Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Not Listed

Committee Chair

Peter Schaeffer

Committee Co-Chair

Alan Collins

Committee Member

Michael Dougherty

Committee Member

Cheryl Brown


International students face challenges as they endeavor to study abroad ranging from host government policies to the host country’s attitudes vis-à-vis foreign students and immigration. In some instances, they also face obstacles leaving their country of origin. The United States is the largest destination country with 24% of all international students worldwide, followed by the United Kingdom, Australia, France, and Germany. In the United States, international students make up about 6% of all college students. They make significant contributions to the United States economy and bring several benefits, particularly to federal and state governments. They contribute to the federal government’s net income through the payment of SEVIS fees, visa processing fees, tuition, and income taxes, among others. They also contribute cultural benefits and intellectual gains. While settling and adjusting into their host society, international students may experience culture shock, language barriers, neo-racism, financial stress, visa problems, and other social challenges.

Despite these challenges, the number of international students coming to the United States continues to increase. The purpose of this study was to investigate the challenges that international students encounter as they adjust to their new environment. This study focused on international students at West Virginia University and their perceptions of how West Virginia University assists them in meeting their challenges. In addition, this study also evaluated coping mechanisms that these students utilized to adjust to their new environment. This was done through a survey of international students where they were asked to identify resources and coping mechanisms they used to adjust. The three research questions that guided the study are; 1. What are the adjustment challenges facing international students at West Virginia University? 2. What are the students’ perceptions of West Virginia University’s role in addressing the adjustment challenges? 3. What coping mechanisms or adaption strategies do international students use to survive the adjustment challenges in West Virginia University?

The instrument used for this study was a modified version of the Michigan International Students Problem Inventory (MISPI) developed by Porter and Haller in 1962. An online questionnaire was administered using Qualtrics to survey all international students at West Virginia University (WVU). Descriptive (mean and standard deviation) and inferential (t-test, One Factor ANOVA, and Chi square) statistical methods were used to analyze the data. The results revealed that social /personal problems (treatment received at social functions, being accepted in social groups, insufficient personal- social counseling), English language problems (understanding, writing, and speaking English), transportation problems, health insurance problems, and orientation service problems (attitude of some students towards international students, attitude of some U.S. citizens to skin color, relationship between faculty and students) were the key challenges of international students at West Virginia University. The findings also revealed that international students often face racism, discrimination and relationship difficulties between faculty and other students.

It is recommended from this study that faculty members should be friendly and make students feel welcome. They should also continue to inspire, encourage, and offer guidance to students and let the students know that they are willing to assist them in articulating their ideas. International students should feel able to make new friends and interact with other students without feeling intimidated or embarrassed by their foreign accents. Host institutions should not only provide services to students but ensure that international students are aware of them so they can access those services as they adjust to their new environment. English language workshops and writing seminars should be organized to help address language difficulties. The Office of Diversity & Inclusion should conduct research to identify the particular needs of international students and offer solutions or services that address these needs. It is finally recommended that West Virginia University should offer training and continuous orientation to faculty and staff on peculiar learning and thinking styles of international students, and efforts should be made to address racism and discrimination.