Attending college is exciting for all students. It’s a time to learn and explore your independence. For international students, the prospect of attending school far from home may produce some anxiety, but most colleges provide support services to make this transition easier and to help throughout the student’s college years.
Here are three questions international students should ask a prospective college to make sure the support offered by the school is appropriate.
1. Does the college have a designated office to support international students?
At Meredith, there are many faculty and staff who take an interest in international students, with the Office of International Programs serving as the primary support.
As assistant director of international programs, my role is to be the main advisor, liaison, and advocate for international students at Meredith. I assist with questions about cultural adjustment, campus life, visa-related concerns, local activities, public transportation, as well as employment.
I also collaborate with partners across campus, such as the Dean of Students Office, Residence Life, the Office of Career Planning, Academic Advising, and the Student Leadership and Service Office, to develop programs that enhance international student success.
2. Are there special programs or organizations dedicated to international students?
Many colleges have international student organizations and programming. We have the Meredith International Association (MIA), which is a great way for international students to connect with each other. They have programs throughout the year, such as International Coffee Houses, the United Nations (UN) Dinner, the Meredith International Festival, and the MIA Fashion and Culture Show, where students get to celebrate and share their home cultures with the Meredith community. And of course, international students are vital members of many clubs that relate to their majors or interests.
3. How does the college or university help incoming international students?
One of the first ways I support international students is coordinating the logistics of their arrival on campus, as well as planning a multi-day International Student Orientation to help alleviate homesickness and culture shock that can sometimes occur (for all students!).
For students living on campus, we pick them up from the airport and offer to set up their residence hall rooms in advance. It helps to see a welcoming face and sleep in a cozy, already organized room after a long flight to a new place.
We hold International Student Orientation right when international students step foot on campus, so we can connect them with Meredith resources and have them meet important campus partners on whom they can rely during their time at Meredith. During orientation and throughout the year, we offer sessions that help address concerns that can come with being in such a new environment.
The key to an international student’s success is using the support system that is in place on campus. Even before international students arrive, I’m able to video chat or email with them to answer their questions about life at Meredith and how to prepare.
At Meredith, we have a campus full of phenomenal faculty and staff who support students academically, emotionally, professionally, and experientially. International students are a vibrant, important part of our community, so I’m constantly seeking ways to help them feel valued and connected here.
Asking these questions will help international students ensure they’re finding the right college or university community for them. At Meredith College, we value our international student population and work hard to ensure they will “Go Strong” for their four years here and beyond.
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