Aaron A. Mendez

Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

Dr. Sora Friedman


As part of their commitment towards internationalization, many higher education institutions seek new recruitment practices to increase international student enrollment, to both enhance cultural diversity and increase the potential for revenue. Partnering with third-party pathway providers offers international students an opportunity to refine their English language skills, all while taking for-credit-bearing academic courses that ultimately prepare them for their second year upon matriculating into their degree-seeking programs. One difference between direct-entry international students and pathway program international students is the additional level of support for the latter.

This study explores the following research question: What are the experiences of international students that have participated in a pathway provider program in the United States? Informed by Sanford’s theory of “challenge and support,” the value of the additional support international students receive during the pathway program is validated by the comprehensive data obtained by qualitative research methodology, which included surveys of pathway program alumni and pathway provider professionals as well as interviews with students. The findings of this study present seven themes describing the experiences of international students. They include rationale for studying in the United States, rationale for pursuing a pathway program, adjusting to new environments, pathway program experience, after the pathway program, advice and suggestions, and experiences from pathway program professionals. Implications for pathway programs include developing additional student programming to increase English language acquisition and socialization efforts with other students.

Keywords: International students, pathway programs, student support, student experience


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Higher Education | Higher Education Administration | International and Comparative Education | International and Intercultural Communication | Language and Literacy Education | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


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