Academic Advising for Study Abroad
Mayan Ruins in Belize
Role of the Academic Advisor
One of the greatest barriers to study abroad is the perception that the credit earned abroad will not apply towards degree requirements and will extend the time needed to graduate. Academic advisors play a critical role in helping students assess how credits completed during a study abroad program may apply towards the student’s major, minor, or general electives. Planning is key.
The Initial Advising Process
As incoming freshmen, students should be encouraged to consider study abroad as part of their undergraduate experience. Advisors from every discipline should point out the value of making this type of investment. Study Abroad takes considerable planning and advisors can look at their overall degree plan and help students see when it would make the most sense to study abroad and what degree requirements might be best met while abroad. Strategically planning course selections as a freshman and sophomore can allow for a semester or year long study abroad program.
Advisors can also encourage students to learn as much as they can about study abroad opportunities and to review the process of researching, applying, and preparing to study abroad. Students just getting started can meet with peer mentors who will help them review options and understand the process so that they can become better equipped to meet one-on-one with a study abroad advisor.
Credit Pre-Approval Process
Academic advisors are asked to review course descriptions and determine how courses taken abroad might be applied towards a student’s degree plan. The pre-approval of credit to be transferred in from a study abroad program is essential to a student’s ability to secure financial aid and scholarships.
Prior to meeting with an academic advisor, students may use the Registrar's page to look up the appropriate U of A equivalent courses (look for the name of the institution providing the transcript in both English and the institution’s foreign language title if you unable to find it in English). If courses are not listed on the Registrar's database, students should work with the appropriate department by sharing course information (course number, description, and/or syllabus) to determine the appropriate equivalent.
Advising a Returning Study Abroad Student
The study abroad process doesn't end when a student gets home! Students who complete coursework at a foreign institution often need advising help upon returning from study abroad. The student's complete academic record with transfer credit from a host institution may not be updated until three to four months after the program ends. Students may need help processing overrides for courses with prerequisites they completed abroad. Transfer credits may also need to be manually entered in to the students degree audit.