At Iowa State’s Study Abroad Center, we believe in keeping the “study” in study abroad. Therefore, we recommend that students select programs that fit well with their major(s) and help them complete graduation requirements. The staff in the Study Abroad Center will help students identify programs that might be a good academic fit, and then students are strongly encouraged to work together with their academic advisor to see how courses from abroad will satisfy major and general education requirements. Families can help their student by encouraging the student to work with the Study Abroad Center and the academic advisor in order to understand the credit transfer process, the grading scale of the study abroad program, and how the courses taken abroad will work towards their Iowa State graduation.
When students study abroad, they learn both inside the classroom and out. They may develop skills in a foreign language or become confident intercultural communicators. Through being away from home and their normal support network, students become stronger decision-makers. While navigating a foreign environment, students can never be prepared for every situation or know what will happen next. In order to be successful, students will learn adaptability and to be comfortable with uncertainty. This skill development is hardly ever one of a student’s motivations for studying abroad; instead it serves as a side benefit, which when clearly verbalized can help students be successful in job and graduate school interviews. These soft skills are ones we encourage all students to take into account when they return to the U.S. and hope that you, too, will encourage your student to “think beyond the classroom”.