Your bags are packed, your flight departure is on time, and a new educational experience awaits. Do you feel prepared? Are you feeling nervous that you will not understand your professors or their expectations? Fear not! Student support services and academic resources at the University of Kansas (KU) are here to help.
The KU Academic Accelerator Program (AAP) offers a number of support services designed to help first-year international students thrive in their new environment. Program services cover advice about which classes to take, the best places to live, and career opportunities. AAP also offers wellness and academic advising, connections with KU academic resources, invitations to American cultural events, and outings both on and off campus.
At KU, all first-year Academic Accelerator students register for its University First Year Seminar (also known on-campus as UNIV). This course is credit-bearing, meaning your grade is added to your overall KU GPA, and is considered an elective towards your degree. The KU Office of First-Year Experience finds this program particularly useful for international students, noting that students who participate in the First-Year Seminar “develop essential academic skills that they will use throughout their time at KU.”
The KU UNIV seminar offers Academic Accelerator students targeted topics that connect to academic resources and student resources available both on and off campus. It is all about student success: the goal is to help first-year students acclimate to KU and move towards independence—and become confident Jayhawks!
UNIV meets once a week and AAP student services advisors teach the lessons. During class, there is time to answer student questions; participating students will also receive learning guides to understand professors’ expectations, and they can connect with their orientation cohort (who are also new to the US university experience). Overall, UNIV creates a more individualized experience in a safe space.
As an international student, I didn’t have a chance for a campus tour before I came to KU. The first-year seminar introduced me to the useful resources I can use at KU ... the Writing Center, Academic Achievement and Access Center (AAAC), and other offices on campus to assist with my academic success, which I still use now.”—Rachel, sophomore journalism major, Vietnam
KU AAP UNIV seminars take a holistic approach to student health and wellness. AAP student services advisors coordinate guest speakers to discuss topics on health, wellness, academic stability, and finances, such as lesson plans about budgeting meal plans and how to apply and interview for an on-campus job or internship.
On- and off-campus wellness workshops and events are recommended, and attendance can be counted towards participation points as part of the UNIV grade. Events such as attending the Lawrence Farmers’ Market allows students to feel connected with the local community, talk to local farmers about healthy foods, and learn more about the organic local options down the hill from campus.
Cultural events also allow international students to learn more about KU’s hometown of Lawrence, Kansas, and the greater Midwest region. When students enroll in UNIV, they can expect to travel to the Kansas State Capitol to visit the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, which ties into a course topic about civil rights in America. Additionally, students travel to Kansas City, Missouri, a short trip outside of Lawrence, to visit the World War I Museum and the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.
First-year students also take part in career prep with UNIV. Career Accelerator events; visiting corporate world headquarters such as Cerner, Garmin, H&R Block, and Hallmark; and learning about the US culture of volunteering can build students’ resumes and learn more about opportunities within their new community. UNIV helps students create a short pitch on how they can sell their skills to future employers, which also helps build presentation experience that students will use throughout their time at KU.
“Field trips are my favorite things,” says Rachel. “Back in my home country, I didn’t have lots of opportunities to go on these trips. The first-year seminar gave me a valuable chance to absorb new knowledge in a different way from the classroom-based method. I was excited to visit the pumpkin patch, museum, and learn about the world.”
At heart, first-year seminars at KU are really about student health and wellness—and student success. Our student support services allow time for international students to adjust to a new educational environment in a comfortable setting with their peers. With the seminar, students develop university-level skills to use at KU and throughout their professional career.
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