Whether you’re a new or returning college student, arriving on campus to begin the fall semester is a chaotic and stressful time. There are items to purchase, people to meet, and study plans to consider—all in a relatively short amount of time before classes start.
As August becomes September, you may be thinking about how, as an international student, you can make the most of your time on an American campus without burning out or over-committing. While there are certainly no universal plans for all students, the following on-campus resources can help you maximize your semester and perhaps even discover new opportunities for the future.
1. The international student center
As an international student, you likely have a bit more on your plate than the typical American-born student, at least as far as logistics are concerned. In addition to your courses and your social life, you must also consider items like your visa status. For that reason, you should familiarize yourself with your school’s international student center or department. The staff at this center can help you with most things related to your international status, and they can likely offer you advice or answer questions.
2. A study group
One of the best things about being an international student is the fact that you will be exposed to a very different perspective on your studies, and, possibly, American culture. Of course, the only way you can gain this varied perspective is by engaging with students on campus—one way to do this is by joining on-campus study groups. These groups range from formal, school-associated gatherings, to informal, self-organized gatherings, and they cover a wide variety of topics like majors and personal interests.
3. The campus health services center
You would likely prefer to avoid getting sick or receiving any medical or emotional assistance this semester, but there is still a chance that you may need this help in the coming months. The campus health services center is a great place to start if you need to see a doctor or would like some support.
4. Faculty office hours
Depending on the type of educational system that you are used to, the idea of accessing one-on-one time with professors and instructors might seem unusual. Faculty office hours, however, are one of the best opportunities to receive feedback on your work, to ask questions about homework or class materials, and to get ideas about current or future projects. Since most faculty members do not have time to focus on each student during classes and lectures, faculty office hours will be an asset to your development as a student.
5. The writing lab
As an international student, you have no doubt had some challenging moments with English, as any second language-learner would. Fortunately, your school probably has a writing lab to help you overcome the more challenging aspects of this task. Writing lab staff can help you with everything from the fundamental mechanics of writing, like grammar, to helping you develop your story ideas and concepts to make them more cohesive and effective.
6. The career center
One of the biggest reasons that international students study in the United States is to work with some of the most well-known and well-respected scholars, and to make connections that can be helpful when the time comes to find a job. If this is true for you, the best place to start planning for your future is in your school’s career center. This is a great place to plan for internships or assistantships, or to find a part-time job that can get you started on the path toward the career of your dreams.
David White is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world’s largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.