Cracking the Code: Insight for Future International Students

University life, including cultural differences and the complexity of campus life, may differ from one country to the other. However, universities in the USA in reality are far different from what you may see or hear from the media or watch on TV. So knowing the culture of the place you intend to study in the near future helps you avoid cultural shock and breaks through the stereotypes that may occur when you become an international student.

International.University of Arkansas Graduate School.Recruitment
University of Arkansas International and Graduate Student Ambassadors next to the J. William Fulbright statue in front of Old Main.

Academic Code: Your academic success is one of the topmost priorities or the standard upon which most decisions are made in U.S. universities. Therefore it’s your responsibility as an international student to make good decisions towards academics and focus on your studies. Talk to your academic advisor for resources you may need, and use them effectively to get you started. The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville for instance has International Offices that help international students overcome the challenges in the U.S., including: study life and how to maintain a good status for visa purposes.

Majors:  One of the main issues in the academic coding is the dilemma in selecting your true major of interest. It might be surprising for you that as a student in the U.S. you can enroll in school without picking a particular major in the first place.  Most  first time college students are uncertain for which areas of studies interest them. So don’t get it twisted if you are not sure of your major. There is a spot to enroll in as ‘undecided student’ until you are quite certain of your interest. But remember that prolonging the time to solidify your major can extend your time until graduation. Besides, most questions for visa interviews circulate around your major of interest within the accepted university you will be studying; questions like why that major in such university or state? So having a clear purpose of studies will help. Remember University of Arkansas, Fayetteville has made a lot of accomplishments in research, so if accepted, getting to know some of the research achievements in your decided area of majoring will help for visa interviews. Also, a higher standard of GPA is the ultimate desire for most students, so you will often hear students talking about their A’s or 4.0’s. So keep in mind that you will be facing a pool of equally smart students like yourself. And most of them are just like you: very determined and optimistic.

Professors: Having a good relationship with your professors will help you in so many ways. In the US, good relationships with your professors can shape your academic performance, help in the job search or internships, and especially help for the purpose of getting excellent recommendation letters. All professors in the US have office hours for students to help them resolve issues or answer questions bothering them.

Social Code: College life in the US may seem a little different as compared to your native country when it comes to socialization: the approach of making friends and what friends mean to them in certain occasions. However, as an international student the best way to break through the secrecy of successful college life is to be involved, learn to pick good friends and adapting to your new environment. It will help you in understanding the culture of the academic environment, developing your public speaking abilities, getting good study partners or groups, and alongside, build your soft skills.

                                                            -Joshua, Ghana

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