Through the Eyes of International Students

International students who come to study in America bring their own expectations and cultural filters to their learning experience.  The US recruiter or educator who understands these filters and expectations will be better able to attract and serve international students.

International students attending school in the US will have cultural biases and expectations around:

  1. The institution of education
    These are differing views on what education is and should be: who can attend and for what purpose.
  2. Roles of students and teachers in classroom dynamics
    In many cultures, teachers are all-knowing authorities, and there is a high power distance between teacher and student. Speaking up and challenging the teacher is not done.  Informal American teachers who act as friendly facilitators may not be respected.
  3. Concepts of cheating and plagiarism
    Students may have a different definitions for these terms and not realize the  severity of these academic offenses in the US.
  4. Rote learning vs. creative thinking
    Asian, African, and Hispanic cultures stress rote memorization, and not the individual creative problem solving stressed in the American classroom. Listening to classmates’ opinions or creative team projects may seem like a waste of time to an international student.
  5. Working/living in a multicultural environment (USA)
    This may be the first time the international student studies or lives  in a heterogeneous environment where discrimination by gender, race, religion, etc, is  not tolerated or legal.

Compared to the US, students in most academically top -ranked countries have:

  • earlier vocational or academic tracking
  • earlier selection of major
  • limited electives or extracurricular
  • national exams that limit university/program access
  • admission based on national test result, not holistic assessment (transcript, resume, interview, activities)
  • public universities better than private
  • free or low cost university
  • limited “campus life”
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