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Study Abroad Credit: How to Get It
By: Justyn Makarewycz (justin) 2012.10.01





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Featured Content

"Upon returning home, some of these students were denied academic credit because their foreign classes did not coincide with university standards. In short, their academic year abroad turned out to be just a vacation."

 

When studying abroad, pre-planning your academic schedule is as important as getting to a foreign country. However, the person who takes time to research classes at their chosen, foreign university and has an academic advisor agree to these classes, can rest assured of getting credit upon return. The following is a list of important steps to minimize the hassles of attaining credit after your academic time abroad.

1) Know your academic status. Be aware of what requirements are left for you to complete your major, minor and general education (GE) requirements. In regards to the latter, for example, universities will deny their students graduation if they fail to satisfy GE requirements; thus, university and community college summer school classes abroad are filled with graduating students forced to finish a simple GE class so that they can get their diplomas.

2) Find out what courses have been offered at the institution you will attend abroad. Every campus study abroad office has course catalogs from the schools with which they offer academic exchanges. And those study abroad programs can usually be found via the Internet or E-mail through their school of choice. As with most academic institutions, many courses annually repeat or reappear as classes with similar themes; so the probability is that a course will reappear each year or even each term.

3) Realistically edit your list so that it coincides with classes you need for GE and/or graduation fulfillment. This is especially important when you meet your academic advisor and plan for the academic year.

4) Visit your academic advisor, showing the list of classes you made based on the course catalogs and how they fit into your major requirements. After the advisor approves your choices, have them sign the lists. Make copies and give them one. In addition, if you have remaining GE requirements, find out if you can complete those while abroad, and make sure someone signs an approval to that effect. Usually, GE requirements are headed through a central office (i.e. College of Letters & Sciences, etc.).

5) Make an Academic Information Packet for your year. Organize the signed copies of your approved major, minor and/or GE course lists. Get contact information for your advisors, including E-mail, telephone and fax numbers. Take this information with you abroad to use as a reference.

What to do while abroad

1) Once abroad, courses may not always coincide with what you researched at your home campus. Using the course titles and descriptions of your new course choices, E-mail your advisor about how they fit into the lists you discussed with them. Be creative! If, for example, you find a class abroad called the History of Germany since 1848, but a class from your home institution is called the German Democratic Republic, any academic advisor will appreciate the similarities between the courses; if the first was approved, the other would probably be as well. After all of your new course choices receive approval from your academic advisor, make sure to obtain an E-mailed or mailed letter of approval, and keep that information for further reference in your E-mail account or document file.

2) What happens to those who don't get an approved academic plan? Well, the year I studied abroad, three-fifths of my fellow American exchange students failed to have an academic plan before leaving the U.S. While abroad, they randomly chose courses and assumed that they would be accepted for their major. Upon returning home, some of these students were denied academic credit because their foreign classes did not coincide with university standards. In short, their academic year abroad turned out to be just a vacation.

Of course, always keep your work from classes taken abroad, just in case problems arise; you can show them proof of study. Always remember, make sure every course you take your time abroad is approved before you leave.

For more study abroad info, check out our study abroad FAQ

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