Office of International Student Services

Education in the US — Helpful Tips for International Students


International students studying in the US often find that there are differences in the ways that information is presented or that the expectations for their role in the classroom are different from what they have known in their own countries.

Here are some useful tips for success:

  1. Always attend the first day of classes.
  2. Be on time to class, be prepared (bring your textbooks, syllabus, assignments, and other materials, and do not leave early without obtaining permission prior to class (except in an emergency).
  3. Take notes in class – in English.  If you have trouble keeping up because English is not your native language, talk with the professor about the possibility of getting a copy of a classmate’s notes.
  4. Know the syllabus.  It is your best source of information on assignments, due dates, grading criteria, and the schedule.  Professors expect students to read the syllabus thoroughly and to keep up with assignments that are listed without being reminded to do so.
  5. Check Blackboard (or other online learning management systems used by your professors) frequently.  Assignments are often posted, along with links to websites or articles to be downloaded.  If you need help with this, the Helpdesk staff are happy to assist you.  (The Helpdesk is located on the first floor of Norcross Hall)
  6. If your professor uses an online site for homework assignments, be sure that you understand how to use it.  Tutors in Academic Services can help you with this, or you can schedule an appointment with the professor if you need a tutorial.
  7. Know the attendance policy. Notify your instructors ahead of time when you will be missing class. If you are sick, send an email or call and leave a message. Complete all work that is due and turn it in online; do not wait until the next class meeting to ask what was missed. Consult your syllabus and/or check Blackboard, Moodle, or other tools used by your professor.
  8. Ask for help or clarification when needed. It is customary in the US to ask questions in class!
  9. Take initiative – this sets you apart from other students. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas.
  10. Participate in class by contributing to the discussion and/or group work.  Lecture is no longer the primary mode of instruction.  This puts the responsibility on the students to speak up and show what they have learned from the assignments.
  11. If you need extra help, go to your instructor’s office hours, make an appointment with the instructor, seek tutoring in Academic Services, or join a study group. Don’t wait until you are behind in your work to ask for help if you need it.
  12. Be responsible for your own work—Plagiarism is a serious offense. Academic Integrity means that you do not cheat, copy the work of others, or work with someone to help him or her cheat. Collaboration or group work is often used in a student-centered class, but the expectation is that all members of the group will work equally to contribute to the assignment. Individual assignments must represent your own work.
  13. Be motivated to learn; don’t  not just because you want to pass or earn the highest grade.
  14. In the US, appointment times are taken seriously.  If you make an appointment with a professor (or anyone, for that matter), be on time. Failure to do so implies a lack of concern for the professor’s time and is considered to be rude.
  15. Do not make or answer calls, text, listen to music, or go online during classroom time unless instructed to do so by your professor.


A Few Helpful Links:

Videos on YouTube:

You Tube Playlist — Education in the US, Culture Shock, and American Classroom Culture

US News & World Report: 5 Key Facts

Surprises for International Students at US Universities

What International Students Can Expect in American Classrooms

Cultural Adjustment and Transitioning

The USA “Way of Life”

3 Big Differences Between Chinese and American School Culture



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International Students at HPU

HPU: An International Perspective

International Perspective of HPU