Offering students the chance to study abroad is a unique opportunity they may not be offered often after leaving college. At Georgia Tech, the Campus Recreation Center partners with the professional education program and the division of student life to offer the opportunity of going on an international spring break scuba trip.
This year the trip will take place in Cozumel, Mexico from March 19 through the 24. The event is open to students, faculty, staff and community members. The mission of the partnership is to educate and inspire environmental awareness through certification programs and trips.
Debbie Dorsey, director of administration for the division of student life at Georgia Tech and Jim Consuergra started the excursion due to their passion for scuba diving. They found that by partnering with the Campus Recreation Center the efforts can be shared and not forced upon one person to plan the entire event.
“Classes are taught at the Campus Recreation Center, registered through the professional education program, which allows community members to participate as a professional education class, and the planning responsibilities are shared between Student Life and PE,” said Dorsey.
Student apprehension for studying abroad usually arises from the fear of costs and expenses that may come along with the trip. Georgia Tech keeps their costs down for students by offering the experience to the community. By bringing in the outside community, students have the opportunity of working on their networking skills.
“Our model to include community members, allows for a reduced fee for GT students as community members pay a slightly higher fee which compensates for the reduction to the students,” said Dorsey. “In addition to the price break, inclusion of faculty, staff, alumni and community on what seems to be a ‘traditional’ student trip has multiple benefits. The trip proves to be a natural networking opportunity. New, professional relationships have developed due to the mix of participants like internship opportunities and job opportunities.”
Marketing the trips in various formats ensures a wide variety of students are being exposed to the important information. The trip is marketed on various university websites, through the scuba class offered at the Campus Recreation Center and by word of mouth.
“The scuba program as a whole is marketed in several ways, one of which is the CRC website, but it also appears on the PE website which reaches the greater Atlanta community,” said Dorsey. “The classes market themselves also when they are underway in the facility. Individuals who may be unfamiliar with scuba diving see the classes taking place in the evenings and weekends. We attend one of the first nights of class, to explain the trip is one option to completing their diving certification. Word of mouth has also proven successful as we have repeat customers, and they recruit new trip participants.”
Planning ahead for the following year is always important. Georgia Tech begins planning the scuba trip for next year as soon as they get back. “If we can lock in a reasonable cost early on, everyone can begin to shop for the best airfare, start budgeting for the trip and possibly request the trip from their parents as a ‘holiday/birthday’ present,” said Dorsey.