Winter term trips: Worth the price?

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First-year Natalia Fumero D'fana in ​Salzburg, Austria
with the school of music winter term trip.
PHOTO COURTEST OF NATALIA FUMERO D'FANA

$2,637 will get you a three-week stay at a historical retreat in northern New Mexico where you can spend your time doing everything from pottery to sustainability research along with hiking, horseback ridging, yoga sessions and field trips.

$2,637 was money that I did not have when I signed up for the O’Keefe County: Arts and Culture at Ghost Ranch for my Winter Term. My family was unsure about how to pay, thinking that my scholarships and grants would cover the costs of my trip. In the end they did not, and the entirety of my savings went into those three weeks in January.

The off-campus Winter Term registration deadline is fast approaching, with applications due through Horizons next Saturday the 18th.  The cost of these trips can be make or break for some students, with many questioning what their options are and whether or not it’s worth it.

The average trip is around $4,000. The least expensive is Wilderness Writing: Paddling Florida’s Everglades at $1,750. The most expensive is The Galapagos: Natural Laboratories of Evolution, which is capped at 14 students and costs $6,100.

“We make sure we offer a wide range of price points for students,” said Director of Off-Campus Programs Mandy Brookins Blinn. “Any student with any budget could potentially go on a Winter Term or May Term program.”

There are 20 off-campus Winter Terms being offered for next year including one May Term and five service trips. Brookins Blinn said that they “run the gamete” when talking about the different fields or areas of study. These trips cover housing, most meals, transportation and activities. Depending on the trip air fair may or may not be included.

Each off-campus Winter Term course counts as a .5 credit, and some courses, for instance the trip to France to study the French Revolution, can count toward your major.

The Great Wall was one of many stops for
students who particpated in the DePauw led trip to China.
PHOTO COURTESY OF HUSSAIN HABIB

Financial aid covers Winter Term and off-campus programs, but one should still meet with their financial advisor to make sure that they are covered depending on their amount of aid. Scholarships are only offered to those planning on going on an off-campus service trip. Scholarships for service trips are not provided based entirely on need.

If you have scholarships and grants but you do not qualify for financial aid and you are applying for a study or research program instead of a service program off-campus, than your only option is to take out another loan.

Some students don’t think that three weeks away is worth the cost. “I’m more interested in taking a semester abroad,” said first year student Lucas Eckrich. “It’s a lot of money. I honestly don’t know if it’s reasonable.”

Sophomore MJ Hansen says that even though she hasn’t gone on a service trip yet, she hopes to one day.

“There are so many amazing trips available,” said Hansen. "But money does play a major factor in making these decisions."

From those who have already had the experience of going on an off-campus Winter Term, the benefits outweigh the cost.

“It was an amazing experience that I would never be able to do if I never went to DePauw,” said first- year student Peter Gorman who went on the Timmy Global Health service trip to Ecuador. “It was most definitely worth the money!”

Is it worth it or is it not? The only way you will really know is if you take the chance and go. These trips can change your life, but they can also drain your wallet.