Want to go travel abroad but worried about graduating on time? We’ve got some info for you.
Taking off a whole semester off from school does seem a lot to fit into your school schedule, especially if you want to graduate "on time" ... but that doesn't mean it shouldn't happen.
Pst: Is something other than school holding you back from being an international volunteer? We’ve put together this free guide about overcoming obstacles so you can make your dream of being abroad really happen.
Whether you’re just starting college, need a break or want to go abroad before graduating, here’s how you can still volunteer and stay on track to graduate on time:
- Count It As An Internship
- Check With A Counselor
- Take Online Classes
- Alter Your Other Semesters
- Go Anyways!
Count It As An Internship
You may be able to count your semester abroad as an internship. You will need to discuss the program you're looking at with your school and might have some extra assignments associated with your semester abroad to help it fit the qualifications of your university or your program. That may mean writing a reflection paper at the end of your semester or filling out weekly reports. It's up to your university and usually depends on your major.
ILP (International Language Programs) is not affiliated with any university, but some ILP volunteers have been able to count their semester abroad with ILP as an internship. ILP is happy to provide any information you might need before discussing the possibility of a semester abroad with us for your internship.
Check With A Counselor
You never know unless you ask, right? ILP may not be one of the official volunteer programs for your school, but your counselor may be able to check and see if you can still get credit.
Maybe you can count a semester living in Russia as a language credit if you study up and learn the language while you are there. Maybe the fact that you'll be teaching English abroad or helping in an orphanage for 20 hours a week can count towards your major. You never know until you ask, right?
Take Online Classes
You'll need to figure out what you're program will be like before counting this as an option. ILP Volunteers are in the classroom part time (for no more than 20 hours a week) which means you have lots of free time to explore your country and fit in an online class or two. Plus, every location has internet access at the apartment or the school, but just know that the internet abroad isn’t like it is at home.
If you go this route, it’ll be important for you to talk to your professors about completing assignments on time and finding ways to submit them when the wifi is working. Depending on the country you go to, it will be helpful to take a class that can be flexible with deadlines in case you're having trouble connecting on the day an assignment is due. We have had volunteers make this work!
We’ve got some guidelines about making your semester work well with your class schedule how to make a good online class schedule even when you’re abroad. While we have had volunteers take online classes during their semester, we encourage volunteers to not overload their schedule ... no one wants to be stuck staying for a final when the rest of their ILP group is exploring the Great Wall of China or taking a weekend in Prague.
Alter Your Other Semesters
Maybe your last year of school means you’ll only be taking a handful of credits over two semesters. Maybe it would work to have a busier semester in the fall so you can still stay on track even if you go volunteer in the winter.
It's worth looking at where you are in terms of graduating to see if you can pack in some more credits for a couple of semester so you can "open up" a semester for volunteers. Plus, who wouldn't love the idea of heading to somewhere like the Dominican Republic during the cold winter months?
I was worried about graduating within four years, but guess what … once I graduated, I sort of wished I didn’t rush through my college experience. Even though I did complete a study abroad during my undergrad, I was able to graduate in four years. I ended up volunteering after I graduated (and loved it!) but I wished I would have volunteered while I was in school .... and then gone again after I graduated.
It’s not the end of the world if you don’t graduate on time. Once you’re done with college, you'll need to move onto your next stage of life (for me, that was getting a full-time job) … why not postpone that for another semester so you can go live abroad in Eastern Europe or live in Asia for a while?
There are lots of ways to help fit in a semester with ILP during your school semester — our volunteers do it all the time and we are here to help! Get more student help on our blog and click that button to talk with an ILP representative who can help answer your questions: