What Kind of Support Your Child Can Expect While in a Pathway Program in the US

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What Kind of Support Your Child Can Expect While in a Pathway Program in the US

If your child is about to embark on a study abroad adventure, it is natural to feel overwhelmed, nervous and even scared for him or her. However, know that as a pathway program student, your child will have access to some of the best resources and care available. From financial and emotional support to guidance to counseling, your child’s host university is likely prepared for any issue or concern that he or she might have. Moreover, your student’s host university likely has the resources available to ensure that your child not only receives a top-notch education, but that he or she can successfully overcome the unique challenges he or she is apt to face while abroad.

  • Financial Support

    For many parents with students who will enroll in a pathway program at a US university, one of the primary concerns is cost. In addition to a bump in tuition, most parents will see an increase in living expenses and housing. They often wonder how they will they be able to afford it. Many people cannot afford to fund an international education on their own. Fortunately, they may not have to. There are numerous funding options available, which you can find on the NAFSA website. Unfortunately, universities limit these options to select few students who qualify. In fact, according to the NAFSA, 80.9% of study abroad tuition payments came from personal and family sources.   That said, you do have some options. For instance, many universities offer monetary incentives to students who attend their schools. Typically, universities reserve this type of aid for graduate students and offer it in the form of fellowships and assistantships. Though some schools do offer financial incentives for undergraduate international students, such incentives are few and far between and therefore, quite competitive.   Another thing to think about is that many schools waive application fees for international students. If your student applies to several schools, this could save you hundreds of dollars upfront. In addition to financial incentives for international students, some schools offer merit-based scholarships. Again, these are extremely competitive and awarded only to the most deserving individuals. If you hope for your child to earn a scholarship, encourage him or her to partake in activities outside of school, to give back to the community and to take active part in school organizations. Finally, need-based scholarships exist as well. As their name implies, need-based scholarships go to those with financial needs. Students and their parents who apply for these types of scholarships must demonstrate a financial need via bank statements, tax returns and other documented proof.   If your student is not eligible for any of the above types of financing, he or she may be eligible for private loans. Though private loans can help a person obtain a higher education, they usually come with high interest rates and immediate repayment terms. They also often require a co-signer, someone who can afford to make payments should the original obligor be unable.

  • Pastoral Support

    Pastoral support refers to the ancient model of providing emotional and spiritual support to those in need. While traditionally pastoral care was for those who were in pain and who suffered extreme loss, the modern-day definition refers to any type of assistance from community members. When your child studies abroad, he or she is likely to be the subject of pastoral support. Most universities have whole committees dedicated to the support of international students. Those committees typically provide the following types of support: Pre-arrival support Pre-arrival programs Continuing support Activities Post-acceptance Support Many universities put together an introductory packet specifically for study abroad students. Sometimes the university mails this pack to a future student’s home, but more often than not it is available online. This packet includes information about what the student can expect from a semester abroad and what he or she can do to prepare for it. It may also cover helpful tips for parents, such as housing options and prices, visa options, medical coverage, tuition fee payment structures, budgeting tips and advice for helping students obtain part-time work. In addition to information for parents, the packet may also include material about the school and available resources. For instance, it may be helpful for a student to have a campus map before arrival just so that he or she can more easily navigate the new surroundings upon arrival. The packet may also include phone numbers, emails and other contact information that may come in handy to the student prior to arrival. Finally, the packet may include the name and contact information of a host national student. Many universities have student mentoring programs in which they assign national students to international ones. It is the job of the national students to make their mentees feel warm and welcome, and to be available year-round should international students have any questions or concerns. The general idea of a welcome packet is to ensure that future students feel comfortable before they arrive, and that they have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the school in advance. The goal of the mentorship program is to guarantee that international students know that there will be at least one welcoming face to greet them upon their arrival.   Orientation Programs For pathway program participants, the first few days, weeks and even months in their host country are the most overwhelming. In addition to dealing with culture shock, pathway students must juggle coursework, language barriers and more. As a result, it can take a while for a student to find their footing. Most universities require all new students to arrive a few days ahead of the others so that they have an opportunity to adjust and get to know everyone before the semester begins. However, most schools encourage pathway program participants to arrive weeks in advance so that they can acclimate to the host country’s culture, identify and mentally stow away important information and address any questions or concerns that they have with guidance counselors. In addition to preparing for the school year, arriving a few weeks ahead of everyone else gives international students the opportunity to interact with one another and build their own support systems. As the school year progresses, these support systems may be just what they need when the going really begins to get tough. Continuing Support Students don’t just need support before the semester begins; many international students continue to require support throughout their stay. Not only is it important that students receive an outline of the institution’s policies, but it is also essential that they have a network that they can turn to should any problems arise throughout the year or years. Oftentimes, just knowing that a support group exists is enough to help students through the program. However, when students do need actual support, there is a team of faculty members available by phone, email or in person to help with any issue at any time. Students who need the most help deal with things such as cultural shock, homesickness and language differences – all issues that are difficult to deal with on one’s own. These problems can interfere with a student’s ability to learn and therefore, affect their overall performance at school. Some other issues international students often encounter include unfamiliar teaching styles, unfamiliar grading systems, health problems and insurance issues. Both the student network and the faculty network can provide international individuals with the skills and knowledge they need to identify the core of any given issue and resolve it. Ultimately, the goal is to not only to ensure that international students feel welcome, but also to ensure that they have the tools they need to succeed in a foreign environment. Activities Not all support schemes are about helping with and negating problems. Oftentimes, ensuring a comfortable and successful stay is all about ensuring that students have a good time. Many universities host game days and events specifically geared toward international students so as to encourage cultural exchange while having fun. While several universities host events on campus in the form of game days and potlucks, others think outside the box and take students on off-campus adventures. From hiking through national parks to exploring local attractions, and from attending seminars to meeting up for weekly coffee hour, many schools organize a variety of events to ensure that all students feel included, and that everyone has an opportunity to interact with others in a non-academic way.   Each of these activities is in addition to the number of activities most universities already host. Many schools strive to be their own little communities, which they can accomplish with a host of events and gatherings for all students to enjoy. From financial support to ongoing pastoral support, international students receive plenty of help and guidance before and during their pathway program studies. If you are worried about your student, you need not be – he or she will be well taken care of at their new university, and will undoubtedly receive the tools he or she needs to succeed abroad. SchoolApply also offers abundant resources for parents and students alike that are geared toward helping pathway students find success at their new schools.  

Levels Explained

  • Bachelor's

    A bachelor's degree (also called a first degree or undergraduate degree) is attained after receiving a post-secondary (high school) education and generally spans four years. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as bachelor or undergraduate students. A bachelor's degree is usually offered at an institution of higher education, such as a university.

  • Master's

    A master’s degree (or postgraduate or graduate education) involves learning and studying for academic or professional degrees. This degree is preceded by a bachelor’s degree and generally takes two years to complete. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as master's, or grad students.

  • Pathway

    Bachelor’s and master’s pathway programs are designed for international students who need additional English language and academic preparation before continuing to a degree program at a university. The purpose of these programs are to give students the confidence and skills needed to succeed in college.