How do I best advise students interested in studying away?
Throughout the application process for domestic and study abroad programs, students are reminded of the importance of discussing their goals and interests with their academic advisers. We encourage them to share with you how their semester away fits into their Amherst education and to seek advice on whether or not courses taken at another university or program can count toward the major. This important conversation does not require faculty to have extensive knowledge about the programs we use, but rather an understanding of the departmental policy on transfer credit from the program or university and courses appropriate for the major. However, should your advisee inquire about programs more broadly, please consider the following:
- Do the course descriptions seem suitable for Amherst's liberal arts curriculum? Do they seem appropriate for the student? Many programs have course descriptions online or they can be provided by request.
- Who are the teaching faculty? (Most programs offer credentials of the faculty online.)
- Does the student have particular academic or personal needs while away (e.g. specific course requirements, disability accommodation)? (Please refer students to the Global Education Office with specific questions.)
- Has the student met with the Global Education Office to discuss their program choices? We have developed an advising checklist that we use with students to help them identify their academic and personal goals for their time away. (If you would like to see a copy of this form, we would be happy to share it with you.)
- Has the student reviewed the college's academic policies and deadlines related to study away?
The Global Education Office will evaluate the overall quality of the program in consultation with the faculty Committee on Global Education, peer institutions and The Forum on Education Abroad, a prominent professional association for study abroad that has established standards and best practices for the field. (Their best practices align well with domestic study programs, too.) Please remember that you may always defer to us for program-specific advising.
There are three stages throughout the study away experience (from application to departure) where we ask students to consult with their academic adviser:
- The Study Away Approval Checklist is online and has all the steps students need to complete for Amherst to transfer credit and financial aid. This checklist also has important questions about students' goals for study away as well as specific advising inquiries (e.g., academic accommodations, health and wellness while away). As part of this checklist, students must share with their major advisers a preliminary list of courses and get approval from their adviser for their study away plans.
- Once away, students submit the online course approval form during their program's registration period to have their courses officially approved by the Amherst Registrar. At that time students are reminded to consult with the academic adviser(s) for any courses that might be considered for the major(s).