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July 3, 2014

Financial woes lead to dissatisfied int. students

By Jaychelle Willis

In a recent online study by the National Association of State Facilities Administrators (NAFSA), international students coming to the United Sates for a college education are reporting to be dissatisfied with their experiences at U.S. universities.

NASFA’s Association of International Educators study included more than 500 survey responses from students enrolled at 83 colleges across the country.

The findings of the study concluded that the primary reason for international students’ dissatisfaction with American colleges is due to financial reasons.

As non-resident aliens, international students face many challenges when trying to find employment.  By F-1 student visa guidelines, international students are required to obtain employment on-campus only. With limited access to student employment on college campuses, many students have struggles finding financial support.

Due to these barriers, students reported that employment opportunities, along with access to internships, affordability and availability of scholarships are the major causes as to why they transfer.

As of October 2013, Cleveland State University comprises approximately 1,254 international students. This group of students, both undergraduate and graduate come from countries and regions throughout the world, including Saudi Arabia, India, Nigeria and China. The number of students continues to grow each semester as non-resident aliens leave their country to better their education in the states.

International students have extremely strict rules and guidelines they must oblige by.  Therefore, they are restricted to certain resources as opposed to domestic students.  A major issue administrators and students face is that students aren’t aware of or don’t understand these rules.  Harlan Smith, executive director for the Center for International Services and Programs, said students are getting feed misinformation from outside sources of what it is like to be an international student in the year 2014.  Then, they create this false sense of what their college experience will be like when they arrive, setting high expectations.  However, when they come, they realize the reality of their limited opportunities.

“International students can come to the United States and their expectations are not realistic,” said Smith.  “It’s kind of what they want versus what they can have.”
As the number of international students in the United States are at a record high, retention rates are continuing to decrease according to a report from the Institute of International Education.  At Cleveland State the number of international students are continuously growing. However, with student numbers growing and resources staying at static, it makes it much more competitive and harder to achieve success.
“CSU challenge it that our resources are shrinking and our international student numbers are growing,” said Smith.  “International students need resources in order to be successful.”

Resources are one of the fundamental items students need.  When students come to the university they expect there to be an unlimited amount of jobs available for them, but there are little to any jobs that are open on campus.  Making challenges worst, is they must compete with domestic students using government assistance.

“A lot of the departments on campus would want to hire a student that could get work study,” said Mary Brown, International Student Services Specialist.  “So international students aren’t able to get work study or federal funding.”

Student’s come to Cleveland State and realize the cost of living to be a college student with little to none income is a challenge.  Many of times, international students find themselves having to share housing with four to five individuals.  During the summer, many students stay because there are much more employment available.
The same could be said with scholarships. 

Students come to Cleveland State expecting an unlimited amount of scholarship to be available, but there not.  With very few international students on scholarships at the university, some student fine it difficult to pay for their tuition.

Smith and his team at the International Services office are doing all they can to ensure they are assisting students with the best knowledge and skills needed.  Creating events and workshops such as “Career Services for International Students” which focuses on teaching students how to job search and how to do resumes.    

The results of the survey also showed that international students have issues with the feeling isolation.

Leaving to a foreign country can be scary for any individual.  The feeling of homesickness, as well has having to adapt to a completely different environment where no one knows you can make some students feel overwhelmed. We as people tend to gravitate towards people who share similar characteristic as us such as race, values and beliefs.  Due to differences in culture, food, language, it makes it difficult for international students to establish friendships with people, making them feel less integrated with the rest of the campus environment.

During the international student orientations at Cleveland state, the International services has workshops set up for students to meet other students from their country. Graduate assistant for the International Services, Ada Nnabuife, said the workshop helped her gain friends on campus.

“The first event, orientation fair that gives you the opportunity to link with students of your nationality,” said Nnabuife.

The International Services has 25 different events and activities set for the fall semester. For any information about international services contact the Center for International Services & Programs at (216)-687-3910.