Academics

Kildare, IE

Your academic experience here may be quite familiar to you, or vastly different, depending on the size and ethos of the campus you are coming from. We are here to help make this transition as easy as possible. We will guide you through the different stages of the academic process, as outlined below. Beginning at our orientation, we’ll answer any questions you have during the summer, semester or year.

IFSA-Butler Ireland staff knows the academic environment and credit requirements of each university and college in the country. We ensure that you are taking an appropriate number of credits to satisfy your home college’s requirements. We can also answer any questions you have regarding academics and credit transfer. Please see our section on Academic Policies and Procedures in your IFSA-Butler Student Handbook for more information. We will give you this handbook at our orientation.

You will be asked to complete a Class Registration Form by IFSA-Butler. This information is usually collected by us after your second week on-campus, and to coincide with when you formally register your classes at your host institution. After you register classes at your host institution there is usually a period when you can change your mind and add/drop classes. Again, we can help you with that process.

The transcript issued by your Irish university is sent to our office, where we verify the records and forward it to IFSA-Butler in Indianapolis. If you have been vigilant with your registration process, then this process goes smoothly.

Basic Academic Survival Information — A Summary

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Three Common Academic Problems and How to Avoid Them

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  1. Fewer class contact hours than at home and the expectation to work more independently. “No spoon-feeding here,” to quote past IFSA-Butler students.
  2. Many classes will be held in large lecture halls seating more than 100 students.  These lectures will be complemented by “tutorials”—small discussion groups held at another time in the week.
  3. Most lecturers will distribute “recommended reading” lists from which students are expected to select supplementary reading. You are unlikely to pass without reading widely from these lists.
  4. Less emphasis on presentation and more on the content of written and oral work. Always back up statements with documented sources. Create a logical argument and stick to it.
  5. Assessment occurs less frequently in Irish universities, so don’t let work build up on you.
  6. Science and language courses have a higher rate of expectation and longer hours.
  7. Irish universities are not flexible with regulations and deadlines. Know the rules, and don’t assume you can break them without penalty.
  8. A medical certificate is required where classes and tutorials are missed.
  9. 40% is the usual passing grade, and the average is normally around a “C.” Don’t be alarmed at the percentage marks on your work when returned—consult this Ireland Student Handbook for U.S. grade conversions.
  10. Adapt to the Irish work schedule as soon as possible. Irish students tend to study and work during the day so at night, they can socialise. Be aware of your college library and computer room opening hours.
  11. Keep all of your assignments, papers, and exams. Should you later need to file a grade query, you will have the necessary documentation. Hard copies are recommended, as viruses can occur in computer clusters.
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Unexpected “Tuition Supplemental” Bills

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are not incurring tuition supplemental fees. Some universities charge a higher tuition for disciplines involving laboratory, studio or field work. We pass the charges for special subjects along to the student as a tuition differential. Tuition differential fees are based on previous years’ costs and are subject to change. Please ensure that you verify your status with the International Office at your host institution.

In Over Your Head in Class

Theoretically, you should not be allowed into a class for which you do not have the necessary academic background. You most likely completed an IFSA-Butler Course Preference Form or Departmental Preference Form in the U.S. so that you would not be in classes that are over your head upon arrival at your host institution. If you are advised against taking a subject because the advisor thinks that you do not have sufficient background, heed the advice. In the past, students who have ignored the advice offered to them at the start of the semester have rarely passed the class in question. Be especially wary of language classes, as most Irish students have a much stronger background in languages than U.S. students.

Difficulty in Pre-approved Class

Despite receiving pre-approved entry into a class, sometimes a student does not have the necessary background to ensure success. Reasons may include a lack of laboratory experience, gaps in past coursework curriculum, poor skills, etc.

If you find yourself getting in over your head, act early to confront the problem. Know the deadlines on your campus for adding or dropping classes. You will rarely be allowed to drop a class after the official deadline, so it is important that you alert the Irish university and the IFSA-Butler Ireland office to your problems early in the semester. Dropping a class after the established deadline may result in receiving a fail of your Butler University transcript.

Speak directly to the lecturer early in the semester to determine whether or not you should continue with the class. Contact the IFSA-Butler Ireland office so we can assist you in seeking on-campus academic support.

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