Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Year in the Life of a Study Abroad Applicant - Part VI: Registration for the upcoming semester before study abroad!

Hey Tulane! 

Happy start to the holiday season! It’s already nearing the end of the semester, which means that everyone is starting to plan their schedules for the spring as registration approaches. For me, spring registration means that I need to start thinking seriously about what classes I want to take before, during, and after my time abroad. According to my advisors, I should plan carefully because it’s possible that some of my major or minor requirements will not be available where I study. So, even if a course is normally taken during junior year, I might need to see if I can take it this spring or even senior year after I get back. I also don’t want to schedule something this spring at Tulane if I can find a version of it abroad…if you're planning to study abroad, you might be thinking what I'm thinking...

How do I even begin?

Well, good news! I've talked to everyone in the know to come up with some pretty basic steps that can get you (and me!) started. 

Based on some advice from different advisors, I began by using an exploratory degree audit (available to all of us in trusty Gibson) to look at my major and minor requirements. By identifying what classes I still need to take, I can analyze what should be taken next semester before I go abroad. I know that I want to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country, and I saw that Tulane requires students to enroll in a Spanish class the semester prior to going abroad, so I’ll definitely prioritize fitting that in.

My next step was to identify the classes that I could potentially get credit for while abroad. I’ve heard that many students take their elective courses during this time, because it is easier to get transfer credit. Most university websites provide listings of what classes they offer, and you can always email the professors for sample syllabi. However, the best indication of what you can get credit for is by talking to your major advisor. I just had a meeting with my major advisor this week, and she told me that my department will only accept two classes worth of credit from abroad. Good to know!

The study abroad office also updates the courses that students have taken in the past on their website. If you are having a hard time finding courses on the foreign university site, just go to the program brochure page on Tulane’s OSA site and look for the link, “Courses students have taken.” For example, here is a list of all the courses students have taken at the University of Sydney, just to give you an idea.  

Also, don’t forget your Newcomb-Tulane College requirements! Tulane has a 120 credit hour requirement for all students, which will probably be more than what is required for your majors/minors. In addition, before you study abroad, you have to complete the first tier of your core curriculum requirements. You should be able to see your progress in your degree audit and, if not, you can definitely ask an advisor. If you still have some of those to get out of the way, it might be a good idea to sign up for them this spring!

You want to make sure that you can study abroad when it works for you and graduate on time, so it is ESSENTIAL to plan these things beforehand.

I definitely used some of the resources here on campus – the people! I met with my academic advisor, study abroad advisor and major advisor to plan for next semester’s registration. Here’s a breakdown of what kinds of questions you can ask these folks: 

Academic Advisor: Your academic advisor is your go-to person for all schedule-planning. They help you when picking your classes, and are the people who make sure you graduate when you plan to. Academic advisors must also sign off that they approve of your study abroad plans, so it is important to meet with them before you apply.

Study Abroad Advisor: This advisor’s role is to assist you throughout your entire study-abroad process. From helping you to understand the policies and procedures for study abroad, finding a program or helping you set achievable goals for your international experience (and preparing you to go!), the folks in the study abroad office are ready to help!

Major Advisor: Like I said before, your major advisor can help you figure out which classes you should take abroad, and also explain the process for getting major credit for the classes that you take abroad. Once you have narrowed down which program you are interested in applying for, you can look at the classes you are interested in, and then ask your advisor about the potential of getting credit.

I'm also planning to take a course offered by the study abroad office, COLQ-3050: Global Cultural Awareness, to help me capitalize on study abroad and even set up an internship while I'm abroad. The course takes place during the last eight weeks of the semester, and connects study abroad students who are going all over the world. If you might be interested but aren't sure, just send an email to the professor, Annie Gibson

Soooo, as I begin to plan my schedule for the spring, these are the things I’ve been thinking about and working on. Back in August, this whole thing seemed so far away, but now I’m realizing that I can start filling out the application as soon as I’ve finished my schedule for next semester. It’s so exciting to think that in less than one year, I’ll be taking my classes in Spanish on the other side of the world!