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Advising Students

Information for Faculty

Before students come to see you about studying abroad, the Learning Resource Center provides them with a list of programs that have the potential to fulfill their degree requirements and helps them narrow their choices. The LRC also helps them find course descriptions, syllabi, and a list of courses that have already been accredited. The detail of information varies by overseas university. If they don’t have this information when they come to see you, please send them back to the Learning Resource Center to get it. Students are strongly advised against taking core courses abroad. Even if they find a perfect match, there is no guarantee they will get into that particular course overseas. Some flexibility in scheduling is highly desirable. Your advice is extremely valuable in the following ways:

  • Help students decide which semester they should study abroad, based on prerequisites for upper-level courses and course offering cycles.
  • Help students with course selection. Show them where they have flexibility on their check sheets. Make suggestions about which courses would enhance their major and make them more competitive candidates for graduate school or employment.
  • If students must make changes when scheduling overseas, due to unexpected course unavailability, they must get your permission via e-mail to make any changes to their schedules.

About recommendation letters

Any faculty member can recommend a student; it need not be a student’s advisor. In the case of students who must apply by the end of their first year, we hope they will have made a connection with at least one faculty member, but there are some who will have not. You could be the only instructor they have met with individually. An interview about their interests, co-curricular activities and views on topics of mutual interest can give you the insight you need to write a letter of support. Of course, if you feel the student is not a good candidate, you should decline to write the recommendation.

Most recommendations are now online. Your recommendation should address issues that indicate whether or not a student is likely to have a positive academic and social experience. In addition to strong academic motivation, other important qualities are the student’s level of maturity, self-discipline, initiative, adaptability, openness to new ideas and different ways of thinking, personal ethics, and consideration for the rights of others.

Credits earned abroad

Penn State accepts all credits earned in a University-sponsored program. They are considered PSU credits, not transfer credits. Students receive a grade and cannot take a course as pass/fail. The overseas courses must be translated into the PSU system, which is generally done by the chair of the academic program of the major that the course falls under. The syllabus is attached to a one-page Course Equivalency Form that is completed and signed by the faculty member determining the PSU equivalent. Ruth Pflueger assists faculty through this process.

For more information, contact Ruth Pflueger, ext. 6140, rcp1@psu.edu.

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