Muskingum University welcomes 80 international students this fall. The duration of these students’ time at campus ranges from a semester to the completion of a four-year degree. There is a process that international students must go through to attend Muskingum, in some ways similar to the admissions process of domestic students.
Before they apply for admission, though, students have to find Muskingum University.
“We do advertise in a variety of ways at the international level,” said President of International Affairs Valerie Smith.
Aside from recognition through advertisements, many international students come to Muskingum as a result of relationships established through Muskingum and their high schools. The increase in Chinese students throughout the past few years, for example, is a result of faculty traveling to China and recruiting students in those areas.
Muskingum also has contracts with universities that send exchange students, primarily those in Europe. Once the students find Muskingum, they then receive an admission package from the school that requires a written essay, test scores, information about their high school, family background, biographical information, name, date of birth, and other like information.
International students must also provide financial documentation that is needed for the immigration process. Once the student is accepted to the university, they receive an I-20, which is a special document for those who wish to attend all four years. They then take these documents to a U.S. Consular Office and apply for a student visa.
International students, who don’t have the opportunity to participate in the Muskie Preview experience as many other students do, move in early and complete a nine day orientation where they tour the campus, get their student IDs and other important activities.
“They haven’t seen the campus, they don’t know what it is, they think it’s huge and overwhelming when they get here,” said Smith.
International students are also taught many of the cultural differences, such as testing styles and classroom etiquette. They come from varying backgrounds, and many have to take English as a second language in their first years here.
“My favorite part about working with the international students is definitely getting to know them on an individual basis and to find out about who they are, their culture, why they chose to come here—I really admire them,” said Smith.
“At the age of 17 or 18, to leave behind everything that they know and everybody—their entire family, their structure, their town, everything that they have known and are comfortable with—and to pack up and move across the world, in many cases, just for the opportunity to study in the United States. It’s really amazing that they’re able to do that and are brave enough to do that, especially those that come in with limited English and know that they’re going to have to work extremely hard just in order to be successful at the academic level.”
Frequently, international students are very focused on their academics during their first semester at Muskingum. In following semesters, they feel more confident about being able to get involved socially.