Students who go abroad with API experience an unmatched education in and out of the classroom. Before departure, API provides students with study abroad resources to help prepare them for academics in another country and ease the initial transition. Safe and comfortable housing allows them to focus on academics, while weekend excursions offer a break from textbooks and the opportunity to experience life in a new country firsthand.
On-site English-speaking coordinators and directors offer support to students the entire time they are studying abroad. They can offer advice and solutions to students as they adjust to a new country’s educational models and norms, get to know their new teachers, and understand academic expectations. API also provides students with extra language tutoring throughout their stay.
API believes in the importance of providing extensive pre-departure services and support for students on-site to ensure academic success. API recognizes that studying at host universities abroad, with a wide variety of credit systems and structures, can be challenging. To alleviate these challenges for students and their home universities, from the time the program is developed until the student returns from abroad, API is available to assist the student and home university every step along the way. API provides both its students and its partners with extensive guidance throughout the pre-departure period and during the experience abroad.
Great care is taken when choosing locations and host universities abroad. API strives to ensure that academic quality meets U.S. university standards without compromising the integrity of the host university’s academic system and teaching methods. All host universities selected by API are either formally recognized by the local ministry of education, which is considered to be the equivalent of the regional accreditation process in the United States, or a U.S. school of record certifies the academic rigor of the coursework and issues a transcript. Several API partner universities abroad are accredited by U.S. accrediting agencies (e.g., John Cabot University in Rome, American University of Sharjah) or have been accredited by other prestigious groups such as ABET, EQUIS or AACSB.
At API, our approach personifies two well-known adages, “the best defense is a good offense” and “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure.” API provides students with extensive information prior to their departure abroad, so they are well aware of the academic structure they will experience abroad. We believe that in doing so, we can help students to avoid some of the pitfalls of studying within a new educational system and minimize the adjustment period.
ACCOMMODATIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
The API medical form asks students to indicate any learning disabilities or needs that would require special accommodations. The API Director/Coordinator uses this information to verify with our partner institutions what type of accommodations can be provided to the student onsite. If specific accommodations are not available onsite, students will be provided with advance warning so as to make alternate arrangements or discuss alternate program sites that can better meet their needs.
COURSE FORM & PRE-REGISTRATION
Starting with their acceptance into an API program, students are provided with electronic post-acceptance forms including the course form. This course form explains the general academic structure of the program. Students are reminded of any language requirements if they will be taking courses with other international students or local students, the number of credit hours per course, and the minimum number of courses required to maintain full-time status. If pre-registration is possible at the host university, students will be asked to provide their preliminary course choices.
API TOOLBOX (ELECTRONIC ORIENTATION SYSTEM)
Approximately one month prior to the program start date, students gain access to the API Toolbox online orientation, which includes information pulled from former student evaluations. The information provided helps future students to understand the university organization, including: class size, the nature of student/professor interaction, how many hours per week a student could expect to devote to their studies, what outside resources were required to complete coursework, the primary method of evaluation and assessment for grading purposes, and challenges previous students faced in their academic program abroad.
Upon arrival abroad, all API students participate in an extensive orientation program. Academic components that are covered in API orientation sessions include an overview of the local education system, local classroom norms, assessment methods, and grading scales. Students are encouraged to seek the assistance of the API Resident Director/Coordinator in the event of any academic concern or problem. Students are alerted to the availability of an hour of language tutoring per week through API at no additional cost. Students are informed that API RD/RCs can help to arrange professional tutoring for specific subject areas other than language. In addition to the API-only meetings, all students will participate in an academic orientation at the local host university.
REGISTRATION & ADJUSTMENT PERIOD
The most challenging period of the experience abroad can be the registration period. For example, a student who failed to review grammatical principles prior the on-site placement exam, but has completed all prerequisite courses to complete a language class at the advanced level, may perform poorly on a placement test. API recommends that students contact their home institution to determine whether credit can be awarded at a lower level, perhaps with documentation of course content. If the student confirms with the home university that credit cannot be issued at a lower level, an RD/RC would meet with the local academic director to determine if a student’s level could be reassessed to confirm proper course placement.
As students adjust to a new academic environment, they may experience confusion about local professors' expectations for assignments. For example, API students directly enrolled in French institutions in Paris learn how to structure papers and essays in the API-taught course. Our RD/RCs ensures that students are aware of how French students would typically structure a paper and the type of analysis that would be expected from a local student.
Students struggling in a given course may talk to API RD/RCs about the best ways to get extra tutoring or potentially soliciting extra assignments to try to improve their grades. If a student is struggling with a particular professor, and the drop/add period still allows for it, API RD/RCs will work with local staff to determine if the API student can be moved to another division of the specific course, or alternatively, switch into another course altogether.
EARLY NOTIFICATION OF PROBLEMS
API believes early intervention when students are demonstrating poor performance can be a highly effective tool to ensure that students successfully complete a semester. In many language programs where students participate in courses specifically designed for visiting university-level students, class attendance is mandatory. Students are alerted to the importance of class attendance during the orientation period, and both host families and host institutions are asked to notify API if a student is not attending class.
In certain situations, the host university may not share grade or attendance information with API staff. As many students are less likely to proactively seek academic assistance even when they are struggling, API believes in the importance of conducting mid-term evaluations with our students. During these evaluations, students have the opportunity to share concerns over their performance in class, any negative or positive interactions with host professors, etc.
Similarly, students experiencing difficulties with specific professors are often too concerned about their grades or too shy to speak directly with the professor in question. In other cases, the problem the student is experiencing directly relates to a cultural difference. RD/RCs are careful to listen to the concerns of our students and provide advice if possible. If the situation does not stem from a cultural misunderstanding, with the student’s permission, the RD/RC will seek to intervene on the student’s behalf.
As with hiring and firing in the United States, complaints about a professor are treated very delicately. Generally, due to the complexities of labor laws at home and abroad, a complaint from API may not be sufficient to ensure that a professor will be removed from a particular course. However, host universities have been responsive when API could document misconduct by a professor. In one instance, students documented how a professor had failed to appear timely to class on countless occasions, had demonstrated anti-American sentiment in class, and generally was failing to provide a welcoming environment conducive to student learning. Upon receiving these complaints from students, the API Director/Coordinator was able to persuade the Academic Director to identify a substitute professor who conducted the course for the second half of the semester, thereby avoiding further problems. API RD/RCs retain negative feedback to analyze longer-term trends and advise future students.
MAXIMIZING LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
To supplement learning in the classroom and further encourage language immersion and increase cultural awareness, API students are encouraged to take advantage of API-designed cultural activities and events, as well as integrated university activities. Events such as student performances, clubs, and student tutoring can be highly complementary to student learning within the classroom. API staff abroad recognize the importance of informing students of options available to them to integrate with local students and to participate in experiential learning activities. Students often benefit from unique learning opportunities outside of the classroom, such as intercambios (language exchanges) arranged by API.
Each semester, an average of 5-10 API students may need to temporarily or permanently leave an API program due to personal or family emergencies. API RD/RCs help inform professors of impending absences, arrange for work to be completed from the U.S. or complete exams early. If the timing of the student’s departure will not permit course completion, API will work with the student to file formal withdrawal paperwork so that the student’s transcript will reflect an official withdrawal notation rather than failing grades.
In the majority of sites, API RD/RCs still personally collect transcripts from the local host university. They compare course confirmations provided by students or the host university at the start of the program with the courses reflected on the transcript. Any discrepancies are provided to API Texas, so students can be contacted to verify any course changes that may have taken place during the semester. If a student confirms any mistakes, RD/RCs will work to correct the transcript with the host university, before an erroneous transcript is mailed to the student’s home university.
Global Leadership Academy (GLA)
Their world was transformed. Now it's their turn to transform the world.
API offers returned participants a chance to continue engaging with their international experience by sharing it with their personal, professional, and campus communities. We encourage all API alumni to become an API Global Leader and learn how to integrate their international experience into their chosen future path. Their experiences will no-doubt inspire others to explore the world and study, intern, teach, volunteer or work abroad.
About the GLA
API alumni are encouraged to join the API Global Leadership Academy for either a semester or academic year and build core competencies of global leadership in a dynamic and creative atmosphere. Participants will develop skills to share their experience in their community, on their campus, and in job interviews. They will host fun events to tell their story and learn about the field of international education. They will be empowered to transform the world in a concrete way. And they will leave the academy with more than just a certificate of participation - they will leave with an edge in the global marketplace and a strong contribution to their résumé.
API seeks highly motivated leaders who are eager to share the transformative power of their international experience with others. API seeks leaders who are comfortable collaborating with others to execute common goals, have demonstrated leadership roles on campus or in the community and can work independently and creatively. API seeks participants who have completed an API study, intern, gap, teach, work or volunteer abroad program.
As a member of the GLA, participants will:
- Develop leadership competencies in a global context by participating monthly in both group and independent activities.
- Engage with their community by sharing their story through collaborative event planning, whether on their college campus or in the local area.
- Create opportunities for others to be transformed by international education through content-development and targeted outreach.
- Learn from experts who have successfully integrated their international experience into leadership opportunities in international organizations, including career webinars highlighting API alumni in a variety of career fields.
- Take their passion for being abroad to the next level by working closely with leaders in the international education field to develop professional skills.
- Learn more about how to apply their international experience to their career. Gain in-depth knowledge about how to appropriately reflect their international experience on a résumé, cover letter, and in job interviews.
- Earn monthly rewards that reflect the skills they've earned and the work they're doing in the program - from reflection journals to in-depth résumé and LinkedIn profile reviews, API will reward the skills that participants are building as an API Global Leader. Academic yearlong participants earn a travel grant upon successful program completion and semester participants have the opportunity to win a travel grant.
- Commit approximately 3-4 hours per month in the semester-long program and 10 hours per month in the academic year-long program to program participation, including interactive webinars and team-building activities.
Learning and Engagement Digital Badge Program
The needs of program participants continue to evolve and educational trends shift to meet the demands of the modern student. At API, we are committed to incorporating high-impact educational practices into our program models. We believe that persistent dedication to educational innovation allows us to better engage this generation of students. We know our students seek competency and skill-based learning opportunities.
There has been published research and anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of the gamification of student learning. To build upon this trend, and expand upon the learning management systems (LMS) already in place to support student learning, the API Learning and Engagement Badge Program was born in August 2016. Through this innovative new program, API seeks to promote goals central to our work as a field with our program participants: intercultural learning, purposeful community engagement, professional skill and career development, global leadership, and mindful travel.
About Badge Program
The API Learning and Engagement Badge Program allows API to engage participants in the important work of aligning WHAT they do with WHY they do it -- promoting skill development and reflection with each learning opportunity (e.g., conducting cultural research during the pre-departure phase, participating in a cultural event on-site, committing to a volunteer activity.) Participants in the API Learning and Engagement Badge Program will earn portable, digital badges for use on résumés, e-portfolios, LinkedIn profiles, personal branding, and websites. By clicking on the electronic badge icons, viewers will be linked to a detailed explanation of the learning goals behind each badge and the intentional activities the participant completed to earn it.
The API Learning and Engagement Badge Program is wide-ranging, allowing participants the opportunity to participate and earn learning badges before, during, and after their education abroad experience. We value the significant learning that happens during each phase of the participant’s experience and have worked to select badge activities that support this specialized learning.
The API Learning and Engagement Badge Program will be managed by a cross-divisional team at API and will utilize existing digital platforms and the API learning management system (LMS.)
The API Learning and Engagement Badge Program debuted in Fall 2017 with an initial cohort of participants in three study abroad locations with an additional site in Spring 2018. Following assessment and evaluation, the API Learning and Engagement Badge Program is now available to participants in all API study locations.
As an organization, API has continually evaluated student learning needs and provided support to help students achieve their education abroad goals. API’s transition to online support materials in 2003 marked an opportunity to embrace new technology and offer students access to critical information on their own timeline. In 2005, the API Toolbox debuted as a centralized support system for student preparation pre-departure, success on-site, and support during re-entry. Since 2005, API has embraced new technologies and management systems to keep pace with changing student needs and digital learning fluency. Online orientation materials, peer-to-peer advising management, video and media campaigns to highlight student voices, and myriad other learning-focused online and in-person trainings and campaigns demonstrate API’s commitment to meeting students where they are, keeping them fulfilled and thriving.
As an organization, API believes that the following goals are central to our work and seeks to maximize the impact the experience of studying, interning, teaching, or volunteering abroad has on each participant. The learning goals of the API Learning and Engagement Badge Program are reflected in the five API Badges, which include:
Career Development: The learner who earns this badge will display dedicated action toward integrating their international experience into their future career and professional trajectory. The learner will be familiar with their individual outcomes of international experience and how those outcomes strengthen their career preparedness and complement their skill se
Community Engagement: The learner who earns this badge will display commitment toward proactive and meaningful engagement with their immediate community, whether at home or abroad.
Intercultural LearningThe learner who earns this badge will display an active interest in learning about the host culture and international environment in diverse ways. The learner will apply cultural knowledge to more successfully navigate international environments.
Leadership: The learner who earns this badge will display the core tenets of successful leadership, including the ability to successfully connect, collaborate, advocate, and integrate their international experience and newfound intercultural knowledge into their personal leadership philosophy.
Mindful Travel: The learner who earns this badge will display an intentional approach to international travel, including an awareness of safe travel practices, budgeting and financial implications of travel, and the responsibility of sustainable travel.
“I loved API! Everyone was so helpful. It wasn't easy the first week or two adjusting to a totally new place, but API was welcoming and provided tons of information to make the transition comfortable. I loved studying in Florence and hopefully will be back again to visit one day. It was amazing being able to travel and experience new cultures in order to gain new perspectives."
Become an Affiliate
Thank you for your interest in affiliation with API. An affiliation with API provides a unique and formal relationship between your institution and API that will benefit your students and facilitate the study abroad experience.
- It does not in any way limit the many options that students will have for study abroad.
- An affiliation with API does not require a minimum level of student participation in API programs.
- Your institution will expand its study abroad program offerings at no cost: API administers over 100 programs in more than 20 countries and 50 cities, which vary by subject matter, location, duration, and cost.
- You and your staff can have more input and influence over the quality and consistency of API's overseas programs. We work closely with our affiliate colleges and universities, and we value your recommendations and insight.
- An affiliation agreement provides for a closer working relationship between your office and API. This relationship affords API a better understanding of policies on your campus, and thus API is better able to serve the needs of your particular students.
- We also offer the opportunity for you and/or a staff member to make periodic site visits in order to evaluate and keep current on API programs. Participation in site visits is not contingent on a minimum level of student participation in API programs; likewise, API does not expect that student participation must increase as a result of participation in API site visits. Site visit participants are expected to complete a program evaluation upon completion of the site visit.
- API provides extensive services to all affiliated institutions to assist the study abroad office in advising students who select API as their program of choice. API will provide regular programming updates and supplemental advising tools to equip your office with a better understanding of API's programs and services. API will also maintain an open line of communication with your office to ensure that you have the most updated information about your students enrolled in API programs.
- As an API affiliate, you can log-in any time to API's Advisor Access system which will allow you to monitor the status of your students' applications.
- As an API affiliate, students from your institution will be eligible for additional scholarships. API awards scholarship credits annually to each affiliated partner institution, to facilitate student participation in study abroad.
API conducts 1-2 familiarization site visits each year. Participation allows our institutional partners to personally experience API and the way we administer our programs abroad. Participants will visit the program sites and tour the host institutions and on-site facilities; meet API on-site directors, domestic staff, and current API students; and visit API housing options and observe classes at the host institutions. These opportunities equip participants with first-hand knowledge of API and the kind of programs we offer. This is beneficial to advisors and faculty as they advise students of high-quality study abroad opportunities. Site visits also include opportunities to see some of the very places that API students will visit on excursions included in API programs. API has never required a minimum level of student enrollments in order to qualify to participate in an API site visit. We truly believe that in order to have full confidence in a program, it must be evaluated, and we welcome input regarding our programs.
The API Advisory Board seeks to provide API with tangible recommendations regarding academics, program policies, student issues and general programming, and to assess API sites and individual programs.
The main goals of the Advisory Board are:
- To serve as a sounding board for current issues in study abroad, and how those issues should affect API programs and services
- To provide feedback for future direction of API programs
- To assess current API policies
- To formally evaluate API sites and programs, and provide recommendations for improvement
Achieving the mission and goals of the API Advisory Board should result in the following outcomes:
- Continued excellence in API program offerings abroad
- Further strengthening of API’s policies and student services
- Strategic improvements for stateside operations and program function abroad
- Targeted changes to programs based on research initiatives
- Extensive, independent evaluation of API study abroad programs
Current API Advisory Board members:
- Carolyn Becker, Texas Woman's University
- Yana Cornish, University of Georgia
- Lynne Eustis, University of Maine at Farmington
- Jack Hobson, California State University, Fullerton
- Magdalena Grudzinski-Hall, University of South Carolina
- Gregory Jabaut, Siena College
- DeDe Long, University of Arkansas
- Brooke Shure, Meredith College
- Kalpen Trivedi, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
API specializes in creating customized and faculty-led short-term programs abroad. We will work closely with you to develop and implement a customized program that is tailored to your specific needs.