Academic Policies

While abroad, all students are expected to maintain the same academic standards that would be expected at Trinity in Hartford. The expectations for students’ academic work on the part of the faculty are high, and it is assumed and expected that students are going abroad intending to study. 
 
Students must be in good academic and social standing to remain eligible to participate in study away (no censure or academic probation).
 

Planning ahead

The key to academic success while studying away from campus is planning ahead.  Students should consider the following to help them reach their academic goals:
•    Meet with academic advisors and major and/or minor department chairs and have an academic plan in place for going abroad.
•    Check on the grading systems for the program and know how many courses must be taken abroad to fulfill the minimum number of credits needed each semester.
•    Discuss grading systems and course requirements with the Trinity study away advisor, academic advisor, and the Registrar’s Office. For example: If you are going to a program that uses ECTS (the European Credit Transfer System) for grades, courses are weighted differently from Trinity and you may have to take a course overload of 5-6 courses abroad to fulfill your semester credit requirements at Trinity College.
•    If you plan on taking any graduate school exams and other exams (LSAT, GRE, and MCAT) and you will need to register while you are away, be sure to take all needed information with you abroad.  Similarly, if you are planning to do an internship or a summer program, think about this before you go.
•    If you are planning to do a senior thesis, you will also want to think about this as you plan to study away. Many students have done senior theses related to studies they pursued while abroad.
 

Academic Advising

It is essential that you discuss your study away plans and academic program with your academic advisor(s) as early as possible, and well before the start of your program.  Faculty in your major or intended major can advise you on any specific requirements or limits on the amount of major credit that may be earned while away. This is very important, as departments have different policies regarding transfer credit and what can and cannot be counted towards the major. This discussion can help you decide what courses would be best for you to take both while you study away and help you plan out your remaining classes when you return to campus.  Know what your time abroad will mean to your graduation and major/minor requirements before you go.
 
It is strongly advised to have alternate courses approved before you go away just in case there are changes in course offerings or scheduling conflicts. The more courses you get pre-approved, the better so it is highly recommended that you select two or three alternate courses on your initial Application for Transfer Credit.
 

Earning credit and course selection

While studying away, students must be enrolled full-time (a minimum of 4.0 Trinity credits or the equivalent and a maximum of 5.75 Trinity credits).
 

Course selection

Courses taken at a local host university will require an Application for Transfer Credit to be completed.
 
When selecting classes for your semester or year away, please note that the Trinity College rules for transfer credit stipulate that the COURSES MUST BE NON-REPETITIVE LIBERAL ARTS COURSES THAT ARE GRADED C- OR BETTER.  This means that, while away, you may not take a course that duplicates a course taken at Trinity.  You may also only receive transfer credit for liberal arts courses, i.e. the type of courses offered at Trinity (not vocational, medical, legal, business, or professional). Please see the Trinity Student Handbook for more details. Courses that do not meet these requirements will not be approved for credit.  Finally, students must also receive a passing grade of a C- or better in order to receive credit.  Failure to earn the minimum equivalent of 4 Trinity credits per semester will result in academic probation upon return to campus.
 
In order to receive transfer credit for courses taken at a local university abroad and in order for the Registrar’s Office to be able to properly post credits and grades, students must complete an Application for Transfer Credit and submit it to the Registrar's Office by the end of the semester before studying away.   For questions about transfer credit, please contact the Registrar’s Office.

For a link to this form and more details about transfer credit procedures and requirements, go to http://www.trincoll.edu/Academics/TransferCredit/Current/Pages/Abroad.aspx

It is strongly recommended that students save all their work and syllabi from courses taken while studying away until all their credit has been posted correctly.


Differences in Academic Systems

Most students will find in most cases that the academic system they encounter is very different from that at their home institution. While the demands made on the student abroad at a host university may seem less strenuous than those in the U.S., this is more a reflection of a different approach to education than it is an indication of a poor institution. It would be inappropriate to infer that, because the approach is different and may seem less demanding, it is inferior. Your challenge is to figure out how to meet your academic and personal goals within this very different system.
 
Among the most frequently heard complaints by students returning from a semester or year abroad are that courses were not as "demanding" or as "organized" as at Trinity or their home institution.
 
From time to time, you may also feel that there is some truth to these statements. Certainly there is the possibility for stronger or weaker course offerings on any program, just as there is on your home campus. But beyond the question of individual courses, you will find significant differences in the requirements, expectations, attitudes, and teaching styles of education. If you are able to adjust to and appreciate these differences, you will be well on your way toward a unique and rewarding time abroad. If not, you may be continually frustrated and disappointed. We would like to provide you with a few tips about what to expect when you arrive abroad.
 
Inside the classroom it will be an entirely different world from what most U.S. students are used to. Faculty may not be "accountable" in the same way that U.S. instructors are. It is assumed that the student is aware of what is to be covered in the course, and that it is his or her responsibility to identify the appropriate readings or resource materials, to select the relevant sections to be read, and to become knowledgeable on the subject. The professor may or may not speak directly to the subject in his or her lectures.
 
The concept of a syllabus is not the same around the world as it is in the U.S. Although an instructor may mention or recommend certain texts during a lecture, you might not be given specific reading assignments. Your coursework will more closely resemble the type of study undertaken by an American graduate student, with a great deal more independent responsibility than you are probably used to here. In many ways, this makes study at a foreign university excellent preparation for graduate school.
 
Another major difference in the classroom is that, whereas many American colleges combine the lecture and discussion format in each class, universities in other countries often separate them. In a lecture class, the professor has the floor for the entire time and does not expect to be interrupted. Even some seminars may be structured so as to discourage open discussion, even though students are giving presentations. There are tutorial sessions that are with a teaching assistant that is used as a time for discussion, and for questions.  There are seminars that course discussions are part of the course and students should expect to participate.
 
If all of this sounds a bit intimidating to you, your initial impression of the foreign university life may be quite the opposite. Many students report that there seems to be a lack of "academic pressure" in their courses, or that little seems to be expected of them. This is reinforced also by the rate of student absenteeism that may be higher than at U.S. colleges. All of this is understandable when placed in the context of the educational system as described above, but it can also be very deceptive, since it doesn't take into account what the student may be doing outside the class.
 
Be sure to ask questions and seek out assistance if you find you are struggling with your classes or having difficulty  connecting with the professor.  The program staff will be more than happy to help you but they won't know you need help unless you tell them.


Registering for Classes at Trinity after studying away

All Trinity students studying away will receive e-mailed information from the Registrar’s Office to assist them in registering for classes for the next semester.
 
It is very important that you communicate with your advisor during Advising Week.  Please make arrangements to e-mail or speak with your advisor to discuss your academic plans for the next semester. Your advisor must release your registration hold before you can sign up for classes. Be sure to obtain a PIN from each instructor whose class requires permission to enroll.  The Registrar’s Office will accept an e-mail from any instructor from whom you would normally request a course override form.  You may sign up for any course requiring a special registration form once you return to campus.
 
If you are unable to access TCOnline to register, you may submit your proposed schedule to your advisor via e-mail or regular mail.  Ask your advisor to remove your registration hold and to forward the information to the Registrar’s Office, registrar.office@trincoll.edu, indicating that your proposed courses have been approved.  The Registrar’s Office will then register you in any classes that are open or do not require special permission.  Any course overrides or special permissions can be handled in the same way (have the professor send the Registrar’s Office an e-mail from the instructor granting permission).