Will study abroad put me “behind” in graduating on time?
It certainly doesn’t have to. Depending on your major, you will need to select a program which offers a curriculum that can contribute to your overall degree plan. Granted, science majors will have to look more carefully at courses than will those students from other majors in the humanities and social sciences, but you don’t need to categorically exclude an experience abroad just by virtue of your major. In fact, many graduate and professional programs look for participation in opportunities such as study abroad when making selection decisions.
What if I have a hard time with classes taught in a foreign language? I don’t want to ruin my GPA by studying abroad.
First, unless you participate in a “direct enrollment” program where you are attending regular classes at a foreign university, you will be taking courses in the foreign language which are designed for a non-native speaker. Yes, it will be more challenging to take courses in another language, but hundreds of Southwestern students before you have participated and done incredibly well, while dramatically increasing their language fluency. Second, all courses from “outside” study abroad programs (those not offered directly by SU) yield transfer credit which does not contribute to your Southwestern GPA. You do need to achieve at least a C- in any course in order to receive credit.
Will courses from a study abroad program count at Southwestern?
If the program is run through an accredited educational institution, you can receive credit. Be aware that some study abroad programs, even those of good quality, are not accredited. While these programs may provide an interesting cultural experience, they WILL NOT yield credit toward your degree at SU. Make sure that you speak with the Office of Intercultural Learning when you are planning a study abroad experience. By gaining approval through the Office of Intercultural Learning, you can be assured that the credit will be accepted at Southwestern.
Will the courses contribute to my major requirements?
You’ll need to get a copy of your degree plan in order to see which courses you’re still lacking for your degree. When choosing your study abroad courses, look at filling elective slots both within your major and your overall degree. You’ll have a much better selection if you don’t try to force your study abroad coursework into the courses offered at SU. If you do need to accomplish specific courses while abroad, make sure to speak with your advisor and the department chair about the content required for a course abroad to match up with a particular course at SU.