Comprehensive Advising and Support
A team of helpful ISA staff members guides students through the entire study abroad process from application through reentry. The Student Services Advisors help prospective students with choosing a program to best fit their academic and cultural objectives. Once a program is selected, students then work with the talented team of Program Managers for the application and financial logistics while the seasoned Site Specialists guide students through academic, cultural and functional aspects of their programs.
The personal and individual nature of advising is supplemented by plentiful web-based materials. The ISA online orientation is a fresh, user-friendly layout to help students navigate program preparation specifically tailored to each program location. Students can further develop personal and academic goals by viewing the ISA Student Blog, the :60 on Study Abroad video series or the Culture Corner on each city specific page of the website.
Additionally, the ISA Student Portal, an online interface allowing students the ability to upload supplemental program documents and receive valuable information regarding their study abroad program, was developed to assist students with program expectations and includes important pre-departure information on various topics related to their experience abroad.
Tuition at the Host University
Tuition and administrative fees at the host university are included in the program price. Classes are held at the host university and are taught by local faculty. Some classes will have additional fees that are not included in the program price.
Official Transcript Issued by Host University with ISA Cover Letter
Upon completion of an ISA program, the student's host university will issue an official transcript with all coursework taken abroad. ISA's Academic Records department will process and forward the official transcript to the appropriate office at the student's home university, and a photocopy will be sent to the student's permanent home address for their records. Additionally, ISA will provide a cover letter to accompany the transcript with important academic information, including: the host university's grading system and recommended U.S. letter grade equivalencies, translated course titles, and credit conversion recommendations.
Housing is guaranteed and included in the price of all ISA programs*, with the exception of Pacific programs (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji) in which housing is an additional cost. Accommodation options will vary according to program site and session. For more details on ISA's housing options and applicable security deposits please refer to the housing information for that particular program.
*Housing is provided on all ISA programs in the Pacific Region at an additional cost.
Meals and Laundry Service
Breakfast and dinner are included seven days a week, as well as laundry service once a week.
* Lunch and dinner are not provided on ISA excursions
Bridging Cultures Program
The Bridging Cultures Program (BCP) encompasses the ISA on-site orientation delivered to all students in the first days of their ISA program, with key improvements in areas related to goal setting, intercultural awareness, diversity and professional development. For a number of reasons, the first days that follow a student's arrival on site offer us some of the best opportunities to effectively transmit information to program participants. While the pre-departure orientations that students receive from ISA and their home universities are also important, students are typically more ready to focus on their study abroad experience when they arrive at their host country. The BCP is designed to help ISA make the most of this important opportunity to educate students, and to give students the tools that will facilitate discovery and learning during their program. The BCP is an important introduction to a new culture, a new home and a new experience. The BCP is designed to prepare students for a successful, positive and rewarding experience that will influence the rest of their lives.
Full-Time Resident Staff
ISA's full-time resident staff assists students with all aspects of their experience abroad. The resident staff provides support during official course registration and arranges the program orientation, excursions, weekly meetings, cultural activities and much more. Staff members are trained to ensure the well-being of each program participant and are dedicated to facilitating a positive and meaningful study abroad experience. A local ISA Costa Rica staff member is available to students 24/7 in the event of an emergency. View the ISA San José staff here.
On-Site ISA Office
Most program locations have an on-site ISA office within the program city. The on-site office in San José provides students a source of security while abroad by serving as a common meeting place and resource center. For more details, please refer to the San José ISA Office and Staff page on the website.
Computer and Internet access
ISA students enjoy free computer and internet access at the ISA San José office. Students also have access to computer labs and WIFI at the host university.
Organized excursions are included with each program to complement the academic component of the student's study abroad experience. These complementary experiences are designed to engage student learning outside of the classroom in the five areas of the Discovery Model. Transportation and guided tours are included as well as hotel accommodations and breakfast during multi-day excursions. Additional optional excursions may be offered during each program that are not included in the program cost, but provide students other opportunities for discovery.
Click here for a list of excursions (may vary according to session).
The ISA Discovery Model
A primary objective of all ISA programs is to facilitate the learning and development of program participants. We rely on host universities to provide quality instruction in the classroom, but ISA is the main facilitator of learning outside of the classroom. Efforts to promote student learning are shaped by a teaching and learning framework we call the ISA Discovery Model.
According to this model, student learning and development is organized into five areas of discovery: 1. Intercultural, 2. Historical, 3. Sociopolitical, 4. Professional and 5. Environmental
Throughout the duration of ISA programs, we provide participants the opportunity to pursue these five areas of discovery. ISA excursions and cultural activities are most important among these opportunities. Each excursion and cultural activity is designed to help participants reach a specific set of learning objectives. In addition to the ISA cultural activities and excursions, ISA will also point students towards non-ISA sponsored events and opportunities that will facilitate discovery in one or more of the five areas of discovery.
The ISA program staff develops unique cultural activities custom-designed to invite students to experience the local color of their host city, while learning about the history and culture of their new surroundings. Speaking the native language with locals, tasting the regional cuisine, and partaking in the native traditions are just a few of the ways these cultural activities lead to full appreciation of the program city.
Subscription to The New York Times
All ISA students will receive a one year digital subscription to The New York Times. This will allow access to thousands of articles, interactive media, videos and archived journalism dating back to 1851, the year the paper was founded. ISA resident staff will engage students with the New York Times to further learning in the areas of the ISA Discovery Model. This initiative, created to complement ISA's co-curricular programming, enables students to connect more deeply with the host culture and global community.
A Blanket Accident and Sickness Policy is included in the price and covers the program participant while abroad for the official on-site period of his or her program. This is not an optional benefit; every ISA participant will be covered by this policy.
We recommend that all program participants maintain comprehensive health insurance while abroad. This is particularly important if you have any pre-existing conditions, but is also beneficial if you have an injury or illness while abroad and require further treatment upon your return home. Consult with your current insurance provider to confirm coverage policies while traveling abroad.
Extensions of the policy are available for an additional fee if students plan to be abroad before or after the program period. A full description of coverage can be found on the ISA website.
Comprehensive Health, Safety and Security Support
Health, Safety and Security (HSS) for ISA students is jointly managed by our resident staff and HSS team. This team works to monitor risk at program locations, respond to any crises that may arise and develop policies to further ensure the health, safety and security of students abroad with ISA. HSS also facilitates an in-house on-call system with a U.S.-based employee and manager who are on-call and available in case of emergency 24-7.
ISA regular office hours are Monday through Thursday, 7:00am - 7:00pm and Friday, 7:00am - 5:00pm Central Time. For students or parents who need assistance in an emergency situation outside of the regular office hours, please call the ISA office at 512-480-8522 to access the ISA emergency contact information for that particular week. Students who experience an emergency while abroad will also have access to on-site staff 24-hour emergency assistance.
Ground transportation is provided from the San José Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) for students who arrive during the ISA designated arrival date and time, and at the appropriate airport. Airport reception is not included for intensive month programs.
U.S.-based Site Specialists are trained to handle visa questions for each of our program countries and their corresponding consulates based in the U.S. Please visit the Student Visa and Embassy page of the ISA website for more information.
Tutorial assistance is offered to participants who are enrolled in a language class during their ISA program; assistance is arranged by the on-site directors and should be scheduled in advance, and consists of a maximum of 1 hour per week.
The Professional Development Toolbox
The Professional Development Toolbox, available in the online orientation section of the student portal, will help students identify the skills and key competencies they have developed through their personal, academic and cultural experiences. The ability to articulate the international experience is a learned skill. This toolbox helps students communicate the transferable skills in a way that shows potential employers or post-graduate universities the benefits our alumni will provide them as a direct result of their experience abroad.
Students participating in an ISA program have the opportunity to receive scholarships or grants that can be applied directly to assist with their study abroad. ISA offers approximately $150,000 in scholarships to participating students each year through the ISA scholarship program and through several of our host universities. To see what's available, visit the ISA Scholarships page.