International students deserve greater orientation resources

Tehreem Shahab

Transitioning into a new school with over fifty thousand unknown students is scary — the course load, the pressure to excel and the difficulty with socializing all at the same time is overwhelming. Every student faces this. But, it is even harder for transfer and international students to ease into the school and campus atmosphere. They don’t have the luxury of a large community of similarly new and inexperienced students. This relative isolation is only made worse by having to adjust at a quicker pace. Though the school offers numerous resources for accommodation, it needs to make sure that these resources set the right welcoming tone.

International students make up about ten percent of UT’s overall enrollment. This important section of the UT community is immediately faced with a difficult welcome in the form of a complex, though brief orientation. They are bombarded with a lot of unusual information in a short period of time, in the form of immigration rules, registration bars and health insurance requirements.

According to international student adviser Erica Sowder, an International Student Adviser, although students are told about resources such as the Sanger Learning Center and the Friendship Program during orientation, a lot of international students are unable to attend orientation due to conflicting arrival times or family obligations. This makes an already hectic process even more challenging for this unique student group. 

Transfer students face many of the same orientation issues. 

“Our orientation is a lot shorter, and they don’t have the same programs as freshmen,” said psychology junior Katie Kupec. “During orientation we just get told stuff, but not necessarily how to navigate through it.” 

International and transfer students are vital to the university’s success and reputation. UT is well known for its acceptance of students with diverse backgrounds. It should provide international and transfer students with easier access to on-campus resources. While many campus resources exist, these students may need helping finding and using them throughout their college careers. By rushing them into life as a Longhorn, UT prevents these students from laying the groundwork that will help them succeed. Our university must make it a goal to promote opportunities that will allow international and transfer students to successfully adjust to campus life.

Shahab is a government and economics sophomore. Follow Shahab on Twitter at @turhem.