Any student can study abroad with good planning, and as an academic advisor, you are crucial to helping students plan successfully. Participating in a study abroad program benefits every aspect of a student’s life, from academic and personal growth to future professional opportunities. Experiences students have abroad help them create informed global perspectives that add to the internationalization of SFA classrooms.
We hope the tips below will help as you advocate for study abroad when meeting with your advisees. Your encouragement really does make a difference! If you have any questions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 936.468.2961.
Degree planning is crucial. Early planning and effective advising makes study abroad applicable to degree requirements and resolves course-sequencing issues. Help students plan a course sequence that leaves a "flexible term" abroad with more elective options. Discuss SFA courses that may only be offered during a specific term on campus or any other academic program restriction, which would interfere with study abroad during that specific term.
Freshmen and Sophomores have more flexibility in their schedules than Juniors and Seniors, which is why it is important to get students thinking about study abroad as early as possible. As a general rule, students that can save general or major/minor electives for their study abroad will have the easiest time bringing classes from abroad toward their degree.
Students will earn SFA credit for participation in a faculty-led program or transfer credit if participating in a non-SFA program provided they have an approved Course Approval form.
Course approval process
Courses that are not taken at SFA are considered transfer courses. Non-SFA Courses taken abroad will be posted to the SFA record using the Pass Grading Option but will not be calculated into the SFA GPA. These courses may fulfill major and minor requirements.
The SFA study abroad coordinator will request the Registrar's Office the student’s enrollment in a study abroad placeholder course. The number of credits associated with this placeholder will correspond with the number of credits indicated in the Course Approval form. This placeholder class allows Financial Aid to disburse and keeps the student status active while he/she is studying abroad.
An Incomplete grade “KH” will be posted to the student's SFA placeholder after the study abroad term. Upon receipt of the study abroad transcript, the classes with their actual grades and number of credits earned will be posted and the study abroad placeholder will show a "K" (equivalent to Pass). If SFA doesn’t receive a transcript, the KH grade will automatically change to an "F" after 180 days.
If the student takes courses other than the ones approved on your course approval form, you will need to have those courses approved before they can apply to specific degree requirements. This can be accomplished while the student is abroad (strongly recommended) or immediately upon your return. Note that post-approval can be denied if the student does not provide sufficient material to justify awarding credit for a particular course taken abroad. We recommend that students keep all syllabi, coursework, tests, quizzes, etc. until their credits have completely transferred to SFA.
Transfer students are eligible to study abroad after their first semester, as long as they follow all existing deadlines for applications and paperwork.
Transfer students typically only have four to six semesters at SFA for financial aid and enrollment purposes. This means that transfer students, in order to complete degree requirements on time while studying abroad, must be well organized and plan early. Transfer students should meet with academic advisors before applying for a program. This is especially important if the student is looking at a non SFA Program, since there may be issues with the amount of transfer credits the student can bring back to SFA. However, SFA faculty-led programs (with the exception of some language programs) count as SFA credit, so there should be no credit issues for students who want to participate in these programs.
With careful planning to apply study abroad coursework toward degree requirements, students can graduate on time.
Students may study abroad in their senior year. However, students should ensure through careful consultation with their academic adviser(s) that such study does not result in an unanticipated delay of graduation. Furthermore, transcripts from abroad, may take 12- 15 weeks to arrive. Please be aware that this delay will affect the student graduation time if he/she studies abroad during his/her last semester as a senior.
Cost, Financial Aid and Scholarships
Students will find study abroad programs that range in cost including options that are very comparable, cost wise, to studying at SFA. Short-term and summer programs are almost always cheaper on the whole than semester programs; however, semester and year-long programs typically provide a lot more value per dollar spent because students can earn two or three times as many academic credits.
There are a variety of ways to pay for studying abroad, including scholarships, financial aid, and loans. Students may apply their financial aid and scholarships to their study abroad programs just like any term on campus. Students who plan ahead are more successful in financing an international experience. There are even additional scholarships available for study abroad programs, so the cost may be very similar to spending a semester at SFA!
The Office of International Programs offers study abroad scholarships for all eligible students (overall GPA of 2.5 for undergraduate students).
Students do not have to know a foreign language to study abroad. In fact, most programs offer courses in English even if the university is in a non-English speaking country.
Students outside their comfort zone
Assist students by acknowledging the real fears associated with leaving the familiar to immerse oneself in another culture. It may be helpful to remind students of their previous successes with transition, such as acclimating to the university as a first year student.
Students struggle with leaving behind family and friends. Forming a new social safety net abroad is challenging, but for many students, the friends (and, sometimes, host families) met abroad become lifetime relationships. Remind your student that staying in touch while abroad has also never been easier!
Recommend our study abroad alumni to contact the Center for Career and Professional Development to learn how to showcase their study abroad experience.