Academic journal article Journal of International Students

International Students' Enhanced Academic Performance: Effects of Campus Resources

Academic journal article Journal of International Students

International Students' Enhanced Academic Performance: Effects of Campus Resources

Article excerpt

International students constitute a good proportion of student population in universities and colleges in the United States (Open Doors Report, 2013). International student enrollment in U.S. colleges and universities has increased by 7%, to a total of 819,644, with most of the students contributing coming from China, India, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia (Open Doors, 2013). When international students move to foreign countries, they face challenges as they try to adjust to their new environments (Ward, Bochner, & Furnham, 2001; Yeh & Inose, 2003). Some of these challenges are anticipated while others are not foreseen. International students manage to cope with these problems as they shift from their cultural norms and adapt to the way of life in their new environments. Acculturation is often quite challenging, coupled with the fact that these students also face academic pressure. These difficulties tend to have negative consequences on these students' health and academic achievement (Kilinc & Granello, 2003). Some of the prominent difficulties of international students include culture shock, homesickness, loss of social support, discrimination, language barriers, loneliness, depression, and anxiety (Faleel et al., 2012; McClure, 2007; Zhao et al., 2008), and these difficulties upset their academic performance.

A number of studies have looked at the experiences and challenges of international students (; Kuo, 2011; Lee, 2010; Tucker & Ang, 2007), but a few studies have examined how these international students still succeed academically despite the odds (Tseng & Newton, 2002). This study seeks to investigate the problems of international students at a university in the Midwest and assess how these students had been able to manage their difficulties partly by making use of campus resources.

International students experience difficulty adjusting to their new environments and new ways of life. Shih and Brown (2000) noted that international students generally faced more adjustment problems than did U.S. students, and that the top five adjustment problems were (1) lack of English proficiency, (2) inadequate financial resources, (3) problems in social adjustment or integration, (4) problems in daily living, and (5) loneliness or homesickness. Shih and Brown (2000), in concert with Wan et al. (1992), posited that these adjustment difficulties tended to affect international students' academic performance, mental and physical health, level of satisfaction with their cross-cultural experiences, and attitudes toward the host nations as they seek to adapt to their new environment. However, international students do not seek counseling like domestic students do (Misra & Castillo, 2004) because some of them view the word counseling as a negative term (Onabule & Boes, 2013), and they might not be familiar with the counseling process (Olivas & Li, 2006). Nevertheless, Sherry, Thomas, and Chui (2010) showed that the writing center has been of great help to international students with the composition of their papers.

Shih and Brown (2000) defined acculturation as a dynamic process of relating to a dominant group by which a minority group selectively adopts its value system and cultural practices when involved in the processes of integrating with, and differentiating from, the dominant group and that such changes result in three possible outcomes. These outcomes include (a) assimilation wherein a person from a minority group replaces his/her own culture with the host culture's attitudes, values, and behaviors; (b) resistance to assimilation wherein a person from a minority group clings to his/her own culture and resists the host country's culture (Suinn et al., 1995); and (c) biculturalism wherein a person from a minority culture adopts aspects from both his/her own culture and the host culture; (Suinn et al., 1995). While Suinn uses the term biculturalism, Gibson (1998) uses the term accommodation and acculturation without assimilation to explain that the student retains his/her home culture but learns and participates in the culture of the host countries, thereby, blending the two cultures to facilitate their adaptation. …

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