While I appreciate how Reed has prepared me for studying abroad, and of course I would still encourage anyone and everyone who has the chance to go abroad to do it, there are some things that I was not aware of before embarking on my studies that I would have liked to know – to make my life easier, as well as that of my advisor and the registrar (who I’ve been berating with emails in order get this information since I got here). Below is my extensive list of things you should consider before you go abroad:
Study abroad grades aren’t translated into Reed GPA
One of the reasons I was excited to go abroad was for a nice little GPA boost. Study abroad classes are notoriously easy, and Reed classes are notoriously difficult, so I was looking forward to coming back with an even better GPA than I had left with. But, this is not the case, and while the grades you receive while you study abroad are displayed on your transcript, they are not calculated into your GPA.
Credit transferring: they might not accept your classes!
In order to get credit for the classes you are taking abroad, you must have them reviewed and accepted by Reed department heads. In order to do this, you must send the syllabus to the department head from the department in which you want to receive credit, and they will either approve or deny the class. Now, I assumed that because the institution I am studying with is partnered with Reed, the classes I would take there would automatically be accepted by Reed department heads for whichever department my course was in. This was not the case, though, and there is a risk that the college will not accept your courses, depending on the syllabus, as Reed has a very specific standard for some classes. This is definitely something to consider, as it might put you behind on the requirements you might need in order to graduate if your credits are not accepted.
Amount of credits per course
On the Reed website, there exists a spreadsheet in which each study away program is listed, and under that, it lists how many credits you will receive per program/class. According to a faculty member I spoke to at Reed, it depends on the number of courses you take and the program you attend. Some count for less than others, and you should simply be aware of this while considering which program you want to attend. The majority of the programs are typical – four credits = one Reed credit, but there are a few outliers, so definitely something to look out for.
This one is a little tricky, as it could be a good or bad thing depending on how much you pay for Reed and how much your abroad program is, but you pay Reed tuition for your study abroad program, not tuition directly to the study abroad program. To put this into more context: Reed’s website states that:
“Reed study abroad programs costs will be determined using Reed’s tuition and fees, and the housing, food, and estimated indirect expenses associated with each program. The International Programs and Business Offices provide the Financial Aid Office with non-tuition program costs which are used to calculate financial aid eligibility.
If the total cost of the program is less than the cost of Reed, the Reed Grant will be reduced to remain within a student’s demonstrated need. Because students are not eligible for student work during the abroad semester, work-study eligibility will be replaced with Reed Grant.
Typically, the out-of-pocket costs to students and families with financial aid are similar to a semester on campus.”
Please, take my advice and think about these things before going abroad. Of course, studying abroad is such an incredible experience, and I am so glad I chose to do it. It has been so rewarding, and I really think anyone who can, should take the opportunity to, but I simply wish I knew these things beforehand, in order to be more prepared, and because it has been irritating to deal with, especially while adjusting to living in a different country (plus, the nine-hour time difference with Portland does not help).