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College Success Tips for International Students

July, 2014
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college-aheadCongratulations! Your child has graduated from high school and is off to college. Regardless of the institution’s ranking, size, intensity or environment, your son or daughter is likely to find the move to college or university to be challenging in one way or another. This is quite natural; after all leaving the comforts of home and the security of a small international school where teachers and students know each other well for the unknown challenges of new rules, new school, new colleagues and complete independence is daunting. It is unrealistic to think that the transition will be seamless for every student. Many students experience some hiccups along the way. Sometimes students, unused to the freedom that university brings, have a hard time getting to classes, while others find it difficult to put themselves on a study schedule without parents telling them what to do and limiting other activities for them. Whether it is the academic adjustment, making friends, or just plain missing home, there are plenty of things that can pose real challenges to a student. It is important as parents to make your children aware of potential difficulties, to discuss possible paths to overcome problems and to encourage them to seek the ample avenues of assistance available to help them with transitions and other issues on most college and university campuses should they need it.

There are three general areas to be mindful of in terms of student transition: Cultural Adjustment, Academic Success and Personal Development.

Cultural Adjustment

Students should be sure to Attend Orientation…and International Orientation even when going to college in a “home” country!  Students cannot learn too much about their new environment and its rules and expectations, especially if they have attended high school outside of the country where they will attend college. Orientation is a great opportunity to get answers to questions that might otherwise go unasked.

Visit the International Student Center early on. They will be the people to help you with your visas and all paperwork necessary for international students, including paperwork required for school extensions and internships.

Learn the rules of your college’s country. Know the obvious things like drinking age, driving age and rules, but also learn the unspoken rules of communication and behavior. For example, in US colleges, students are expected to speak up, be assertive about getting their questions answered and actively participate in the classroom.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Colleges and universities are filled with students from many different places. There is no expectation that international students will know all the rules, BUT it is expected that students will ASK the questions they need answered. Ignorance of the rules will rarely get a student out of trouble…better to know and behave accordingly.

shutterstock_85522585-1Academic Success

Many students look forward to growing up and being truly independent. College certainly offers this. But with freedom and independence comes significant responsibility. Students have to be self-disciplined and willing to make good choices. Poor choices can lead to poor academic performance. This in turn can have negative affects on qualifying for desired majors and even impact graduation dates and job prospects. Students should be prepared to fully manage their lives and keep the following suggestions in mind:

• Attend all classes. While no one may miss a student in a large class in a big university, the student will certainly miss a lot! This is especially true during the first year when students are unlikely to have friends to take notes for them or help them catch up on homework assignments.

• Make sure professors know who you are. Introduce yourself and take any opportunity to see your professor or TAs during office hours. These hours are set times when instructors will be available to answer questions and help students understand what is needed to do well in the class. These hours also provide a great opportunity to get to know professors on a personal level and build the relationships that can lead to research, internships and jobs.

• Read the class syllabus. The syllabus will outline course expectations and also list assignment due dates and exam dates. The grading scale will also be provided so that you know EXACTLY what you need to earn to achieve a good grade.

• Do all assignments on time! College professors are generally understanding people, and so a well explained late assignment will often be accepted, but students must understand that they are responsible adults in the eyes of their professors and are expected to be responsible and hand in work on time.

• Do not underestimate the time necessary to complete assignments and study for exams.

• Get to know the college’s academic resources. Find out what academic services are available on campus and use them. Take advantage of academic counseling, advice, the library and any tutoring and writing center services. Research shows that the students who do the best in college avail themselves of these sources of help when needed.

college-students• Take good care of yourself! Students should make sure to get enough sleep, eat well and exercise.

Be positive! Colleges don’t make mistakes…if a student is admitted; it is because they are capable of excelling there!

Personal Development

• Get involved in college life! Students who participate in academic, social and personal campus activities tend to do better academically. Additionally, campus activities provide a great training ground for the development of social skills such as public speaking. Active students often find themselves having to balance many activities, inspire others to participate and delegate tasks, all of which transfer well into real world jobs. Employers will want to know what you have been doing while in college and on campus activities can be just as impressive as an internship.

Take Risks. College years are the time to try new things. Your class selections should stretch your imagination and inspire you. Don’t be afraid to try a class that piques your curiosity, take up a new sport or strive to be the person you always wanted to be. 

Work hard on your English language skills. It is much more comfortable to hang out with other international students, but in order to maximize success after college, students need to hone their English language skills in order to be of equal standing when it comes to internships and job interviews.

Student time in college is short. While academic success is important, it is far from the only thing that students should strive for. College is much more that a stepping-stone to a career or even graduate school – it is the place that students can and should find and pursue their passions and develop, test and hone the personal and social skills necessary for real life success.

 

By Tess Robinson,

Founder of Team Education Consulting

 

 

Tess is a graduate of Harvard Business School where she earned an MBA and Stanford University where she earned an AB in International Relations. She also has her certification in college admissions and counselling from UCLA, she speaks English, French, Spanish and is conversant in Mandarin Chinese and brings 14 years of college advisory experience, in addition to 3 years in finance and 8 years in marketing, to benefit students and families with excellent advice and career planning for both Undergraduate and Graduate applications.

 

www.Teameduconsult.com

 

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