International Freshmen in the U.S.: 6 Tips to Make a Smoother Transition

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

If you’re an international student about to begin your freshman year in college in the U.S., here are some tips to help you avoid some common missteps.

The beginning of a higher education degree is a challenging journey for any student, but the challenge increases for international students, as there are many aspects they need to get used to that don’t necessarily have to do with the difficulty of the degree. 

From financial aspects, to personal aspects, including some others in the middle, there are so many things international students need to handle when they first come to the country, that many of them have a hard time dealing with everything.

For that reason, here we share some tips to help international students smoothly transition into their first year.

How to Transition into Freshman Year in the U.S.: A Guide for International Students

1. Attend orientation prior to moving

Colleges and universities typically offer orientation only for international students. Make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to get to know the facilities and potential classmates before the term begins. This way, you will already know where everything is before classes begin.

Orientation is the perfect opportunity for international students to familiarize themselves with the surroundings and meet other students in the same situation they are going through.

2. Make sure you register for your classes as early as possible

Many times, international students end up losing a desired or needed class because classes fill up quickly and they either register late or miss the course registration deadline.

3. Look for cheaper textbooks

Many students make the mistake of buying all textbooks from the school’s bookstore, but they can be quite expensive. Other great options include borrowing textbooks from the school’s library and buying used textbooks that you’ll only need for the semester.

4. Make friends with people of different backgrounds

If international students make friends only with international students, they will miss the chance of getting to know others’ experiences and learn different tips from them.

Making friends with students in your same situation will help you feel understood, but make sure you also make friends with local students, or even with older students, as they will provide you with different insights that’ll help you transition into your first year more easily.

5. Don’t forget about financial issues

Dealing with the financial aspect can be overwhelming even for local students, so international students have it pretty hard when handling money and other financial issues.

Remember you are not on your own. International students can resort to professionals that will give them the tools to open a bank account, get their social security number, make plans to cover all of their expenses wisely, among any other financial aspect.

6. Don’t overdo yourself

Many times, international students have so much on their plate that they don’t even have the time to process everything and end up failing a course or missing deadlines. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with failing a course, you can just take it again next term, but avoiding this stressful situation is way better.

International students should make sure they are able to handle their schedule without burning themselves out and giving themselves a little time to relax and enjoy the international student experience.

REMEMBER: If you make some mistakes down the road, don’t panic! You’ll learn to deal with everything without it being overwhelming once you get used to the system or make one for yourself. While you’re at it, make sure you look for help whenever you need it, whether from friends or professionals.

These are some of the tips that international students should take into account before starting their first year of college in the U.S. 

With these tips, you can make sure you are ready for this exciting experience without stressing out so much.

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