Developing Your International Students' Networking Skills

Vol. 12 No. 3


If international students make up a large percentage—or any percentage for that matter—of your school’s enrollment, you might want to consider some of the trending stories making waves across the Internet. Reports are coming out that although international student enrollments are on the rise in the U.S., their ability to network and intermingle with domestic students is challenged.

Students come to the U.S. to study for the ultimate educational experience. You enroll them because your school’s mission matches their motivation and personal educational goals. They accept your school’s invitation to learn because they believe your program is going to set them up for a bright future. But, if they’re lacking in face-to-face networking and socializing skills, then their chances for nailing a stellar college interview or knocking an interview out of the park are limited.

Your school exists to nurture students, international and American alike, for success. How they dress, what they say, what’s made public on their social media pages, all contribute to their personal brand, which is a reflection of your school’s brand.

You can help international and domestic students alike learn networking etiquette and skills by providing opportunities for volunteering, creating mentoring programs, and by arranging social functions where students have the chance to socialize with others outside of their typical friend circle—even alumni. These opportunities are vital for student growth; however, they’re even more impactful for international students when considering a study conducted in 2012 found that 40% of international college students had no American friends. The study concludes that international students find social structures to be exclusionary and mystifying.

However, change is possible! And with growing international student enrollment numbers in U.S. high schools, change can begin with our younger visiting scholars. Through better programming and orientations, domestic and international students can be taught how to relate to one another, and cultural boundaries can be demolished.

Making change happen, of course, requires collaborative efforts of not just of those in your Admission Office, but also with the support of your faculty. An audience member at the AIEA conference was quoted, “Students really look to their professors to give them direction and advice and deepen their conversations, so if faculty were taught to embrace these conversations about 'difference' and 'other' and 'cross-cultural competencies' and international challenges in engineering, then those conversations would take on meaning for the students.”

Colleges are starting to take a deeper look into programs designed to help professors better serve international students. One example is Duke University’s Intercultural Skills Development Program for faculty and staff.

However, cocurricular strategies such as buddy and peer-mentoring programs, orientations for international students that encourage socialization with other international students as well as domestic students, and opportunities such as those mentioned above can help make a difference without impacting your school’s professional development budget.

Your International students must have medical insurance before traveling to the U.S. ISM’s International Student Accident and Sickness coverage provides accident, sickness and sports coverage to visiting students (K-12) studying in the U.S. and for domestic students traveling abroad. We offer three different plans—Gold, Silver, and Bronze—that families can chose from. For more information about our international student coverage, click here.

Additional ISM articles of interest
ISM Monthly Update for School Heads Vol. 11 No. 5 Public Schools Recruit International Students for Income, Diversity

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