Common Mistakes foreign students make at U.S. Colleges

Being a university freshman as a global or an international student is an exciting time in your life. Once you have been accepted, your next task is to understand the reality of life at a U.S. university. You will get to explore various aspects of life at a United States college and it will assist you learn about yourself, too.

I have spoken with some friends to come up with the some mistakes to avoid helping you get a more complete picture of the atmosphere at a U.S. university – things that education or travel agents, your high school counselors and parents likely won’t tell you.

International Freshmen

1. Trying to take advantage of each and every penny that you spent on your education:

Several international students are accepted to universities with financial aid, so it is understandable that you try to save your money and get the best value. However, trying too hard with that mindset is not essential. It will make you relax.

One example I’ve seen among my friends, some of whom forever try to eat as much as they can in the canteen or cafeteria because their meal plans are costly. They end up gaining unnecessary mass and weight and look very unhealthy at the end of the semester.

Be aware of the ways you are trying to get your money’s worth. For example, don’t do laundry each and every day to get your money’s worth from your paid laundry service. This is only a misuse of your money and time.

2. Not speaking up and asking for what you want:

Even though various students try extremely hard to get their money’s worth, they are sometimes scared to ask for what they want from the citizens around them, whether it is a lunch lady, a career adviser and a professor.

Furthermore, the cultures that few international folks come from sometimes make them scared to speak up about their requirements. However, university is where people don’t reprimand you for asking for what benefits you. People are here to assistance and when you say that you are international students, you are often even more welcomed.

If you appear to work hard and be assertive and attentive, you will get assistance from people if you just ask. I once had a meeting with a partner from an accounting firm, and want to write him a hand-written “thank-you letter” afterward.

The mail usually takes two weeks to reach its destination, but I asked my career consultant to send him the letter right that day – a special request. He didn’t hesitate to send the letter, and the partner told me that it was a pleasant surprise.

3. Being emotionally involved in a relationship:

Being emotionally consumed in a relationship during your freshman year may not be a vast thing to do. It might limit your connections with other peers and thus narrowing the scope of your social life.

Furthermore, university is not high school, where you may have classes together all the time. The chances that two people will spend a major amount of time together in an activity are slimmer in college, since you will likely have different goals and priorities. The only person responsible for your personal development and academic progress at this phase of your life is you, so make your decision wisely.

4. Setting your expectations for yourself too low:

College is a completely different atmosphere from high school. If you imagine that since your performance was mediocre in high school, it will be tough for you to perform well in university; you are likely right – and most likely wrong.

You will be correct, because this mentality will only keep you where you are. This is the not the right way to do, however, because if you keep pushing yourself, you will likely succeed.

There is a global student from my university who didn’t score the highest GPA in his high school, did not have a decent scholarship and did not speak fluent English the first time I had a talk with him. Overall, he did not seem to be the type of student who would land a dream job in U.S. after graduation.

However, he was the first one among us to be chosen for an internship at a reputed investment bank, as a sophomore. I am sure he has been trying his most excellent socially and academically to gain soft skills and knowledge over the last two years. More significantly, he succeeded in becoming an improved version of himself.


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