A lot of people won’t study abroad because they think there aren’t courses abroad that will fit in their degree plan. They don’t want to delay graduation or pay for classes that can’t count towards anything. Trust me, I get it – but, these ideas are myths! Studying abroad doesn’t have to delay graduation. You can find classes to count towards your degree. Let me help you make studying abroad a reality!
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I suggest starting to think about studying abroad as early as your new student orientation. When you are picking out classes for your freshman year, do not take any art, language, or culture classes. Texas A&M has two categories for these classes called Language, Philosophy, and Culture and Creative Arts. The website currently says A&M requires 3 hours of each category, but when I became a freshman they required a total of 9 hours in the two categories, taking at least one class in each. This may change with your chosen major.
Either way, A&M requires these courses and most likely your university does too. The great thing about this category is that it is really broad and almost any class you take abroad can count for this category. Taking a class about wine in France? Sounds like a culture class to me!
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My next suggestion would be to keep your elective classes minimal. A&M requires 19 hours of general electives. My Psychology and French minors will end up going in there so I will easily meet the requirements, but if you have only one minor or no minor at all, you might need a few extra hours. Don’t take any classes to fill up those elective hours just yet, study abroad credits can easily fit there.
All of this will, of course, depend on your university, major, and what hours you bring in from high school through AP or dual credit, but these tips should help you find places to put those study abroad credits to good use.
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If you’re now sitting here, halfway through college with all of your arts credits completed, worrying that you won’t be able to bring back any of your study abroad credits, worry not! There are tons of study abroad programs specific to a major. Can’t find a program for your major? Add a language minor to your degree plan and head out to an intensive language program. Learning another language is a great way to improve your English (I know, it sounds backwards, but trust me on this) and is extremely helpful when you graduate and begin looking for jobs.
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Duration of program
Another thing to think about is whether or not you want to study abroad for a summer semester, full semester, or full academic year. If you have few classes to take and a tight budget, a summer semester could be best for you! I would love to take a full academic year in France, but I, unfortunately, do not have enough classes to take.
You can do this!
There are so many ways to get your study abroad program to count towards your degree plan, especially if you get creative. Studying abroad doesn’t have to delay your graduation. Meet with your academic advisor and study abroad advisor for even more help on finding programs that can fit into your degree plan. I promise, it’s doable!
It is important to figure out where in your degree plan you have room to study abroad because this will dictate what, and possibly where, you study while abroad. It can be a good way to narrow down all of the options available to you and figure out what kind of program you should be looking for. Don’t use your degree plan as an excuse to not study abroad! It can be done!
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