Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The Lived Experiences of Chinese International Students Preparing for the University-to-Work Transition: A Phenomenological Qualitative Study

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The Lived Experiences of Chinese International Students Preparing for the University-to-Work Transition: A Phenomenological Qualitative Study

Article excerpt

In 2014 there were 1,078,822 international students, or 5.3% of the total student population, studying at colleges and universities in the United States (U.S.), according to the Institute for International Education (IIE, 2017). The current trajectory of international students on U.S. campuses has been swinging upward steadily since the 2005-2006 academic. In a closer look at the data, it is noteworthy that 32.5% of the international students originated from China. In the Chinese international student (CIS) population alone, there has been a steady increase in number of students attending U.S. institutions.

Universities and colleges in the U.S. have fiscal incentives to recruit international students because of the revenue stream they provide because of the increased out-of-state tuitions and housing costs that they pay. The international student body contributes over 38 billion dollars into the U.S. national economy by way of the various costs associated with living in a foreign country (IIE, 2017). Most international students, over 61% (IIE, 2017), leave home with the consent and financial support of their families to become more employable so that they may better provide for themselves and their families (Arthur & Popadiuk, 2010; Popadiuk & Arthur, 2014; Shen & Herr, 2004). However, researchers have reported that despite this support, many CIS believe that their acculturative and academic adjustment needs are not being supported (Bertram, Poulakis, Elsasser, & Kumar, 2014; Li, Wong, & Toth, 2014; Wang et al., 2012; Wang, Wei, & Chen, 2015). A major reason for this lack of support may be because the unique circumstances of CIS are not understood (Bertram et al., 2014; Tsai & Wong, 2012; Wang et al., 2012; Wang et al., 2015).

Chinese international students are at increased risk for emotional challenges resulting from complications with transition, such as depression and anxiety (Bertram et al., 2014; Hwang et al., 2014; Lin, 2006). These challenges may go untreated because CIS are from cultures where there are negative stigmas toward mental health and counseling, or they have difficulties developing therapeutic rapport with counselors who are not from collectivist backgrounds (Crockett & Hays, 2011; Hwang et al., 2014; Li et al., 2013; Wang et al., 2012). Therefore, many CIS may not address emotional complications resulting from difficulties with transition, emotional complications that might be alleviated by visiting a campus-based mental health professional (Lin, 2006; Tsai & Wong, 2012; Wang et al., 2012; Wang et al., 2015). Yet, to this date, there is no research that focuses on the entirety of the transitional experiences and needs of CIS leading up to the university-to-work transition and how campus-based mental health professionals might best address these transition needs.

There are a number of challenges that CIS experience upon arrival in the host country (Bertram et al., 2014; Letora, Sullivan, & Croffie, 2017; Lin, 2006; Lowinger, He, Lin, & Chang, 2014), during their stay in the host country (Li, Marbley, Bradley, & Lan, 2016; Lin, 2006; Wang et al., 2012; Wang et al., 2015), and when they are preparing to graduate, regardless of whether they are staying in the host country or returning home (Arthur & Popadiuk, 2010; Popadiuk & Arthur, 2014; Shen & Herr, 2004). These challenges are labeled in the literature as transition shock (Bennett, 1998; McLachlan & Justice, 2009); culture shock (Lin, 2006; Yan & Berliner, 2011); acculturative stress (Berry, 1997; Rice, Choi, Zhang, Morero, & Anderson, 2012; Yakunina, Weigold, & Weigold, 2013; Yan & Berliner, 2011); psycho-somatization (Bertram et al., 2014; Liao & Wei, 2014); university-to-work transitions (Arthur & Flynn, 2011; Popadiuk & Arthur, 2014; Shen & Herr, 2004); and career placement concerns (Arthur & Flynn, 2011; Nunes & Arthur; 2013; Shen & Herr, 2004). …

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