The Importance of Your International Student Advisor

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Jonathan Perez | Jan 25, 2024 Student Life

Those attending school in the United States for the first time will find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding the system and how to best prioritize your time upon arrival. Aside from the surplus of resources that your college sends regularly, you will have access to many professionals on campus that specialize in making your experience in the United States as fluid and enjoyable as possible – particularly your international student advisor.

Before you even enter the United States, you will need to maintain a set of standards that ensure your lawful immigration status. Your advisor is most heavily involved in processing all documents relevant to your school entry. This includes your F-1 visa, any work permits, changes of status, employment authorization, and more.

One advisor role that many international students turn to often is the Designated School Official (DSO). Schools taking in international students use the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to maintain records on nonimmigrant students and visitors, and so they end up becoming a students’ biggest guide, even before they enter the U.S.

Your DSO will help you with different major changes in your time here, including:

  1. Applying for work
  2. Getting a social security number
  3. Changing your major, program, or degree level
  4. Transferring to a new school
  5. Taking time off from school
  6. Moving to a new address
  7. Requesting program extensions

If, at any time during your time in college, you want to undergo a change of status – legally or otherwise, you should reach out to your DSO beforehand for authorization. Most importantly, your DSO will be the one who issues you your I-20, which will certify that you have been admitted as a student to a full-time study program in the U.S. and can provide sufficient financial resources to remain there.

An international student advisor helps with all aspects of an international students’ life, especially when it comes to academics. For example, if a student is in danger of academic probation, an advisor can assist with creating an improvement plan to better understand the areas for increased tutoring assistance.

Aside from the few mentioned above, advisors are your biggest advocate, and you are more than welcome to visit them for reasons that are not academic. Being an international student can sometimes feel isolating and lonely, but your advisor has the tools to make your experience feel more relatable and easier to adapt to.

Advisors coordinate events throughout the school year with the intention of making international students feel not only welcome, but accustomed to life in the U.S. Whether it be an orientation or a holiday celebration for something traditionally celebrated in your home country, your international student advisor can help make school feel like a second home to you.

Some other advisors play a deeper role within their school, so they might have more power in advocating for or recommending certain options for student. One option that students typically look for is cost-affordable health insurance, which ISO Student Health Insurance can provide. Advisors may give insight for less costly alternatives for school necessities you’ll need, which is information you’ll likely receive during your orientation.

When you get to your school for the first time, the first person you’ll likely meet is your advisor. Remember that their job is to make you feel welcome, ready, and eager, so give them an open ear, be honest about any issues you’re having, and remember – since their advice is in your best favor, it’s worth giving them a listen.

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About ISO Student Health Insurance

Founded in 1958, ISO prides itself on being the leader in providing international students with affordable insurance plans. Administered by former and current international students, we are able to assist our member with multilingual customer service in Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, and more. ISO serves over 3,200 schools/colleges and more than 150,000 insured students every year.

For more information, please visit www.isoa.org and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn.

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