The first year of college can be particularly tough academically and socially, even for domestic students. For international students, this adjustment period is intensified with the added challenges of navigating a new education system, learning new cultural and social norms, and overcoming language barriers. As a result, many international students withdraw within their first year.
As more and more campuses address this challenge, the number and types of support they offer international students are expanding. Nearly 40 percent of the international students surveyed in a recent study reported that they had no close American friends. Many campuses arrange events, mixers, field trips, and other activities that welcome both international and domestic students. Some also organize programs that pair international students with American students, local families, returning study abroad students, or fraternity and sorority members. These types of initiatives help with social integration, as well as providing domestic students with an opportunity to hone their “global competency” skills.
Offering strong ESL programs and supplemental learning resources can also make a critical impact on international students’ ability to not only succeed academically but also successfully engage with peers and develop friendships. Some colleges enable students to build and reinforce their English-language proficiency prior to the start of their studies to ensure they arrive on campus prepared, and others offer “pathway” programs, which allow students to improve their language skills while preparing for future undergraduate or graduate study.
A comprehensive language-learning solution such as Rosetta Stone can be used as a core component of the curriculum in both models: either as a preparatory resource that can be accessed on computers and mobile devices 24/7 anywhere in the world, or as the online element of a blended-learning approach that enables students to learn core subject matter independently while class time is focused on personalized instruction and group conversation.
How is your institution helping to improve retention and satisfaction rates among international students?