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differences in academic system

Academics Abroad

If you are studying in a program that is not being taught by a Misericordia University faculty member, you can certainly expect that the academic system you will be studying in will be different than the one at Misericordia. You want to be certain that you put yourself in a position of being successful within your new academic system. Note that each country is a bit different than another, so do not assume that they all operate in the same way. The following should act as a general guide to finding academic success abroad.


At Misericordia University, your attendance or lack thereof, can have an effect on your final grade. If you miss more than the allotted classes, you will find that your grade can be lowered or, in the worst case, you could fail the class. Most institutions abroad feel that it is your responsibility to see that you attend class rather than the faculty member, though this practice may vary by institution. Be aware that your class attendance practices abroad should mirror what they are at Misericordia University; failure to attend class could result in not having information that you need in order to do well academically.
Grading and Grade Scales

Grading scales and practices that you are accustomed to at Misericordia University are not going to be the same as universities abroad. What might be considered a failing grade at Misericordia might actually be a passing grade at a university abroad. For example, a 60% score at an Irish university would be considered a good grade, while at Misericordia it would not. It is crucial that you understand what the grading scales and practices are where you are studying. Do not be afraid to ask fellow students or the international office at the university for clarification on the grading scale and practice. You can also consult the Program Brochure on this website for grade equivalents.

Classes at Misericordia University generally use a variety of methods to determine your final grade in the class. It is not unusual that you have papers, quizzes, a midterm, a final or presentations that you give in class that determine your final grade. Methods that universities abroad use to determine your final class grade vary greatly. You may find, for example, that the grade in a class is determined by a midterm exam and a final paper. You can generally count on the fact that you will have fewer assessments that count for more of your final grade than at Misericordia University. As a result, there is less room for error in terms of your academic performance. It is important that you understand precisely what work you need to do and when you need to do it in order to do well in the class. If it is not clear to you, then you need to ask other students, the faculty member, or the international office staff at your university. Note that Misericordia University students have done and continue to do well academically abroad.
Classroom Etiquette

Classroom etiquette varies from country to country and university to university. At Misericordia University, you are probably accustomed to asking questions at will and engaging in dialogue with the faculty members teaching your courses. It is not unheard of that such a practice is considered inappropriate in other educational systems. A lecture class might be precisely that; a lecture and the time to ask questions might be in a different forum such as a seminar. It would behoove you to learn what appropriate classroom behavior is - ask fellow students or staff in the international student office about appropriate behavior.

Papers/Writing Style

Once again, there can be vast differences between the way you are accustomed to writing papers and the writing style required at Misericordia University and universities abroad. If you have writing assignments, you will need to understand clearly what is required for an acceptable paper or other writing assignment. Writing in the wrong style or citing references incorrectly could result in doing poorly on the assignment, including failing the class. Be sure to ask what is expected from a writing assignment and the style you are supposed to use.
Reading List/Syllabus

A syllabus or a reading list can mean one thing at Misericordia University and quite another at other universities. You might find that a syllabus abroad consists of a general outline of the course and perhaps has a reading list attached to it. It might not tell you what each lecture topic is going to be or by what date you should be reading certain material. You might also find that the reading list consists of dozens of books and or articles. If this is the case, you should not panic. Odds are, you are not expected to read everything, but rather select different reading from the list that you are interested in and use what you have read to support answers to questions posed in an exam or paper. If you have doubts or questions about a syllabus or a reading list, you need to ask the faculty member, other students, or the staff in the international student office. You want to be clear about what is expected of you.