Volume 1 Issue 3

Over the years, colleges and universities in the United States have experienced a surge in international students. With 886,052 students enrolled, international students composed 4% of the student body in U.S. higher education in 2013/14. Just 10 years prior, in 2003/04, this number was only at 573,000 students. If we go back further, 60 years ago, there were only 34,000 international students to the U.S. While the influx of international students is worthy of discussion, we lay it aside to discuss completion rates. In this issue, we look at the completion rates among international students at U.S. undergraduate colleges and universities. Below, are some of the statistics which drew our attention. In reading them, consider these questions:  Why are completion rates low? Does the issue go beyond acculturation?  Is this issue only isolated to the U.S? Finally, what can be done to improve on these numbers?

  • 25% of all Chinese students admitted to U.S. Ivy League universities for undergraduate degrees return home after their first year.
  • 80% of all first-time, full-time international students who enrolled in 2012 at a 4-year degree-granting institutions returned in the fall of 2013.
  • 59% of all first-time, full-time international students who had enrolled at a 4 year degree granting institution in 2007 completed their degree by 2013.


IIE Open Doors Report (2014). A quick look at international students in the U.S. Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/Research-and-Publications/Open-Doors/Data/International-Students/Infographic

International Business Times (2013). 1 In 4 Chinese students drop out of ivy universities and return home for jobs. Retrieved from http://www.ibtimes.com/1-4-chinese-students-drop-out-ivy-universities-return-home-jobs-1446382

National Center for Education Statistics (2015). Institutional retention and graduation rates for undergraduate students. Retrieved from  http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cva.asp


The Effect of Generational Status on College Adjustment and Psychological Well-Being among South Asian American College Students – Munni Deb, Ph.D. and Elizabeth Altmaier, Ph.D

University of Iowa, Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

This study examines whether there is a difference between first-generation South Asian American college students and continuing-generation South Asian American college students in their college adjustment and their psychological well-being. Despite being the third largest Asian subgroup, South Asians continue to be underrepresented within educational and psychological literature. This study found that first-generation students were more likely to live and work off campus, have lower household incomes, and spend fewer hours per week participating in co-curricular activities than continuing-generation students. First-generation students also demonstrated lower levels of social and academic adjustment as well as personal growth. International students may be first generation or continuing generation, but will have some of the college adjustment problems considered in this study. Educators and psychologists can use insights gained from studying generational differences to form strategies to help international students successfully navigate college adjustment. To read Click Here .


Impact of Difficulty in Adjusting and Adapting on International Student Attrition – By Dan Sheffield

Intercultural educator and adjunct lecturer Dan Sheffield identifies two main factors which arise in the discussion of international student attrition: 1) difficulty in adjusting and adapting to the new environment and 2) the consequences of social isolation, precipitated by seeking to meet familial expectations of academic performance. In this article, Sheffield examines the second factor. He describes “change fatigue” experienced by international students and offers coping mechanisms. To read Click Here .


The Demise of Rugged Individualism –  By Doug Wagner


Radio presenter and political activist, Doug Wagner, is a father of two sons both of whom are incredibly intelligent but with strikingly different approaches to education. Wagner extends this personal account to a discussion of today’s youth. He fears that “…the ruggedness of Rugged Individualism might be lost in the current generation, regardless of their nationality.” Perhaps international student attrition may be in part due to the erosion of the Rugged Individual. To read Click Here .


Once Upon a Time, on a Plane— By N N S Chandra


Senior Education Counselor N N S Chandra gives advice to those wishing to be admitted to an international post-secondary institution AND complete their degree program. In short, the extra-curricular is just as necessary as the curricular. To read Click Here .






U.S. Education: The Rite of Spring— By Michaela Murphy

Rite of SpringIn 1913, Igor Stravinsky debuted his masterpiece, ‘The Rite of Spring,’ engendering riots in the streets of Paris. In this commentary, storyteller, writer, speech-coach, communications consultant and educator, Michaela Murphy, makes an interesting and insightful parallel between this landmark event in music history and the U.S. education system. Focusing on the role of arts programming, Murphy adds a creative dimension to the discussion of international student attrition. To read Click Here

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