The following frequently asked questions may answer many of your inquiries. If you still have questions, please feel free to contact the Education Abroad office directly.
- Why is study abroad important?
- What should students do first when they decide to study abroad?
- How do students choose a program?
- Whom can I contact with questions about my student’s study abroad?
- How do students receive academic credit for study abroad?
- Does financial aid apply toward study abroad?
- Is it safe for my student to study abroad?
- What about visas, passports, etc.?
- What insurance should my student have for study abroad?
- How can I stay in touch with my student studying abroad?
- How do I support my student upon return?
What should students do first when they decide to study abroad?
Students should contact the Education Abroad office and attend a general information session.
How do students choose a program?
VCU offers many study abroad options, so the process may seem overwhelming at first. However, during the GIS, we will discuss all options available to students and help narrow the search. Our only requirement for choosing a program is that students receive a transcript from an accredited university.
Whom can I contact with questions about my student’s study abroad?
Students are the best reference regarding their study abroad program. It is vital that the lines of communication between you and your student remain open. Part of the study abroad experience is to gain independence while exercising increased responsibility. To help students succeed academically and emotionally, encourage them to take preparations seriously. The more students take charge of the details before leaving, the more prepared they are to study in a foreign country.
How do students receive academic credit for study abroad?
Before leaving, students must complete a course approval form by meeting with their academic advisers in order to secure VCU equivalents for their proposed courses. Academic credit cannot be guaranteed if approval is not secured prior to departure. Upon completion of the program, students must request that the host institution send an official transcript to the Education Abroad office. Once we receive the transcript, we will transfer the courses to a student’s VCU transcript.
Does financial aid apply toward study abroad?
Yes, students may apply financial aid toward study abroad programs. Both federal and alternative loans may be used. The student must be registered with our office in order to use financial aid toward the cost of his or her program.
Is it safe for my student to study abroad?
The safety of students is our No. 1 priority. Therefore, all students studying abroad must attend a pre-departure orientation where they receive vital information about health and safety overseas. While threats of varying degrees may face international travelers, we encourage students to exercise the same common sense and responsibility that they would use in Richmond.
The U.S. State Department has advised Americans traveling anywhere outside the U.S. to remain inconspicuous and attentive to their surroundings. It is strongly advised to keep a low profile while abroad. Any travel advisories issued by the State Department will be immediately forwarded to students. Visit the U.S. Department of State website to ensure you and your student are familiar with the local political and security issues abroad.
What about visas, passports, etc.?
Specific information regarding travel documents depends upon the country of destination and the length of time your student will be there. Some countries are stricter than others about entry, and the rules constantly change. Make sure to check the specific regulations for your student’s country.
You should keep a copy of your student’s travel documents in case anything should happen while they are away. Also, in case of an emergency, we suggest that at least one member of your family keep their passport available while your student is overseas. Finally, students should apply for their documents well in advance of their departure date as there can be delays. Visit the U.S. Department of State passport page for more information.
What insurance should my student have for study abroad?
VCU provides students with an International Student Identification Card, which carries minimal insurance and some student discounts. If you wish to explore further coverage, the Education Abroad office would be happy to recommend a few other options. One policy, HTH Worldwide, includes broader coverage than the ISIC.
How can I stay in touch with my student studying abroad?
Students will usually have access to a phone or computer, making it easy to stay in touch. Make sure you have the correct contact information for the program or university before your student leaves. Encourage your student to keep you updated, but be careful: too much contact can make students feel more homesick than they really are. Support them through showing that you trust their independence and feel confident about what they are doing.
How do I support my student upon return?
For some students, the most difficult transition can be when they return home. The best thing you can do is to be patient. They are busy processing their incredible experience and sometimes the settling process can be a bit rocky. Often when students return they are critical of their home country or immediate surroundings. They may feel no one cares about their experience or that they can’t relate to anyone. Encourage them to write in a journal or talk about their time and get involved with the Global Education Office or the Education Abroad office, where they will meet and speak with international students and VCU students who have also returned from studying abroad.