GVSU Faculty-Led Academic Policies

School Abroad

If you are receiving instruction from faculty at a host institution, you will need to consider the role culture plays in shaping the classroom experience.  Teaching pedagogues, classroom structure, and definitions of appropriate classroom behavior may be different from what you are used to.

In a number of countries, the responsibility for learning lays squarely with the student, not the professor.  Consequently, a greater emphasis is placed on the student's independent learning.  Professors may recommend books or articles without assigning specific readings to be completed by a specific date.  Do not mistake this for lack of rigor.  In many cultures, it is up to the student, not the professor, to determine which readings are most appropriate, and to pursue extensive independent research outside of class.  If you are unclear as to what is expected of you, talk to your faculty director.

You may find that some classrooms or materials are not in the condition you expect they should be.  Perhaps the walls are bare, the classroom is simply furnished, or the textbooks are old.  Do not mistake these as indicators of a "bad" school.  The material condition of most American schools is unusually luxurious by world standards, and yet international tests scores seem to suggest there is not a one-to-one correlation between material resources and educational achievement.  Try to avoid focusing on the material condition of your desk, classroom, or textbook, and instead focus on learning. Depending on the country, professors may not hold office hours.  They may feel no particular obligation to help a struggling student.  American notions of "customer service" which conceptualize the university as a business and the student as a customer may seem quite odd to you hosts overseas.  Your hosts may also be quite offended if you bring food or drink into the classroom.

 Integrating into a new education system may require a higher level of motivation and commitment.  Do not be discouraged if it takes some time to adjust.  If you are experiencing difficulties transitioning to a new environment with different expectations, seek assistance from your faculty member or on-site contact.

Course Registration

You will need to register for the program's courses before you depart.  These are listed in the study abroad catalog.

If you are majoring in a different area than the one in which the program is offered, meet with a faculty advisor in your major area to receive clarification on exactly how those credits will be applied to your degree.

A permit is normally required for registration.  Either your faculty director will give this permit directly to the registrar, or (s)he will give it to you.  You will then take the permit to a 'transaction window' at GVSU locations in Allendale, Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon, or Traverse City.


As mentioned earlier, your faculty director may not be your (only) instructor.  Understanding the specific nature of your program will help you determine the way in which you will be addressed, and who will be assessing your work.

Student Evaluations

You will be expected to evaluate the instructor and program after your stay.  The link to the evaluation will be sent to you via e-mail.  In addition, PIC emails program evaluations, which assess all aspects of the program beyond its courses.  Just like regular course evaluations, these are confidential evaluations.

Page last modified July 12, 2012