Best Practices for Home Institution Academic Advising for Education Abroad

Academic advising is essential in helping students prepare for, navigate, and process study abroad experiences. Advising for study abroad should be intrinsically linked to the institution’s mission, values and learning goals, and to the individual student’s academic and personal goals.

The home institution plays a critical role in helping students to make this experience as purposeful and meaningful as possible. Effective advising helps students integrate education abroad into their individual degree planning and coordinate courses abroad with coursework at their home institution. It can encourage students to take advantage of the full range of opportunities available to them.

I. Objectives of Academic Advising for Education Abroad

Academic advising for education abroad helps students develop purposeful plans for education abroad. Advising for education abroad should uphold the institution’s mission and values, as well as student development and learning goals.

II. Responsibilities for Academic Advising for Education Abroad

Although both students and advisors have shared responsibility, decisions about a student’s academic plan remain the purview of the student. Advising should encourage students to develop decision-making skills and to be self-directed. Advisors should practice continuous advisement before, during and after the education abroad experience, and advising should be proactive, accurate, and coherent.

III. Helping Students Make Informed Education Abroad Choices

Information about Education Abroad Academic and Co-Curricular Opportunities

  • Advisors should direct students to various sources of information (websites, online databases, peer advisors, advising staff, faculty, meetings and handbooks, etc.) that will help the student to plan for the experience abroad.
  • Advisors should provide accurate and timely information regarding institution and program requirements, and institutional policies and procedures for education abroad. Informative materials – electronic, print or other – about education abroad policies, procedures and other information should be accurate, current and properly referenced.
  • Advisors should be as familiar as possible with the academic offerings of education abroad programs and institutions that most frequently enroll their students.

Academic Goals, Coursework at Home and Abroad, and Degree Plans

  • Academic advisors should be knowledgeable about their institution’s academic requirements and the requirements of students’ major and concentration programs, and make advisees aware of how education abroad affects the student’s expected time to graduation. This includes but is not limited to course requirements, registration and credit transfer policies, and financial aid policies.
  • Advisors should review student course choices to ensure that students have chosen the appropriate learning opportunities to work towards their educational and personal goals.
  • Advisors should help students to make the best academic choices for education abroad by assisting them in assessing their goals, skills, learning styles and abilities. The plan for study abroad should be comprehensive, and consider a student’s academic, social, and professional goals.
  • Advisors should seek to collaborate across the campus, with faculty and other colleagues, in such areas as athletics, the fine arts, internship, service-learning, and other co-curricular activities as appropriate to the academic needs of the advisees.

Other Considerations in Assisting Students in Choosing a Program

  • Advisors should help students manage their expectations about the education abroad experience.
  • Advisors should be knowledgeable about different countries and cultures, and/or be able to direct students to find such information.
  • Advisors should have a general knowledge of international higher education and about the differences that students may face while participating in education abroad. Advisors should encourage students to prepare for their academic experience abroad and advise students through a preliminary orientation about adjusting to a different educational environment and set of expectations.
  • Advisors should be knowledgeable about resources in the education abroad field with respect to opportunities, research and standards and be able to communicate this to students.
  • Advising offices, in coordination with faculty and administration, should periodically assess the effectiveness of advising as it pertains to student learning and development goals.

 IV. Ethical and Legal Responsibilities

  • Academic advisors should be knowledgeable about and adhere to the ethical standards of the fields of academic advising, of education abroad, and their institution.
  • Academic advisors should be knowledgeable about the regulations of their institution as well as federal, state and local laws and regulations with respect to confidentiality and ethics.
  • Advisors should accommodate all students, no matter what their ability; age; cultural heritage; disability; ethnicity; gender identity; nationality; political affiliation; race; religious affiliation; sex; sexual orientation; economic, marital, social, or veteran status; and any other bases included in local, state, or federal laws.

V. Organization and Management

  •  Advising staff should be qualified sufficiently to support the mission and goals of the institution in regard to advising and education abroad.
  • Advising should be conducted by trained faculty, administrators, staff or peer advisors.
  • Advisors should possess appropriate professional credentials and have relevant experience.
  • There should be clear procedures and guidelines for the selection, training, evaluation and supervision of advising staff.
  • Advising appointments should be made available regularly throughout the education abroad process.
    The advising office should ensure that informative materials – electronic, print or otherwise –  about  education abroad policies, procedures and other information is accurate, current and properly referenced.
  • Advisors should make conscious efforts to develop good working relationships with key support offices on campus, including the Financial Aid office, the Registrar’s office, and the Health Services office to disseminate appropriate and current information in support of the students’ preparation for and participation in education abroad.

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