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International Student Development and Resources at Kogod

At Kogod, we recognize international students’ unique needs and work to support them through their academic and cultural transitions. We believe in diversity and inclusion–a value that helps foster appreciation and acceptance for all in our community. This is at the heart of our work, allowing us to offer programs that both support and welcome our international students.

Offerings include one-on-one support for:

  • School transitions
  • Academic English language skill improvement
  • Making the most of relationships with classmates and faculty
  • Services that assist and engage international students

Please see the tabs below for frequently asked questions by international students. We hope the information can help you easily address any issue or concern.

I am a new student.  When should I arrive to campus?

Each semester, Kogod hosts mandatory orientation programming for all new students, international and domestic. The dates of these programs change each year and are communicated through email. If you are an undergraduate student and not sure of the orientation dates that apply to you, visit the Orientation, Transition, and Retention website at

If you are a Kogod graduate student and not sure of the orientation dates that apply to you, contact the Graduate Programs office at

Each semester, International Student Scholar Services (ISSS) also hosts a mandatory orientation for new international students. Contact ISSS at isss@american.eduor call +1-202-885-3350. 

As both orientation programs are required for international students, we recommend that students arrive in the Washington, DC, area and move into their new homes no later than one week before the first day of classes.

How can I learn to introduce myself to others?

Learning to introduce yourself seems hard at first, but it gets easier each time you do it. Look for something you have in common with the other person and use that as an opener. For example, when meeting another student, you could say, “Hi, I’m Shari. I’m a finance major. What’s your major?” You can never go wrong with simply, “I’m Shari Pattillo. It’s nice to meet you.”

Commenting on the current weather is a very common and acceptable shared topic: “Hi, I’m Shari. Is it always this cold/hot/windy/rainy/humid here? It’s very different in my hometown.” For help with the “small talk” that usually follows an introduction, ask your friends for advice, or make an appointment with Shari at

How can I make American friends?

Of course, becoming comfortable with introducing yourself is an important step toward making American friends (see above). If a person is making eye contact with you and smiling, it usually means that they are open to meeting you, and it’s probably OK for you to introduce yourself. If a person makes eye contact and quickly looks away, don’t be offended. It’s probably just not a good time for them to meet someone new. 

In some cultures, people who are put together in the same group/class/organization are expected to become friends immediately. This is not true in the US. Americans tend to be friendly with a lot of people, but form deep friendships with only a few, so don’t be discouraged. Friendships with Americans develop over time.

How can I better participate in class? 

Class participation is often a significant part of your final grade. Professors want to know that you are engaged and understanding the material and speaking up in class is one way to show this. 

Some instructors insist that every student speak at some point during the class, and they take note of who does not. Some professors might pay attention to other ways that students participate, through notetaking, active listening and keeping eye contact in class. 

The best way to know what is expected is to speak to each of your professors and ask them, “How can I best participate in your class?” Then try to act accordingly. Make an appointment with Shari you need help with this. 

Why do we have to do group projects, and how can I be a good group member? 

Group projects are very popular in the American classroom. They teach students about working together toward a common goal. Important skills like communication, collaboration, and application can often be better learned in a group than by yourself. 

Introduce yourself to your fellow group members and let them know that you want to participate fully. In the US, people often assume that quiet group members have nothing to say. (It’s a cultural thing, and it’s not always true.) If you need help with conversational skills, such as getting your turn to speak, interrupting, or stating your opinion, please make an appointment with Shari

Do I need to attend every class/group meeting/appointment? 

It is very important in American culture to do what you say you’re going to do. This includes attending classes, group meetings, and appointments with anyone to whom you’ve made a commitment. Missing a meeting without giving any notice or an acceptable excuse is very disrespectful of the other person’s time and might cause that person to think that you are irresponsible or unprofessional. 

If you must break a commitment, if possible, let the professor/group/other person know as soon as you can. If you missed or forgot an appointment, apologize as soon as possible. It is customary to give an excuse; it is acceptable to be vague: “I’m so sorry that I missed our appointment/class. I was ill/unexpectedly delayed/dealing with a personal matter.”

What do I talk about when I visit the professor during office hours? 

It is a good idea to visit each of your professors during office hours at the beginning of the semester. Office hours are specifically for student visits and questions. You can consult your class syllabus for a specific professor’s schedule. 

Initially, you can just introduce yourself to the professor, and it’s completely fine to say that you were advised to do it: “Hello, Professor. I’m Shari Pattillo and I’m in your ACCT-240 class. I know it’s a good idea to meet you early in the semester, so that’s why I’m here.” The professor may ask you a question, or if you have a question you can ask it. It is always fine to end with, “It was nice to see you” when you are ready to leave. 

How can I learn the writing style that my instructor wants to see? 

Business writing is unlike other writing styles. It is important to be direct and to give your most important idea at the beginning. This can be a big change for students from other cultures. 

The Kogod Center for Business Communications(KCBC) should be your primary resource for getting help with your business writing. You can make an appointment at to meet with a writing consultant, who will help you write in a style that is acceptable to your professor. 

How can I become a more efficient reader? 

Assigned reading can be overwhelming in another language, but there are strategies that can help you read more effectively. The first step is becoming familiar with the text through “pre-reading.” Look over the text and ask yourself some questions: What is probably the main idea? Who wrote it? Why? How long is it? (It’s OK if your assumptions end up being wrong; the point is to begin to interact with the text.)

Plan to review a text more than once, and alwaystake notes while reading. (Highlighting is usually noteffective.) Start with main ideas during the first reading, and then add details during subsequent passes. Don’t waste time looking up every unfamiliar word.

Get help! See Shari to create a personalized strategy for managing your reading, using your own class texts. Make an appointment at

How do I get a job or internship? 

There are many factors to consider when looking for a job or internship as an international student. The Kogod Office of Career Engagementcan help you plan for your professional future. Make an appointment with Office of Career Engagement to begin your job search, get help with your resume, or prepare for an interview. 

If you have questions about employment and visa or immigration requirements, please see International Student and Scholar Services(ISSS).

How can I get involved with student clubs/organizations?

Within Kogod, there are many business-specific, student-run clubs and organizations. These groups bring together like-minded individuals and may be a great way for you to meet new people who share similar interests. Many clubs and organizations are focused on a business discipline (like the Accounting Club) but there are some social groups as well. View a full list of Kogod clubs and organizations at American University also offers many other types of clubs and organizations which you can view at

I’m not having a very good semester; what should I do? 

There are many factors that can lead to a less-than-awesome semester. Changes in health, environment, class load, or relationships are just a few of the things that can affect a student’s well-being. Transitions of any kind can influence your academic performance. For instance, students in their first semester often forget that after 6–12 weeks, it is normal to feel a little depressed, disappointed, or even disgusted–but these feelings should pass after a time. 

If you are not feeling like yourself, it’s important to let someone know. 

Americans generally accept and admire people who seek help when they need it. Stop by to see Shari in KSB T1; she can help you figure out what you might need to do to start feeling better. Alternatively, the AU Counseling Center in MGC 214 has drop-in hours every Monday–Friday, from 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. 

Note: If you ever feel like you might hurt yourself or others, get help immediately. If on campus, call Public Safety at 202-885-3636. If you are off campus, call 911. 

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