Academic Advisor

Four Year Plan

Four years to forge experiences that last a lifetime

First Year: Exploration

The first year on campus is the most important for students interested in off-campus study; it is the year that will lay the ground work for participating in experiential learning. Students need to discover programs that are available, to work with their advisors to learn how these programs will compliment their disciplines, and to begin choosing courses at Messiah with an understanding of the types of courses they can take off-campus. Because of curricular obligations, it is crucial that students in some majors (Education, Engineering, Nursing, Nutrition) exploration process as soon as they arrive on campus and in some cases, begin the application process soon after.

  • Let your advisor know that you are interested in studying off-campus.
  • Visit the Agape Center for Local & Global Engagement to discover options that may meet general education or major requirements for your field of study.
  • Once you find a program in which you are interested, contact your academic advisor to see how this will fit into your curriculum. It is especially helpful to let your advisor know as early as possible so that he or she can help you choose courses that will not duplicate what you will be taking off-campus.

Sophomore Year: Application

For many students the second year is the time to start applying to study off-campus. Some programs are open only to juniors and seniors which makes the sophomore year the optimal time to begin this process. Consider applying up to a year in advance. Some programs are very competitive; early application may give you an advantage.

  • Log onto Terra Dotta and start a pre-approval application: deadlines are December 1 for Fall programs and  April 1 for Spring 
  • Start reading / learning about the country you will be visiting, read local newspapers and research information on the web. Check out the Off-Campus Programs web page for helpful travel- and country-related information. Talk with other students on campus who studied at your intended location; a resource list of students is available in the Agape Center for Local & Global Engagement.
  • Visit your advisor with course listings and an off-campus study form to choose possible courses for your off-campus semester.
  • Visit the Agape Center for Local & Global Engagement for assistance with passports, off-campus study forms, Terra Dotta assistance

Note: If you are planning to study off-campus during your sophomore year, you will need to complete the exploration and application steps during your first semester of freshman year.

Junior Year: Realization

You have completed your preparation; now is the time to make all of that hard work pay off. Enjoy your semester off-campus. 

  • Students will receive electronic information about course offerings and registration instructions for the following semester as well as other important communications from campus offices (housing, parking, for example).
  • Many students participate in internships during the spring semester of their senior year, a transition from academics to the world of work. Consider an internship your junior year and bring that hands-on experience back to campus. You will be surprised how much it will enhance classroom learning.

Senior Year: Reflection

You have had a wonderful experience off campus. Now is the time to share your enthusiasm with others in the university community. As you begin to process what you have learned, you will discover you have a lot to offer – not only to other students, but to the campus as a whole and to future employers.

  • Share your experience with other students:
    1. Speak in classes / participate in panel discussions
    2. Agree to serve on the alumni resource list
    3. Participate in classroom discussions drawing from your experiences off campus
    4. Befriend an international student - who better than you (if you have studied internationally) knows how it feels to be a stranger in a totally new culture
  • Share your insights about the program with the Agape Center for Local & Global Engagement staff. Each semester the Agape Center for Local & Global Engagement surveys students who studied off campus the previous term. By completing this survey, you help Messiah University evaluate our programs and help us know how we can serve future students more effectively.
  • Include your off-campus experience on your resumé. You have experiences that go beyond the traditional classroom, experiences that translate into a stronger resumé when you begin your career search.


“. . . the words on the pages of my textbooks come to life and flood my reality with new meaning and greater depth. . . . Suddenly, the world has a face.“

One student’s reflection on studying abroad