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Institutions of higher education are constantly seeking ways to improve retention and increase student success. A contributing factor to this goal is student adaptation and integration into the university community. For international students, this process is often affected by the amount of time spent with U.S. students, as cultural adjustment is thereby facilitated. This study describes the patterns of social interaction and involvement among freshmen international students to answer the question: “Do freshmen international students’ living situations influence their patterns of socialization or levels of involvement on campus?” Surveys were sent to fall 2006 and spring 2007 degree-seeking freshmen international students at the University of Arkansas to gather a broad range of international student perceptions regarding their own levels of involvement and social patterns. Follow-up interviews allowed for a more in-depth elaboration on ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. Data collected show that on-campus students, particularly students in the International Living Learning Community (ILLC), were the most involved in organizations and activities and had the most friends. Off-campus students reported spending the highest proportion of their social time with U.S. students while ILLC students had the most balanced interactions. The overall friendship-forming process initially was dominated by international student-international student interaction followed by “connector interactions” that led to expanded bonds with U.S. students. The results show that students’ housing situation can affect social patterns and involvement of students especially in regards to the types of connector opportunities provided formally and informally. Intentional programming and the structure of housing should be aligned with the overall university strategy for international students


Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research