Capstone/Dissertation Title

Improving Personal and Academic Experiences For International Students: An Analysis of an International Student Office at a Midwest University

Term

Spring 4-23-2015

Capstone

Dissertation

Degree Name

EdD

Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Barbara Swanson

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Letitia Basford

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Nancy Hellerud

Abstract

This is a qualitative study that analyzed how graduate international students described their experience with the support provided by the international student office (ISO). The purpose of the study was to gain deeper understanding of four particular areas that the researcher believed are critical for the success of international students in their programs: admission support provided by the university and the ISO; the orientation provided by the ISO; ongoing immigration advice and support provided by the ISO; and ongoing support services in general and their relation to students’ learning. This study included the used of two methods of data collection, interview and survey. The study conclusions are presented in five themes: admissions, orientation, immigration advising, other services, and office strengths and opportunities for improvements. The study indicates that, the ISO should take on some admissions responsibilities; it should provide information revised in coordination with the separate schools’ programs and admissions personnel; and it should keep strong connections with its alumni. Based on the findings the office should create a more comprehensive orientation program. The participants’ responses suggest that the office should evaluate and change the ways immigration advice is provided; and it should help international students to prepare to enter the marketplace. In relation to other services, participants’ responses suggested, the ISO, in coordination with the different schools and the writing center, should develop a strategy to help students improve their communication skills. Responders expressed the need for co-curricular activities that help them better understand different areas of interest, and suggested that information from the ISO needs to be on time and up-to-date. The study points out that the ISO's strengths are the strengths of its people; and it suggests communication and office structure as opportunities for improvement to successfully meet the needs of its internationals students.

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