Foreign student assistance programs expand

Ashley Mcskimming

Kicking off the 2007 fall semester, the International Admissions department held a workshop in the Flintridge Room at the University Student Union this Wednesday that explored the impact of international students at CSUN.

Foreign Student Advisor Roopa Rawjee said she was more than hopeful about the great opportunities the International and Exchange Student Center had planned for international students this fall semester. With a new office, location and agenda, the center has a fresh outlook for the International Admissions Department and their efforts to help transitioning students.

Though they are only 5 percent of the population at CSUN, international students make up a small, yet important, quantity of cultures on campus. Students from Japan, Sweden, Indonesia and Europe have all enrolled. All together, Rawjee reported the 1,400 international students enrolled last semester represented 93 countries.

“These students are dealing with issues American students deal with day to day, in addition to particular issues within their own culture and family,” Rawjee said. “The purpose and main goal of the programs this semester is to implement strategies to promote success and easier transition for students taking on education in another country.”

Anja Langner, an exchange student from Germany studying psychology, explained the importance of the International Admissions office and how her transition was made easier with their assistance.

“There are various steps I had to take to study here in the states,” Langner said. “The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam was the primary determining factor for my enrollment. And with the aid of International Admissions, prospective students can take classes with the Intensive English Program (IEP). They offer English classes before you become a student to help prepare us for university courses.”

“I was lucky, I passed the exam, and all the classes I had taken before I was excepted were transferred into credit towards my bachelor’s (degree),” Langner said. “Some classes in the IEP program are transferable if you have the right sources on what to take.”

While Langer said she was lucky in her journey here as an international student, she also has faced several challenges.

“I came here from Germany two years ago, alone with no family” Langer said. “I work on campus because there are restrictions of employment as a foreign student at CSUN.”

“F1 visas do not allow you to work off of campus and financial assistance is limited for us as well. Only a few International Scholarships and a handful of private loans exist, but I do have a good job here in the office of International Admissions that I enjoy,” she said.

Though faced with obstacles like many foreign students, Langer acknowledges the many benefit’s the CSUN campus has to offer its international student population.

“The TOEFL exam that is administered through ETS and the college of Extended Learning has been approved to administer the test on campus,” said Carol McAllister, assistant director for Admissions and Records of International Admissions and Special Programs. “The TOEFL is an exam that is required for admission of a student that is not from a country where English is their first language or where English is not the language of instruction in school. The Chancellor’s Office dictates the requirement of the TOEFL for all CSUs.”

“The IEP is a program run through the College of Extended Learning, and students can come to CSUN with a ‘conditional’ admission if they are academically eligible,” McAllister said. “They need to take the IEP courses and pass the TOEFL exam to begin regular classes.”

The International Admissions team is dedicated to assisting students through the entire application process, before and after acceptance to the university. With programs that focus on life skills to programs that focus on education such as the IEP, CSUN shows dedication to making their foreign students’ transition here more comfortable.

“International students often are intimidated by their new surroundings and shy away from experiencing new things,” Rawjee said. “Our goal this semester is to help these students become more involved in CSUN life. These students are away from home and want to succeed, fit in and make friends just like everyone on campus.

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