Exploring international cuisines and landscapes and expanding your knowledge of different cultures marks the experience of studying abroad, but academics hold importance, too. One of the most crucial steps during the study abroad planning process is to speak with your academic advisor. They can help narrow down what type of program best suits your needs and help you decide what classes should fill your schedule while you’re abroad.
Your academic advisor will inform you whether exchange, affiliate or faculty-led programs are better for you. As explored in this Exchange vs. Affiliate blog post, affiliates count as transfer credit, while exchange programs consider courses abroad as “in-residence.” It’s also important to know that some courses taken abroad may not count toward your degree plan. Similarly, a faculty-led summer program might work better for students who do not have room in their schedules to study abroad during the long semesters.
I chose a May Term program after speaking with my academic advisor when I found out that it worked best with my schedule. I needed to fulfill credits for my major and discovered that only courses taken “in residence” would count toward my degree plan, so we ruled out affiliate programs. During the fall and spring semesters, I had obligations to school organizations, so long exchanges were not possible, either. The May Term program satisfied a core history credit, so my academic advisor and I decided that was my best option.
Academic advisors can also help students plan out their coursework. After narrowing down a program type, students should browse the MyCredit Abroad portal with their advisor. This portal provides a list of pre-approved courses abroad that have already been matched with a University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) equivalent course.
If none of the courses align with their degree plans, students can visit a particular program’s website to see its full course catalog and submit a Course Evaluation Request to match the course abroad with the UT Austin course equivalent. Academic advisors will tell students which credits they will need to request matches for.
Students who fail to meet with their academic advisor often graduate late because none of the classes they take abroad count toward their degree. To avoid encountering this issue, it is essential that you make an appointment with your academic advisor early in the process of planning your education abroad journey.
Bryn Palmer is an Education Abroad Peer Mentor providing support to students interested in studying abroad. Learn about this position and its services on the Peer Mentor Programs webpage.