Publication Date

Spring 5-2015

Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

Dr. Sora Friedman

Abstract

According to the 2014 Open Doors report published by the Institute of International Education, 87,963 international students enrolled in community colleges and/or associate’s degree granting institutions during the 2013-2014 academic year. Community colleges offer many benefits to international students, such as lower tuition, less restrictive English proficiency requirements, smaller class size, and transferability of credits to four-year institutions.

Past studies have found connections between social relationships and the ability to manage acculturative stress and student satisfaction. Nevertheless, international students attending a community college face different social challenges than those who choose to attend a residential four-year university. Lack of student housing and common areas, campuses spread across large metropolitan areas, and large non-traditional student populations are just some of the factors that may affect an international student’s ability to develop a social support network while attending a community college.

Focusing on the individual experiences of international students at Austin Community College (ACC), this study utilized both qualitative face-to-face interviews and a quantitative Likert-scale survey to identify key factors that affected the international students’ abilities to develop friendships and participate successfully in the social aspects of a community college. Although each individual’s experience varied, cultural differences, perceptions of English speaking abilities, and willingness to engage with domestic students all emerged as common threads in the students’ experiences. Based on the findings of this study, it is recommended that international student advisors be located at every campus, and if possible, a single advisor works with a specific international student, taking them through the transition. It is also recommended that changes be made to the international student orientation, such as seating students according to country of origin, and having representatives of the various campus organizations present.

Disciplines

International and Comparative Education | Place and Environment | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social Psychology and Interaction | Sociology of Culture