Record class of international students prepares for U.S. campus life

By: Scott Charlston
Study shows social media use can help international students reduce loneliness, stress
Apps and gadgets that could make future travel a breeze

More than one million International students are likely to study on U.S. college campuses this academic year; building on a 10% increase in 2015 and 85% growth during the last ten years. Drawn by the world’s best higher education system, international students now comprise more than 5% of America’s college population.

Nearly a third come from China, followed by India, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. About 40% will study science, technology, engineering or math-related fields—and many will stay for work in the U.S. after graduation. But before they don cap and gown, they may face loneliness and homesickness that can lead to academic trouble.

However, a recent study by the University of Kansas suggests using social media can help reduce these issues.

The survey of international students found a positive association between use of social media and making social adjustments in U.S. colleges—helping them feel connected. Use of social media helped internationals connect with students from America, from their home country and also with those from cultures similar to their own.

All college students must adapt, make new friends and find their way, but considering language and culture alone, the number of accommodations is higher for internationals. Many join international student associations that offer weekly meetings to speed up learning and integration. On larger campuses like Arizona State, an international student coalition brings Indian, African, Chinese and other student groups together for social activities including cricket, snowboarding and Lunar New Year. Many international students bond together over the similar challenges they face.

Here are a few other tips to help international students integrate and thrive on campus:

  • Take advantage of language tutors and international student conversation groups to enhance English speaking skills
  • Meet recruiters for internships and job interviews by connecting with international student organizations
  • Discover which social media tools are most common on your campus
  • Use social media to connect to people, activities and academic support
  • Many schools offer a campus mobile app for orientation, navigation and assistance
  • Shoestring strategies for life at Harvard app offers budgeting tips
  • Connect to friends and family abroad, plus everything you need on campus with a cell phone plan from the best, most reliable U.S. carrier—Verizon 

Verizon is America’s largest and most highly-awarded 4G LTE wireless network. New for 2016, the company is offering international students the chance to purchase a phone on the device payment plan with a simple qualifying process and 20% down payment. No credit history or security deposit is required for up to 2 lines.