Many AFSers are able to get academic credit for the time they spend in school abroad; however, that’s not the case for everyone. Because academic credit is determined by your school in the U.S., rather than through AFS, the best advice we can give is to begin talking to your school early. Below are some steps to get you started.
Before You Leave
- Meet with your high school guidance counselor and ask whether they will grant you credit for your study abroad. Every school’s policy is different regarding the transfer of school credit. AFS cannot guarantee that your high school will grant academic credit for the courses you completed while abroad.
- Create a study plan that outlines which credits must be taken here at home and which credits your high school will accept from abroad. Make sure to go over the plan together with your guidance counselor, and both you and your school should keep a copy.
Download this form to review with your school.
- Download a Host School Info Sheet. Once you start your application, you’ll be able to access information about what school will be like in your host country, which classes are available, and whether you’ll be able to get an official transcript.
While You’re Abroad
- Take classes for which you might be given credit. These usually include math, science, art, history, and your foreign language. The classes that are harder to find abroad will be your U.S. history or government courses and English. (In non-English speaking countries, English is taught as a second language so you will most likely learn grammar, not literature, in an English course abroad). Keep in mind, however, that you may not be able to choose your courses while abroad.
- Keep detailed records of your school year abroad. List all of the courses taken and write a detailed description, in English, of each class. Bring home the syllabus of each class along with samples of your work including any quizzes, tests, and homework. Get a profile sheet of your host school, if one exists. Make sure that all of this is collected and in your possession before your host school closes for vacation.
- Ask your host school teachers to write a letter. Have a favorite teacher write a signed letter about your performance in their class. They may choose to write it in their native language if they do not know English and you can translate the statement.
- Bring home an official transcript, if possible. It is your responsibility to ask for an official transcript from your host school. AFS cannot help you once you have returned home. Be advised that depending on your enrollment status your host school may not be able to provide this.
When You Come Home
- Present documentation of your coursework abroad to your high school in the U.S. When you get home, show your list of classes to your school, along with any supplemental materials you brought home with you.
- Earn college credit. To get college credit for your “new” language, take the CLEP (College Level Exemplary Placement) test soon after returning home. All colleges offer this test or know where it is given. For a summer abroad program, you could earn up to 8 credit hours and for the year or semester abroad program you could earn up to 15 credit hours. The amount of credit will vary from college to college.
Please remember that while AFS supports your efforts, you are entirely responsible for making arrangements to receive academic credit.