Tag Archives: Higher Education

Study Online and Earn University Credit BEFORE Applying to School

What is “U.S. Academics & Culture” online class?



Students who pass the class earn:

  • U.S. strategies to succeed in western universities
  • Western communication and socialization skills
  • Three university credits on a U.S. transcript
  • Letter of Recommendation from a U.S. Professor (in English) to strengthen university applications and job resumes
  • Certificate of Competition to strengthen university applications and job resumes
  • Preferred acceptance into an elite 4-year private U.S. college

There’s no application and no English score required.  Visit http://www.hlslinstitute.com to enroll today!

Who can enroll?

  • International students 14 years old, or older
  • Students who can complete the class in English (No TOEFL required, but recommended score of 60 and higher)
  • Students who want to learn success skills for U.S. study
  • Students who want to become more competitive for school and job applications

When to enroll?

  • Simple answer, at anytime
  • A new class starts each first Monday of every month
    • The 2016 class schedule: Jan 18th, Feb 1st, March 7th, April 4th, May 2nd, July 5th, Aug 1st, Sept 6th, Oct 3rd, Nov 7th, and Dec 5th

How to enroll?

  • Click this “Enroll Now” link or the button below

How long does it take to finish the class? 

  • Students complete the class on their own pace. Some students take a couple weeks, some students take several.  All students must complete the class within 12 weeks.

How does this cost compare with the cost of taking 3 credits in the United States?

Cost Comparison


Looking for a scholarship?  Partial scholarships are provided on a case by case basis.  Please click here to email our team.


This on-line course will provide the keys to success for studies in the United States.  From how to effectively apply to your school of choice to strategies of how to integrate on campus when  you first arrive, Tara and her team will guide you through the entire process.Susie Askew, Director at the University of Nevada, Reno  Office of International Students and Scholars

Knowing culture before coming to U.S. decreases anxiety for adjusting to new country. Just for my culture, I think it’s really mandatory, before.” — Minjae L., Seoul, South Korea

This study is helpful for me. It helped mentally prepare me studying and to meeting new friends.” — Wei C., Shanghai, China

Knowing culture gave me confidence to talk, get involved, and participate.” — Wayne L., Beijing, China



FREE WEBINAR  – Wednesday, January 10, 2016

Register for the Webinar that Works Best for Your Time Zone:


Time: (Japan 1900 / 7 pm JST;    South Korea 1900 / 7 pm KST;    China 1800 / 6 pm CST)

Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/9134209712079716610
Webinar ID: 101-847-563    United States: +1 (415) 930-5321    Access Code: 337-877-485



Time: (Colombia and Peru 1800 / 6 pm COT;     USA  6 pm EST & 3 pm PST)

Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5194110893457792258

Webinar ID: 113-033-235  United States: +1 (914) 614-3221    Access Code: 239-072-648



Time: (Western Europe and Central Africa  1800 / 6 pm CET,   UTC/GMT +1 hour)

Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5892876921188446210

Webinar ID: 112-670-603  United States: +1 (562) 247-8422    Access Code: 166-492-316



Time: Kuwait and Saudi Arabia 1800 / 6 pm AST;      Brazil 2000 / 8 pm BRST

Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/187050389286685954

Webinar ID: 111-060-659  United States: +1 (415) 930-5321   Access Code: 267-977-595

HLSL Institute

Our Mission

We improve the quality of life for international students by teaching U.S. academics and culture.  International students can more easily navigate U.S. university classrooms, campuses, and social networks to achieve academic, social, and professional goals.

Our Services

Since 2010, our team has been on the forefront of pre-departure research and instruction to support students pursuing study abroad.  We teach pre-departure and post-arrival classesthat help international students manage cultural and academic challenges associated with adjustment in new schools.

Through curriculum design, international teaching and presentations, online webinars, research, and publications, we provide international students with early, effective, and practical education so they live healthier, more successful, and happier lives.

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Filed under Higher Education, HLSL Institute, International Education

I’m a Ph.D. and LOVING IT! Watch my dissertation presentation in under 3 minutes.

It feels AMAZING to have walked across the stage at the University of Nevada’s graduation commencement to officially recognize my Ph.D. in Educational Leadership specializing in international education.  To top things off, I’ve received second place for a fun university competition called the “3 Minute Dissertation Presentation”.  My short (< 3 minute) video summarizes my dissertation.  My full +200 page paper is published through the ProQuest Dissertation Database.  To learn more about my research without reading the entire document, you can always post a comment on this blog and we’ll discuss it.


I look forward to applying my research as I teach international people pursuing life, work, and studies in the United States.  If you are interested in learning more about how I applying my findings into practice, visit HLSL Institute.  Not only am I working in the United States, but I am available for international speaking, teaching, and training assignments. Contact me and we’ll schedule your next cross-cultural preparation workshop or seminar to prepare students, employees, or family members for successful transition and adjustment into the U.S.



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Filed under Higher Education, International Education, Leadership

Video Interview: International Transition

Thanks to my UNR student Jessica for conducting an interview with Alexandra who came to America from El Salvador.  Alexandra revealed many interesting challenges that one faces when traveling to the United States from another country. These cross-cultural challenges bring many opportunities for new programs and ideas to help ease the transition into our very unique culture.

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Filed under Higher Education, International Education

But I Have A College Degree….

At the closing of my office hours, a college student asked, “How can I become more professionally competitive before graduation?”.   When I inquired about her unique skills and experiences, she simply responded, “Well, I’ll soon have a college degree. Isn’t that enough?”.

Unfortunately, her response is quite common among college students.  Why do they think that a college degree equates to being valuable in the job market or even entitles them to a job after graduation?  IT DOESN’T!  Passing a class does not mean you have the qualifications to lead and administer many jobs. If fact, I would not hire many of my graduating college students.

A University colleague had mentioned that a basic college degree is just that, basic. He noted that many employers complain about how their new college graduate employees lack basic skills and struggle keeping up in today’s evolving business climate.  An increasingly popular expectation is that job applicants should have at least a college degree which makes other applicants with a unique skill, an advanced or professional degree, or some leadership or professional experience more valuable.  Having a mere college degree doesn’t mean you’ll be competitive in today’s job market and certainly doesn’t guarantee anyone a job after graduation.

I recommend that students develop and demonstrate unique skills before or during college that make them more competitive in our international job market.  So what does it take to stand out from the thousands of job seeking applicants?  I note a few key skills that can significantly make your resume shine in our globalized economy.

The first skill is to learn a second language.  (Many people outside the U.S. are laughing right now since it’s common for them to be fluent in two, three, or four languages). But for U.S. college students, learn a new language.  Bridging multiple languages is a true asset in almost all job markets and as globalization increases mobility, you can work in any location that you want, presupposing you have the ability to effectively communicate with the people in that area.  If you want to be highly competitive and a desired applicant, know at least a second language.

The second skill, is customer service communication skills. Regardless of your occupation, you most likely work with people in some degree.  Think of everyone you work with as a customer and provide your value to satisfy your responsibility to them.  As our planet blends into one big melting pot of nationalities, ethnicities, languages, religions, and life styles, you’re ability to work with diverse groups will make you a true competitor in the job market.  Operate from a server’s frame and practice interpersonal skills to be an effective communicator.

The last skill I recommend you consider having is social network skills.  This skill can be scary and intimidating for many but it’s an increasingly important skill for job seekers.  Even basic social networking skills can increase your worth as an employee if you market yourself professionally.  In the next few years, our world will experience significant dependency on technological applications.  So if you haven’t already, get in on the action by learning how to professionally use Facebook, Twitter, HootSuite, blogs, etc. and market your skills to future employers.

If I could go back in time to relive my college experience I would acquire all of these skills by committing to one academic and professional activity: Study Abroad.  Living in a non-English speaking country would help me learn a new language, effectively work with diverse groups, build leadership skills, and because I’d want to document my experience while sinuously communicating with family and friends back home, I’d also learn social media and technology communication skills.

When I read a college graduate’s application who has international experience on their resume, I see a competitive applicant.   For other helpful tips to increase your competitive edge, check out Social BusinessStudy Abroad or Skype Tips.

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Filed under Higher Education, International Education

Can a hug discriminate?

Students at the University gave free hugs to strangers throughout Reno


Hugs on campusStudents from the University’s College of Education dispersed throughout Reno with “Free Hugs” signs to study preconceived prejudices and confront their fears. More than 700 voluntary hugs were given to strangers.What if a stranger offered you a free hug simply as a gesture of love, connection and comfort? What factors would impact your decision to accept or deny the embrace? Would it make a difference if the hug came from someone who looks like you instead of being a different race, age, weight, social class or culture? If so, why does it matter?

Students at the University of Nevada, Reno set out to personally experience this interaction through a Free Hugs activity that investigated the demographics and reactions of random strangers who accepted or denied a free hug. Students held a sign that stated “Free Hugs”, and waited for volunteering strangers to participate at various Reno locations.

The purpose of the assignment was two-fold.  First, students observed the behaviors of strangers’ who participated in the hug, avoided or dodged the hug, and those who only watched curiously from afar. Second, students reflected and analyzed their personal experiences before, during and after the activity including any concerns, prejudices or feelings.

The analysis resulted in several conclusions, including the acknowledgement of apprehension and identification of prejudices.

“There was a man that came up to me who wore a turban,” one student who conducted her activity at Truckee Meadows Community College said. “He asked if he could get a hug with his arms stretched out wide. I was nervous, but pushed that aside and said yes. The hug was normal like if I had hugged a friend. That surprised me. My rush of nervousness left as he walked away, but that’s when I felt bad.  That was the first time I had ever hugged someone wearing a turban and it was then, I was aware of my bias.  Seeing the turban made me think of September 11th and terrorism, because that’s all I’ve seen portrayed on the news.”

All students who participated experienced fear, anxiety or prejudice. As strangers approached for a free hug, students became aware of their apprehensions connected with certain groups of people, took note of how they felt and what they thought, and then reflected on why they experienced those effects. Students identified that most of their ingrained fears stemmed from ignorance about the stranger’s culture. Additionally, students mentioned that their prejudiced thoughts linked back to negative images they had seen on television news stories and movies. These unwarranted fears contributed to why students may have been divided from the strangers their whole life.

“I thought he might be a homeless guy,” another student recounted. “He got up and started to walk toward me.  My heart started to pound because I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Would he smell bad or say something inappropriate? Surprisingly, both answers were no.”

Free Hugs

This activity also required students to identify their own prejudices and make a choice: allow their fear to control their actions before denying the stranger’s hug, or decide to expand their cultural awareness by “embracing” the moment and experiencing a heightened sense of vulnerability and inclusiveness.

“As a visitor from Pakistan, this may have been the only hug I would ever receive my entire life from a stranger, especially a female stranger, since it is not allowed where I’m from,” a man who chose to accept a student’s hug said.

All students reported feeling excitement, joy, connection and/or accomplishment by the end of the activity.

“I’m going to save my Free Hugs sign and use it again, not for an assignment, but just because it made a difference in my life and many other lives,” one student said.

“Even after I had more than enough hugs to write about my experience, I wanted to stay out longer because it felt good,” another student said. “I could tell by strangers’ hugs, smiles and words of encouragement that others were feeling good too.”

By the end of the exercise, 700 – 800 hugs were exchanged around Reno.

This College of Education multicultural capstone course taught by Tara Madden-Dent is highly innovative and effective to incorporate empirical research with personal reflection. Students reported they had never taken a cultural studies course with such personal conviction and enlightenment as they studied similarities and differences between cultures. Tara Madden-Dent teaches Human Development & Family Studies and Education courses at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her educational blog can be found at https://taramaddendent.com/.

Original Article posted on UNR’s news website Nevada Today.


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Filed under Higher Education, International Education

My Interview with TeachingTraveling.com about HLSL Insitute

How fun is it to participate with Lillie Marshall (@WorldLillie) on www.TeachingTraveling.com?!!  It’s a blast!

As a featured guest, my interview discusses how I can teach from anywhere while expanding How Leaders Should Lead Institute. We discuss how HLSL Institute helps people from all around the world, how educators can become more culturally competent, and introduces cultural education.

Check out A Job Teaching International Students About American Culture to read the interview and share your thoughts.

As an international educator and University Instructor, I’m thrilled to be a part of the diverse global dialog about culture and education.

 HLSL Institute Featured Article

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What is Cultural Competence?

A student of mine shared a link to the State of Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction website during a discussion about cultural competence.
The website shared the following definition of what cultural competence is and what it is not.

“…cultural competence goes beyond memorizing a checklist of surface-level customs and cultural differences.
Cultural competence allows educators to ask questions about their practice in order to successfully teach students who come from different cultural backgrounds.

Developing skills in cultural competence is like learning a language, a sport or an instrument. The learner must learn, re-learn, continuously practice, and develop in an environment of constant change. Cultures and individuals are dynamic — they constantly adapt and evolve.

Cultural competence is:

•Knowing the community where the school is located.
•Understanding all people have a unique world view.
•Using curriculum that is respectful of and relevant to the cultures represented in its student body.
•Being alert to the ways that culture affects who we are.
•Placing the locus of responsibility on the professional and the institution.
•Examining systems, structures, policies and practices for their impact on all students and families.

Cultural competence is not:

•Good intentions.
•Cultural celebrations at designated times of the year, in designated ways.
•Kumbaya diversity.
•A list of stereotypes about what people from a particular cultural group do.
•Assumptions that all students from one culture operate in similar ways and have had similar experiences.
•The responsibility of children, their parents or the community.
•Color-blindness (treating everybody the same).
•Simple tolerance.”

As future educators and school administrators, we need to identify how intercultural and cross-cultural competence influences teacher preparation, student development, curriculum design, and educational policy.

“As educators, we want the best for students and seek ways to meet the needs of all learners in our classrooms. We sometimes find that this requires skills and knowledge far above and beyond the content area we are teaching…
Cultural competence provides a set of skills that professionals need in order to improve practice to serve all students and communicate effectively with their families. These skills enable the educator to build on the cultural and language qualities that young people bring to the classroom rather than viewing those qualities as deficits.

Cultural competence training asks educators to confront the stereotypes held both consciously and unconsciously about students. Bias affects the way that we perceive and teach students and has the potential to negatively affect student achievement.

Teachers who aspire to become more culturally competent can build relationships based on trust with students and their families, even though they experience the world in different ways. This is essential to closing academic achievement gaps and to fulfilling all students’ civil right to a quality education.”

My students are primarily future teachers and administrators. Read the comment section of “Cultural Studies & International Education” for a very interesting dialog about how they perceive the roll of multicultural, intercultural, and cross-cultural K12 education.  Other resources are introduced such as a great video: Why We Need Multicultural Education and a helpful webpage: Building Culturally Competent Organizations.


Filed under Higher Education, International Education