Twenty-first century higher education strives to prepare an educated and civilly responsible workforce, capable of succeeding in competitive, global markets. Globalization and higher education are interdependent systems benefiting from each other’s successes as well as impacted by each other’s forgone positive contributions. Globalization is not a trend, but a growing influence reshaping college campuses and employer demands. As technology, transportation, and communication evolve, international collaboration increases; thus, presupposing a greater need for educational systems to bridge diverse cultural gaps.
Globalization and technology trends presuppose the increased need for highly skilled college graduates with intercultural communication and adaptation skills. As international student enrollment increases, there will also be increasing pressures to develop effective international student support services and the evaluation of those services while competing with for-profit and nonprofit institutions. Greater linkage between higher education student support services and international student needs will foster communication and facilitate better transition into American college cultures; ultimately strengthening international student successes.
Cross-cultural awareness + sensitivity + competencies = intercultural adaptation
Cross-cultural: researching and understanding the similarities and differences between two cultures.
Intercultural: The interaction between two cultures.
The preliminary findings from my dissertation pilot study, “International Student Perception of a Pre-Departure Cross-cultural Competency Preparation: A Phenomenological Study”, found two main themes. The first was that inbound international students need specific and unique student support services (compared to traditional students) that directly impact their academic success. The primary need was for better English speaking (not writing) services. The second was that cultural preparation strategies for international students are needed to enhance student transition into the American higher education system. Specifically, socialization or “sticky campus” strategies that increase a balanced student engagement lifestyle were addressed.
The international student perspective demonstrated that an earlier intercultural intervention could improve student cross-cultural competencies and thus, intercultural adaptation into American college cultures and their academic success. These findings should encourage college and university administrators to more intentionally and accurately address international student needs, prescribe more effective campus support services, and consider developing pre-departure cultural preparation services to better serve international students before they arrive on campus.
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