How International MS Students Can Get Support During Their Studies

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How International MS Students Can Get Support During Their Studies

International students have traditionally flocked to the US to further their studies in various subjects by enrolling in advanced degree programs. If you’re planning to study in the US, you don’t have to worry about shouldering all of life’s responsibilities by yourself. Many colleges and universities in the United States have large networks of support for international students, such as pastoral care programs or international student groups. Getting a Master’s Degree in another country can be a daunting task, and you can increase your chances of thriving in your new life by taking advantage of all of the services and supports your school offers. Before you make the big move and start your new life, you should check out what your university, degree program or local city has in the form of support services for international students, new residents or communities of people from your native country. Here are some ways you can make this new transition smooth and successful.

  • Why You’ll Need Support

    Some international students don’t realize how essential support services are for their overall well-being and success in their program. If you’ve never lived abroad for a long period of time, you may not understand all of the challenges of a big move to another part of the world. Having a support system can help you navigate many different challenges during your journey, such as paperwork, procedures, cultural expectations, academic concerns and socializing. It’s important to be proactive and seek support services in your program as soon as possible. If you get involved on your campus and engage with various clubs, organizations and support groups, you may feel more connected to the people in your program and community. When you have that sense of belonging on your campus, it could help you adjust much better and push any sense of loneliness away. Being far away from home in another place can be stressful, and your academic program may be demanding. With a support system in your life, you can feel more confident and satisfied in your new home. Check out the most common ways to get support if you’re an international student.  

  • International Student Office  

    The first place you should look for support is at your college’s international student office. Universities with an international student population should have a place on campus dedicated to international student affairs. When you’re evaluating different MS programs, make sure you look into the reputation and support system each school’s international student office offers. Then, once you get accepted into your program, you should begin a dialogue with the staff to get everything in order for your arrival. Here are some ways this office provides support to international students: Visa and Immigration Issues – Get assistance with your status in the country by following the proper procedures to live and study in the United States.International Advisor – Some offices provide international students with a dedicated staff member to turn to for any issues related to being a newcomer to the country.Travel Documentation – If you have questions about passports or other documentation, the office can help.Financial Concerns – Being an international student means you’ll have different financial needs than a US citizen. This student office can provide advice about finances.

  • International Student Clubs

    Another place to contact before you even set foot in the US is an international student club at your school. Most colleges have a large network of social clubs catering to a variety of interests within the student population. Check out the atmosphere for international student groups by going to a list of all of the organizations on your college’s website. If you’re going to a smaller school, there may be only one general international club on campus. Larger schools may have several clubs dedicated to specific regions of the world, cultures or languages. These clubs can help you connect with other international students who are new to their programs, like you, or those who have been studying in the US for a longer period of time. For new international students, these groups can offer social support and fun during those first few nervous weeks.

  • Pastoral Care Center

    Next, check out your school’s pastoral care center. A pastoral care office is not necessarily dedicated to the needs of international students. These offices help the entire student body with issues such as mental health, happiness, peer relationships, academic concerns and more. Some pastoral centers help connect students with others as part of a peer-mentoring program that brings together international students with classmates who were born in the US. College life can be stressful for people, no matter where they’re coming from. With pastoral center support, students can get access to psychology services, conflict resolution, academic support, cultural sensitivity training, healthy living tips and much more. Check out your university’s pastoral center to see what specific services you can use throughout your studies.

  • Academic Advisor

    Once you get into your program, you’ll typically be assigned an academic advisor throughout your studies. Generally, this is a professor or staff member who teaches classes in your degree program. Before you schedule any classes for your first semester, you should make an appointment with your advisor to discuss options. Here are some ways your advisor could help: Plan your Program – An advisor can give you tips about which classes to take, when to plan for them and how to meet the requirements of the program.Registration Advice – Advisors help students register for classes and navigate things such as prerequisites, textbooks and professor recommendations.Graduation Requirements – Academic advisors are helpful when planning for long-term graduation requirements.Career and Internship Help – If your program has an internship requirement, your advisor is the person to go to for help with placement, recommendations and paperwork.

  • Remedial Classes

    International students may also need another form of support: remedial classes. These are classes that are usually not credit-earning, but possibly necessary to master basic skills in reading, language, math or more. If English isn’t your first language, you may struggle with the demands of college writing in an MS graduate program. Some students may need to take refresher courses to help them adjust to the different writing style in the United States. Additionally, some colleges offer American culture classes to students who may need some assistance. This can look like language classes to address the unique American speaking style or classes that teach things such as cultural expectations, holidays and customs. International students without a lot of traveling experience can find these tutorials helpful during their time in the US.

  • Academic Support Centers

    While you’re in the midst of your academic program, you can also take advantage of your school’s academic support centers. Most colleges and universities in the US offer staffed support centers for various aspects of college academics. You may get access to a college writing support center, which can help you put together research papers, essays and other types of writing assignments. If you struggle with note-taking and studying, check out the academic support center to learn some tips to be more successful. Academic support centers are usually staffed by other students, and in some cases, you can even acquire an individual tutor from the center to help you master other essential skills during your course of study. This way, you can focus on high achievement and success during your entire program.

  • Employment Options

    While many international students may not be allowed to work in the United States, some enrollees have special circumstances that allow for a part-time job to help bring in a little more income. Students from other countries usually pay higher tuition rates, and the costs can be overwhelming, even if you get financial aid. In some situations, it may be possible to secure a job on campus to help make your financial situation more sustainable over time. On many college campuses, there are lots of different jobs available that offer limited hours that work with a busy class schedule. If you want to work, the best place to start is at your school’s employment center. There, you can find on-campus jobs, such as cafeteria assistant, office clerk, library worker or bookstore cashier. Sometimes, you can also get help with off-campus jobs, such as babysitting, dog walking or more.

  • Meals and Housing

    Making a big transition to a new country as an international student is costly, and for most students the cheapest option for their studies is to live on campus. Before committing to the program of your choice, make sure you also research options regarding meals and housing. The cost of room and board can make your academic investment even higher. Graduate students may not have as many options when it comes to housing if the school has a shortage, so be sure to know what the situation is. For many international students, the most economical choice is to secure campus housing and purchase a meal plan. This means living in a college dorm room and eating nearly all of your food in dining halls and other campus eateries. If you want to find out more about what you should do next before applying to international graduate programs in the United States, check out SchoolApply. There, you can see different types of programs for international students seeking an MS. Do your research and select the program that best meets your needs and gets you closer to your career goals.

Levels Explained

  • Bachelor's

    A bachelor's degree (also called a first degree or undergraduate degree) is attained after receiving a post-secondary (high school) education and generally spans four years. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as bachelor or undergraduate students. A bachelor's degree is usually offered at an institution of higher education, such as a university.

  • Master's

    A master’s degree (or postgraduate or graduate education) involves learning and studying for academic or professional degrees. This degree is preceded by a bachelor’s degree and generally takes two years to complete. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as master's, or grad students.

  • Pathway

    Bachelor’s and master’s pathway programs are designed for international students who need additional English language and academic preparation before continuing to a degree program at a university. The purpose of these programs are to give students the confidence and skills needed to succeed in college.