Students seeking off-campus learning opportunities will be able to use a more centralized portal starting this year, as the Office of International Affairs (OIA) expands its new online platform, SOLO. Last October, under the Vice Provost and Dean of Research, the OIA teamed up with other offices across campus to launch SOLO with the intention of consolidating off-campus learning opportunities in one place.
The opportunities listed on SOLO range from research opportunities and internships to study tours and public service. Although certain off-campus learning programs have separate application processes, they are still searchable on SOLO. The site aims to be user-friendly, allowing students to search for opportunities by keyword or region. Students also have the freedom to design their own off-campus learning experience based on their personal interests and goals.
Pauline Larmaraud, associate director of the OIA, explained that SOLO provides important information about getting ready for abroad activities in addition to listing off-campus learning opportunities.
“One of the tasks that the University asked us to work on a few years ago was to help the Stanford community better prepare for traveling abroad,” said Larmaraud.
The site’s travel checklist feature ensures that students are aware of all the necessary steps to be taken before leaving campus. This includes guidance on vaccinations, passports and financial preparation, as well as links to the Department of State and program-specific information.
SOLO is still being actively developed with the intention of greatly expanding the number of students using it in the coming academic year. The team behind SOLO has continued to promote the site at promotional events and aims to open the resource up to individual departments so that more faculty members may post applications and opportunities on SOLO. This application process must also be continually updated as more people gain access to the platform to meet expanding needs.
“Every year we sort of have to reinvent how we are going to collect applications from students, and how we are going to manage the review process, and then award students for these opportunities,” said Larmaraud.
In the process of developing SOLO, the IOA has closely collaborated with the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Haas Center for Public Service, Global Engineering Programs and Stanford Global Studies. According to Hilary Douglas, program director of undergraduate fellowships at the Haas Center, different departments and programs have different needs when it comes to the application process.
“For [the Haas Center], SOLO is primarily our application system, but it is also going to be a lot of our tracking on the back end, as well,” Douglas said. “It’s a way for us to not only receive applications but to accept and offer fellowships to students, and it’s going to be a way for us to track the steps that they need to take prior to their fellowships.”
Beyond simply providing the application and a way to manage a student’s trip, SOLO can make opportunities more accessible and introduce students to experiences that they might not otherwise encounter. The creators of SOLO hope to make it easier for students to find and engage with the many opportunities Stanford provides.
“In addition to students being able to search a vast array of opportunities beyond ours, I also think SOLO will be great for students to who may not think they’re drawn to service to discover the wide range of Cardinal Quarter opportunities and all the pathways to public service,” said Douglas.
Moving forward, the creators of SOLO and those posting opportunities on the site hope that more students will become aware of the program and provide valuable feedback. Previously, most students likely used the platform only to apply after finding an opportunity elsewhere. As it becomes more widely known, administrators hope that more students will make use of the platform, helping departments to gauge potential areas for improvement and informing future trip offerings based on popular interests.
“I think this year is really going to be telling for us of how easy it is to navigate,” said Douglas. “We just need some feedback from students.”
Contact Olivia Mitchel at omitchel ‘at’ stanford.edu and Tyler Johnson at tjohn21 ‘at’ stanford.edu.