Over the past few years, the number of international students enrolling in U.S. schools has been on the rise. In 2016, the number finally crossed 1 million, almost double what it was just 10 years ago.
And while the amount of foreign students enrolling is growing, these students still face many difficulties acclimating to American campuses. Cultural and social changes, to name a few, are common challenges these students face.
To help create an inclusive environment, there are several processes campus leaders can put in place to help ease the transition. In this post, we will outline several tips that can help make this change as seamless as possible.
Having established organizations on campus is a great way to welcome these new students. Groups, such as the International Student Organization, can provide a welcoming environment. For example, these organizations provide a place for students to learn about their peer's experiences. And they can also provide a comfortable place on campus for students to go if they are ever having issues, such as with studies or culture shock. Also, these organizations can showcase different cultures to the rest of the campus through events.
An international student office is a critical part of any foreign student's campus experience. These offices specialize in many issues, such as visas and immigration. And since these issues are specific to international students, other resources may be unable to assist. Also, ISO's will generally facilitate a line of communication with the student's family.
Training students on the benefits of diversity is an essential element for creating an inclusive campus. The training can help students communicate respectfully and avoid conflicts. It will help them recognize and understand their international peers and encourage them to practice inclusion. Also, this training will help students prepare for entering the workforce and working with people from all over the world.
Getting international students involved in campus events and organizations is always beneficial. It is also an important part of creating an inclusive environment for all students.
By encouraging students with similar interests to spend time together, you can help promote friendship and unity. For example, if an international student enjoys sports they can join an intramural team. This will surround them with other students who have similar interests. And, by doing so, it can help the international student feel more included and welcomed to campus.
Many times, international students do not speak English as their first language. To help keep these students informed on-campus events, it is good practice to print resources in many languages. These include campus fliers and emails to name a few.
On top of this, it helps to have services available for transcribing notes and lectures. For example, there could be a weekly meeting for ESL students to get together and provide help in the event concepts reviewed in class were lost in translation.
Creating a network of university alumni, community members and faculty offers many benefits. These networks help students adjust to their new setting, and they act as a resource when the student is in need. Members can provide their own stories of how they adjusted and help keep the student on the right path. Also, by networking with these individuals, these students have resources that can help them post-graduation.
While there is no clear cut way to ensure all foreign students transition seamlessly into the campus, following these tips is a good first step. With these processes and resources in place, you can combat many of the different issues international students face. The best thing to do, however, is to listen to these student's needs and ensure your campus meets them.
Let us know if you have any tips in the comments below!