Academic Policies for Students Studying Off-Campus

 
ADJUSTING TO A DIFFERENT EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

The educational system where you will be studying may be very different from what you are used to at Colby. It is difficult to generalize about different educational systems around the world but here are some common areas of difference that may help you anticipate what will be expected of you, and what questions to ask:

  • In many countries, students complete 13 years of education (instead of 12) before entering university, and a broad-based liberal-arts type of program exists only at the high school level. Students often begin their major in their first year at university, and they may be more advanced in their studies than a typical first-year student here; in addition, they generally study only one subject (or two, if they are doing a “joint degree” or interdisciplinary program).
  • Although it may not be explicitly stated in the syllabus, attendance is important. Expectations about the style and form of essays may be different from what you are used to. Students’ progress toward a degree often depends on exams given at the end of each year, or at the end of their program, rather than on work completed for individual classes. Degree candidates therefore may put less emphasis on attendance at lectures and more on the work they are doing outside of class to prepare for exams. As a non-degree student, your work may be assessed differently, perhaps with more emphasis on class essays and attendance.
  • Students often are expected to take much more responsibility for shaping their academic program, and instructors provide relatively little guidance (for example, students may be expected to read widely from a long list of resources, with no specific assignments, and faculty may not be readily accessible outside of the classroom).
  • In many cases, the professor may be expecting you to be reading on your own and ask you for original research and thought in the exam essays. You will be expected to provide your own motivation and to assume responsibility for your own education and learning, and not to simply wait to be taught the course material. Generally speaking, emphasis is put on reading widely and making use of what you have read in essays and during seminars. Your reading will not usually be based on a textbook or directed in the detailed way that is common at Colby. If you are told: "You may wish to have a look at these specific titles," that implies strong advice that these books should be read! Don't rely on being told exactly what to do or when to do it.
  • You may attend lectures, but a larger share of the classroom time may be spent in small tutorial and seminar groups. You may be asked to be an equal contributor to these discussions.
  • It is likely that exams will be essay-type. Before you take your first exam, ask for clarification of the grading system. This will help alleviate any surprises when you receive your results!
  • All grades you receive will be translated into U.S. grades on your Colby transcript (but will not factor into your Colby GPA).
  • Remember that you are required to complete all your assignments and stay until the end of your program (or until you have taken your last exam).

 
COURSE LOADS REQUIRED
You are required to register and complete a full course-load which must be at least the equivalent of 15-16 Colby credits for the semester (you may transfer up to 20 credits back to Colby).  In some cases, the course load required by Colby may be higher than that recommended by your program provider. Information on credit equivalencies and minimum/maximum course loads is available from the program or university you are attending or from the OCS courseload requirements table.

On a Colby program abroad you will normally receive, upon successful completion of the course of study, 16 Colby credits per semester.

For Non-Colby programs lasting the equivalent of a full Colby semester (a minimum of 14 weeks of class time, including exams), you will normally receive 15-16 credits per semester for successfully completing the entire program. You may be granted more than 16 credits (up to 20 credits) for work that exceeds the normal course load of the program, upon petition to the Registrar. Students attending programs not sponsored by US institutions should be sure that credit transfer has been approved by the Off-Campus Study Office and that the correct number of credits to be applied to their Colby degree is indicated on the application form for approval of study abroad.
 
Remember that if you are studying in a non-English speaking country, you must take at least one class in the local language.

 
CREDIT TRANSFER
On a Colby program abroad you will normally receive, upon successful completion of the course of study, 16 Colby credits per semester.

On a Non-Colby off-campus program, you will normally receive 15-16 credits per semester for successfully completing the entire program. You may be granted more than 16 credits for work that exceeds the normal course load of the program, upon petition to the Registrar. Students attending programs not sponsored by US institutions should be sure that credit transfer has been approved by the Off-Campus Study Office.
 
GENERAL CREDIT
General Credit
On all non-Colby programs, the Off-Campus Study Office grants approval of courses completed for general Colby credit. If you change courses after arrival at your off-campus study destination you must inform OCS by email for confirmation of approval.  Unless specified, courses will be applied as general credit.

Please note that not all of the courses on an approved program will automatically be approved individually and for all students. All transcripts from abroad are examined by the Off-Campus Study Office before they are sent to the Registrar. Unless specified, courses will be applied as general credit.

 
If you have not taken the courses you listed on your application, and have not obtained permission to change your courses, you may not receive complete credit for your semester or year abroad. You should advise the Off-Campus Study Office of changes at the beginning of your off-campus program in order to resolve any issues that may prevent transfer of credit. If there are discrepancies, your off-campus credits may not appear on your transcript when you return, delaying your ability to use them in applications for graduate school or other purposes.
 
Please be aware that Colby may not approve full credit for certain courses taken abroad that do not meet Colby’s standards of academic rigor, even when these courses are marketed to you during your program orientation. For example, Sports & Learning in Australian Culture at the University of Sydney may only receive 2 credits. When in doubt, please consult with OCS by email and include a full course syllabus to allow us to determine the course content.
 
MAJOR, MINOR, DISTRIBUTION OR DIVERSITY CREDIT

General Credit
On all non-Colby programs, the Off-Campus Study Office grants approval of courses completed for general Colby credit. If you change courses after arrival at your off-campus study destination you must inform OCS by email for confirmation of approval.  Unless specified, courses will be applied as general credit.

Please note that not all of the courses on an approved program will automatically be approved individually and for all students. All transcripts from abroad are examined by the Off-Campus Study Office before they are sent to the Registrar. Unless specified, courses will be applied as general credit.
 
Please be aware that Colby may not approve full credit for certain courses taken abroad that do not meet Colby’s standards of academic rigor, even when these courses are marketed to you during your program orientation. For example, Sports & Learning in Australian Culture at the University of Sydney may only receive 2 credits. When in doubt, please consult with OCS by email and include a full course syllabus to allow us to determine the course content. 



Major, Minor, Distribution Or Diversity Credit
Approval of courses toward the major, minor, distribution or diversity credit is decided by academic departments. For course credit to count toward your major or minor or a college requirement, these courses must be approved in writing by the appropriate academic department and OCS must be notified.



Course approvals should generally be requested prior to departure (when possible) from the appropriate individual within the department and based on the course information you provide. Approvals may usually be requested from abroad by following each department’s guidelines listed on the OCS Course Approval Form for M/M/Distribution credit.

Approvals may be requested:
•    Before departure (using the course approval form or via email)
•    From abroad via email
•    Upon return via email

In all cases, any approvals you receive must be forwarded to OCS or dropped off in Eustis 103.
 

 
GRADES
Colby programs (Salamanca, Dijon, St Petersburg, and Bigelow): Grades received and courses taken abroad on a Colby program will appear on your transcript and will count in your Colby GPA. This includes passing and non-passing grades. You may elect to take a course satisfactory/ unsatisfactory prior to a specific deadline, which will be announced once you arrive on-site. Resident directors of Colby programs submit the grades for students in their program directly to the registrar at Colby.
 
Non-Colby programs: Grades earned and courses taken abroad on a Non-Colby program are posted on your transcript by the registrar but do not figure in your Colby GPA. These grades do appear on your Colby transcript, and it is quite legitimate for you to count them when you are asked to compute your own GPA for the purpose of employment or graduate school. The policy to grant credit, but not factor grades into the GPA for non-Colby programs stems from the inherent impossibility of controlling the curricula of all the programs that we approve for credit transfer. On a Colby program, we exercise control over the curriculum, the faculty and staff, the content of the courses, and the grading practices. The policy to factor grades earned on one’s own program into the GPA, but not those of other institutions and providers is quite standard at institutions like Colby.

You will not receive credit for any course in which a grade of less than C- was received, and the grade will appear on your Colby transcript.


 
PASS/FAIL
You may not take a course on a pass/fail basis unless this is the only grading option available for that particular course.
 
LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT
Students studying on programs in countries where the host language is not English are required to study the local language for the duration of the program. This includes both languages taught at Colby College and languages that are not included in the Colby curriculum. In some programs such as DIS (Denmark), the Danish language course will be in addition to 4 other courses for a total of 5 courses. 



For study in Israel, Colby requires all students studying at a university in Israel to enroll in Ulpan and in an appropriate Hebrew language course during the semester which follows. (Most Israeli universities require Ulpan and it allows the semester to be long enough to meet Colby’s requirement for credit). Colby will normally award 2 credits for Ulpan and no more than 6 credits total for the study of Hebrew during Ulpan and the semester.

Language modification: Students who have received special accommodation for language study at Colby College should speak directly with the Office of Off-Campus Study so we may assist you in choosing a suitable program. If you feel you cannot handle the study of a foreign language, you should consider going to an English speaking country.

Aside from a language modification or certain departmental exceptions, there will be no exceptions to Colby's language policy.
 
ATTENDANCE AND EXAM REQUIREMENTS

You are expected to attend classes regularly and to comply with all the requirements of your program. If you are studying at a foreign university or institution, you are required to take the regular final examinations for all courses in which you are enrolled, or to have an alternative assessment of your work if you are not allowed to take the final examinations. If you do not take a final examination in a course for which an exam is given, you will receive no Colby credit for the course. If you leave your program early or for extended periods of travel while classes are in session, the amount of credit you receive will be reduced. In extreme cases, you will receive no Colby credit for your period abroad. Please note that no course abroad may be taken pass/fail and receive Colby credit.

In some countries (for example, the UK and Ireland), exams given at the end of the year may be the primary or only basis on which grades are determined. We require students who enroll in a foreign university to undertake a course of study equivalent to that which a degree student would take, and we expect them to complete all of the readings, papers, exams, and other work required. We also expect that faculty will assess students' work according to their usual methods and standards. Therefore, students must take all exams, including end-of-year or sessional exams, that the university will permit them to take.
 
Note that while many universities require visiting students to take exams, some do not; and some US colleges do not require their students to take exams. You may hear conflicting information, so remember that you must follow Colby’s policy, regardless of what other institutions may require, in order to receive credit. 

At the London School of Economics this always means exams in all courses and half-courses in which the student is enrolled.

At other UK universities it means Degree exams except in the following situations:

  • When graduating students do not sit an exam.
  • When a student’s work is of high enough quality during the term to be excused from the exam using the same standards applied to the UK students receiving exemption from a degree exam in classes where such an exemption is possible.
  • When a student joins a year-long course part way through the course. This situation would apply most frequently to spring semester students.
  • When the degree exam covers materials not covered by the class taken by the student.

NOTE: Please take these exam policies into account as you plan your stay abroad.

Many students find this end-of-year exam system daunting because it differs so much from what they are accustomed to here. Don't hesitate to ask your tutors or other advisers for advice about how to prepare for them (sometimes you may be able to review exams from previous years, which will help give you an idea of the approach taken and the kinds of questions asked). The vast majority of students do well on the exams, but returning students advise that you take them seriously and keep up with your work throughout the year.
 

 
INDEPENDENT STUDY PROJECTS (ISP)
If you participate in an SIT program, you must bring your ISP project and any work back to campus to be reviewed by a Colby faculty member upon return. Before you go, you must identify a Colby faculty member who is willing to read and evaluate your project. Select someone familiar with your expected topic and discuss it with them.

Credit will only be transferred after this faculty member has read and approved your independent study. Failure of the work to meet Colby's standards may jeopardize the transfer of credit. If, upon return, your ISP topic has changed considerably, or the selected faculty is no longer able to read it, you must find another Colby faculty member who is willing to do so. If the ISP is written in a language not understood by your reader, it is your responsibility to translate it into English or identify another faculty member to read it.
 
JANPLAN CREDIT

Colby students on programs which are in session for most of January and whose total duration is at least eighteen weeks are exempt from the January program requirement for that year. Holidays and vacation periods are deducted from the 18 weeks.  

Students who are abroad for a full year, are also exempt from JanPlan for that year.  This will be reflected on your Colby record at the completion of your program. Each student who is in residence for seven or more semesters must complete three January programs but must complete two if in residence for six semesters or fewer.

Programs qualifying for JanPlan exemptions include:

In Fall:    

  • Colby in Salamanca (integrated program if finishes in January)
  • Hamilton in Paris (if Fall only)
  • American University of Beirut
  • (some programs in Spain and France which finish in January may qualify. Student must provide calendar)

In Spring:   

  • Arcadia in Granada
  • Colby in Salamanca (integrated and language programs)
  • Cambridge University
  • EDUCO
  • Hebrew University
  • Kings College
  • Oxford University
  • Pitzer in Ecuador
  • Royal Holloway
  • SOAS
  • University College London
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Haifa
  • University of Sussex
  • University of York
  • Washington University in Chile
  • Wesleyan in Regensburg
(Note: If you believe that your program qualifies for the Jan Plan exemption and is not listed here, submit a program calendar for your semester to the Off-Campus Study Office for review.)

 

 
COURSE SELECTION
Course selection should generally be made on consultation with your Colby academic advisor prior to departure. You will be asked to list your course selections on your Colby and program applications. In many cases, however, these may change upon arrival in country. You should always notify OCS  of any curricular changes. If you have not taken the courses you listed on your application, and have not obtained permission to change your courses, you may not receive complete credit for your semester or year abroad. You should advise the Off-Campus Study Office of changes at the beginning of your off-campus program in order to resolve any issues that may prevent transfer of credit. If there are discrepancies, your off-campus credits may not appear on your transcript when you return, delaying your ability to use them in applications for graduate school or other purposes.

Please be aware that Colby may not approve full credit for certain courses taken abroad that do not meet Colby’s standards of academic rigor, even when these courses are marketed to you during your program orientation. For example, Sports & Learning in Australian Culture at the University of Sydney may only receive 2 credits. When in doubt, please consult with OCS by email and include a full course syllabus to allow us to determine the course content.

Please note that not all of the courses on an approved program will automatically be approved individually and for all students.

Guidelines for Course Selection
  • You must take the equivalent of a full course load (15-16 U.S. credits). Check the OCS Course Load Requirements.
  • No classes may be taken pass/fail
  • No credit will be given for audited courses.
  • You will not receive credit for a class you have already taken at Colby
  • No credit will be given for physical education and other subjects not taught at Colby
  • You will receive credit only for those courses for which you receive a grade on your transcript (including internships, independent study, and research)
  • In a non-English speaking country, you must take at least one course each semester in the language of the country in which you are studying. This course may be either an academic subject course taught in the language of the country or an appropriate language/grammar course.
Transcripts for students on non-Colby programs are reviewed by the Off-Campus Study Office before credits are posted by the registrar.
 
LEAVE OF ABSENCE FROM COLBY
All students planning to study off-campus will automatically be placed on LEAVE OF ABSENCE for the period during which they intend to be away. This means you WILL NOT participate in the housing lottery for the semester you will be away. Course selection/registration is closed to those who are scheduled to be on leave for a given term. If your off-campus program(s) change or you decide not to study abroad, you must contact the Office of Off-Campus Study to have your off-campus study program(s) and/or Leave of Absence adjusted. Be aware that housing and course selection options are limited if you miss key deadlines.

 

 
COURSE CHANGES

If you change any of your course selections you should notify Colby’s OCS office. If there are unauthorized changes you may not get full credit for your semester abroad.



 
ONE SEMESTER LIMIT

Any student (except if exempt) who wishes to study abroad for a year in the same place or two different places must submit a petition to the Advisory Committee on Off-Campus Study by March 1. You must show compelling academic reasons to be allowed to study away for more than a semester, and you must have the solid support of your major advisor/s. It will not be possible to extend your stay once you are already abroad as a junior; the request for more than one semester must be made as part of the sophomore-year application process.