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Tips For BYU Students + An ILP Semester Abroad

Posted by Emily Cummings on 12/11/19 2:24 PM

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If you’re a BYU student who’s wondering how to make an ILP semester work out, this is your one-stop — everything you’re wondering about is right here! 

For me, going on an ILP semester when I was a student at BYU was exactly what I was looking for (and quite a few people in my ILP group).  I wasn't looking for a study abroad, but still wanted to do a lot of traveling.

There’s something about fitting in a few months of traveling abroad that seemed to fit the rest of my plans and helped me figure out what was coming next. So if you’re wondering about traveling, volunteering, and exploring somewhere in Europe, Asia, the South Pacific or another one of the ILP’s countries while at BYU, you’re absolutely in the right place. 

Wait, you’re not an ILP volunteer yet?
Here’s how to apply

ILP’s a non-profit organization who sends college aged students (like you) abroad to teach English or volunteer in an orphanage. Yep, it looks super great on resumes, plus you’ll get the chance to travel around and make a difference. On your semester, housing is covered, along with your flight, your meals, and a few other perks, like your visa. Score.

We don’t work specifically with a certain university, but quite a few of our volunteers do come from Brigham Young University. We’re Utah-based, and have a code of conduct similar to the one you’ll find at Brigham Young University so you can see the appeal. Here’s all the info you’re looking for if you’re wondering if you can make this work:

  • I'm In School, When's The Best Time To Go? 
    Can I Get Credit? 
    Where Can I Learn More? 
    Extra Perks For BYU Students
    Would ILP Be A Good Fit? 

I'm In School, When's The Best Time To Go?

You're probably worried about timing your study abroad (or ILP semester!) with BYU's applications process ... good thing there are plenty of ILP programs that fit right into the school semester. 

Go During The Summer 

Yep! ILP has programs that run year round: we have a fall semester, a spring semester (remember, that one leaves during BYU's "winter" term) and a summer semester. For BYU students, if you’re not taking classes in the spring and summer semesters, maybe a summer trip with ILP would work best for you. You can choose to volunteer in any one of our countries except for Russia, Montenegro, and China (where there isn’t an ILP summer semester available) or Ukraine (the dates don’t line up with the typical BYU spring/summer class schedules). 

See all of our countries here.

If you don’t want to go during a summer semester, and have your sights on a Fall or Spring program, you have a couple of options! 

Go Fall/Spring — Deferring A Semester 

Going during an ILP Fall or Spring semester (which leaves in January, typically) is also an option — you can either defer a semester or take online classes during your ILP semester. BYU calls deferring a “leave of absence” — it’s when you don’t attend a major semester (fall or winter) but come back the following major semester. So you can totally volunteer with ILP in the fall, and come back in time for Christmas and the BYU winter semester. Or volunteer during the winter (on a Spring semester with ILP) and come back, enjoy your summer, and enroll for fall classes. 

According to the BYU website, “No paperwork is required to take a leave of absence, as long as the following semester you register for and attend at least one class for credit.” No need to worry about that messing with the admissions schedule or need to fill out another application once you get back from  your ILP semester. 

Go Anytime — Take Online Classes 

If you don’t want to defer, you can take online classes while volunteering with ILP. You’ll only be teaching English or volunteering in an orphanage for 15-20 hours a week, meaning you have plenty of time to take an online class if you’d like. That way you can get college credit during the fall or winter semester without "missing" school.

We’ve had multiple volunteers go that route. It makes for a busy semester and we really don’t recommend taking a full load (because you don’t want to miss out on weekend trips to cool beaches, a bomb safari, or cathedrals because you have too much homework) but it’s helped make it work for fall and spring semester volunteers. 

Teach English in Uganda, Africa with ILP

Can I Get Credit? 

Maybe. It’s an answer that doesn’t have a straight set of rules, but it is possible. Since ILP doesn’t work with a set university, it’s up to your university (BYU) to determine if they’ll give you credit while you volunteer with us. Since there isn't an exact science on how to do this you'll need to talk with your adviser to see how things work with your degree. You'll work out your credits through the school, not through the ILP office but we’re happy to help where we can. If you’re required to provide some paperwork about your ILP semester and what you’ll be doing, give our office a call and we can help you out. 

Kasey, a BYU student volunteering with us was able to get credit, but only after asking around a bit. She first talked with her counselor and then made an appointment to speak with the department head of her major. That professor then helped Kasey make an appointment with the dean. She met with the dean of her college and discussed what she would be doing abroad (they talked specifics about ILP, our volunteer program, etc)  and what she could do to earn credit for her service in China. The dean determined it would contribute to a few degrees, and created a semester project she could contribute to during and after her ILP semester to get the credits she was asking for. 

Things really are pretty individual and do depend on a case by case basis when it comes to getting BYU school credit. Start by speaking with your counselor and see where you can go from there. You may need to do a little digging to see who you need to speak with at your department, but it's worth it, right?  

Volunteering abroad with ILP

Where Can I Learn More? 

Come to an Info Meeting! Each semester, we have multiple meetings in Provo that share a little bit about ILP. There will be someone who has volunteered with us before and you are free to ask all the questions you want. Meetings are pretty quick, about 20-30 minutes and you don’t have to RSVP. Bring your friends and join us — oh, and come hungry because there’s pretty much always free food or a treat. 

See our upcoming meetings in Provo, Utah here. 

If you still have a few questions about ILP, you can get them all answered. That post talks about who can apply, the costs associated with our programs, and how vacations all work out. I’d suggest reading that post real quick, then figuring out when you can attend a meeting and talk to someone who’s already volunteered with us. 

Teach English in Europe with ILP

Extra Perks For BYU Students

Get Free Passport Pictures 

We have a whole post about where to get the best prices for passport pictures, but you just need to know one thing:  BYU students can get ‘em for free. What? Huge perk. Some retailers are charging $16 for two tiny pictures. Yikes. Save some cash and get them done on campus and pay zero dollars. BYU can also help with passport processes which may be handy for another study abroad program. 

Get the info about all things passport services here.

Financial Aid

Headed to BYU but wondering how to pay for it all? You already have plenty to worry about, with all the details regarding admissions, degrees, majors, etc, but money might not be a worry if you can qualify for financial aid. Financial aid can help you pay for your student tuition, buying all your textbooks, or even affording a semester abroad or study abroad. 

You can get more information about the application process here: the basics on getting financial aid. 

What About Housing? (Where To Put Your Stuff)

If you're worried about your BYU housing while you're abroad, don't stress. Remember, housing while you're on ILP is handled, so no need to worry about finding housing in a foreign country. Apartments tend to go quickly around campus, and there's also a simple way to store your gear while you're abroad. You have lots of options, but one we’re a fan of is Cram Storage. It’s run by a local guy named Chase Fowers who rents industrial bins and stores them around Utah Valley (at places with “excellent insurance policies”). Cram Storage even delivers and retrieves the bins from your home address which is beyond convenient.

Bins range in size and price, from 12 gallons ($10.00 each month) to 50 gallons ($28.00 each month) or there’s a flat rate plan, $200 for the entire semester.  They have lots of options to make sure they can store your gear for a great price. 

Learn more about Cram Storage here.

Volunteering in Russia with ILP

Would ILP Be A Good Fit For You? 

We think so! But it depends on a few things. We've worked with thousands of students and quite a few come from BYU. You'll be able to ask all of your questions when you start your application and get in touch with an ILP representative, but if you're someone who is looking to be adventurous, are motivated to explore a new country, dive right into a new group of friends and totally new experiences, it sounds like this is the start of a pretty beautiful friendship. Our organization is set up to to help you begin your trip, but then the experiences you have are up to you. 

Every location is really different, but those who have a good experience on our program are excited for what life in a new country is like. I'm talking new food, a new language, a new definition of what's normal for you, and so many stories. This isn't a program where we have everything scheduled out for you. It's kinda half and half, with a set teaching schedule and so much free time and vacations that are completely up to you. 

Volunteer in China with ILP

Let's be friends! 

I think you're going to want to stay in touch — good thing we're all about that. Just shoot any of your questions our way, and we'll get right back to you. 

 Text Me! I've Got Questions

Topics: All About ILP + Volunteering, Tips For Your Twenties

Hey friends!

We are ILP, a Utah-based non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We love travel so we're sharing all our tips for making the most of your time living abroad + seeing the world, and how to do it all on the tiniest budget.

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