For many international students hoping to study in the USA, the process of just getting in is overwhelming. By the time the acceptance letter is in hand and the deposit is made, it’s understandable to say, “PHEW! I’m done!” But after the relief wears off, a new wave of questions and anxieties usually hit families around. “How will I get from the airport to campus?” “Am I expected to find twin XL sheets on my own?” “What will I do when all of the American students leave campus for Thanksgiving?” There are so many unknowns for international students moving far from home to study in the USA.
If you are feeling the panic of uncertainty, rest assured there is support for international students! Most colleges that have an international student population have an entire team of staff to help make your transition to their campus as smooth as possible. While these offices may have slightly different names at different colleges and universities, the Office of International Student Services will be your new lifeline from the time of admission through graduation (and maybe even beyond!). So how can the Office of International Student Services (OISS) help you?
The core mission of an OISS is to provide the necessary assistance to ensure the college’s compliance with governmental immigration regulations, as well as help international students achieve their educational goals. Key services may include:
- Providing the required documents for international students to maintain their legal status in the U.S.
- Cultural adjustment support
- International student orientation
- Coordination of housing, meals, and activities during school breaks
- Academic advising
- Health services advising
- Travel assistance
- Work/internship compliance and guidance
- Sponsor of international students club or associations
- Additional English language programming
- Campus programming to promote cultural understanding and awareness for all students
Your next step is to contact the OISS (if they have not already been in contact with you) at your college. Familiarize yourself with the specific services offered at your college, and feel comfortable contacting the OISS directly with your questions and concerns even prior to moving overseas. Remember, it is their sole job to support YOU!
For international families reading this during the search and application process, it is essential to include each college’s OISS in your research process. Draw distinctions between services provided at the colleges you are considering. If the college does not have an OISS or has very limited support, that is something you should be well-aware of before making any final decisions.