Post-secondary education offers many students around the world the opportunity to study abroad or enroll full-time in foreign institutions of higher learning. It can be a wonderful experience with immersion in a new culture and the opportunity to see popular and historic places and landmarks.
Unfortunately, being one of these international students does come with its challenges. Some don’t speak the language, others have had little exposure to the lifestyle and culture, and almost all are alone in a foreign country.
These challenges aren’t small; it’s a problem that colleges and universities should address. After all, in the US alone, there are over one million international students, making up just over 5% of the student population (Hanson, 2021).
While schools may have programs to help support international students, existing services for the general population can also provide significant benefits.
For example, virtual and campus tutoring services can offer invaluable support and resources for students living and studying abroad.
Here are a few of the ways tutoring benefits international students and why more HigherEd Institutions are investing in flexible tutoring management software platforms:
#1. Offer Academic Support
Students from other countries have proven themselves as intellectual matches for the colleges and universities that offer them admission. But this doesn’t mean their courses of study will be easy for them.
A student with relative mastery of the language may find himself confused by the accent or dialect of a faculty member. He might not have the assumed common knowledge of his peers. Or, like many freshmen, he could simply struggle with acclimating to the culture of academia.
Tutoring services can help bridge these gaps in understanding. Tutors can offer support with coursework, edit and help refine oral and written language, and provide support for using campus resources such as the library.
#2. Build Cultural Confidence
In addition to academic struggles, international students face other challenges including day-to-day living and unfamiliar social activities (Newsome & Cooper, 2016). And remember, they are frequently alone in a foreign country without friends or family to turn to for help.
Tutors can help answer some of the questions international students might face as they become used to the customs of a new country. For many of these students, their tutors might be some of the only interactions they have with others. It makes sense that tutors can fulfill the role of guide.
They can also help build the confidence of their tutees by helping them prepare to participate in campus activities, clubs, and resources with less fear of cultural differences.
#3. Create Relationships with Local Students
One of the biggest struggles facing international students is creating relationships with local students (Newsome & Cooper, 2016).
Friendships often form based on similarities in backgrounds and hobbies. Students from foreign countries may find themselves struggling to find common ground with their peers, or lacking the social confidence to approach them.
In colleges and universities with peer tutoring models, international students have an inherent relationship with local students. Even if a tutor and tutee don’t become close friends, the forging of a connection can reduce the feelings of isolation and loneliness that often accompany living alone in a foreign country.
This one relationship could help give an international student a sense of belonging.
As with so many of the services tutors offer, the benefits go far beyond simply providing academic support. Tutors of international students have the opportunity to help their tutees learn about a new country and gain confidence in their intellectual and social pursuits.
For universities of higher learning who are looking to add value to the lives of international students, tutoring services are a wonderful answer.