study in the states

It’s August. You’re getting ready to pack your bags, board a plane, and travel to the United States to begin your college career. Part of your experience will include navigating a different culture. Here are some tips to ease your transition to life on an American college campus.

  • Get to Know Your Roommate: The idea of living with a stranger is stressful for most enrolling freshmen. Living with someone who does not share your cultural background can add to the apprehension. Remember, your future roommate is likely as nervous as you are to start this new adventure. To establish your connection early, reach out to your roommate in advance of your arrival to campus. Who better to answer your questions about American teen culture?
  • Understand the Classroom Dynamic: The learning style of an American college course is often unfamiliar to international students. Your professors can assist you in understanding the give and take of a class discussion and what is expected of students. For example, many professors consider class participation when calculating a final grade. Additionally, building relationships with faculty could open doors for academic experiences beyond the classroom, like research, and assist in developing your network leading to future employment opportunities.
  • Make Use of Campus Resources: Many students don’t ask for help even when they know they need it. You may think that asking for help is admitting defeat or a sign of failure. On college campuses, there is no stigma attached to seeking assistance, and these services are free of charge to students. College campuses have a wealth of services to support student success, from peer tutoring to language support to counseling services.
  • Get Involved in Campus Activities: You may think that academics should be your sole focus as a freshman. While studying and establishing a solid academic foundation is very important, much of college life happens outside the classroom. Making friends and creating a social network can alleviate stress, ease homesickness, and allow for balance in your life. Getting involved is essential to a successful freshman year.

To make the most out of your first year experience, add these items to your to-do list for when you arrive on campus.

  • Attend International Student Orientation: While Freshman Orientation is required for all incoming first-year students, many colleges offer a separate, and sometimes optional, international student orientation. These programs aim to provide a deep dive on what it means to study in the United States by fostering the skills necessary to succeed and highlighting available resources to help you navigate any challenges ahead. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. You’ll meet other international students and learn valuable information that will serve you throughout your undergraduate experience.
  • Visit the International Student Advising Office: Also known on many college campuses as the Office of International Students and Scholars, this office can provide services including, but not limited to, immigration administration support and on-and off-campus employment advising. This office most often coordinates the International Student Association.

Living and learning in a foreign culture can seem daunting. However, being proactive in thinking about what’s to come and using the resources available to you, will help make your chosen college a home away from home. Best of luck in your freshman year!


Written by Joy Biscornét
Joy Biscornét is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions consultants. Joy received her bachelor's degree from Lafayette College. Prior to joining College Coach, Joy worked as a senior admissions officer at Boston College and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne. Visit our website to learn more about Joy Biscornét.