The View From Campus: Arriving in the United States as an International Student
Image courtesy of Mike Mozart via Flickr (CC 2.0)
This month we turn to the very timely topic for those students getting ready to make the journey to the United States for their higher education, preparing for arrival. Jim Crawley, Director of University Recruitment and Outreach, for ELS Language Centers, shares his best advice for international students coming to America.
Q: Describe your institution in 5 words?
A: Many Centers offering intensive English.
Q: For what is your institution best known overseas?
A: Offering intensive English to prepare international students for entrance into an academic program.
Q: What are your top programs for international students?
A: English for Academic Purposes; General English; Short-term Specialized English Programs; Vacation Programs
Q: What are the top 5 countries represented at your institutions?
A: China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Saudi Arabia
How does ELS prepare students for university study in the United States?
The ELS English for Academic Purposes program not only helps the international students increase their proficiency, while preparing them to move into their academic program; but through workshops and elective coursework, students also work on their study skills and academic and workload expectation of the U.S. university classroom.
Once students have gotten their visas to enter the U.S., what is the most important thing you recommend students do next?
It is important that students familiarize themselves with the local area, and that they feel comfortable with their arrival information. We provide them with web sites and information brochures related to arrival, airport pick-up, housing and the local area.
How soon can students enter the U.S. once they have their visas?
Students can enter up to 30 days prior to the program start date on their I-20, however, we do not recommend that they arrive more than a week in advance.
Would you recommend any resources in the students’ home countries to help them prepare for their journey to the U.S.?
Many students work with counseling agencies. If they do have a counseling agency that they trust, this can be a good resource. Another reliable resource is EducationUSA. They have over 400 locations around the world, usually in major cities.They offer unbiased advice about studying in the USA, and many of the Centers offer pre-departure sessions.
How do U.S. schools assist international students prepare for their arrival on campus?
It is important to communicate with the student and their family. This is one of the most important decisions the family will have made regarding their son or daughter up until this point. We have an obligation to make sure the student and family have as much information as possible about all relevant details including, but not limited to: the university, the location, the academic program, and their financial obligations.
Our ELS students are fortunate, as they are already in the U.S. We encourage our students to visit the school where they have been offered conditional admission. It allows them to become familiar with campus and meet some the faculty and staff who they will be working with when they ultimately transfer.
Most U.S. colleges and universities offer some form of orientation for new international students. Sometimes it is just for the international students, while other programs integrate the international students with the newly arrived U.S. students. Orientation is a great way to get to get familiarized with campus along with the other new students, while also having an opportunity to meet their new roommate(s).
What advice would you give students who are about to get on a plane to the States to begin a degree program?
Take time to learn about the school, and the community. You are about ready to begin an adventure that will positively affect your future. Be ready to meet many new people, some of whom will be your friends for many years to come. Be open to new ideas. You have much to offer, and much to learn. Above all else…be yourself.