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Dear Parents of Accepted Students: Semester Away

Dear Parent or Guardian,
 
Congratulations on your student’s acceptance in Philadelphia University’s Study Abroad program! The commitment to studying and living in a foreign culture is already a big accomplishment and an important opportunity for their education. This is only the beginning of an exciting journey for you all. Study Away expands one’s knowledge of and perspective on the world. It also develops important professional and personal skills. However, just like Freshmen year, it will necessarily challenge your student in the process. Therefore, throughout the entire study abroad process we do our best to foster individual student growth both academically and personally. Every year over 150 students study at more than a dozen programs abroad. I’ve witnessed first-hand the invaluable knowledge, independence, and confidence students achieve when they take the lead in the process. These are some of the moments that come to define their undergraduate education.
 
Before your student goes, they will attend orientation sessions and receive materials to help them prepare, as well as access to phone applications such as AlertTraveler that support their health and safety abroad. We highly recommend scheduling a time to review these materials together with your student. We require the students to keep offline copies of their materials easily accessible throughout their pre-departure preparation and semester abroad. I will often refer to these materials to address their questions so reviewing the resources we provide is frequently the quickest way to answer a question.
 
As a study away student, they will be expected to adapt to foreign cultures and standards of living. Based on your student’s acceptance to their selected program, we are confident that they have the independence and maturity to succeed in a foreign setting. To show that we support each student as an independent adult, students are our primary point of contact and we expect them to take ownership of all aspects of their process.
 
We also know that support and encouragement from family and friends paves the way for a student’s success. You and your student may have moments of uncertainty and nervousness along the way. This is very natural! To help through those moments, I’ve included an introduction of how we prepare and support your student, what is required of them in the pre-departure process and at their host institutions, and some suggestions for ways that you can be involved in the process.  
 
Again, congratulations on your student’s achievement and the many successes they can look forward to as a Study Away participant. We at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) - East Falls Campus are excited to be supporting the journey to come.
 
Best wishes,
 
Madeleine S. Wilcox PhD
Director, International and Domestic Study Abroad Programs
 

 
 
What Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) - East Falls Campus will provide:
  • Online pre-departure training covering health, safety, academics, and travel on their PhilaU Study Abroad Account
  • In-person pre-departure orientation with me, the manager of Study Abroad, and peer mentors returning from PhilaU study Abroad Programs. Students will receive an orientation folder that will will review together.
  • Academic advising and approval of credit equivalencies
  • Program evaluation and assessment
  • PDF of Philadelphia University Student Handbook including our emergency numbers
  • GeoBlue Travel Insurance card, policy info and online account
  • AlertTraveler Application for personal device which contains safety and security information, alerts, and check-in requests based on program and GPS location.
  • Peer to Peer Advising
  • 24-hour emergency support and general support during university business hours
  • Reentry support and events for returning students 
For Rome Center Students:
  • Visa application assistance with batch processing
  • Access to group flight booking and airport pickup
  • Initial arrival planning, information and on-site orientation with me and the Rome staff 
  • What the Host Program Provides (provided directly from program and specifics may vary):
Pre-departure handbooks or materials
  • Registration with institution and access to campus and resources
  • On-site orientation and advising from staff and faculty
  • Social and cultural events for students
  • Assistance in arranging and managing accommodations
  • Access to online resources such as public webpages, online portals, social networking sites
  • 24-hour emergency support and general support during office hours 
  • What is required of your students for their health, safety, and academic success:
  • Submission of all online forms and assessment required by Philadelphia University and their individual programs by appropriate due dates. Program deadlines vary and we expect that the students can manage these requirements.
  • Managing course registration and credit approval to stay on track for graduation.
  • Following the rules and advice of their host program, as well as respecting local community standards of conduct and adjusting to way of life. Understand that this will be different than life at home or holiday abroad.
  • Adherence to host program’s academic calendar. Students should not book independent travel until they receive their academic calendar and course schedule.
  • Monitoring their PhilaU email and study abroad account for important updates and requests for info.
  • Submission of travel plans and emergency contact information, as well as enrollment in the STEP program before departure. (Information in Study Abroad Online account)
  • Submission of local contact information, course registration and changes upon arrival to Study Abroad online account
  • Confirmation of program completion after term ends to Study Abroad Online Account.    
 
To make sure issues are addressed as quickly as possible, we require the students to:
  • Complete required pre-departure materials and attend all required pre-departure meetings and on-site orientation.
  • Familiarize themselves with their orientation materials and refer to them to answer questions.
  • Register for and access the AlertTraveler application.
  • Work directly with their Host Program staff. If students have trouble contacting staff, I am available to assist them in making these connections.
  • Understand their program’s academic requirements, course approval process, and their own academic progress.
  • Follow emergency contact procedures and guidelines for host program
  • Inform their program of local contact info and independent travel plans. While pre-departure materials will provide some general travel advice, we cannot assist with travel plans for student and family vacations. 
There are a number of things you can do to support your student throughout process:
  • Ask to review pre-departure materials with them in advance of departure and as each issue arises.
  • Ask them about their interest in the program and the host country. Encourage them to learn as much about cultural norms, expectations, and standards of living as possible in advance and while abroad.
  • Talk to them directly about your questions and concerns. Listen to theirs.
  • Encourage your student to take the lead in contacting their program staff, completing required materials, and prepare for their travels.
  • Share your own experiences as a young adult in a new setting.
  • Make a communication plan for time abroad. Schedule time and means (Skype, Facetime, text) to check in once or twice a week. Decide how often to check in and what to do if you can’t reach each other.
  • Discuss how to handle situations when things don’t go quite as planned.
  • Keep a file of emergency contact info and program resources for your reference.
  • In the case of a health and safety emergency, contact Jefferson - East Falls Campus emergency lines (215) 951-2999.