View From Campus: Adjusting to Life at a U.S. University
Susquehanna University, USA
This month, James Goonan, Director of International Admissions at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, USA shares his thoughts on the often overlooked topic of academic adjustment to life on a U.S. college campus for international students.
Describe your institution in 5 words?
- liberal arts
For what is your institution best known overseas?
Susquehanna University ranks No. 15 among the top 30 most affordable colleges with the best study abroad programs in the nation, according to Great Value Colleges (GVC). And, we are ranked #1 in PA and #9 nationally for getting a job after graduation.
What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)?
We are undergraduate only. Our top majors are Business (AACSB Accredited), Susquehanna has one of only two undergraduate liberal arts colleges in North America that have been accepted into the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Recognition program. The Publishing & Editing Major is one of the best in the US and ranks #9.
What are the top 5 countries represented at your college?
Saudi Arabia, China, Macao, Japan, Brazil.
How does your institution use IELTS in the admissions process? How valuable a tool is it in evaluating prospective students?
IELTS is used to evaluate English language proficiency for applicants from countries where English is not the native language. The normal entry requirement is 6.0 for degree programs. IELTS is also used for placement in our English Language Learners program.
What is the most common challenge new international students face when adapting to the academic environment at U.S. colleges?
Cultural differences. Our customs are different; school system is different, language is different, and students are expected to be more independent than they might be at home.
How much time should students be studying for each class they have?
We recommend that students plan to study 2 to 3 hours for every hour in the classroom.
How is the classroom style of professors so different in the U.S. from what most students have experienced back home?
Students on our campus are expected to be engaged and independent learners. In addition, they are expected to participate in class, question their professors, and take responsibility for their own academic progress. This atmosphere can be much different than their home countries, where instruction can be more lecture based there and students usually do not question their professors.
How can international students best prepare to avoid potential problems with adapting to their new academic environment on campus?
We recommend that entering international students participate in a pre-departure orientation in their home country. These are provided by their local EducationUSA offices. And, once on campus, the university offers a mandatory Orientation for new International Students. The most important topics of concern and covered during the orientation.