By: Contributor On: December 29, 2020 In: International Students Comments: 1

Getting accepted to an American university or college is something many students around the world dream about. It gives you instant access to some of the world’s leading minds and best educational programs.

If you’ve accepted admission to an American university, you might be wondering how to succeed as an international student. The transition can seem intimidating, but these ten tips will help you adjust in no time. 

1. Attend Freshman Orientation

Most universities require all incoming freshmen to attend a student orientation — but you should go even if it’s optional.

The presentations and tours will answer most of your questions including where everything is located on campus and how student life works. It’s a major stress reliever for anyone who thinks they won’t know what to do once they move into their dorm room.

2. Meet Your Mentor

As of 2019, international students comprised 12% of the total student population across the US. American universities know that international students can’t succeed without proper support. Accordingly, they’re setup to help each new wave of international students succeed.

Contact your college’s international office to meet with a mentor. They’ll match you with upper-level students or staff members who have lived your experience and can answer questions throughout your academic career.

3. Reach Out to Your Roommates

Your roommates can make your college experience wonderful… or stress you out.

Contact them as soon as you get your assignments. Find them through their social media profiles and message them before your move-in day.

Starting early friendships will make it easier to adjust to your new life in America. Plus, your roommates will be great resources for any questions you have about student or academic life on campus.

4. Go to Welcome Events

After you spend your first night on campus, there will likely be a few days of welcome events. Even if you don’t know anyone, go to a few of them. You’ll meet other people who also need friends and have instant icebreakers to start conversations. 

Study groups and on-campus tutoring centers often set up booths at these events, too. Not to mention student groups you may be interested in joining including clubs specifically for international students.

You’ll meet everyone who’s available to help you get used to American classroom culture as well as fellow international students going through the same thing as you.

5. Review Your Notes

After classes start, you’ll need time to find a good routine that helps you study. While you’re trying out flashcards and note-taking apps, don’t forget to review what you write down in lectures.

Research shows that you’ll only remember 20% of any information two weeks later if you look at it once. Review your notes every evening or most nights of the week. As you learn how to study in the US, this tip will make it easier to pass exams while you find your groove.

6. Explore the Campus Library

The library is one of the best resources available to you on campus. Don’t be nervous to walk around it when you have a free afternoon. Meet with the librarians and check out the many floors of bookshelves.

Future assignments won’t be as tricky if you know where to access the library’s research material. Plus, American librarians prefer when students can use their database to look up what they need instead of stopping them from helping other people with more complicated questions.

7. Consider Other Majors

You might have applied to your future American university because they offered a specific major. It’s nerve-wracking to decide to dedicate your education and career to one major, especially if you start taking classes and discover that you want to do something else.

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, 30% of students will change their majors at least once during their first three years of college. And this is especially true in American colleges where the average student takes 4-6 years to graduate.

It takes time to learn what you love. You’ll have a better college experience if you give yourself room to dream about and explore all your options.

8. Break Down Your Reading

If English isn’t your first language, breaking down your reading is one of the best things you can do. Divide chapters into sections so you can devote all your time and energy to the parts that seem complicated.

Absorbing the information is the first step toward passing quizzes and exams. Color code the parts you need to dive into later so you fully grasp each assignment.

9. Turn on the Subtitles

Part of learning how to succeed as an international student might be turning on the subtitles.

American professors often include links to videos that pair well with class material. Subtitles will make the information presented in these videos more clear and help with note-taking.

Pause whenever you need to write something down, and all the information will freeze on screen for you.

10. Jump Into Classroom Discussions

American classrooms might have a different structure than what you’re used to at home. Students are encouraged to ask questions and join in debates, so jump into class discussions whenever they arise!

You’ll establish relationships with your classmates and professors, which immediately makes anyone feel more at home in their new school.

Give Yourself Time

Succeeding at an American university isn’t difficult if you use international student tips like these and give yourself time. You might need a few weeks — or even months — to get comfortable with your new life. As you try new things, you’ll learn how to study and meet people so you have a great time while you work toward your degree.


About Ginger Abbot: Ginger writes on a variety of educational topics, including international study and career planning. She also serves as Editor-in-Chief for the learning publication Classrooms, where you can read more of her work.

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3 months ago

I really like your blog, Keep it up.