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How to Gather Feedback from International Students to Improve Your University’s Program

With May just around the corner, the Spring semester is about to come to a close. For your international students who started in the Fall, this may mean that their time at your university is coming to a close as well. In order to best serve future students in this program, getting students’ feedback about their experience at your institution is vital. This feedback will help you not only see where you can improve in future years, but it will also provide insight into the things you do really well so that you can continue to offer the same experiences in the future, too.

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There are several ways you can get this feedback from outgoing international students, depending on how your university wishes to gather the data. One method is to simply administer a student satisfaction/exit survey, or you could also meet in focus groups to discuss feedback in person and ask follow-up questions. Other options might be to send a questionnaire via email or offer a telephone interview to have a conversation about their experience.

No matter which method you choose to obtain their feedback, you may wish to include questions about their experience in the classroom, both with their professors and other students, as well as content within the courses they took throughout the year. You can also use this opportunity to determine how often these students utilized different resources on campus, allowing you to decide whether or not specific resources are worth maintaining or if you should perhaps promote the resources better. Allow students to provide feedback on what they would have liked as a resource that was not available as well.

Be sure to give these international students the opportunity to speak freely when providing feedback instead of just answering “yes” or “no” or selecting a numeric rating for each question. A section where they can expand on their answers (or discuss further in oral situations) is crucial to being able to learn the most about student experiences.

Once you have the information from these surveys/discussions, utilize it to continually make improvements to your international student program. Let the students know why you are collecting the data so that they know their voices are being heard and future students can benefit from this program even more in the future. Making constant improvements in this way will help your university become a premier institution for incoming students, who will be excited to study with you, knowing how much you care about their experience.

Tips for a Custom Welcome Packet for International Students

International students have a lot to prepare for before they begin their first semester at your university. Having a comprehensive welcome packet created with them in mind can truly go a long way in making them feel a little less nervous (and a little more ready!) about adjusting to life in the United States and at your institution.

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Since students will receive your university’s welcome packet while they are still in their home country, and will likely be going over certain aspects of it with their families, it can be beneficial to have certain parts of the packet translated in a dual-language format. This way, both the student and their family can review the information together in a way that helps everyone feel confident about the student traveling so far away from home. It will also solidify their decision that your university is the right place for this next adventure.

While translating the entire packet may not be necessary, here are a few sections you may consider translating before sending future welcome packets to international students:

Tips for preparing to come to the U.S. There is a lot that goes into preparing for international travel and study. From visas, to travel tips about U.S. airlines, which documents the student will need upon reaching a port of entry, to even whether or not his or her mobile phone will still work here, there are so many factors to consider. Many students may wish to review this section with their families. Having it available in their native language will make the process that much smoother.

Finances (tuition, budgets, banking). Many families may be assisting with or covering tuition costs or other monetary needs for the student. Making this information available in the family’s primary language could prove very helpful in the event the family needs to reference it in order to help the student prepare his or her finances and budget in advance.

Information on medical care and options. The health care system in the United States is quite different than in any other country. If your international students will be automatically enrolled in any type of insurance through your university, or if they need to shop for some sort of plan on their own, this is an important distinction to make and something students may also wish to review with their families before departure. This helps everyone to know that the student is safe and covered in the event of a medical emergency or simply for routine doctor’s visits. It may also be helpful to translate information regarding the different types of immunizations that may be required before the student travels to the U.S.

Providing this information in a student’s primary language can be a great start in making things just a little easier for everyone involved. Above all, though, simply having an easily accessible and specific welcome packet emailed to the student once they are accepted to your university will create a lasting impression that they are valued and welcome on your campus.