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Coming to the US? Here's what you should know.

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international students

The 2013/2014 academic year saw a record-breaking number of international students come to the United States.  Around 900,000 students were welcomed into the country to attend US colleges and universities; an increase of 8% on the previous year.

Adjusting to life on an American campus can be a challenge at first, but the same can be said of any new university experience. Sara Jerdenius, who came to the US as an international student herself, now advises students on how to choose the college or university that’s right for them.

‘As an international student, I recommend that you make it a point early on in the semester to go to your professor’s office hours to introduce yourself,’ explains Sarah.

Professors are eager to hear from international students, and visiting during their office hours allows them to remember each student better while showing that they are serious and passionate about their studies. Many professors are prepared to make arrangements for international students to get additional time to complete exams, as English is not their first language.

Sandra Ebling-Maggio, who teaches at the State University of New York at Fredonia, also weighs in on what it means to experience a US college:

‘Entering college is a whole new experience with much freedom. Time for studying, work, and extracurricular activities are best if balanced. Being on time to class is crucial, and gaining the respect of your instructor as well as using their office hours are only a few of the keys to success.’

In her article on adjusting to life on campus, Indira Pranabudi likens studying on a US campus to having a full-time job:

studying in group‘Most things going on in a student’s life – academics, extracurricular activities, social life – will likely be related to university life. In fact, during certain periods of the semester, such as midterms or final exams, university life might even feel like more than a full-time job. College in the US is more than just taking classes; most of the work university students do will actually be outside of the classroom, such as working on assignments, group study, or research. Sometimes, the amount of time a student devotes to university work will be more than 40 hours a week.’

We talked to a few international students who are learning English before their degree starts. Yunshu Tan explained that for her, learning English is the most difficult part:

‘[The] English that we learn in China is totally different [to that] in the US.  We learned the “formal” English speaking in China, but the conversations between native speakers are not what we learned from the textbooks.’

Yunshu suggests that future students make an effort to watch American movies and dramas without subtitles to help them to prepare for life on campus; exposure to the language and accent will definitely make the transition easier. Joining groups, associations, and clubs is another great way to help practise and develop communication skills

Indrina also emphasized the importance of taking up extra-curricular activities. She writes that:

learning English abroad‘It’s not a requirement, but many students are very active on campus, and that definitely has a lot of perks.  Not only will you learn new skills and gain experience in new things, but being heavily involved in at least one extracurricular activity is also a meaningful way to expand your network and forge lifelong friendships.’

Would you like to study English in the USA?

EC English Language Centres has a school  On-Campus at Fredonia.  Besides preparing students for an university education, it gives our students a unique opportunity to become immersed in an authentic American university life-style while boosting their level of English.


People interviewed:

Sara Jerdenius-Palange | University Partner Support Manager | EC USA
Muxue Kelly, graduate student at Fredonia College
Yunshu Tan, graduate student at Fredonia College
Sandra Ebling-Maggio: Fredonia College, Freshman Year Seminar Lecturer, EC Teacher

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