Academic journal article College Student Affairs Journal

Birds of a Feather Cluster Together: Noncognitive Attributes and International Student Success

Academic journal article College Student Affairs Journal

Birds of a Feather Cluster Together: Noncognitive Attributes and International Student Success

Article excerpt

International student enrollment in American universities has been steadily Increasing. When the Institute of International Education released their Open Doors report in 2014 there were 886,052 International students enrolled at American universities, representing 4.2% of the total U.S. college population (Institution of International Education, 2013). However, despite various offices, programs, and services that may be available to International students on the typical campus, many students experience challenges acclimating to the U.S. university environment (Church, 1982; Ramsay, Barker, & Jones, 1999). Not only are international students adapting to a new culture, but many are also adapting to a novel academic context. These challenges can lead to Issues such as low academic achievement (Andrade, 2006), withdrawal from the university (Kwal, 2010), and depression (Dao, Lee, & Chang, 2007), among others. It Is Important to recognize that all students - both domestic and international - may face challenges when adjusting to college, and it is by no means a guarantee that any given International student will struggle. Cross-cultural adaptation varies across Individuals, depending on characteristics of both the host culture and the Individual (Kim 1988, 2001). However, In order to ensure the academic success of International students - and ultimately retain them at the university - educators must understand what contributes to both their challenges and their successes.

Given the challenges facing some International students, early Intervention (e.g., within the first year) may benefit adjustment and academic success (Allen, Robbins, & Sawyer, 2009). There Is support for the success of Interventions such as peer/soclal support programs (Abe et al., 1998), Indepth orientation classes (Andrade, 2006), and classes aimed at development of academic skills (Beasley & Pearson, 1999); however, early Intervention Is dependent upon Identification of factors that permit early prediction of students at risk of falling academically (Allen et al., 2009). Although traditional factors such as high school GPA and SAT/ACT data are strong predictors of academic success, these data are not typically available for International students. As a result, Identifying noncognltlve factors related to academic success may result in more accurate predictions of at-rlsk students, and thus a more efficient use of Intervention resources. The current study focuses specifically on several of these factors - self-acceptance, work-avoidance, and help-seeking - as well as their role In predicting International students' academic success. We begin with a brief discussion of the literature pertaining to the constructs of Interest and a description of how they relate to academic success. We then describe the methodology used in the current study before outlining our results and their Implications.

Literature Review

Factors Related to International Student Success

Many new college students, whether International or domestic, face challenges associated with adaptation (Abe, Talbot, & Geelhoed, 1998). Many students are away from home for the first time and must adapt to their newfound Independence, a dlfferent routine, unusual social structures, and other unique aspects of college life (Ramsay et al., 1999). Although the process of adapting to college can be challenging for domestic students, It Is often even more challenging for International students. Entering not only the new environment of a university, but also a new culture, may result In feelings of anxiety, helplessness, or homesickness (Church, 1982; Dao et al., 2007; Klm 1988, 2001; Yakunina, Welgold, Welgold, Hercegovac, & Elsayed, 2013). For some students, emotional responses to adjusting to the new environment may Impact the students' success In college (Ramsay et al., 1999).

One framework for understanding variation In International students' adjustment to college is cross-cultural adaptation theory (Kim, 1988, 2001). …

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