INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ORIENTATION
International students are required to attend International Student Orientation and parents of international students are welcome to attend. The International Student Orientation will occur in tandem with Welcome Week orientation activities for all new students. Your student will receive information that he or she needs to know about how to stay in legal immigration status, adjusting to NWTC and Green Bay much more.
He or she will also have the opportunity to meet fellow international students and take part in some social activities. Academic support services and student advisors will also be on hand to introduce important services available to students as they are adjusting to their new environment.
LIFE ON CAMPUS
The Orchards is the apartment complex located directly on-campus, and we encourage international students to apply to live there. Off-campus housing is also available in apartment complexes nearby and immediately adjacent to the NWTC campus. Students seeking their own housing off-campus may have to pass additional background checks, arrange utility payments, and figure out transportation, they may also have difficulty gaining approval.
Students interested in host families may wish to express this in their personal statement with their application. The cost of staying with a host family is comparable to living on-campus. We encourage students to tell their personal story and reasoning for seeking a host family so that we may use this information to solicit host family response. NWTC cannot guarantee that all host-family requests can be fulfilled, but International Program staff will work diligently to fulfill that request. Students will be given notice prior to arrival on campus if their host-family request will be denied.
As with many U.S. students, your student could experience difficulty adjusting due to living with a roommate, cultural differences or academic requirements. The Counseling Center is available to help students with such concerns. Students are encouraged to use Counseling Services to help them adjust to stress and anxiety which might otherwise affect their ability to succeed. In the United States and at NWTC, the use of counseling services does not imply any personal deficiency or illness. Students are free to use this as a service like they would academic advising, academic coaching or any other student success service and should not fear stigmatization from instructors or other students.
The United States benefits from immigrant communities originating from around the world. Because of this, many styles of food and cooking are available in local communities. However, don't be surprised if your student complains about the food, especially in the first few months at NWTC. Food is often one of the more significant adjustments that your student will experience as it may be quite different from what he or she eats at home. Many U.S. students are also adjusting to eating different food, cooking on their own, or not having parents around to cook for them. It is quite common for students to deal with weight-loss or weight-gain during their first semesters at college.
As with many other issues, we urge you to remind your student that an adjustment period can be expected when moving away from home and especially to another country, and we hope that you will encourage them to be patient and open-minded while they are adjusting.
NWTC has a cafeteria and a coffee shop on campus. The cafeteria serves both hot foods and cold dishes during its regular service hours. There are also snacks, sodas, and juices available through vending machines around campus. Some U.S. colleges and universities have meal-plans for students to purchase food. NWTC does not use these plans; therefore, students can purchase food items in the cafeteria or coffee shop at their discretion.
NWTC is located near supermarkets where students living off-campus can obtain fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and other necessary staples. Green Bay has several specialty food stores for students seeking various Asian cuisine or halaal Middle Eastern cuisine. That being said, not all foods familiar to students can be found, so while some foods may be available, students should not expect that all of their regular dietary practices will be the same as at home. This can be a source of anxiety which students will need to adjust. However, many students come to enjoy the many new foods they experience while living in the United States because they can sample foods from around the world here. The most important thing is to encourage students to try new things and be open-minded.
NEW STYLES & METHODS OF LEARNING
Even the best students may need to adjust to new styles and methods of learning when first coming to the United States. There are many reasons for this:
- American English - Even those with excellent skills in English may have difficulty adapting to using American English in a daily setting and in academic environments. Also, U.S. friends or instructors may sometimes use humor or slang that is unfamiliar to students. It is common for students to feel isolated in these situations when they do not understand other people. They should be encouraged to ask questions of their instructors and friends and should not be shy or avoid others because of the language barrier.
- Different Teaching Styles - Another difficulty can come from the interactive style that is common in the U.S. classroom. Students who have normally only listened to lectures in class and taken exams for final grades may find significant differences. Some of the learning techniques that have made a student successful in a foreign country might not be useful in the United States. Students should expect to have to learn new learning techniques as well as learn to adapt to new learning environments. This is an important part of the learning experience, and will make the student a more dynamic learner in the future. Students should talk to teachers and advisors whenever they are having concerns about the different teaching styles and learning environments. Students are expected to come to class having read background material and having carefully contemplated the topics of that course. Many U.S. students also struggle with the greater expectations placed upon them when they begin college study. International students should not feel isolated when they have difficulty in the college learning environment.
- Academic Support - Most international students do quite well in their studies once they acclimate to any differences in teaching and classroom styles. Student support services, academic coaching, the library staff, and faculty can help your student with any academic difficulties.
EXPENSES AND BUDGETING
As part of the visa application process, NWTC provided your student with an estimate of costs of attendance. Your student already has or will need to show to the U.S. embassy financial documentation verifying that he or she has at least that amount of money available.
You should be very honest and realistic about your ability to financially support your student for his or her studies. It is extremely difficult for an international student to find funding to continue studies after entering the U.S. If you aren't confident that you can fund the necessary costs for the entire length of study, it may be better to delay starting your student's study until you are more confident of your ability to cover the full costs. NOTE: U.S. immigration law does not permit international students to work off campus without authorization. Doing so could cause them to fall out of status and have to leave the U.S.
Beyond tuition and fees, supplies and basic living needs, students also have other expenses. Some examples of other expenses:
- Books – The expense of buying textbooks surprises many university students.
- Extra Living Expenses – Your student will need money for basic personal needs such as bathing supplies, materials for washing clothes, and other necessities. Also, for their first few weeks in the United States, they will probably need to buy basics such as bedding, computer supplies, a cell phone, etc.
- Travel – The cost of trips back and forth to your home during breaks. If your student will stay in the U.S. during long school breaks and over the summer, be sure to allow extra funding to cover those time periods.
- Extra Educational Opportunities – This can include extra coursework on campus that may be available such as courses offered during summer sessions. In addition, some classes may have extra fees (such as in science laboratory courses). Academic and student leadership conferences and events may also prove very important for a student’s academic and professional resume. Money to pay for conference fees and travel expenses might also be helpful to budget ahead of time.
- Entertainment – These expenses can vary a great deal, but it is important to remember that everyone needs to periodically release stress through relaxing activities. Educators around the world believe that the total value of an international education comes not only through coursework but also through learning about a new culture. And to learn about U.S. culture, students need to have enough funding to make it possible.
In general, your student should carry a small amount of cash (perhaps several hundred dollars), in U.S. currency, for the first week or two. Travelers will need cash to pay for meals or drinks when traveling, to handle emergencies or delays in travel, and perhaps to pay for transportation from the airport to campus. They may also need some extra money in their first few days to purchase personal items or extra items for their living space. It may take a few days or even weeks for students to complete setting up personal banking accounts and to transfer money from home prior to the student being able to access those funds. Having some cash available upon arrival will ensure students do not arrive to campus without money nor access to funds during the first days of class.
Your student should open a bank account. Students often find that opening a checking account and learning how to use and write checks, in addition to getting an ATM (debit) card, is the most suitable method of handling money and paying tuition or for goods when shopping.
The NWTC International Programs can help your student get a bank account at the bank located on campus. Sometimes banks ask for a social security number (SSN) in order to open an account, but international students cannot get a SSN unless they have a job, so International Programs can write a letter that will help them get an account without having a SSN.
FEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR EMPLOYMENT
When international students arrive in the U.S. they may work only on campus and only part-time. The pay is usually low and helps a student pay for some personal costs or books, but little else. After completing a full academic year of study, an F-1 student can, in some cases, apply for practical training, which is authorization to gain practical experience through employment in his or her field of study off campus. In order to work off-campus, a student must first apply for work authorization.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
MEDICAL CARE & INSURANCE
The United States health care system is very well-equipped to take care of your student, but it is also very expensive and complicated. It is important that every student have a comprehensive health insurance plan that will help pay the expenses of any needed medical care.
NWTC does have a campus health clinic available to all students for free. This clinic will be able to assist students with minor illnesses or injury. This facility is not equipped to address major medical conditions. In the case of major illness or injury, students will need to use medical insurance at a general hospital.
All international students on F-1 and J-1 visas at NWTC are required to have health insurance.
Students must show proof of insurance coverage at the time of enrollment because we must be sure that students are adequately covered by their insurance company. If you have questions about finding health insurance for the United States, please contact your international student advisor.
To read more about how to use the Insurance plan, visit the health insurance company website. Be sure your student is able to identify the proper hospitals for your health plan. You may also wish to choose health insurance coverage based on insurance that can be used at the hospitals nearest to the NWTC campus.
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College works hard to ensure a safe living and studying environment. Students need to use practical judgment and follow school and community rules and regulations, but students can expect that they will enjoy a peaceful environment and will have the freedom to live and study in Green Bay and Northeast Wisconsin without incidents. NWTC has an active, Campus security department which monitors and maintains the safe environment that students and faculty expect. Safety programs are also in place, for example, a campus walk program which allows students the option of having a safety officer or employee walk them through the parking lots outside at night.
CARS & DRIVING
Many international students want to buy and drive a car when in the U.S. You should consider the following points, and your student should be aware of these issues, if your budget will allow for this expense:
- Green Bay Metro has bus stops located on the NWTC campus. The bus lines run from NWTC to locations throughout the city. There is an intercity bus station (Greyhound Bus) located in downtown Green Bay. With access to bus routes, as well as bicycle routes, students may find it unnecessary to own a vehicle.
- Students sometimes ask us about the price of cars, but it is difficult to answer. A student may have an opportunity to buy a used car from another student for a few thousand dollars or less, but the quality of used cars can be difficult to determine. New cars will obviously be much more expensive. Cars will also need to have license and registration, as well as car insurance (required under state law), which will add several hundred additional dollars to the cost of a vehicle each year.
- In addition, your student will need a Wisconsin driver’s license in order to own a car. To read about applying for a Wisconsin Driver’s License, please refer to the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles website.
- If your student is under the age of 25, it's usually difficult to rent a car. Some car rental companies do not allow it at all, while others require expensive deposits or charge higher rental rates.
What FERPA Means for You and Your College Student
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment) was designed to protect the privacy of educational records and to establish the rights of students to inspect and review their educational records. It also provided control over the release of educational record information. The original intent of this legislation was to keep elementary and high school records private and to give parents access to their child’s school records.
Once a student turns eighteen, or attends school beyond secondary school, the rights of access to the student’s records transfer to the student. This means that all academic information regarding your college student goes directly to the student unless the student has given specific, written permission to release that information to someone else. The exception to this law occurs if parents document in writing that the student is still claimed as a dependent for income tax purposes. The college may require you to submit your most recent tax forms in order to support this claim.
What does FERPA mean for you as a college parent?
Generally FERPA rules mean that student academic information such as grades or academic standing (GPA, academic transcript, academic warning, academic probation, or discipline records) will be given to the student and not to the parents. College students are considered responsible adults who may determine who will receive information about them. College representatives are prohibited from discussing information about the student’s academic record with parents. Most colleges have a waiver form which students can sign allowing records to be released to parents or college representatives, such as faculty members, to discuss records with parents. Your student may, or may not, wish to sign this release.
Does this mean that you have no way to find out your student’s grades?
Because FERPA legislation prevents parents from finding out student grades and academic standing directly from the school, the best way to find out how your student is doing is to ask him. The sharing of student academic information with parents becomes a family issue rather than an institutional issue. It is a decision that families should discuss and make together. Perhaps one of the benefits of the FERPA rule is that it provides an additional opportunity for parents to communicate with their college student about their expectations and the student’s responsibilities. Rather than seeing this legislation as a barrier to good college parenting, parents might see this as an important opportunity for meaningful dialogue with a student.
Excerpted from "NAFSA's International Parents Guide: To Undergraduate Study in the USA."