Concordia advisors can keep their advice

I contacted four different advisors concerning the Concordia Student Exchange Program and I received conflicting information

Advisors. That’s all I have to say. Photo Caroline Marsh

I first reached out to an advisor from Concordia Student Exchange Program last summer to receive information on how I could prepare to study abroad. She told me to speak to my program adviser, which I did to no avail, so I decided to wait until the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester to bug her again.

I must have caught the advisor at a better moment when I contacted her the second time, because she provided me with complete information. She told me I must be a full-time student for at least an entire academic year prior to the semester I choose to study abroad. Since I was a part-time student, she told me I could “ask permission but we normally look for extenuating circumstances.” She didn’t elaborate on how I could apply for extenuating circumstances, but I figured that I would find out when requesting to study abroad.

So, satisfied with that answer, I impatiently waited for November to arrive so I could finally apply to study abroad for the Winter 2023 semester. I never should have gotten my hopes up. When I emailed CSEP again, a different advisor responded. He told me I only needed to be a full-time student during the semester I spent abroad and didn’t need to apply for extenuating circumstances.

I told him that the CSEP website, along with a previous advisor, both said that I had to be a full-time student for an entire academic year before studying abroad. I reiterated that I was looking to apply for extenuating circumstances and he responded, “In fact, you must complete 24-credits by the team [sic] you leave for exchange regardless of your status. However, once on exchange, unless you get a letter from the [access centre for students with disabilities], you must be a full-time student (4-5 classes).”

My understanding of this confusing and typo-ridden email was that I didn’t need to be a full-time student before going on exchange, but I knew that was wrong because my faculty requirements stated otherwise. So, I emailed a third advisor, who would later tell me that, in fact, I hadn’t met my faculty requirements to study abroad.

I asked the third advisor how I could go about applying for extenuating circumstances like the first advisor had mentioned, and she told me I would have to ask my faculty. This is where it gets funny. 

Back in August, when I first began thinking about studying abroad, I had emailed my faculty’s chair, Aaron Johnson, to get additional information. He told me to meet with an academic advisor, who would go over the procedure with me, which never happened. 

When I booked my appointment with my program advisor, I made sure to write in the box that says “briefly indicate your goals for this advising session so we can prepare for your appointment” exactly what my questions were. 

At the time, my program advisor was simply a professor, not a qualified advisor, so he told me he didn’t know the answer. Because of the pandemic, the professor said that Concordia had asked him to temporarily fill in the role of academic advising for the 3,000 students enrolled in undergraduate psychology programs. The advice he gave me was to contact the CSEP advisor who just so happened to be the one who had told me to contact him.

So, basically, upon reading the third CSEP advisor’s email, I gave up. I didn’t bother emailing my faculty again because I knew they wouldn’t be of any help. That is how I got rejected from having the opportunity to study abroad, without even having the chance to explain why I believed I was eligible for extenuating circumstances.