Credits and Grades
Skidmore students may participate in two types of programs. Each has a different process as far as credits and grades are concerned. Please read the section below that applies to the specific type of program you will be participating on next semester.
If you are a non-Skidmore student participating on a Skidmore program, you will receive a Skidmore College transcript at the end of your program. Please check with your home campus for details regarding transfer of credits and grades.
A note about transcripts: Many students find they need official transcripts from their overseas universities when they apply for graduate or law schools or any number of other things. Skidmore cannot get you an official transcript from your host university overseas. Therefore, we suggest that while you are overseas you request – before you depart for the U.S. – a number of official, sealed transcripts from the host university. (They will send them to you in the States after the program ends.) These documents are very difficult to get after you return to the States, and, again, OCSE cannot get them for you.
- Skidmore Programs
Skidmore in Paris and Skidmore in Spain. Credits earned on Skidmore programs are treated as Skidmore courses and credits. All credit for 300-level courses will be counted toward meeting Skidmore's maturity-level credit requirement. You must receive pre-approval for all courses you would like to count toward your major or minor. All grades will appear on your transcript and be counted towards your grade point average.
- Approved Programs and Skidmore in London
Credits earned on approved programs are pre-approved for transfer as elective credits and may be applied towards major, minor, and distribution requirements. You must receive pre-approval for all courses you would like to count toward any of these requirements. All credit for 300-level courses will be counted toward meeting Skidmore's general maturity-level credit requirement. If you would like any courses to count toward major maturity-level requirements, you must receive prior approval from the department chair. You must take all classes for a grade. Credit will be transferred only for courses in which you have earned a grade of "C" or better. The grades you earn on an approved program will appear on your Skidmore transcript but will not be computed in your GPA.
Registering for Courses Abroad
Each program will have its own policies and procedures for registering for courses abroad. What all Skidmore students must keep in mind is that Skidmore expects you to register for a full load. This is different from having full-time status. While abroad, this means that you must take the same number of classes that a student at your host university would be expected to take. If the local students take 5 courses, you must take 5 courses. The other requirement is that you take enough classes to bring back a minimum of 12 credits to Skidmore. This is typically not a problem. However, you must be sure you understand how half-credits and non-US credit system conversions work. Please check with your program provider to be sure you understand the exact number of credits that are expected.
If there is a personal or medical reason that forces you to drop below a full load, you MUST receive approval from the Skidmore OCSE in advance. You must contact OCSE before dropping any courses to ensure you maintain the proper number of credits.
Course Changes from Abroad
No matter what type of program you are on, you will have to have courses pre-approved. If your course selections change while you are abroad – especially courses going toward your major, minor or other requirements – you need to get the new courses approved.
Once you have made your final course selections and see that there are changes from what was originally approved, you should write to (e-mail) the chair of the major/minor department in order to get approval for the new course. Include the name of the class and a course description. Course descriptions are sometimes available on line. If so, give the URL the chair should check. If the description is not available on line, you should fax a copy to the chair. Ask the chair: Would the department be willing to accept the course for major or minor credit? Is it equivalent to a specific Skidmore course or a general elective within the major/minor? Would it be considered 200 or 300 level credit?
The chair's response back to you indicating he/she will accept the credits toward the major/minor will serve as the chair's signature. With this in mind, please be sure your OCSE advisor is copied in on the message and the response. We will keep copies for your OCSE file. You are welcome to contact the Office of Off-Campus Study & Exchanges with any questions.
If the courses you have changed are NOT for major/minor credit, you should simply send a list of new courses to OCSE. We will keep the list in your file.
It is a good idea to make yourself aware of the academic system of your host country before you immerse yourself in it. Do you understand how you will go about registering for classes at your program site? Will there be someone on site to assist you in choosing classes appropriate to your background? What about the academic calendar? Is it similar to the U.S. academic calendar (September to May)? Are there semesters or other types of terms? When are classes and how long do they last daily? If you know what to expect, you can better prepare yourself to succeed in the new academic culture.
Learning how to adapt to a new academic system is one of the first challenges you may face once you begin classes. Professor/student relationships are not always what they are in the U.S. Try to discover what is expected of you early on. It may appear that students from the host country are not doing much work, and the time spent in class may be less than what you are used to. Do not let this fool you. Typically, you will be expected to conduct more independent research and self-directed work. This can be very challenging for our students who are used to faculty giving them a good deal of direction. Try to keep this in mind as you adjust to the new academic environment.
Do not be upset if you find that your grades are not what you are used to, either. In many other parts of the world, it is rare for students to receive a grade of A. To receive the equivalent of an A, one would have to obtain superior knowledge of a subject matter. Therefore, it is more common to receive Bs and Cs if you are being graded by foreign faculty. (Please remember that you must receive a grade of C or above in order to receive transfer credit on non-Skidmore programs.)
Finally, foreign libraries offer another adaptive challenge to U.S. students. Library systems vary from country to country. For example, in some countries, libraries are only open during daylight hours and closed in the evening. Some libraries may not allow books to leave the building. Likewise, computer and Internet access may not be as available or as widely used as in the United States. Learning to adjust to such differences is part of the study abroad experience.
Your study abroad program most likely has provided you with detailed information on academics; please read this information thoroughly. We would like to reiterate that you should learn as much as possible before you go. Here are some of the questions you should be able to answer about your program before you arrive on site:
- What is the academic calendar? Do all classes begin at the same time or do starting dates vary from department to department? Are some courses only available to year-long students?
- Where are classes held? Will you be in class alongside host nationals or will you be in special courses for foreign students? Is there a traditional campus or are classes spread across the city?
- What do you know about the academic system of your host country? What type of work will you be expected to do – class presentations, research papers, essay exams? How will these be evaluated? Will your grade be based on one assignment or many?
- Are the standards for grading different than what you are used to in the U.S.? For example, grading in European, Australian, and New Zealand universities is much stricter than in the U.S.
- Do you know if you will have to purchase textbooks or will they be provided by the program? Will you even have textbooks? Are there particular reference books that you should bring from home?
Registering for Your Next Semester on Campus
A special web page and online process has been set up to help make registering while on leave easier and more efficient. You may also email any questions or concerns to The Registrar's Office. The Registrar's Office assumes you will register online. You may access all of the information you need to register by visiting the Registrar's Office page, Registration While On Leave from Campus Updated web information is normally available in mid-March for the fall term and mid-October for the spring term. The Office of Off-Campus Study & Exchanges will send you an e-mail reminder with specific instructions at the time you are able to register.
If you find when you arrive in your host country that you will not have web access, please send a note that includes your mailing address so that the Registrar's Office can send a paper packet. It is important to understand that paper copies do not typically arrive at foreign addresses until three or more weeks after the Master Course Schedule and other registration information is available on the web.
Don't forget to meet with your academic advisor before you depart to discuss the courses you will need to take upon your return. Bring this list with you overseas and leave a copy behind with your parents/guardian. This will help refresh your memory when it is actually time to register.
Extending Your Stay
Many students who plan to study abroad for only one semester enjoy it so much that they decide to stay for a second semester. We are always pleased to help a student extend their stay. To do so, start by talking with your program sponsor to be sure that you understand their policies and procedures. You will then want to contact your faculty advisor at Skidmore to talk about the courses you will take during your second semester abroad. If you are staying on the same program, you must email Off-Campus Study & Exchanges with your intention to extend your stay. We will change your semester online application to a full year application. You will then need to complete a new online course approval form. If you are applying to a different program for the second semester, you must complete a new application online through Off-Campus Study & Exchanges. Please contact Off-Campus Study & Exchanges if you have any questions regarding this process.