Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does an international student orientation differ from a domestic student orientation?
A:  International students need to get acclimated to life in a new country, get an assessment of their English skills and their level of academic achievement, learn about and understand the academic expectations of US school students. In the separate orientation, an international student can connect within a smaller cohort and with student leaders trained to support them.

Orientation can begin in the summer, with contact between the incoming student and adults/student ambassadors. While a school might require a dedicated orientation for internationals from abroad (F-1 visa holders), it can invite other “international” students, like Third Culture Kids (TCK), dual US citizens living abroad, etc. Even short-term exchange students need a “mini-orientation”; non-September school entrants need “a day” orientation. Use feedback from prior orientations and international students. Ask your graduating seniors to write down advice for the incoming class.

Q:  Is it best to conduct international student orientation separate from their domestic peers or do orientation as an entire incoming class?
A:  Ideally, do both – a separate international orientation, followed by an integrated orientation for the entire incoming group of students.


  • Crowd-source for ideas, and responses to questions as they arise.
  • Ask current international students to reflect on their experience and perceived needs: How can orientation prepare incoming students well? What advice do they give to new students?
  • Orientation is an ongoing process and doesn’t end after the completion of the initial program. Hold regular meetings throughout the year to keep in contact, troubleshoot, solicit ideas and concerns.
  • Borrow ideas from other successful programs, including college international orientation programs.

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Related Resources

Guide to International University Admission

A comprehensive resource for counselors and students about undergraduate college options abroad.

The State of College Admission Report

Examining the transition from high school to postsecondary education through survey data collected from colleges and universities across the country.

Commissioned Agents and NACAC's Guide to Ethical Practice Series

A series of six periodically released resources aimed at guiding NACAC members in the responsible use of commissioned agents in international student recruitment.