First - apply to university.
Second - choose the best university for you.
How big of a factor are support services to you? Many students don’t even consider support services when searching or selecting a university in the USA, but the people who support you on campus can be the most influential people of all.
Read on to see what kind of support services you should check into at your university…but if you need the highlight reel:
Research support services on campus before you commit to a school to make sure your needs will be met
Make sure there is an international center on campus to support students like you
Don’t be afraid to ask for more information on support available to you - always start with the international center!
We have covered liberal arts education and how to pick a major and now we are going to cover the different types of support services that schools can offer. You can use this blog to learn more about what’s offered and also determine what’s important for you when you go to university.
Universities will offer all kinds of different services to students. Some will have great services that are just for international students. When you're going through the school search and admissions process, just keep in mind that you might be looking for a certain level of academic support while you’re studying abroad.
My first job at a college in the USA was as an International Coordinator. I worked as a one-person office to support about 80 international students. It was the most challenging job I’ve ever had in my life.
I was not only doing the admissions process for new students, but I was also doing all visa support, advising, financial planning, class registration, programming, and just in general trying to help students adjust to life in the USA.
It was in that position that I realized how much many universities cater to domestic students and how little they know or even how little they understand the needs of international students because they are such a small percentage of the community.
Make sure you choose a university that supports your needs as an international student.
12 WAYS TO GET SUPPORT ON A UNIVERSITY CAMPUS IN THE USA
English Language Centers or ESL courses
Many universities offer summer ESL courses or additional support courses for students who still want to improve their language skills. If you meet the requirements for admissions, but are still worried you need extra language support, then look for a university that offers classes on campus. These can be included in your tuition costs or charged separately depending on the school.
International Student Center
These offices can inform students about the other academic support offered on campus. They are also the place where students can find information about health insurance, driver’s licenses, taxes, and any visa issues.
Tutoring – often by upperclassmen students
Many schools hire third and fourth year students who performed well in classes to offer tutoring sessions for other students. Take advantage, as these are typically free to attend!
This is an obvious one. Schools typically assign all students an adviser depending on their program of study. Be sure to meet with this adviser at least once a semester or as needed to stay on track to graduate on time and get all courses needed for your degree.
Writing centers are great for international students. Employees here will assist with everything from writing a coherent thought on paper to checking grammar and spelling.
These are a great resource for students who need extra math support. You can typically sign up for sessions for the course you are taking and they can be an open Q&A session or even one on one sessions with a tutor, professor, or student.
For students struggling to stay on top of all the things in college. Academic coaches can help put together strategies for students to be successful.
These are usually offered for new students on things like navigating campus, time management, and communicating with professors. Having strong executive functioning skills is so important!
Exam Review Workshops
These are often offered outside of scheduled class time.
Information Technology Centers and Support
Most universities will have their own online systems where you can see your classes, assignments, and schedule. While this is usually covered in a First Year Experience or Freshmen Learning course when you first get to school, the IT department can help students learn how to troubleshoot laptop problems or new programs you may not be familiar with.
Students usually have to submit documentation for these. Accommodations are for students with learning differences (a popular one is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD) and they can include things like extra test time or preferential seating in the classroom. Don’t be afraid to advocate for your needs.
Make sure you know all the services to support your mental health during your university journey. It’s just as important as your physical and social health on campus. Most universities offer free counseling services to all students.
These are just some of the resources you can find. As you go through the process of choosing a major and learning how to work with your college adviser, keep in mind what other resources would help you and look for those.
Until next time!