International Student Support Office (ISSO): Academic Adjustment

Adapting to life in college is challenging for everyone. As an international student, however, we must also simultaneously adapt to the food, the weather, the culture and so many other aspects of life in the United States and at Haverford. This can make the academic adjustment a little bit overwhelming, but here are some tips and information that can help you navigate this transition.

1. The academic environment is different. At Haverford, you are expected to come to class ready to actively participate in discussion. You structure the class with your peers and professors. Your first year writing seminar will show you how it works, so make the best out of it because that is the best place to make mistakes and learn. Also, at Haverford it is very clear that everyone is serious about their studies and this might be different from where you are from, but really exciting because you get to work with people that are passionate about what they are studying. What I am sure will be different is that we do not talk about grades at Haverford because we value intellectual growth and development more! This will allow you to focus on how you are doing and what you are achieving.

2. Learn and use resources early. I did not do this as early as I could have even though I was told a million times to do so. I thought I did not need it because back home we don’t even have these resources and I did well. The truth is I was not back home and, as I mentioned before, the academic environment is different. This does not mean that you have to struggle and be stressed out all the time. Use the resources the college has to offer! Some of these resources are:

The Office of Academic Resources (OAR): Visit the OAR if you find yourself struggling with time management, or if you find you do not know how to approach studying for a certain class.

The Writing Center: the writing center is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! They can read your papers and give you feedback, help you brainstorm when you have no idea how to start writing, or even help you understand the long and confusing instructions for your next assignment.

Peer Tutoring: schedule a tutoring session whenever you are having trouble solving that one question left in your problem set, do not understand the material or need help revising for your next quiz or exam.

Office Hours: GO TO OFFICE HOURS. Professors are willing to answer questions you have on the material, or help you solve any issues related to the course.

3. Organize your time. If you are on an F-1 visa, you will be taking a full course load of four classes. Besides that you might end up signing up for all the clubs in the Club Fair during Customs because everything is just so interesting! I would advise to go slowly though. Start with your classes and maybe one other extracurricular activity and as you get used to the pace here at Haverford, add more or drop activities. That said, you will be busy all the time! Back home I was able to keep track of everything without difficulty. At college that is harder, so get used to using Google Calendar and Trello!

4. Get support. During the International Students Orientation (ISO) you will be connected with your international peers and upperclassmen. Use this opportunity to network and learn about them. There is a high chance that you will meet your closest friends during ISO! These are the people that will be part of your support system during the year, and trust me, they are essential. Also, remember that your professors and deans are there to support you too. Keep in touch with your first year dean, Katrina Glanzer, who is always willing to hear your concerns and try to help you find a solution. Even when she doesn’t know how to help you, she will direct you to someone who can.

Well, that’s about it! These are some of the things that helped me when it came to academics. Note that I had two STEM classes and two non-STEM classes during my first year for both semesters. You might have a totally different experience.

If you have any questions or post suggestions you can reach out to me at kaguero@haverford.edu.