Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Study abroad is easy and a good way to increase one's grade point average! True or not true? Discuss...

I posted this question over on IHEC Blog's Facebook page a short time ago and there wasn't much discussion so I thought I would post here to see what people think.

I typically post a study abroad related tweet of the day on IHEC Blog's Facebook page and I find the most interesting and provocative tweets to come from the students themselves who are preparing to study abroad and those who are currently studying abroad or those who have recently returned from study abroad [there is some great qualitative data on study abroad out there on Twitter that is worth mining if you ask me!]   As the autumn semester/quarter comes to an end I have seen an uptick in tweets about grades and grade point averages and my interpretation of all of these tweets is that the students feel study abroad is easy and provides a boost to their grade point average (GPA).  Following are two such tweets that helped form my analysis:
"SERIOUSLY. Why do study abroad grades not count towards my GPA. 3 As and an A- sofar. 3.92 GPA. I would love that to count thanks. #fuckk"
"can't bring myself to study when i know i only need a 20% to pass the class #studyabroad #passfail"
If I were to poll my study abroad colleagues here in the U.S. about the academic rigors of study abroad programming I anticipate an overwhelming consensus that high academic standards and expectations are well established across the field and that the majority of programs are not a GPA boost.  

Conversely, if I were to poll current/recent study abroad students I anticipate an overwhelming consensus that #studyabroad is indeed a GPA boost.

What are your thoughts on this...and what's up with a course that requires 20% to pass?!?!?

For the record, study abroad was indeed a rather large GPA boost for me as I received some of the best grades in my college career while I "studied" in Valladolid, Spain.  I'm not saying I didn't learn anything when I studied abroad.  In fact, I learned more when I studied abroad than I did in any other semester during my college career...


  1. As a child I was fortunate to be able to study aboard as a result of my father serving in the United States Air Force; however, I was not afforded the same luxury as an undergraduate or graduate student, partly due to financial restraints along with family obligations. There is so much more for parents to be aware of prior to giving their blessings for their student studies abroad. Parents and students need to educate themselves of all of the legal ramifications especially because of all the recent negative publicity involving students caught up legal issues in foreign countries during recent times. Students also need to be aware of the protections we take for granted under the Constitution and Bill of Rights; they do not apply to them while studying abroad. They are at the mercy of the host country while studying abroad.

  2. David,
    Hi, I think that the first thing to determine about studying abroad is will the student be studying in English, their native language, or will they take courses in the hosting country's language? As for studying abroad being easier, I am not sure that this is always true. For example, students studying in the American School of Jeddah must take their SAT’s to enter college and the SAT's tests are the same standardized tests that students must take everywhere in the world.

  3. This article from Red & Black (student paper of the University of Georgia) is an interesting read: http://redandblack.com/2012/02/24/different-measures-for-academic-rigor-abroad/

  4. David,
    Thanks for sharing the article.It is very interesting.I think that the article raises very important points that require further research to verify.For example, why did students score the lowest G.P.A'S in Italy and the highest ones in Britain?