Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Higher Ed/Community College Ed

Major Professor

Kathleen P. King, Ed.D.

Co-Major Professor

William H. Young III, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Jeffrey Kromrey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas E. Miller, Ed.D.


persistence, adjustment, internationalization of higher education, student support


This qualitative study utilized surveys, interviews and document review to explore the transition experiences of international students at a large, public research university, specifically as it relates to their persistence and success. Within the context of challenges that they face, the study examined factors that the students perceived as jeopardizing their success and further explored both institutional and personal factors these students perceived as enhancing their success and persistence.

Findings revealed that academic challenges tended to occur during the first year and included teaching styles, course-load/assignments, language issues, time management and understanding the US academic system. Social and cultural challenges included homesickness, cultural misunderstandings, culture-shock and language barriers. Daily living challenges included transportation, finances, food, visa/immigration issues, job restrictions and housing.

The study results also indicated that students utilized a blend of coping strategies, support systems and personal strengths to overcome these challenges and persist. More specifically, students identified campus involvement, family support, friend support and university support services as integral to their success. The findings from this study have implications for faculty, as well as student affairs, international services and orientation practitioners as they identify international student needs and challenges as well as factors that positively impact international student persistence and success.