IFSA Butler





Appreciative Advising

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Learning that plays to your strengths

The IFSA Appreciative Advising approach is unique among study abroad organizations. It’s our way of connecting with what matters most to you, so that we can help you stay on track to meet your academic, personal, and professional goals.

The concept behind Appreciative Advising is closely aligned with our commitments to Inclusive Excellence and Individualized Learning. It’s rooted in established psychology research—a collaborative methodology called appreciative inquiry that engages people in self-directed change by focusing on what works, rather than what doesn’t. We’ve fully embraced this concept and successfully adapted it to study abroad.

“We might ask, ‘How could navigating your personal identity be different in a new cultural setting?’ And we listen carefully to every answer.”

—Margaret McCullers, IFSA Director for Strategic Initiatives

It starts with listening

Our advisors get to know you by asking positive, open-ended questions about your aspirations, preferences, and the things you value, along with your specific strengths and challenges. This close, perceptive engagement helps us target the program activities that will benefit you most, so that we can better guide you to the right opportunities and tailor your personal program. It might be language support, an internship, or experiential learning. Or, it could be a destination or program you had not been considering.

Together, we’ll chart your course to success

IFSA Appreciative Advising results in a roadmap—a clearly stated and comprehensive set of achievable academic, professional and personal goals created in collaboration with you. These goals can range from broad and simple (such as “to improve my overall GPA”) to very specific (such as “learn about different psychological research, specifically in the realm of developmental or clinical psychology, taking place at the host university”). This gives you, your advisor, and IFSA’s on-site program staff a touchstone by which you can assess your progress during your program.

We’re by your side at every step

Appreciative Advising is an essential part of your planning process, but it doesn’t stop there. It’s part of every conversation we have with you, and continues throughout your program. Your roadmap contains essential information that our on-site staff uses during regular face-to-face meetings, where they celebrate your achievements and progress, offer advice and course correct as needed to help you succeed. This ongoing support can make a significant difference because it helps you—and the staff who support you—spot and address any challenges early. It also helps you stay motivated and maintain momentum, because you’ve got tangible targets to aim for.