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California Community College Student Outcomes Abroad Research Project


Advising Best Practices

Carnegie Mellon University: Advising Best Practices

The Carnegie Mellon University Office of International Education identified study abroad as one of the topics being brought to the attention of academic advisors by students on their campus. As a result, this office has published a long list of tips to help academic advisors in assisting students who are intending to study abroad, those who study abroad, and those who return from study abroad.

This office understands that academic advisors provide guidance to study abroad participants from pre-departure to after their return. A resource was created to support advisors in meeting these ends. The content below was adapted from the resource created by the Carnegie Mellon University Office of International Education.

Prior to Enrollment

Increasingly, parents and students are asking about study abroad options prior to enrolling. Luckily, students in every major can (and do!) study abroad. It's possible as long as students start early, work closely with faculty advisor(s) and consider summer as a viable study abroad period as well as the regular academic year.

Prior to Enrollment
  • Talk to students and parents even before the students enroll
  • Recognize that study abroad is important in college selection process

General Advising Tips

Academic advisors acknowledge that working study abroad into the curriculum takes extra planning, patience and time – as well as initiative on the part of the student. That said, many faculty and students recognize that studying, working, and volunteering abroad are vital and desirable parts of the college experience for many students.

General Advising Tips
  • Start talking to students as early as their first year
  • Help students to determine specifically where study abroad will fit into their major(s) and identify the best term(s) to go abroad
  • Try to match quality of courses abroad and replace existing university requirements
  • If study abroad won't fit into the curriculum, suggest a summer abroad or a short-term spring break trip
  • If the traditional model of studying abroad isn't appealing, students can consider work or internship abroad
  • Suggest that students prepare a list of questions prior meeting with a study abroad advisor

Encourage Students to Think About Study Abroad

Academic advisors acknowledge that students vary in their ambition to have an overseas experience.

Encourage Students to Think About Study Abroad
  • Use major-specific advising sheets where available.
  • Plan a group advising or info session by major and invite students in your major who've been abroad
  • Require that students who have been abroad submit reports and/or present to first-years
  • Feature returned study abroad students on your department's website and advertise student blogs
  • Publicly display journals and drawings following return from study abroad
  • Suggest that students consider working, researching, and interning abroad as an alternative to a traditional study abroad experience

Welcoming students back to campus

Many students experience "reverse culture shock" when they return. Symptoms may include depression and/or frustration with family, friends and university norms. Some advisors report that it's hard for students to get back into the swing of things, particularly students who studied where regular homework was not required. Advisors play an important role in encouraging students to share their experiences in meaningful ways and to verify the relevance and importance of their cross cultural experiences.

Welcoming students back to campus
  • Require that students who have been abroad submit a report and use those reports to ensure the quality and match of the overseas programs
  • Invite returned students to present to first-year students and departmental study abroad information sessions
  • Feature returned study abroad students on the departmental website
  • Advertise student blogs
  • Displays journal, drawings, and photos of returned students
  • Suggest that students highlight their new skills (language, cross-cultural, problem-solving, etc.) during interviews and on their resumes.

Step-by-Step Guide: Academic Advisors Role in Study Abroad

Stages of Study Abroad Process Steps
Planning Stages
  • Encourage students to make appointments with a study abroad advisor during regular advising appointments.
  • Help students determine best timing and what they need to accomplish while abroad.
  • Organize departmental information sessions with a study abroad advisor.
Application Process
  • Complete and sign student application forms to confirm that they can be successful while abroad.
  • Write recommendation letters.
Pre-Departure Course Approval Process
  • Notify students of pre-departure orientation requirements
While Abroad
  • Assist students with course registration for the semester they will return to campus.
Returning Home
  • Welcome study abroad students back to campus and seek opportunities to integrate their experiences abroad into their curricular and meta-curricular activities.
  • Upon receipt of transcript, assess and award transfer credit.
  • Advise students about prestigious awards & scholarships to draw on study abroad experiences.