Advising International Students
International students need very careful attention from academic advisors because there are several possibilities for unexpected results in everyday advising.
• Is a student’s current English capability up to the normal course load, especially for a first-year student? Should the student be advised to take a lighter load than usual, so long as the student stays within the minimum enrollment requirements of his/her visa status, which are twelve credit hours for an undergraduate and nine credit hours for a graduate?
• Does the student come from an educational background that has not prepared him/her for regular quizzes, class participation, credit hours and term papers?
• Does the student understand the difference between plagiarism and our cultural expectation of teamwork and classmate assistance?
• Is the student showing signs of maladjustment, such as not arriving on time for class and appointments, asking for more time to prepare homework, avoiding interactions with other students, looking drawn and tired?
• Does the student’s academic record show strong signs of achievement? Are the student’s expectations very high?
Implied in these questions are assumptions that everyone knows what to do if the answer raises questions. If we spend a little more time than usual asking questions about the student’s educational background, if we try to talk to the student regularly during the quarter and if we take steps to get assistance for a student as soon as any signs of trouble arise, we are more likely to be able to help before a problem becomes a crisis.
International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS) can provide assistance for academic advisors who may have questions and/or concerns about their international student advisees. In most cases, by working together, the academic advisor and the ISFS advisor can support the student and avoid negative academic and immigration consequences. For example, an international student experiencing initial difficulties studying in English may receive permission to enroll less than full time allowing him or her to concentrate on fewer classes while still maintaining his or her immigration status.
Another way academic advisors can help international students avoid immigration problems is through careful planning of the student’s course schedule. Immigration regulations do not allow international students to enroll less than full time because the required courses offered in a given term do not constitute a full course of study. Advisors can help a student avoid this situation with careful planning. The one exception to this situation is that a student may receive approval to enroll less than full time during the final quarter of the program of study. Any time (other than the summer) that an international student will be enrolled for fewer than twelve credits, they must receive prior permission from ISFS.
Like many students, international students are often interested in completing internships related to their major. Generally, if the internship experience is required for a course or of all students in a given major, international students are eligible for work permission that will allow them to complete such an internship. Another option is completing an internship during the student’s summer vacation. It is important that international students discuss their plans with an advisor in ISFS well before they hope to begin an internship. At no time should an international student begin an internship without prior approval from ISFS. With careful planning, internships are a very beneficial option for international students.
Finally, academic advisors can assist their international student advisees by encouraging them to meet with an ISFS advisor during their final quarter of study. International students have several options they may pursue following graduation including working in the US and continuing on to graduate school. It is important that students understand their options and the immigration regulations that need to be followed in order to achieve their goals.
Please keep in mind that it is important to contact ISFS when any of the following situations arise:
• An international student is having difficulty with English or cultural differences in the classroom or other adjustment issues.
• An international student will not be enrolled full time or is dropping below full time status.
• An international student wishes to pursue an internship experience.
International students offer us and their classmates unique opportunities to experience the world around us through different eyes. Problems arise less often than we think. Opportunities for shared learning are common, especially if we take the time to get to know our international students. International students represent the best and brightest students from around the world; being a part of their success is a very rewarding experience for all of us.