Direct Enrollment

1.  Pre-Departure Preparation

As with any international program, direct enrollment is about cultural immersion. Make sure to have read about your destination country; know its geography, history, politics and culture — and be ready to share about your own country!

Additionally, look into the history of your university and your host country's higher education system. You can easily do this online at your university's website. There, you can also gather information regarding its organization, extra-curricular activities, dorms, and other facilities.

Finally, be sure to attend pre-departure meetings at Carleton, and contact the OCS office or your provider with any questions.

2. Arrival

Once you have arrived, there are several steps to take to ensure you start on the right foot.

English-Speaking Universities:

  • Orientation: Orientation sessions are traditionally required — and it's necessary to attend them. In the process, you'll become acquainted with your University's staff, the country and culture, and essential procedures regarding academics. It's not all technical though. Over the course of your "fresher" week, you'll get a chance to relax, explore, and familiarize yourself with your settings, and get practical matters (such as travel and cell phones) dealt with.
  • Housing: Housing at international universities will differ slightly from at Carleton. You will be assigned housing either with locals and international students, or with fellow Americans. Unlike Carleton, very few residence halls will have meal plans — cooking will be up to you! Wireless resources will vary. If you get the chance, do some research and prioritize your residence selection online — they'll figure greatly into the social and sporting culture of your day-to-day.

Spanish-Speaking Universities:

  • Orientation: Orientation will be more thorough for Spanish-speaking universities, and will combine intensive language training and cultural acclimation alongside basic academic processes such as class selection and advising. It is absolutely mandatory to attend orientation sessions. Upon your arrival, you'll also be introduced to your host family, who will help you directions for attending orientation and class.
  • Housing: Unlike Carleton or English-speaking universities, you will most likely be partnered with a host family if you are studying in Spain or Latin America. Family networks are very close, with children oftentimes remaining at home until marriage. It's up to you to join as a respectful family member, this means:
    • Exercising linguistic manners (ex: "Si, por favor," "Senora Ines")
    • Bathing every day and exercising good personal hygiene
    • Unless changing, sleeping, or reading, leave your door open to remain social

3. Course Selection and Academics

When choosing which classes you'll be taking, it's important to keep Carleton's academic policies in mind, and to understand how academic culture differs at the institution you will be attending.

Carleton Policies:

  • The courses that you listed in your OCS approval application may change once you arrive on site. If changes do occur, email OCS as soon as possible to determine if you can still receive credit for your new classes.
  • Before you leave, you will be approved for either a maximum number (usually 28 for semester programs) of Carleton credits. If you want these credits to apply to your distribution areas or to your major, you should first consult with the relevant department chair. Once you return to Carleton, you will need to fill out a OCS Credit Distribution Form for the Registrar.
  • Be sure to bring all of your coursework home!


  • Registration and course selection will occur at your university in the first few days. Make sure that you attend orientation so that you know specifics! Once you have chosen your classes, be sure to enter your final course selection into the credit request form of your Carleton approval application. You must be taking enough classes to qualify as a full-time student, and none of your classes can be pass/fail only.
  • If you are attending a Spanish-speaking university, it may be helpful academically and socially to choose two or more courses within a given carrera.

Academic Culture:

  • English-Speaking Universities: The academic experience at large universities operating in the British system (most universities in the UK and Australia, with several exceptions) will differ greatly from that at Carleton. Expect much larger classes with less class time, less direction (syllabi will not be as specific), and more intense individual study. Classes are predominantly taught in a lecture style with little in-class interaction. Utilize all the support services you can — including professors and your TA — to make sure you are on track.
  • Spanish-Speaking Universities: Similar to English-speaking Universities, expect less class time and more individual study at Spanish-speaking universities. The support system will be slightly more difficult to access as well, as professors usually don't hold office hours (outside of immediately before and after class). Luckily, students provide their own support network, and will often meet to study in groups throughout the semester. Professors and fellow students may have a more relaxed concept of time — however, you know yourself best. Keep you own academic pace and you should be fine. 
    • Keep everything: This includes all registration forms, course work, and syllabi.


  • Language at Spanish-Speaking Universities: Spanish will begin the moment you land, so make sure you're prepared! Be ready to relearn basic tasks, such as using a phone, bus system, or currency in a new language. It's perfectly normal to experience homesickness and frustration as your brain "re-starts" in a new language, so don't be too hard on yourself. Some tricks for adjusting — bring digital recorders to class, and be sure to speak Spanish and immerse yourself in Spanish-language media before your departure.
  • Dress Codes and Etiquette
    • In Latin America and Spain — short-shorts, camisoles, and ball caps are not appropriate.
    • Students will dress well for class, so avoid pajamas, sweatshirts, and flip-flops.
    • Expect poor acoustics and numerous classroom distractions (such as smoking, cell phones, and traffic noises).
  • Technology: Oftentimes, technology infrastructure will not be as developed as it is in the US. You will most likely have to rely on campus facilities and public spaces such as coffee shops to get wifi. However, as a student of the university, your student ID will give you full access to libraries and facilities.
  • Social Life and Extra-curricular Activities: In order to maximize your experience, be sure to step outside of your comfort zone! As a temporary study abroad student, you'll have to make an extra effort to get to know locals. It's easy to get stuck in a circle with fellow American students; instead, try to reach out, for example, by joining a club or sport team, or helping to prepare group dinners. Most simply, if you see someone often, greet them!