American University Community
As for American university communities, in order to develop an inclusive learning environment and secure Chinese students’ degree completion, one issue is how this community can make the educational experience of students from People’s Republic of China less stressful. If the American academic community wants to be supportive, it needs to increase its cross-cultural awareness, adjust its assumptions and perceptions, and seek additional ways to interact with these students. If the American university community can be aware that Chinese students are very special, and, accordingly, their responses and needs are very different from American students and even different from other international students, Chinese students will feel less stressed in American educational environments.
In addition to the increase their cross-cultural understanding toward students from China, additional support from faculty, students, and staff at American institutions would help as well. As for the language difficulties, the department or college can help to organize some tuition-free or tuition-reduced noncredit English classes or workshops to help Chinese students to overcome their English language deficiencies. Noncredit seminars and classes might be offered during a student’s first semester on campus. To deal with other academic problems which are related to the differences between the educational systems of China and the United States, just as Greer (2005) suggested, departments can offer orientation programs, in which instructors explicitly discuss the differences between the American and the Chinese academic cultures that are reflected in the teaching and learning methods and professors’ expectations about student academic performance. Also, the different value systems of the American and Chinese cultures should be addressed so that students have a context to understand what they experience in the American university outside of the classroom. Sessions focusing upon the dissimilar academic culture and academic milieu between China and America could shorten the crosscultural and academic adjustment time of Chinese students.
Moreover, an awareness of more of the services available to students on the campus should be included in orientation programs. As the current study suggested, a large number of Chinese students did not know how the counseling service works. Most of them did not use the counseling services or other student services when they had problems. They usually turned to their family or other Chinese students for help when they were in crisis or in trouble. Also, American universities should provide special workshops and counseling programs for foreign students who suffer behavior and emotional problems associated with their cultural adjustment.
American university should maintain an International Student Affairs Department (International Student Office) with qualified staff to work on foreign student issues. The international student office needs to be increasingly aware of the special problems of Chinese students. Counseling services need to reach out to provide more counseling opportunities to Chinese students. Counselors should become more aware of the culture background of Chinese students in order to help students understand the type of counseling services offered, why they are offered, and how these services could help meet their needs and problems. As the current study revealed, Chinese students favored having a counselor of the same ethnic background. The training and hiring of more qualified Chinese counselors at American universities is an issue worthy of future research.
The current study indicated most Chinese students received limited financial information from their advisors or friends. Various methods should be employed to make sure Chinese students can access as much information on possible financial resources or part-time job opportunities in their departments or colleges as possible.
As Yeh (2000) suggested, American universities should represent foreign students to foster the legitimate interests of foreign students whenever immigration issues are involved. At the same time, the university should be more sensitive to those difficulties which may befall Chinese international students with limited resources.