First Advisor

Michael Smith

Date of Publication

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Postsecondary Education


Educational Leadership and Policy




Foreign students -- Education (Higher) -- United States, Chinese students -- Cultural assimilation -- United States



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 260 pages)


The U.S. is the leading nation for international students to pursue higher education; the majority of whom are from countries with significant differences in culture and language from American students. As such, many international students start higher education in ESL support programs. While on the surface international students supposedly add cultural and linguistic diversity to American higher education by contributing to the internationalization of campuses, international students' transition into U.S. life and academe is often fraught with challenges including culture shock, adjusting to the new environment and society, adjustment to norms of academic performance, acquisition of academic and language skills, and negotiating chilly campus climates. Such factors can affect academic success, social/cultural acclimation, and even personal/ethnic identity. However, little is researched about international ESL students' transitions into U.S. higher education. This study employs qualitative research with semi-structured interview and grounded theory as analytical technique and aims to rectify the existing research literature limitation by identifying factors that facilitate and inhibit social, cultural, and academic transitions among international ESL students that best serve and accelerate their academic career in the United States.


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