Most students have a tough time adjusting to the demands of college. Being an international student makes the transition to an American college even more difficult. When international students struggle, it’s generally for reasons that can be easily resolved.
Here are some proven strategies for doing well in college as an international student:
- Find American friends to hang out with. This is absolutely critical. This will help improve your English skills and it will overcome any homesickness you have. See the Topic: Making American Friends.
- Create study teams with American students. Too many international students try to get through college on their own or with classmates from their native country. This just doesn’t work. The sooner you find American classmates in your major, the better you will be academically. See the Topic: Finding American Friends to Study With.
- Adjust to the new expectations that you will have as a student in the United States. The biggest adjustments that many students have are relate to:
- Being on time for classes
- Completing assignments on time
- Doing your own work
- Being thorough in the work you do
- Understanding grades aren’t negotiable
- Ask for help. This is important for all students, but international students are especially reluctant to go to a professor for help. In many cases, international students come from cultures where a teacher is unapproachable. That’s not true in America.
- Find someone to help you with writing. Most campuses have writing labs where you can get help. You can also get help from American classmates. Professors are generally understanding when it comes to grading the writing of international students, but you will probably need extra writing support before you turn in a paper.
- Be careful of what’s ethically acceptable. American universities are very tough when you submit work that isn’t your own. This could be a test or any assignment. In many cases, American faculty will scrutinize the work of international students more closely than their other students. Do your own work. The consequences are too great if you don’t.
- Let your advisor help you. Advisors are generally knowledgeable about a lot of issues. All too often when you rely upon advice from another student from your country, you are likely to get bad advice.
- Take advantage of the international student office. This office can help you with visa issues, housing recommendations, necessary documentation, and other issues that are specific to international students.
Some of the above recommendations will make you feel uncomfortable. But every one of them will help make your American university experience more successful and enjoyable. As you finish your degree, you will find yourself making the same recommendation to incoming students..