UW-Stout: JUMPSTART: Scotland invites first-year students to precollege experience

Incoming first-year students who are attending University of Wisconsin-Stout this fall are invited to step out of their comfort zone and into a renovated medieval Scottish monastery.

JUMPSTART: Scotland is a precollege study abroad experience in which students live and learn in Scotland for a month, exploring new cultures and landscapes and meeting new people in a supportive and collaborative community.

The new summer program is designed to build students’ global awareness and a better understanding of the world around them as they develop confidence and gain independence before attending UW-Stout in September.

JUMPSTART: Scotland will be held from Sunday, June 26, to Friday, July 22, 2022, and is offered through the university’s Office of International Education. The application deadline is Tuesday, March 1. Capacity is limited to 20 students.

The OIE is excited to offer this unique and innovative program, said Interim Assistant Director Andria Morse, the program coordinator.

“There are only a few universities and colleges in the U.S. that offer precollege study abroad programs for incoming first-year students,” Morse said. 

“Graduating high school seniors are prime candidates for study abroad because they are excited about college and are open to accepting change and new ideas.”

Scotland-themed courses and excursions

The JUMPSTART living-learning community at Newbattle Abbey College, a renovated monastery in Dalkeith, is just seven miles from Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh.

Students will complete two Scotland-themed general education courses led by UW-Stout instructors, who also offer precollege guidance and mentorship: Scottish Storytelling, with Mitch Ogden, associate professor in the English, philosophy and communication studies department; and Design Thinking in Society, with Dave Beck, interim associate provost for Partner and Student Engagement.

Ogden is excited for his class, which will incorporate ancient folklore from the Isle of Skye to today’s spoken word artists in Edinburgh.

“Scotland has a culture fully invested in language and history and place – all of the essential elements of storytelling,” he said. “Students will find both familiar continuities with stories they know and feel all of the mystery of foreign tales.”

Beck and Ogden began teaching at UW-Stout in 2011 and became fast friends. They each have experience teaching study abroad summer programs in Scotland, and Beck returned for a semester on sabbatical. They believe Scotland is a transformative place and that Edinburgh is both comfortable and inviting to explore.

Between classes, there will be coordinated social activities and excursions in and around Edinburgh, a three-day trip to the Scottish Highlands, and trips to the Isle of Skye and Loch Ness.

“The whole JUMPSTART experience is meant to help students enter college primed to learn, explore and wonder. Spending a month in Scotland, building their confidence and fueling their curiosity – I can’t think of a better college prep experience,” Ogden said.

Beck agrees. He has taken students to numerous castles, cairns and cliffs across the countryside.

“The experience truly is the perfect transitionary summer journey between high school and college. Scotland embodies the true sense of the meaning ‘olde world,’ by proudly embracing its history and wild landscape, all with a dash of humor mixed in, usually while wearing a kilt,” he joked.

The estimated program fee of $5,900 includes tuition, round-trip flight, accommodation, majority of meals, in-country transportation, excursions and cultural events, international insurance and applicable fees. Financial aid may apply for students who have completed their 2021-22 FAFSA.

Moving from a palace to a monastery

JUMPSTART: Scotland was slated to begin in summer 2020 at Dalkeith House, an 18th century palace managed by UW-River Falls and its Experience Scotland program. However, the program was canceled in April of that year because of COVID and was postponed again last summer.

During the pandemic, UW-River Falls’ lease ended at the Dalkeith House. When UW-Stout’s Office of International Education searched for another location to begin JUMPSTART: Scotland this summer, faculty requested to keep the program in Dalkeith due to the familiarity of the area and the lower cost compared to Edinburgh or Glasgow.

“Although the Omicron variant is currently spreading quickly across the globe, we anticipate that the situation will improve significantly in the short term as more people become vaccinated, boosted and immunity increases,” Morse said.

The OIE conducts extensive risk assessments on its overseas partner programs before sending students abroad.

“Statistics show that students attending a precollege program are more than 49% likely to study abroad again,” Morse added. “Students attending the program will bring a global perspective to the classroom from day one of their first year, and it will benefit their personal and professional careers for years to come.”

Nearly 60 UW-Stout students are studying abroad between fall 2021 and spring 2022. An additional 13 students are studying in domestic programs through the National Student Exchange.