Which country has the most international students?
The United States has over 1 million international students, leading the globe!
Now we will take a focused look at the international student practice in the US. Moreover, through the lens of UCSD.
International students need specialized support to succeed at US universities, specifically UCSD, as economics majors. The target audiences in my research project are international students who are econ majors and UCSD institutions, specifically the International Students and Programs Office (ISPO), the career center, and the department of economics.
Because of my own experiences as an international student and an econ major, I can relate with other international students who are econ majors. A DOC unit that helped me think about my project is intersectionality. Which is how overlapping identities can create unique cases of discrimination. My identity as a Chinese international student and an econ major. As a result, allow me to talk about these issues from a first person perspective.
My specific identity is also one of the reasons why one of my target audience is international students who are econ majors. Furthermore, my specific identity allows me to talk about these issues with other international students who are econ majors by making it easier to talk about specific issues for our identity. This leads me to my second solution, which is the creation of an organization by international students modeling Global Business Connection at UCLA. The creation of such an organization by international students who are econ majors would create a supportive community of students who all share similar experiences because of our shared identities.
Despite a lack of counselors in this solution, the students themselves would act as counselors and help each other, essentially fulfilling the function of an international resource center, which leads me to my first solution. My first solution is geared towards UCSD and how UCSD programs can collaborate with each other to create an international resource center that will properly provide for international students who are econ majors.
Specifically, it is important that ISPO, the career center, and the department of economics work together. Because of their combined ability to serve international students who are econ majors with their careers. ISPO’s knowledge on international students, the career center’s expertise with job searching. And the department of economics’ possible connections and specific knowledge regarding econ concepts. Thus, for the first solution, the intended audience is the ISPO, the career center, and the department of economics. The DOC concept of alliances guided me to this solution. Alliances allow organizations to work together towards a common goal, and the specific identity of the organizations in the alliances intersect to create an identity for the alliance.
In my specific case, an alliance that includes the ISPO, the career center, and the department of economics. Moreover, have overlapping purposes that can specifically address the needs of international students who are econ majors. Overall, I hope that these two solutions will be able to provide a better experience and more opportunities for international students who are econ majors.
Before providing the background of my research project, I want to start the introduction by stating my research question:
To what extent would having an international resource center that includes counselors and advisors trained to work specifically with international students who are econ majors.
Allowing these students to feel more comfortable, supported, and better prepared for a professional career?
Data conducted by UC San Diego Institution Research shows, in the past decade, the number of international students has been growing rapidly, from 974(4% of the student body) in 2009 to 5628(18.6% of the student body) in 2019. One of the main reasons behind this phenomenon is the economic recession that happened in the U.S. around 2008. Public universities received less funding from the government. They started to seek other private investments and came to a solution to increase the enrollment of international students. By doing that, schools improved their financial situation from higher tuition fees collected from international students.
Meanwhile in China, as globalization evolves, the government began to advocate studying abroad programs.
Especially those in North America and Western Europe where education and technology stand the best among the world, seeking to have the future generation connect with the capital world better and bring back advanced techniques and diverse ways of critical thinking(Hansen). More families with sufficient income began to send their children out(This is also a reason why the majority of international students are from China). Coming from China, as an international student myself, my goal is to pursue a better educational and professional career.
Unlike many other international students who went to high school in their home country, I attended a small, private, K-12 Christian school named Southlands in Los Angeles county. In which, the experience helped me adjust to U.S. college life faster. At Southlands, there were only 450 high school students, and approximately 65% of them are from international backgrounds; we had two full-time counselors at the school office who are hired explicitly to help international students with college applications and other education.
They are a huge factor that helped me have this great opportunity to study here at UC San Diego. At UC San Diego, according to the department of Economics, economics majors are the most popular majors among international students; I am one of them. However, after almost a full year of experience, I discovered that the department of economics does not have any advisors who are trained to help with international students specifically nor does the ISPO(International Students Program Office) have any counselors who are trained to work with economics major students. More surprisingly, UCSD does not have any student organization with an interest in international econ major students that can bring us together. This can be an implication that our university is biased about international economics students.
In addition, while economics is the most popular major among international students, if the university does not even provide sufficient help that econ major students need, what about other underrepresented international students with different majors? Connecting to my personal experience, my high school, with about 300 total international students, hired two international-favored staff. What about UC San Diego, a top university that has over 5,000 of us. Through this, UC San Diego might unwittingly send an undesirable message to the international students community, making us feel less welcome or less comfortable when reaching out for help, and these unwanted effects are resulting from our intersectional background.
Therefore, I proposed two feasible solutions that are initiated by the university and students, respectively. Firstly, ISPO, career center, and the department of economics need to cooperate to create an international resource center that includes counselors and advisors trained to work specifically with international students who are econ majors. Secondly, international econ students can initiate an organization modeled from Global Business Connection at UCLA.
Description of Problem
“What are some factors that you would take into account when evaluating the wellness of a university’s program?” I asked my Econ 4 TA Runjing Lu, who is also an international Ph.D candidate in economics at UC San Diego.
“…one important thing is how helpful the university is to you…during my undergraduate time, my school did have some counselors who were prepared to answer questions from international students. But, they were only available for a very limited time. So, my parents paid for a private agency company outside of the school to help me with my career…,” following answering my question, she told me her college story and some obstacles she had to face that made her give me these answers. The situation at UCSD is very similar to Runjing’s experience: we do not have counselors who are trained to work with international econ students.
How is this a problem?
A data provided by UCSD Financial Schedules shows that the funding given to the economics department was $15 million compared to $32 million that of the biological science department in 2018. While most international students are econ majors, the help we receive does not reflect the higher tuition we paid out. However, we do have advisors available at the economics department. Then, what is the problem? To answer my question, I conducted a survey that asks target audiences questions about their academic experience at UCSD. I sent out a survey explicitly targeted at international students. Three of the questions I asked are: ● How helpful do you think your department counselors are to you?
● How often do you reach out to your department for an academic/career plan? ● Have you used or hired any form of private agency to help you with career planning?
My sample size is 37, which is not very representative. However, the results are strongly skewed. 75.3% of audience answered with “helpful” or “very helpful” for the first question; 62.2% of them answered with “once a year” and 16.2% answered with “twice a year”; 67.6% of them answered “yes” to the third question.
Why is this happening?
I had an optional open-ended question asking “why or why not” following the second question. Out of the 37 students, one of them answered, he wrote “I don’t feel comfortable having a face-to-face conversation with an American adult”. Even though the sample size is small, it still provides a glance of how a general counselor appears to international students. Now the question has come to why do they feel uncomfortable?
Growing number of international students come far away from their homes, exposed to new language, culture shock, and new religious beliefs, just seeking to have a better opportunity. During their time pursuing better education in the U.S., they have to face numerous obstacles that peers from the same age do not need to or are not even aware of because of their intersectional identity.
Adjustment to social customs and norms is the major one. International students often experience more depression than a local American student due to maladaptive perfectionism(i.e. discrepancy between expectations and performance) and acculturative stress. A set of data collected through online surveys from 189 Chinese international students from China and Taiwan attending a midwestern university showed that these international students suffer from depression predicted by their length of time stayed in the United States, and the longer period implies less acculturative stress but worse maladaptive perfectionism(Wei, Heppner, Mallen).
Higher tendency of depression often can affect their personality: people who suffer from these symptoms are less likely to open up to others, and they are easier to be irritated by surrounding changes, decreasing their ability to step out of their comfort zone and socialize with people from other backgrounds. The research result obviously echoes with my above-mentioned survey. Then, what should the university and students do to make changes about it?
A conclusion from Paul Pedersen’s research on counseling people across cultures says that international students are likely to experience more problems than students in general and have access to fewer resources to help them. To address these problems, international students often have to rely more on one another than perhaps any other source. “We might speculate that
their problems are perceived as so unique that counseling personnel would not be prepared to understand them, or that cultural differences are perceived as so enormous that campus agencies would lack the sensitivity and expertise to advise them, or that explaining their problem to a stranger in a foreign language is too anxiety provoking, or finally that they might not perceive themselves to have any problems that requires “counseling” from a professional”(Pederson). These disadvantages international students have are all rooted from their intersectional identity. The analysis from a professional counselor’s perspective inspired me and leads me to my proposed solution:
1. ISPO, career center, and the department of economics need to cooperate to create an international resource center that includes counselors and advisors trained to work specifically with international students who are econ majors. After recruiting new counselors, the university also needs to advertise the new change, informing newly and current international economics students that the hired advisors have expertise experience with counseling international students.
They should feel more welcome to approach them.
2. Creating an organization modeled from Global Business Connection at UCLA. Even though our university has some student organizations that are aimed at international economics students specifically, they are inclusive to Chinese international students only, neglecting other underrepresented international students from different national backgrounds. With this new form of student organization, international economics students can come closer, building extensive networks with peers facing similar difficulties, and providing more help for each other.
Which country has the most international students?
Works Cited : Which country has the most international students?
Choudaha, Rahul, and Li Chang. Trends in International Students Mobility. World Education News and Reviews, 1 Feb. 2012.
Chen, Rifu. “Students’Academic Experience at UCSD”. Survey. 15 May 2019. “Fast Growing, Diverse: Mapping the Business of International Education.” Regulating International Students’ Wellbeing, by Gaby Ramia et al., 1st ed., Bristol University Press, Bristol, UK, 2013, pp. 39–58. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qgnpz.8. Hansen, W. Lee. “What Knowledge Is Most Worth Knowing–For Economics Majors?” The American Economic Review, vol. 76, no. 2, 1986, pp. 149–152. JSTOR,
Lu, Runjing. Personal interview. 23 May 2019.
Mori, S. C. (2000), Addressing the Mental Health Concerns of International Students. Journal of Counseling & Development, 78, 23 Dec. 2011, 137-144.
Pedersen, Paul B. “Counseling International Students.” The Counseling Psychologist, vol. 19, no. 1, Jan. 1991, pp. 10–58, doi:10.1177/0011000091191002. Which country has the most international students?
Wei, M., Heppner, P. P., Mallen, M. J., Ku, T.-Y., Liao, K. Y.-H., & Wu, T.-F. (2007). Acculturative stress, perfectionism, years in the United States, and depression among Chinese international students. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 54(4), 385-394. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-018.104.22.1685