Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I find information about the study abroad program my daughter is interested in?
In general, each program or university has comprehensive information online. Ask your daughter which program or university she will be attending and visit the Web site. Often there are special sections for parents.
The Office for International Study's resource room also has printed material that your daughter can send to you. However, the printed material tends to have more of a marketing focus with an overview of information. In general, the program or university Web site will contain more detailed information regarding academics, housing, and so on.
Will my daughter receive academic credit while abroad?
Smith students must select a program on the list of approved programs (PDF) and meet the Smith eligibility requirements in order to be approved to study abroad and receive credit. At the discretion of each academic department, credit earned abroad can be used towards major and minor requirements.
To find out if specific courses abroad will satisfy major or minor requirements, students must consult with the appropriate department adviser before submitting her study abroad credit application.
Can my daughter study abroad and still graduate on time?
Countless students have been able to incorporate an education abroad program into their four years of college, whether a semester, year or summer. It is true that this is harder to do in some majors than in others, and it requires careful planning in order to fulfill both degree and major requirements as well as study abroad program pre-requisites. Many education abroad programs accept students in their sophomore, junior or senior year.
Early consultation with the Office for International Study can help a student to consider all the options in planning out her college years. We are here to help with early planning!
How will the courses my daughter takes abroad be reported on her Smith College transcript?
Courses, credits and grades earned while studying abroad will appear on the Smith transcript as transfer credits. This information will include the name of the program or university, followed by a full listing of the course titles, the credits and the grades.
Grades earned for courses taken abroad will not be included in the Smith GPA, although the letter grade will be printed on the transcript.
The only exception to this policy is the courses, credits and grades earned on the Smith JYA programs in Geneva, Hamburg, Paris and Florence. For these programs, the courses and credits will appear on the Smith transcript as Smith courses and the grades will be factored in to the Smith GPA.
While She Is Away
How often should I communicate with my daughter while she is abroad?
This is a personal decision, but we recommend that before your daughter departs from home that you discuss with her the avenue of communication (e.g., e-mail, telephone) and how often you both want to communicate.
Many families find that regular weekly or biweekly e-mail communication works very well. Agreeing on a regular day of the week to communicate can help to keep you up to date on your daughter's activities without impinging on her need to explore her new environment and become acquainted with the people around her.
Online video chats or online telephone conversations can be helpful in situations where you need to discuss something important together to reach a decision, although overuse of the Web cam can lead to your daughter becoming more dependent on you instead of less dependent. It is helpful to remember that just because you can communicate daily through Web cam with your daughter, doesn't mean that this amount of communication will actually help her plunge into her new situation. In fact, sometimes too much communication with home can cause the reverse: the student spends too much time on the computer and not enough time exploring her new environment and focusing on new acquaintances. This can lead to increased isolation and diminished experiences which in turn can cause a significant downturn in her feelings about being in the study abroad location.
Some families are used to using cell phones to communicate often and rapidly within the United States. Please bear in mind that depending on the country and region your daughter is heading to, cell phone communication may be readily available, but expensive. There is also a chance cell phone connectivity may be spotty or unavailable.
Make sure before your daughter leaves that you have the following:
- The e-mail address she will be using while she is away
- A phone number where she can be reached (homestay family, dorm room or cell phone). If this information isn't available before your daugther departs, or she is going to buy a cell phone or a new SIM card after arrival in the host country, have an agreement about when she is going to give you that telephone number
- The street address (including the street number or name/number of the building) of either the sponsoring program or the location where your daughter will be staying so that you can send her packages by airmail if necessary
- Make sure that you have the telephone/fax/e-mail information for the program administrator overseas in case of an emergency
What if my daughter tells me that she is unhappy after she has been abroad for a couple of weeks?
Bear in mind that your daughter may initially report to you that she is unhappy with some aspect of the program or that she is depressed. We suggest that you exercise a degree of patience, as many of these issues sort themselves out in the first few weeks. Often, students call home in distress because of one issue or another, such as housing, the quality of the courses or location of the program, which can lead to a discussion about changing housing, sending more money or even dropping out of the program and returning home. While there can be real emergencies, most of the issues are the result "cultural adjustment," which is normal and should be overcome in a relatively short time. You can encourage your daughter to speak to the program staff on site and to reach out to the Office for International Study at Smith if problems seem to be continuing beyond a reasonable amount of time.
Can I visit my daughter while she is abroad?
We encourage you to consult the program dates and plan your travel after the program. It is not typical for families to visit students overseas. If you can afford to make a visit, it's best to do so when the program has finished so your daugther can show you around her new "home" at a time when she has no academic responsibilities.
Smith students are not allowed to leave a program early; just like at Smith, each end of the semester or year is the important culmination of her academic experience.