Advising Best Practices-Study Abroad - Carnegie Mellon University

Advising Best Practices

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.   There are thousands of options open to Carnegie Mellon students as we offer a remarkably open and flexible study abroad plan.  

  • Talk to students and parents even before the students enroll
  • Recognize that study abroad is important in college selection process
  • OIE participates in April Yield with a study abroad information session each day!

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 Carnegie Mellon students.  

  • 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 CM 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
  • Encourage students to check out the study abroad website 
  • Help promote OIE Study Abroad Information Sessions and individual advising appointments
  • Suggest that students prepare a list of questions prior meeting with an OIE study abroad advisor
  • Refer students to OIE and HUB for financial aid and financing questions
  • When completing the SATC (Study Abroad Transfer of Credit form), meet with the student to discuss the form content; don’t let them “drop and run!”  

Encourage students to think about study abroad
Academic advisors acknowledge that students vary in their ambition to have an overseas experience.  For a good number of students, the seeds were planted long before they arrived on our doorsteps.   For others, the seed may be planted here in Pittsburgh.   Carnegie Mellon advisors use a variety of tools to encourage students to consider study abroad.  By the way, many of these same tools also help in verifying and supporting the experiences of returned study abroad students! 

  • Use major-specific advising sheets where available.  Don’t have one for your major?  Contact an OIE advisor to partner on completing this resource. 
  • Plan a group advising or info session by major and invite OIE and students in your major who’ve been abroad, ex. Chemistry and many others
  • Require that students who have been abroad submit reports and/or present to first-years, ex. Art Department and BHA
  • Feature returned study abroad students on your department’s website and advertise student BLOGs, ex. CIT and ECE
  • Publicly display journals and drawings following return from study abroad, ex. School of Architecture
  • Hire incoming exchange students as language tutors, ex. Modern Languages
  • Conduct faculty-led summer or short-term programs, ex. Architecture and History
  • Suggest that students consider working, researching, and interning abroad as an alternative to a traditional study abroad experience

Welcoming students back to campus
Many of our 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.    OIE and home department 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.  

  • 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
  • Contact OIE for a list of students who are returning from study abroad
  • Encourage students to attend OIE’s Welcome Back Workshops, to meet with a study abroad advisor to share the overseas experience, and submit photos to the annual photo contest
  • Suggest that students highlight their new skills (language, cross-cultural, problem-solving, etc.) during interviews and on their resumes.