Academic journal article College Student Journal

Understanding the Collegiate Experience for Asian International Students at a Midwestern Research University

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Understanding the Collegiate Experience for Asian International Students at a Midwestern Research University

Article excerpt

The Asian international student population in American universities is presently greater than 10% (Institute for International Education, 1999). As a result, student affairs practitioners and other university personnel must recognize factors that may impact the transition process for Asian international students and the role of student development during their collegiate experience. This study used interviews and focus groups to determine: (1) their level of student development; and (2) their experience transitioning through an American Midwestern Research University (MRU). Seven factors were identified that influence the development of Asian international students at MRU: choice, adjustment, communication, learning, participation, external pressures of family, and traditional values. A conceptual model is developed from the findings to help depict the collegiate experience for Asian international students.


Asian international students compose more than 10% of enrollments at institutions of higher education in the United States; they are primarily enrolled at research universities (Institute for International Education, 1999). Students from other countries are an important constituency for colleges and universities due to the added cultural richness they bring to the academy (Tan, 1994). American institutions have developed support services (e.g., Office of International Affairs) to assist international students with a variety of special needs ranging from adjusting to the academic requirements of American institutions, to dealing with cultural factors of being submerged in new societal settings. Operating from the paradigm that human development takes place within a social context, the purpose of this study is to understand variables that impact the collegiate experience Asian international students with am emphasis on student development and the transition process.

This study was conducted at Midwestern Research University (MRU) and examined the relationship of such transitions with select student development theories. Research related to diverse student populations (e.g., students of color, students with disabilities, and international students) has the potential to provide the academy with a sound understanding of the transition process that these students face and the impact it has on their development (Sodowsky & Lai, 1997). In order to achieve an increased understanding of this issue, one must explore:

(1) the socialization of Asian international students;

(2) the concerns and feelings of Asian international students;

(3) the acculturation to the campus environment;

(4) preferences of student services for Asian international students; and

(5) the role of educational achievement for Asian international students.

Review of the Literature

This literature review provides its readers with more information about the background, concerns, and feelings of Asian international students, which subsequently impact the collegiate experience. In addition, areas of interest included socialization, acculturation, and educational achievement.


Over the last two decades, the racial diversity of students in higher education has changed significantly (Fleming, 1984). According to Uba (1994), Asian international students in traditionally White colleges and universities encounter difficulty when attempting to acculturate. Many students from minority groups have reported that they have not felt welcomed and have been treated like uninvited guests in a strange land (Tan, 1994). Astin (1984) stressed the critical role of student involvement in student development. His basic premise was that for student learning and growth to take place, students need to actively engage in their environment. Levels of involvement for Asian international students are different (Uba, 1994). Asian international students rarely endorse emotional or social issues but seem to be more concerned with academic and career issues, because these problem areas are more role-salient to their traditions, beliefs, and cultural values (Kitano & Daniels, 1990). …

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