Credit equivalency hinders study abroad

Students at The University of Alabama are constantly bombarded with emails, and a fair share of these emails are plastered with capitalized and flashy subject lines saying things such “Study abroad reminders.” I find these emails slightly obnoxious yet informative and necessary for those of us who plan on partaking in one of college’s most enriching opportunities: studying abroad. My traveler’s nostalgia from my previous trips may tend to drag out and bore people, but I believe my passion for exploring and my past experiences with studying abroad gives me some credibility to critique one major aspect of the Capstone International Academic Programs: international 
credit evaluation.

I realize that, with a school as large as The University of Alabama, there are bound to be systematic flaws in tedious processes such as applying to study abroad programs. Programs that are not run by the University but are recommended by its Capstone International Academic Program website are called UA affiliates. On the CIAP website there is a database filled with incredible UA affiliate programs, which is one of the many helpful aspects of our study abroad tools. But once a student begins to apply to an affiliate program and is ready to register for classes at the overseas university, problems arise.

The current process for determining credit equivalency requires students to make a list of courses they need here at The University of Alabama, which can be done with a student’s advisor by appointment. The troubles come when the students are then asked to compare their UA course descriptions with the course descriptions that are published by the affiliate program. Without the help of an advisor or person in the department of the area of study, students make a fairly blind guess at which classes they should be taking. The students then choose up to only eight of the program’s offered classes to have evaluated on the course equivalency form. The results of the selections might conflict with classes taken previously at the University.

I have a proposition for The University of Alabama that I believe would eliminate this one extremely important step in the study abroad process. I propose that the College of Arts and Sciences can remain owners of the credit equivalency database, but that they appoint heads in each department with access to their database. These heads in other colleges and areas of study here on campus could serve as advisors for students like me who have no efficient or timely way to figure out exactly what classes I should be taking in Madrid this summer. If having these multiple advisors across campus is a possible modification to the University’s study abroad application process, no one person in the College of Arts and Sciences would be blasted with advising appointments or forms, and students would no longer feel in the dark about such a critical part of studying abroad.

Anna Scott Lovejoy is a freshman majoring in Spanish and general business. Her column runs biweekly.

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