Student Abroad in Museum

Academic Issues

Student on a balconyYou should be aware of the fact that the academic culture abroad can be significantly different from the system at Wofford. It is highly unlikely that you will have the same resources on which you rely here. Students are often deceived by what they perceive as not very demanding standards. For example: while the faculty does not usually ask for weekly reading assignments, the student is expected to keep up with academic work independently and the final exam will reflect this expectation.

Course Load
You will be expected to take the course load as required by your study abroad program, usually between 15 and 18 credit hours per semester. Wofford will NOT make exceptions to rules set forth by the study abroad organization. Be informed about the minimum and maximum course load requirements for your program. Also check to see if your scholarships require that you complete a certain number of credit hours.

Class Schedules
Forget the typical Monday, Wednesday, Friday routine! Most classes will be offered only once or twice a week, sometimes for a significantly longer class period, and sometimes at night. Learn to adapt to this kind of schedule; you might prefer it!

Syllabi
You should gather up as many syllabi as you can before departure. Most are available online. Onsite some professors will give you a printed syllabus, others will not. You might, for example, have a professor who will communicate verbally what he/she expects from the students. You are responsible for obtaining or maintaining your own syllabus. You will be glad you did if you ever need to protest a grade.

Libraries
Universities abroad rarely offer their students the same privileges as those to which you are accustomed at Wofford. Frequently, you are not allowed to check out books and you may not have access to the stacks. However, in many programs you will learn to rely on, for example,  interviews and field work in addition to book sources. This can be a very rewarding learning experience! In addition, you will continue to have access to the electronic resources available through our library and reference librarians are available via email (askalibrarian@wofford.edu) or phone (864-597-4302) to assist you with any research questions you have.
 
Exams and Tests
There isn't always as much "busy work" in courses taught abroad. The professors do not assign 20 pages of reading by next week. You are expected to keep up with reading assignments on your own. You may have several courses in which you will be evaluated only on the basis of a midterm and a final exam. Sometimes only the latter. Be prepared to work regularly to keep up with the material during the semester in order to do well on the exam.

Language Placement
For students studying language, you will be given a language placement test to assess your proficiency in the target language shortly after arriving onsite. You will be placed in a language course which is appropriate to your level, regardless of your prior study of the language.

Absences
Most programs will have a strict policy on class attendance. However, the professor may not seem to care if you are absent. Beware, excessive absence usually results in a failing grade, or something equally problematic, a grade of Incomplete which cannot be replaced.  

Grades and Transcripts
Grades made in courses taken as part of approved study abroad programs will be computed in the students' grade-point average. However, transcripts from abroad are usually not available before midterm of the semester following study abroad. Be sure to tell your study abroad organization that your grades MUST be forwarded to the Office of International Programs (not to your advisor or your home). If you anticipate needing a transcript before this time, please make arrangements with the program to have your grades forwarded to Sara Milani, Program Advisor, as soon as they become available. Contact the Financial Aid Office if you think this might impact your financial aid award.

Incompletes
You are expected to complete all academic work before you leave the study abroad program. Even if the professor is willing to let you turn in the work after the end of the program, there may be administrative problems associated with such an arrangement. Nonetheless, if you do receive a grade of Incomplete from the Study Abroad program, it will automatically turn into an F if it has not been replaced by the middle of the following semester.

Work Ethic
Be aware that a lot of American students on your study abroad program will receive only Pass/Fail grades, their attitude towards their academic work tends to reflect this. Don't be frustrated, just avoid hanging out with them. Your situation is completely different! Wofford will accept the letter grade that you earn and it will be computed into your GPA. Some US universities do not accept some intensive language courses. Wofford will accept all the courses on your transcript. However, if you want your courses to meet specific requirements you must receive the approval of the appropriate Department Chair or the Registrar.

Comportment
Students participating in a foreign study program sponsored by Wofford College must understand that even while overseas they continue to be governed by the rules and regulations of the Wofford College Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, the Wofford College Honor Code, and the Wofford College Sexual Misconduct Policy.  Also, the student must comport him or herself in accordance with the codes of behavior for the foreign study service provider and in accordance with the laws of the country in which he or she is studying.

Recommended Reading
Some of the following books are available at the Ben Wofford Bookstore

  • Dowell, M. Study Abroad: How to Get the Most Out of Your Experience 
  • Kohls, R. Survival Kit for Overseas Living
  • Paige, M. Maximizing Study Abroad