Special Reports

Community Colleges Offer More Support To International Students


International students are receiving the support they need for higher education at community colleges. They are provided with orientations, peer mentors as well as on-campus housing, among others.

U.S. News reported that 91,648 international students, which make up 9.4 percent of all international students in the United States in 2014-2015, studied at community colleges for that school year. This is taken from data by the Institute of International Education.

It was also noted that some community colleges which has a lot of international students have already developed services to address issues that this demographic faces. This includes adjusting to a new education system, finding housing as well as getting involved on campus.

Experts say that one of the early challenges that international students face is in adjusting to a new education system. "I think, probably, community college is the least well understood of all because it is a uniquely American type of an institution," Heidi Russell-Kalkofen, an international student coordinator at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, said.

A second-year Montgomery College business technology administration student from Pakistan, Zia Dar, admitted that one major difference that he has faced is with the test structure. The 22-year-old student noted that U.S. exams tend to cover four or five chapters of the material while tests in Pakistan usually cover a whole 12-chapter book at once.

To address this issue, a few community colleges provide special orientations for international students. Orientations include activities like skits on how to greet Americans and games where students have to research the school's website for information.

Houston Community College, which has the largest international student population among the community colleges in the U.S., offers several international student orientations each year. According to Bianca Schonberg, manager, international student services and study abroad at HCC, orientations usually last for four to five hours and addresses topics like health insurance and tutoring services.

In WSJ's rankings of the schools with the most diversity, it was found that public, urban schools have the most multicultural learning environments. The environment score of the rankings go ranges from the percentage of first-time college graduates and Pell Grant recipients to the diversity of an institution's students and staff. The percentage of international students also affects the schools' scores.

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