Study abroad offers incredible learning opportunities, but getting credit for your experience can be a challenge. Often, students wait until it’s too late to meet with an advisor, or they forget to think about how their credits will transfer toward their graduation requirements.
College is a great time to travel and there are plenty of opportunities for young people to go abroad. Why not earn credit toward your degree and boost your GPA while you experience learning outside of the classroom? Here are some ways to earn credits and make travel part of your college experience.
Choose the right term. Many students study abroad during their fall or spring of their junior year, but it might not be the best option for you. If you’re an athlete, Greek-affiliated, have a strict academic track or are involved in clubs on campus, you may want to opt for a non-traditional experience. When planning to study abroad, talk to your advisor, your coach or club leader to get a better picture of when would be the ideal time for you to go abroad. If your schedule is less flexible, look for creative solutions. For example, UVM short programs offer courses outside of the regular semester (during the academic breaks: fall, winter, spring or summer) and allow you to earn credit directly from UVM, so your credits will transfer automatically.
Start Early. If you haven’t declared your major yet, figure out exactly how many credits you can apply to elective courses. Most students need about 120 credits to graduate, which includes +/-36 credits toward your major, and +/-18 credits toward a minor, depending on your subject areas. If you can save at least 18 of your credits to use toward electives, you’ll be better able to fit a semester abroad – or at least a few travel courses during breaks – into your academic career.
Find a program that fits your requirements. Once you’ve declared a major, talk to your advisor about how to fit study abroad into your curriculum. For certain majors, this can be tricky, but with prior planning you should be able to take advantage of travel opportunities before you graduate. Consider taking a travel course over the summer months, or get ahead of your program requirements by taking an extra pre-req over the summer so you can study abroad during the semester. Many study abroad programs are now gearing programs specifically for STEM majors, so science and health students can have more opportunities to study abroad. Do your homework and find a program that will allow you to earn credit abroad and still graduate on time.
Get Savvy. Depending on where you aim to travel, studying abroad can actually be cheaper than staying home. When you’re selecting a location, term, or the amount of time you will be away, do your own research. Don’t forget to factor in the currency exchange, daily expenses and the cost of transportation. Both the Office of International Education and the Office of Undergraduate Research at UVM offer grants and scholarships to help students with financial need. And, if you’re concerned about getting a passport in time or you need other documentation to travel, domestic programs offer students the opportunity to get out of the classroom and travel within the United States.
Read the fine print. Remember that you must complete 30 of your last 45 credits at UVM in order to graduate. If you’re a junior or senior and want to study abroad, take advantage of the UVM travel study programs because you’ll still be earning credit “at UVM,” even if you’re studying across the globe. Take advantage of the short travel programs during the academic breaks. You’ll have stories to share and, unlike your peers who are abroad with a program from another school, your credits will transfer directly to your UVM transcript.
With a little planning, study abroad can be an invaluable part of your college education and personal growth. Once you’ve found the program you’re interested in, give yourself enough time to prepare and apply. Using these pre-planning tips, you can make progress toward your degree while developing your global perspective, expanding your skills, and experiencing adventures you’ll forever remember.
Interested in study abroad opportunities at UVM? Visit learn.uvm.edu/travel.