US: 10 Ways International Students Can Prepare for U.S. College Success

Understand What’s Ahead at a U.S. College

Many international students are likely unfamiliar with the social and academic expectations of U.S. colleges. Differences may ​include a greater focus on teamwork and more flexibility when it comes to choosing a major.

The following tips and information, collected from posts on the U.S. News’ International Student Counsel blog, ​can help prospective students make the most of their time studying in the States.​​

1. Don’t Forget Freshman Orientation
Freshman orientation is an important step for all incoming college students, including international students. Plan to arrive in the U.S. early enough to attend this valuable event. Orientation provides a chance to get to know your fellow classmates, learn more about school activities and start to adjust before the rigors of the semester begin.

2. Expect Class Discussions to Count
Discussion between professors and students plays a big role in U.S. college courses, and class participation is often a factor in deciding final grades. Participation may be especially important to success in courses revolving around collaboration or debate.

3. Hone English Language Skills
U.S. colleges are social environments, and prospective international students should spend time improving their English skills before they arrive. Students can boost their conversational language skills from their home countries by doing things like reading books or watching American television shows. It will certainly help with it comes time to interact with American classmates.

4. Don’t Count Out 2-Year Programs
Community colleges are a way for international students to get a taste of U.S. college life without the time and cost commitments of a four-year degree. Prospective students interested in starting off at these two-year institutions should research transfer options and know how credits will apply to four-year universities.

5. Learn Your Way Around the Library
Prospective international students should add libraries to their college research checklists. The library can be a great study space and a place to find academic support. It’s also a good resource for borrowing course textbooks for free, which can cost serious money if bought new.

6. Keep an Open Mind About Majors
Unlike many​ foreign universities, most U.S. colleges aren’t tied to one specific field or specialization and allow students to apply without needing to declare their majors. International students can use this flexibility to spend their freshman year researching subjects of interest or speaking with advisers and professors about potential majors.​

7. Explore Extracurricular Options
Along with academics, participating in extracurricular activities is a big part of the U.S. college experience. Joining clubs or sports teams can help students make friends, learn new skills and boost their professional resumes. time to do some research about options at your target schools.

8. Learn to Work As a Team
It’s common for professors at U.S. colleges to assign group projects, often in the form of researched presentations. Prospective international students should be comfortable working with a team and realize that certain project grades may be influenced by the work of their peers.

9. Get to Know the International Students Office
Reaching out to this office can provide answers on everything from class availability to visa and housing information. In addition, browsing school websites can offer additional insight into campus life at each and resources for international students.

10. Research On-Campus Employment Options
Getting a student job at college can help international students improve their English language skills and earn a little money. Prospective students can research on-campus career options before applying and get an idea of availability and requirements at their target schools.


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