Beyond all the usual considerations for choosing a school in the US, international students face additional concerns. One of these concerns has to do with a school’s international student services. These are services that assist international students with immigration paperwork, English language help, and cultural adjustment, among many other things. Thus, when putting together your list of the best schools for recording arts, for example, you should look into what a school offers specifically for international students.
Since the number of international students in US colleges and universities is growing, most schools have some sort of dedicated international student center. These centers go by many names. American University has the International Student and Scholar Services and the Peabody Institute at The Johns Hopkins University has the Office of International Student Affairs. By whatever name, these centers tend to offer assistance for international students academically, professionally, and culturally.
One of the largest functions of international student services is to assist with the daunting piles of paperwork involved for international students. International student centers will work with students to verify a visa status, complete the relevant immigration forms, assist in acquiring a driver’s license, or obtaining work permits. These offices also help international students with practical concerns, such as finding funding from both private or public sources—depending on the school and program—and finding on- or off-campus housing and roommates. On the academic front, international student services also often include tutoring in English writing and other essentially academic skills.
The largest other function of international student services is cultural adjustment. Moving to and living in the US can be a shocking experience, depending on where you’re from, and thus many schools have advisers and liaisons to help you make the transition. In addition to obvious assistance with English communication, these offices also establish events for international students. These events can include professional development seminars, networking parties, cultural activities, and dinners, just to name a few.
While many schools offer these general services, each school has its own unique aspects that prospective international students should look into. For example, Full Sail University, which specializes in technology and entertainment, features staff members who have worked in the entertainment industry abroad. American University in Washington, D.C., a school with 15% international students, offers field trips for international students to other areas of the US. Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA has the International House of People, an on-campus house dedicated to international student living, and the iMentor program, a peer service for new international students to help with cultural adjustment.
All in all, US colleges and universities are embracing the influx of international students by providing a variety of services. Make sure to research your prospective schools to see what they offer.