Factors Affecting International Students' Transition to Higher Education Institutions in the United States

By Kwon, Yangyi | College Student Journal, December 2009 | Go to article overview

Factors Affecting International Students' Transition to Higher Education Institutions in the United States


Kwon, Yangyi, College Student Journal


Contents  Literature Review Gender, Ethnicity, and Graduate Status English Speaking Classes. ESL, and OIS Method Respondents Instruments Results English Proficiency ESL Program Users and Nonusers Class Size Preference Instructors' Efforts for Classroom Involvement Feelings of Isolation or Intimidation in Classrooms Main Fear Sources of Help Homesickness Loneliness Office of International Students (OIS) Discussion Implications References 

FROM THE PERSPECTICE OF OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

The study defines international students and identifies their needs and the factors influencing their transition to higher education institutions in the U.S. Even though international students' transition has been well researched, specific attention has not been focused on differences in how they adjust themselves to new environments depending on gender, ethnicity, and graduate status.

The findings of the study have been based on the data from 165 randomly selected international students at an urban university located in the middle-eastern area of the United States. Results indicated that those who perceived their English proficiency to be relatively low were more likely to be Asian international students. However, there were no significant differences in feelings of intimidation or isolation, homesickness and loneliness between different ethnic groups. Besides, female international students were more subject to more homesickness than male students were. No significant differences were found between undergraduates and graduates.

The present study not only provides empirical data about international students' transition but also gives educational administrators, international legislators, and professors who deal with international students much broader implications for understanding and helping these international students.

International students have become an increasingly important part of the higher education system of the United States. It has been estimated that international students play a key role in contributing to a culturally diverse society by providing a wide variety of different cultures and perspectives. As well as the richness of diversity, there is also the important benefit of international students as economic drivers.

English speaking countries except the U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, as well as China and Japan, have experienced increasing numbers of international students. With the growing international competition in higher education, American universities need to employ a more coordinated strategy. First of all, universities are obliged to enable them to be assimilated into American universities as quickly as possible by means of formal sources of help. In addition, it is important to understand their experiences and problems in order to facilitate the development of multicultural environments that will be supportive of their academic goals.

The study identifies not only the international students' perceptions of English proficiency, instructors, the Office of International students (OIS), but also their concerns and anxieties that are closely related to their transition in order to provide educational administrators in higher education and policy makers with a better understanding of international students.

Previous studies have reported that the transition to American universities is often associated with fear, homesickness, and stress, which in many cases lead to students failing or withdrawing from university. However, the few studies dealt with the impacts of specific independent variables such as gender, degree status, ethnicity, and English proficiency levels, English as a Secondary Language (ESL) and interactions with professors and OIS simultaneously. Moreover, despite the fact that there is a diverse population of international students, very few have been conducted to find out how differently they adjust to new environments depending on their ethnicity (Poyrazli & Kavanaugh, 2006). …

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