important health and safety information with students prior to departure, as well as to answer some common questions about climate, culture, travel tips, and packing advice. A pre-departure guide, specific to the study abroad location and program, is also created for each program and sent to the faculty leader (s). These can be distributed to students as a helpful pre-departure resource.
On-Site Orientation & Support
Each BCA program will begin with an on-site orientation focused on local culture, health and safety, and practical suggestions about things such as money, communication with home, etc. These orientations are led by the BCA resident director or a BCA representative who will then be available to the group for the duration of the program. The level of on-site support varies per program and is negotiated during the proposal phase. In some cases, a BCA representative will travel with your group for the duration of the program and will be present for most, if not all, group activities. In other programs, the BCA representative will meet the group upon arrival, lead the orientation session, and then remain available to contact 24/7 in case of emergencies.
In an effort to improve upon our services, BCA will ask faculty leaders to complete a post-program evaluation. This evaluation will be brief and will help us to work with you, and other groups, in the future.