Challenges for International Students in the United States

Posted by on in Study Abroad

Are you one of many students from all over the world who has applied to study in the United States or are you thinking about studying in the U.S? The U.S. is home to several of the top universities in the world and offers many opportunities for research and other academic endeavors. Whether it is finding international student aid, dealing with cultural differences, or finding a solution to an academic problem, international students in the United States face many challenges. Even in light of these challenges, you can find a solution that works for you and have the opportunity to study at the American university of your choice.

Cultural Differences

Without a doubt, international students will encounter many cultural differences. Class work standards may be different than your home country, and classroom etiquette may differ quite a bit than what you are used to. These cultural differences may, in some cases, affect or interfere with studies, but by embracing them as part of your international study abroad experience, you will be able to better cope with the situation of living abroad. One way of combating cultural differences is to find a mentor, such as a professor, counselor or even a fellow student, who can help you understand the cultural differences and the inner workings of your new culture.

Financial Challenges

Studying at the university level in the United States is never a cheap venture once tuition, room and board and additional living costs are all considered. According to Emmeline Zhao from the Wall Street Journal, the costs of school “could run in the neighborhood of $200,000 just for tuition and fees over four years.” Many universities across the country offer special programs for international students, but often, this provides only a small bit of relief. Unlike American students, international students cannot benefit from U.S. federal or state-funded financial aid and must find other means of paying for school.

While studying in the U.S. can be difficult for international students, there are a several options for financial aid. There are numerous awards, grants, and scholarships that offer financial aid for international students who have performed well in school. These financial aid options are often reserved for international students who have both performed well in school prior to their U.S. studies and have been determined to really need the financial aid. When it comes to affording an education in America and seeking resources, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but is feasible and worth the effort! You can read more about financial aid for international students in this free guide.

Free Download, Guide to International Student Financial Aid CTA

Social Challenges

Study abroad students come to the U.S. first and foremost to learn, but college life in the U.S. is not restricted to only the classroom. A large portion of the college experience happens outside of class with friends. For international students, making new friends can be a tough challenge but not impossible. A language barrier, misunderstanding, or cultural difference may present difficulties when students —whether international or not— try to reach out. Remember that most American students are open to speaking and becoming friends with international students and, in many cases, universities have entire dorms dedicated to international students who are going through the same transitions as you. The best way to meet new people and learn more about new surroundings is to get involved with the university. Universities and colleges offer numerous clubs, organizations, extracurricular activities, and teams that would be happy to have international student participation – so sign up!

Universities and colleges offer numerous clubs, organizations, extracurricular activities, and teams that would be happy to have international student participation - so sign up!

Academic Challenges

International students may face several different types of academic challenges. One of the biggest differences between the U.S. educational system and that of the rest of the world is that professors in the U.S. are typically more interested in hands-on learning, classroom discussion, and group participation. This may be a tough adjustment if you are not used to this style of learning. Also, many U.S. professors make themselves easily accessible to their students. This is not always the case, but most are interested in their students and want to help with any problems that may arise. If you are having difficulty with an assignment, you should feel free to talk to a peer or professor and seek immediate help.

Remember, too, that the style of assignments may differ greatly from your home country. Whether it is working with a group to present a report or working in a science lab, the hands-on learning could take some getting used to. Most likely, the university will offer tutoring services to students who are having trouble with their studies; learning a subject in a non-native language is not the easiest feat to tackle. As an international student, don’t be afraid to take advantage of these services.

Interested in learning more about studying in the United States? Download this free guide to financial aid for international students!


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