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ColumnsStudy abroad: Adjusting to new environment in US

Study abroad: Adjusting to new environment in US

Published: 25th Jul 2021 12:04 am

While understanding EducationUSA’s ‘Step 5: Prepare for Your Departure’ for master’s programmes in the United States, in the last few columns we have discussed travel preparations, port-of-entry procedures, and what to expect upon arrival at the university campus. We continue this discussion in today’s column and talk about adjusting to a new social and cultural environment in the United States.

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Given the new atmosphere and setting, international students may go through some social and cultural adjustments upon their arrival in the United States. The culture shock may vary to each student and could either be a positive or a negative experience depending on how a student responds to the new environment.

Keeping an open mind and accepting the newness may be the best way to survive the change. Students should try to understand new ways of living as they interact with their peers, seniors, professors, and other university officials, while slowly adjusting to their new surroundings and keeping in contact with family and friends back in India. Also, they should try to make new friends from different countries and socialise to build their social support network in the new country.

There are many support services available on the US university campuses for international students. Some essential resources include the international students center, counselling center, host family option, and mentoring services. Students should make sure to check the availability and location of these and other services on campus once they arrive. They may also get involved in other activities available for students on campus through student clubs and associations and sports/fitness centres.

Indian student associations are also very active on most US campuses. In addition, some US institutions organise short day trips for new incoming students to help them understand the city and surrounding areas. International students should try to choose and participate in some of these activities of their interest while keeping a focus on academics. Students may easily find information about such services, centres, systems, and events on their US institution’s website.

International students studying in the United States generally have a unique multi-cultural experience that enriches them both from an academic and a social perspective. So, new students should give themselves time to adjust to the surroundings, while accepting and overcoming their own initial fears and apprehensions.

Monika Setia (Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at the United States- India Educational Foundation based at the U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad)


Q. Our daughter is interested in taking admission in a Community College in the United States. What are the admission requirements and application procedures for community colleges?
— Sravan Reddy

A. Community colleges operate an “open” admissions policy. This means anyone who wishes to enroll and meets the minimum entry requirements can do so. Each institution will have its own set of admission requirements, but the minimum usually includes the following:
• Completed application form
• Proof of secondary school completion, usually 12 years of schooling • Certification of English language proficiency – TOEFL or IELTS
• Evidence of financial support

The English language proficiency requirement may be lower for a community college than it is for a four-year institution. In addition, if your score is a little below the entry requirement, the community college may still admit you into the English as a Second Language (ESL) programme. Successful completion of all the prescribed ESL courses will open the door to the wider academic world of the community college.

Students should contact the admissions office of the two-year college to request international admissions information. Many community colleges have websites with downloadable or on-line applications. To search for community colleges specifically you can visit the American Association of Community Colleges website for a search engine (https://www.aacc.nche.edu/college-finder/ ).

Q. What is the right time to apply for PhD degree in the US? What does the application process involve?
— Subodh

A. The ideal time to apply for a PhD programme at US universities is during the 1st semester of the 2nd year of the master’s programme if you plan to start the programme right after the master’s degree. The application process to PhD programmes at US universities involves an online application, standardised test (GRE/GMAT) and English proficiency scores, transcripts, statement of purpose (SOP), letters of recommendations, curriculum vitae or resume, and financial documents.

Administering standardised tests and putting together the application components is a long process. Therefore, one-two years in advance of the PhD programme start date is a good time for candidates to start planning for the US PhD degree application. Applicants should also plan registration of the standardised and English proficiency tests as not all of these tests are offered year-round and also each test round has limited seats available.

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