In many cases it is possible to get college credit for classes taken while studying abroad. This can be a great way to gain international experience while staying on track to complete a college degree. Here’s how to determine whether your study abroad classes fit the criteria.

See our ranking of  30 Affordable Colleges with the Best Study Abroad Programs

Plan First

Before even applying for studying abroad, it’s critical to have a complete academic plan in place, according to U.S. News & World Report . Students should think about where they want to study abroad and how the courses taken will fit into their major – or, in some cases, minor. For example, a French or Spanish study abroad may help students fulfill a language requirement, while additional classes at the host university may help check boxes for an international relations major.

Choose Which Semester to Go

Some students decide to go abroad in the fall or spring; others choose to stay abroad for an entire year. Choosing which semester to go can play a role in the student’s overall academic goals. For example, there may be a seminar requirement at the home university that is only offered in the spring. Students might also want to be home for major holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving, or on-campus traditions that only take place a certain time of year.

Have a Financial Map in Place

Even if the courses a student takes are free, it doesn’t mean that living overseas won’t be expensive. Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Norway are among the most expensive places to study, according to Travel + Leisure . Credit cards are accepted almost universally, and they can help students build their financial credit, too.

Confirm the Courses Will Transfer

It is advisable for students to confirm that the courses taken at a college or university overseas will transfer back to their home institution. Some American colleges and universities have strict policies about this; others are more straightforward. Students can check with their college or university’s international education office to understand the credit transfer process. Students can also check with their academic advisor to stay up-to-date on current academic policies.

Some study abroad programs are run directly through the student’s home university – that is, they are led by professors from the home university and have the same grading policies as standard, on-campus classes. Other study abroad programs are an exchange between the home university and a school abroad. In this case, the grading may be different because it is a European, Asian, or Latin American educational institution.

Knowing the fine print can avoid confusion or potentially losing academic credits. It’s all a matter of filling out the necessary paperwork, but the international education office or a similar department can help students fill out the right forms.

Final Thoughts

With some careful planning, it is possible to get full credit for the college classes you take overseas. This is an enriching experience that can help students broaden their horizons. Some students even love their abroad experience so much that they decide to move overseas after graduating.

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