Educational Administration, Department of


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A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts Major: Educational Administration Under the Supervision of Professor Barbara Y. LaCost Lincoln, Nebraska May, 2010 Copyright 2010 Anh Le


The main purpose of the study was to produce an overview of international students’ experiences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) as articulated via their own words. The knowledge drawn from this study served as useful reference information for programs and courses geared toward international students. Given the many challenges facing international students and the great benefits that they bring, this study explored the experiences of international students at UNL. Although there has been a substantial amount of literature about international students, most of the research has been focused on a particular aspect of international students such as advising relationships or mental health issues. The results of the current study contributed to the pool of knowledge about international students at UNL by portraying a holistic picture of the overall experience. The population from which the sample was drawn were enrolled UNL international students in the 2009-2010 academic year who were at least 19 years of age and who had been UNL students for at least one semester and included undergraduate, master’s level, and doctoral students. The sample from which data were collected was based upon a willingness to respond to and complete the study’s survey; thus it was a non-random and self-selected sample. The final sample included 116 respondents. The researcher developed a survey that addressed the various aspects of international students’ college experiences. The survey was a 20-question survey with 15 open-ended components and five questions seeking general demographic information including the participants’ class standing, total years at UNL, gender, country of origin, and major at UNL. The results indicated that most of the participants are generally satisfied with their experiences at UNL. Three main themes emerged: perceptions, challenges and opportunities, and self-involvement. Many participants reported having great experiences with the educational system, professors, and student services. Character-building was reported by many participants as one of the main advantages of studying in the U.S. Participants also commented on major challenges such as language and culture barriers, making friends with domestic students, and feeling homesick.