Here’s Why Your Study Abroad Advisor is Just Not That Into You

by Mary Ellen Dingley

Study abroad advisors are the rock stars of the study abroad process; they give you the individual attention and study abroad advice you need to find a program that fits your interests. They also guide you through the (at times) overwhelming process of getting paperwork turned in, paying fees, applying for scholarships, and getting your visa.

Study abroad advisors love seeing their students fly off on new adventures! But, if your advisor cringes when you walk in the door, you should ask yourself why? Your study abroad advisor is (or may be) just not that into you because...

Maps laid out on a table
Leave the piles of maps and guidebooks at home; instead, show up with a refined list of a few destinations or subjects you’re interested in studying abroad.

1. Your goals aren’t focused.

You can’t show up in the study abroad office just saying “I want an adventure!” Being willing to adventure anywhere in the world is a great perspective, but you have to give them a little more to work with than that. What do you want out of studying abroad? To complete all the credits for your major? To learn a language? To gain in-depth knowledge about a certain region? To dip your toes into a career? Before you do anything else, you need to know your goals. Then when you walk into your meeting with your first study abroad advisor, have them written down. It might seem a little cheesy or over prepared, but if you can hand a list to your advisor it will make their life so much easier! They’ll be able to recommend a study abroad program that will lead you to your goals. 

2. You don’t communicate your needs. 

Do you have certain school credits you have to get done? Do you need certain things for your physical or mental health, such as dietary needs? Do you have some dates when you absolutely must be back home? If you don’t communicate those to your study abroad advisor, they won’t be able to recommend study abroad programs that work for you, they won’t understand why you keep rejecting programs they recommend, and everyone will be frustrated. Always prepare questions to ask your study abroad advisor before each appointment, so you can continue to guide the process.

Be upfront with them right away so they can be on the lookout for programs that fit your needs! 
Kids cheering at a computer screen
Don’t be an overeager, hard to focus kiddo when you meet with your advisor. Establish goals BEFORE you meet with them. 

3. You can’t meet deadlines.

I know, it is so hard to keep all your paperwork straight and meet every deadline while in school, and it only gets harder when you’re trying to study abroad. It’s vitally important that you get paperwork in on time, not only so you can go on an adventure, but also so your study abroad advisor doesn’t have a heart attack! Don’t make your advisor track you down or keep their office open late. Do what you gotta do to get everything turned in on time; it will make both your lives easier! 

4. You’re signing up with a friend just ‘cause.

Your study abroad advisor has seen a lot of different students come through his or her door. They know when someone was dragged along by peer pressure or signed up with a shrug rather than enthusiasm. It’s no fun, not to mention difficult, to advise someone whose heart isn’t into studying abroad. If you’re just not that into studying abroad, your advisor is not going to be that into prepping you for it. Think hard about whether or not you are applying to study abroad for you, or because of pressure from others. 

5. You change your mind a lot.

This is difficult, because you want to see the WHOLE WORLD. But, the world will wait for you; right now you need to focus on what you want to do with this particular semester. If you’re coming into your study abroad advisor’s office talking excitedly about Shanghai one day, and then popping in to ask about Rio de Janeiro the next, it’s going to be hard for them to help you in your search. They can’t make the decision for you; you’ve got to sit down with a map and a list of your goals and dreams. Roll a dice if you must, but make a choice! 

Open planner and pen
Have you heard of one of these? It’s called a planner. Get one. Love it. Put all your deadlines into it so you don’t miss them.

6. You keep asking the same questions.

Feel free to always confirm things, but if you’ve asked five times when the scholarship deadline is or seven times which classes are offered in Cuzco, maybe it’s time to invest in a planner. Your advisor is there to give you information, but it’s your job to know what to do with that information. Write down all the important dates and answers to your questions. Make a little spreadsheet with facts about each study abroad program you’re considering so you can compare and contrast. Your advisor will love you for it! 

7. You don’t take their advice into consideration.

Obviously you make the ultimate decision about your study abroad program, but study abroad advisors are professionals for a reason. They’ve helped hundreds of students have fulfilling experiences abroad and you should take their expertise and experience into consideration. When they tell you that with your needs, a certain study abroad program won’t be a good fit, really think about that. Make a note of it in your spreadsheet. If they say that a certain program’s application process is more difficult than most, get started on it early. They get paid to know these things, take advantage of their wisdom! 

Person using their phone at a table
If you’re not interested in studying abroad and not engaged in the process, don’t waste your advisor’s time. 

8. You generally don’t seem engaged in the process.

If you don’t do your own research, forget to think of questions to ask your study abroad advisor, you roll into appointments late, and you aren’t totally psyched about studying archeology in Peru or theater in London, or whatever it is that gets you pumped, then you will be pretty lame to work with. Don’t be that person. This is YOUR study abroad experience, which could change YOUR life. Be intentional. Don’t just go with the flow on this one; ask a lot of questions, of your advisor, of former participants, of the program coordinators and of yourself.

You owe it to yourself to make this experience the best it can be, and that means being invested.

Nothing will warm a study abroad advisor’s heart more than seeing a student walk in the door with their planner, spreadsheets, brochures, and list of questions. This will take some time and commitment, but it will pay off. 

Studying abroad can be an life changing experience, but it takes some work to make it right. You know how the saying goes, “It takes two to make a thing go right. It takes two to make it outta sight.” DJ EZ Rock knows what’s what, and so does your study abroad advisor. 

Don’t sit on the sidelines of your life. Engage. Research. Use myGoAbroad to find your perfect study abroad program. Be brave enough to think outside the “hot spot” destinations. Your study abroad advisor can help you take the right steps toward a great adventure, so show them a little appreciation and DON’T do any of these eight annoying little things.