Photo courtesy of Gail Pischak. International students Yuya Suzuki of Japan and Iris Leng of Vietnam.
BY GAIL PISCHAK
For an international student studying in a school abroad is both exciting, and daunting. In some cases, there is a new language to learn and anxiety about leaving friends and family behind. Once the student arrives, they must adapt to the new environment, new people and new expectations.
Perhaps the most significant concerns are about not making friends and being alone in a foreign country.
College of the Desert’s International Education Program (IEP) assists these international students with achieving their educational goals by providing comprehensive support services to help them adjust, and ultimately succeed.
IEP as a full-service support program that helps international students navigate the complexities of obtaining their F-1 student visas. This includes providing immigration information, assisting students to maintain their F-1 student status and providing information about travel options. Upon arrival, students are supported several ways through an orientation, accommodation lists and social programs to help students meet others and make new friends.
IEP also has a dedicated counselor that assists with student’s ongoing course selections and helping them check all the boxes to satisfy the requirements towards successful program completion.
Approximately 100 full-time international students are enrolled in associate degrees, certificates and intensive English academy programming when necessary. For the fall 2019 semester, IEP had 46 international students begin new programs at COD.
Business and science degrees are the most popular among international students.
The program has students from 24 countries. The majority of students (31) come from Japan. IEP has an active recruitment program using online recruitment resources and international recruiting partners like agents, high school counselors and higher education colleagues.
In addition to providing support services, each year, between 30 and 50 students from Japanese partner universities come to COD for a three-week English language and cultural immersion program.
One of the attractive benefits of coming to COD as an international student, is tuition fees are generally lower here than other colleges in the U.S.
Resident students who do not receive financial aid pay $46 per unit. International enrollment fees total $306 per unit. They are also responsible for paying $130 month for international health insurance coverage. International students must also maintain a minimum of 12 credits each semester to keep their F-1 student status.
COD students are offered guaranteed transfer admission to many California State and University of California campuses and a majority of international students use COD’s great transfer opportunities to continue into a bachelor’s degree program.
Cody McCabe, the program’s director is no stranger to the world of international education. He came to COD four years ago after serving similar roles with the University of New York for seven years. Before that, Cody taught English for three years in New York and two years in Japan.
“As a former international student myself, I can say that studying abroad is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have, and it will impact the rest of your life. I’d say the most important benefit of studying abroad is that it helps you learn more about who you are, what you like, what you’re good at and what motivates you said,” McCabe.
Iris Leng from Vietnam agrees with McCabe. Leng currently on her second semester at COD and working towards a pharmacy major. She lives with a host family that helps her with her English. “COD is a great place to study and learn about yourself. Everyone makes me feels so comfortable and safe and I’ve made lots of friends.”
Leng plans on transferring to either Washington or Texas State when she completes her associate degree.
Yuya Suzuki, from Japan, is a third-semester culinary arts student. He found his way to Palm Desert through friends, who previously attended COD. “People are very kind to me here. I play soccer and have made a lot of friends there.”
Many travel miles and there is a lot of planning to come to COD. But the IEP does its best to welcome and help international students with their journey.
“International students are absolutely inspiring,” said McCabe. “I am so proud of their hard work, determination, grit and bravery. I love to watch them achieve their dreams and just be part of their journey.”
To learn more about the international program visit collegeofthedesert.edu or call (760) 776-7205. The center is located at Craven’s Student Services Center, 2nd floor.