Leap Semester nearly postponed, application deadline extended


Zoë Haworth

Leap Semester nearly postponed, application deadline extended

By Campus Reporter

Days after Columbia announced a new international studies program to the college community, the college called for a delay in the scheduled January 2017 launch and extended application deadlines to accommodate a new Spring 2017 Semester beginning.

Then the college reverted back to the original launch date.

The Leap Semester program would allow students to study abroad, work full time, and take online classes through the Business & Entrepreneurship Department.

The program was announced in an Oct. 18 Student Loop email and to faculty and staff in an Oct. 20 email from Senior Vice President and Provost Stan Wearden. Leap Semester is a 12-week program created in a partnership with the Experience Institute, an educational organization specializing in study abroad programs.

The program will pair students with companies in Buenos Aires, Dublin, Hong Kong, Paris, Santiago, Seoul, Singapore and Sydney, according to Columbia’s Leap Semester website.

According to Senior Associate Provost Suzanne Blum Malley, the organization’s program complements Columbia’s curriculum.

“Given what Columbia does, and the way they’ve designed their experiences, we’re kind of a natural partner,” Blum Malley said. “Our agreement is to try it this year and see how it goes.”

Blum Malley said the Leap Semester was approved by the Business & Entrepreneurship Department in September and by the School Curriculum Committee in early October.

In an Oct. 25 email sent to The Chronicle, Blum Malley said the program will offer four courses, two are existing courses in the Business & Entrepreneurship Department, and two are exclusive to the program. The existing courses include “Business Writing” and “Internship.” “Business Operations” and “Entrepreneurship Case Study” are new, Blum Malley said.

Victor Saad, founder of the Experience Institute, said the program will immerse students in the culture of a country more than other study abroad programs.

“You’re not just in [a] classroom filling another requirement,” Saad said. “No offense to study abroad offerings, but a lot of times, they’re just another college experience.”

Saad said Columbia would be the first college to offer Leap Semesters to its students. Students who wish to participate in a Leap Semester will pay for the program with Columbia tuition and can use financial aid, Blum Malley said, but housing and travel costs will not be included.

According to Columbia’s Leap Semester website, the average cost for housing is $3,500, and the average cost for travel is $1,000.

However, the program did get off to a confusing start. On Oct. 26, college spokeswoman Anjali Julka sent an email that said the Office of the Provost determined that the launch would be postponed to Summer 2017, and students would be able to participate during the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 semesters.

“The Office of the Provost determined it needs more time to implement the program to ensure the best possible learning experience for students,” the Oct. 26 email stated.

In an Oct. 27 email to The Chronicle, Julka said after further review within the same day, Blum Malley determined that the program would not be postponed and is still on track for its January 2017 launch.

“[Leap Semester] discussions will continue and details will continue to [be] reviewed and finalized,” the email stated.

Saad said the deadline to apply, originally Oct. 28, was extended to Nov. 11 after students expressed the need for more time during an informational meeting held Oct. 25.

According to Saad, the goal of the program is to encourage students to take ownership of their education.

“This Leap Semester should help students start their career sooner, build their portfolio sooner, [and] help them think differently about education,” Saad said.