Students from developing countries are generally eager to study in the West. Most top colleges and universities are located there. Hence, there are simply too many factors that cause student problems. These opportunities are the key factors that influence students’ decision. They can be exciting but include some major challenges and issues too.
These student problems can range from homesickness and culture shock to language barriers and the application process itself. As an education agency, your main priority must be to help clients overcome such issues.
While the students can learn to cope with these problems after spending sufficient time in the country, it is better to be prepared beforehand. By providing them accurate counseling and knowledge, your agency can gain clients’ trust and confidence. Here are five international student problems they will most likely face:
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Language requirement is one of the most common student problems
Since most students want to study in western countries, they must be well-versed in the local languages – whether it’s English, German, French, etc. Their education, as well as social interactions, will be dictated by the use of language. You must also keep in mind how you must communicate with clients. Here is how your agency can help:
Teach academic writing style
For international students to do well in their chosen degrees, they must understand the country’s academic writing culture, including referencing styles. By providing training in collaboration with host colleges or universities, your agency can help students overcome this challenge.
Provide relevant language courses
Most students find it daunting to communicate with the locals, even though they do well in preparatory language tests. Passing such exams with good grades and using this knowledge in everyday situations can be very different things. Your agency can add value to language courses by including relevant cultural insights and speech patterns.
Practice the language thoroughly
There are some things your agency can do even before clients go abroad and one of them is to provide adequate speech skills. You can make it compulsory for clients to speak in the host country’s language, during classes and among each other. Practice does indeed make perfect!
Plagiarism has two main sides – one is the omission of proper citations and the other is the use of another person’s work or achievement without their permission. Both can result in student expulsion. This is one of many persistent international student problems. Even today, ‘plagiarism’ is still a foreign word! Here is how you can guide them:
Provide students with examples
Nearly all colleges and universities keep records on plagiarism, including examples and suggestions. Ask your partner institutions to provide these materials, so you can share it with clients.
Train students on analytical skills
Western style of education is based on combining analytical research with practical experience. You should train and test your clients on their analytical thinking and writing skills.
Be clear about its seriousness
Plagiarism is a very serious offense. Universities and colleges expel students for plagiarism. Make sure your agency emphasizes this to clients and prepares them accordingly.
Studying abroad is a big investment of time and money. Consequently, international students constantly worry about their financial security and look for professional help to make the right decisions. Your agency can provide them financial advice and options, so they can focus solely on their education:
Fininding scholarship is also one of major student problems. Many colleges and universities offer scholarships to local and international students. You can ask partner institutions for this information and advise your clients accordingly. In fact, you can provide scholarships through non-educational organizations too. There are plenty of websites that can help.
Your agency can partner with banks and other financial institutions to provide students with loan options for educational purposes. This is a good alternative for international students, who are well qualified to study abroad but lack the finances to support their education.
While having financial partners is good, providing financial advice to your clients add even more value to your service! Instead of getting students to meet all or some of your financial partners, your agency should first give advice on the options available. Add value to this service by taking each student’s requirement into consideration.
Stepping from one culture to another is never going to be easy for many international students. It usually requires adjustments in food habits, clothing, entertainment, and lifestyle. Here are few things your agency can do to make it easier:
Teach students about mutual respect
It is essential that you advise your clients about the cultural barriers they will most likely face. Teach them to be open and respectful towards other cultures. Remind students that studying abroad is more than just an educational experience! It is a cultural one too.
Give country-specific presentations
Sometimes giving a presentation can have more impact than advising students verbally. Depending on which country has been chosen as the study destination, you can give students a visual tour on studying and living abroad.
Teach students to express themselves
International students from Asian countries can be quite reluctant to speak up or express their opinions during classes. Students should be encouraged to express themselves by sharing their opinions in class and asking the right questions.
Homesickness and issues of integration
Being away from family and friends is not easy, especially for those that come from close-knit societies in South Asia. However, they must learn to overcome this one of many common student problems. This allows them to be focused on their education and live happily abroad. Here is how your agency can help:
Provide support services
Give your clients access to counseling services that will prepare them to minimize their homesickness. Your agency can establish a working relationship with guidance counselors in the host colleges or universities.
Encourage clients to share their experiences
Sharing experiences is one of the best therapies for homesickness or issues of social integration. You can encourage clients to join international student societies in their respective colleges or universities.
Learning to cook
One of the reasons many international students feel homesick is due to the unavailability of home food. This feeling will go away gradually but it can be a major issue, at least for the first few months. Advise clients to cook their own food or make similar arrangements.
Advising international students and preparing them to study abroad will add value to your agency’s services. You should also prepare students for their visa interview. Moreover, it will be easier to attract other potential clients to your business, as taking care of emotional and social needs will gain their trust and confidence.