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How Can I Succeed Abroad?

Rice students generally do very well in their courses taken abroad, but you will need to be prepared for some differences in how courses are taught and how you will be evaluated. You may find the educational system abroad to be quite different from Rice, especially if you are directly enrolled in a foreign university.

There are several differences: 

  • You will typically receive less direct supervision than at Rice, so you must be self-disciplined enough to keep up with the coursework and to prepare yourself for examinations on your own. This means finding the right balance between your academic responsibilities and your desire to explore and travel.
  • Often, each course grade depends entirely, or almost entirely, upon the results of a final examination or final paper. Study abroad students tend to underestimate the amount of time and effort required to adequately prepare for examinations or to write final papers. Local students may be allowed to re-sit a failed examination, but this is not an option for visiting students. You should plan to work diligently throughout the semester to be ready for the final examination or term paper. Amidst the fun and excitement of experiencing a new culture, final exams and papers have a way of sneaking up on study abroad students.
  • You will be joining local students at the foreign university who:
    - have specialized in a particular field earlier than American students
    - are tracking through a three-year curriculum that does not include our broad-based introductory (freshman) year
    - are generally following a prescribed program of courses within one department and know what it takes to be academically successful
    - are spending considerable study time outside the classroom; you must be prepared to do the same. 

Remember: If you are not prepared for examinations, you will likely earn low grades on the program transcript, which will be a permanent part of your portfolio of academic achievements to be presented with applications to graduate schools, professional schools or potential employers. No Rice credit can be awarded for a course taken abroad pass/fail or for a course with a grade valued at less than C-. Some Rice departments may require a higher grade for the course to satisfy a major or minor requirement.

Rest assured that most Rice students excel in their study abroad programs once they understand the differences in the evaluations and expectations at the foreign university.