By Jill Robinson with Greenheart Travel
Some of the greatest life lessons I ever received were while traveling abroad. While this isn’t a surprise to anyone that has left the comfort of their homeland to explore new countries, cultures and languages it is still difficult to try and take off from a year of college if you are missing out on financial aid or credit toward your degree. Fortunately, there are ways to receive academic credit while experiencing the adventure of the global classroom.
To create your own academic course for your time abroad takes motivation, initiative and follow through, but it can be done. It’s best to begin the process as early as possible to ensure that your program overseas will still be counted toward any financial assistance requirements for scholarships, grants and student loans. If you are going through a Greenheart Travel program, below is information on how you can possibly receive college credit for your time abroad.*
Here is a sample of steps that most universities require in order to create an individual course for academic credit.
- First check with your university or college on their specific requirements for good academic standing. Most schools require you to have a minimum GPA of 2.0 (4.0 scale) or higher, as well as completing a required amount of credit hours.
- Once requirements are fulfilled, verify that your school will allow for independent course work, and find a faculty sponsor to support your individual study abroad course. Bring all of your information regarding the Greenheart Travel Program you are interested in and be prepared to discuss course-work and expectations that the faculty sponsor will ask of you.
- With your faculty sponsor, create a course proposal. This will usually include:
- Credit Hours you expect to receive.
- A schedule of what days a week you will be working, and the starting and ending date of the program.
- Describe in detail the learning objectives that you hope to accomplish upon completion of your program.
- Be sure to include all of the assignments that you intend to complete as an academic component. Each project is flexible and students will receive specific responsibilities once in-country. The course-work should be designed to fit with different projects.
- Include how the program will help you in your future studies/career field, and how your course work will relate to the program.
- Describe in detail what your expectations are from your program and explain how your program will enhance your current academic program.
Once your course proposal is complete, send out your final proposal for approval from your university. Once you have been approved by your school, start researching additional scholarships or additional financial aid opportunities that you may be able to use to cover the cost of travel.
Still have questions on the course proposal process for getting academic credit for your travels abroad? Here are a few quick points to consider:
What is a course proposal?
A course proposal is a chance for you as a student to create an academic component to one of our programs to potentially receive academic credit. The proposal should include statements of your goals, your strategies to complete your goals, and methods to evaluate your work during your program. A course proposal may not be required or accepted by all schools.
What is a Learning Objective?
A learning objective is what you intend to learn through your volunteer experience.
What should the course work include?
The course work should be determined by a faculty sponsor to develop the specific assignments and duties. Each volunteer project is flexible and students will receive specific volunteer duties once in-country. The course-work should be designed to fit with different volunteer projects.
In order to receive credit for an independent study abroad course you may have to visit your universities’ offices of education (i.e. study abroad, experiential, or service learning offices) for more information on individual course work and academic credit requirements.
Does Greenheart Travel offer academic credit?
Greenheart Travel does not offer academic credit for programs. The students must contact their own university and college to see if an individual course can be created for academic credit. Academic requirements are designated by the universities and schools.
Why should I consider receiving credit for my Greenheart Travel program?
An academic service-learning experience will provide a unique learning opportunity and allow you to experience the world around you. It can help you see the value of your past and current course work and how it applies to various aspects of life. It will also give you an edge in the future job market as it is a documented volunteer and learning experience.
What are the benefits of service learning/volunteering?
Traveling abroad and experiencing new cultures and countries enhances a student’s understanding of current academic studies, as well as an increased awareness of the world, of one’s own values, and an increased engagement in global affairs.
Will Greenheart Travel work with my university and faculty supervisor to create an academic service learning course?
We are more than willing to send you all the information you need in order to complete a course proposal for your university, as well as answer any questions your faculty supervisor, adviser or university may have. For more information please contact Anna Kacyn at email@example.com.
What if my school won’t let me earn credit for an individual abroad course? Is there a way I can still receive financial aid?
Some universities have different policies on their course requirements. If your school cannot offer credit for an individual created course there are other options for financial aid opportunities. Please see our fundraising page or are scholarship page for more information.
*Greenheart Travel does not offer academic credit through our programs. We cannot guarantee that all universities and colleges will accept a course proposal for an individual study abroad/service learning course.