Advising International Students

Each year, hundreds of international students continue their education at WSU. 

Based on average GPA, international students perform as well academically as their domestic counterparts do. However, advisors do need to take additional factors into consideration when advising international students.

These tips for advising international students (PDF) are also available for download.

Basics of Being an International Student

International students advising needs will depend on what type of student they are. International students generally fall into one these classifications.

Degree Seeking

These students are degree-seeking just like domestic students. They residence for anywhere from 1 to 4 years depending on when in their academic journey they enter.

Visiting or Exchange

These students are admitted for one or two semesters and primarily juniors. They transfer WSU credits to their own institutions.

Acronyms To Know

  • CPT – Curricular Practical Training
  • OPT – Optional Practical Training
  • DSO – a Designated School Official is an employee dedicated to assisting and overseeing students who are studying at a U.S. institution on a student visa
  • PDSO – a Principal Designated School Official is a DSO with added responsibilities
  • F-1 – The type of visa most international students receive to study in the U.S.
  • SEVIS – Student and Exchange Visitor Information System is part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and it handles all matters related to international students and visitors
  • SEVP – Student and Exchange Visitor Program. WSU is a SEVP-certified school

F1 Visa & Legal Status Requirements

Most international students study on an F-1 visa. They must meet specific requirements to maintain legal status in the U.S. 

Employment & Internships

International students do not receive work study funds. They may work on campus a maximum of 20 hours per week during the semester and 40 hours during the summer. Many are employed by Chartwells.

International students are not allowed to work off campus unless they are participating in one of the following authorized Practical Training experiences:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) allows an F1 student to engage in a work opportunity that is an integral part of an established curriculum. At WSU, this means an internship or practicum that is a required component of their degree, and/or is credit-bearing.
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study” for one year following completion of their program of study.
How to Advise International Students

International students may need more direct advising during their first semester. At this stage they will still be learning about the differences in educational systems, like how to register for courses. New international students register last, so the courses they need may not be available.

Visiting/exchange students will not have a DARS. The advisor will need to look at the student’s transcript to determine if the student has the pre-requisites needed.

It is important to clearly articulate expectations and to ask clarifying questions.

Help international students understand the grading system, the importance of submitting assignments on time, and concepts such as academic warning and suspension.

Be aware of how clearly you speak. Limit the use of acronyms, abbreviations, jargon, colloquialisms, and idioms. 

Cultural differences may cause challenges in communication. Long silences, shaking the head for no reason or repetitions can indicate that the student is not understanding. Don’t assume the student is ignorant or incapable—cultural differences are probably at play. 

A helpful text is “Fostering International Student Success in Higher Education” (S. Shapiro, R. Farrelly, Z. Tomas; TESOL Publications, 2014). It is short yet very informative for university faculty and staff.

When meeting with international students, consider these factors. 

International students meet WSU admission and language proficiency requirements. They are usually strong performers at home but may not be familiar with U.S. classroom culture or academic discourse.

International students may be unfamiliar with key concepts in the US education system such as electives, core curriculum, declaring a major, and classroom norms.

In India, for example, there is a set curriculum; students cannot select the courses they wish to study. Some may not have flexibility to change majors as their declared major may be required by their sponsor or parents.

Definitions of cheating and plagiarism vary by culture. Knowing what is common knowledge in a new culture is challenging.

Sharing work or copying an expert’s work may not be considered cheating in their native culture. International students may struggle with these issues.

International students are not only adjusting to a new institution, but an entire culture. They’re experiencing culture shock related to food, health, weather, loneliness, and conversational norms we take for granted.

International students may run into financial difficulty due to unforeseen circumstances such as changing exchange rates, which may cause them to register late.

International students have limited options after graduation. These include applying for OPT, applying for a graduate program, transferring to another institution, or leaving the country within 60 days.

They do not have the flexibility with incompletes, repeats or in-progress courses that domestic students do, and they need to meet with ISSS immediately if they will not be graduating in the term planned.

Advising Services
Email Advising Services
Office Hours
Maxwell 314

Academic Year: Mon-Fri: 8am-4:30pm

Summer Hours: Mon-Fri: 7:30am-4pm

International Student & Scholar Services Office

Maxwell 130
175 West Mark Street
Winona, MN 55987

Phone: 1.507.457.5303
Fax: 1.507.457.2474

Email ISSS
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WeChat: @WSU International

WhatsApp: 1.507.312.3984

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