International students face enough difficulty leaving their family and home countries behind to attend the University – and not being able to register for classes they want should not be an additional challenge, LSA sophomore Pragav Jain said.
The international student orientation is held in mid-August, during the five days directly preceding freshman Welcome Week. By that point, most of the classes international students want to take are already filled, Jain said.
“When (international students) come in, they face a lot of problems with their school because a lot of classes are taken up,” he said. “Everyone I know who is an international student has always faced problems. They never take the classes their counselors recommend.”
Jain, who is originally from India, said when he first registered for classes at the University, three of the four classes he originally wanted to take were full.
“I was pretty much disappointed. I wanted to take other classes which I couldn’t get at the time,” Jain said.
Jain added that like him, many international students are disappointed with their first semester because they are not happy with their classes.
Engineering junior Nishit Salot, a transfer student who attended his first two years of college in India, said he and 10 other transfer students from India that he knows experienced problems registering for classes.
“By the time we get here, all the classes are almost full,” Salot said. “Everyone had the same problem. They were actually registered for 12 credits.”
Although he received an override for two Engineering classes, Salot said he had trouble finding two other open classes, and registering for a class in the College of Literature, Science and Arts to fulfill his humanities requirement was especially difficult.
Despite such complaints, Ann Hower, director of the Office of New Student Programs, said the international student orientation is held after the regular orientations to cater to the needs of students who cannot visit the University earlier in the summer just to attend orientation.
“It’s strictly financial,” Hower said. “Most of them wouldn’t want to travel to the U.S. twice.”
Hower said the regular orientations are open to international students, but the international orientation is specially designed to address any concerns students have upon arriving to the United States. She said students are informed about health insurance coverage options and visa regulations, and they are provided with details about the requirements of various schools at the University that would otherwise require a lot of effort to obtain.
“It’s supposed to be a convenience. If they go to a regular orientation, they’re going to have to go to a lot of offices,” Hower said.
Many international students are also required to take an Academic English Evaluation, which is held during the international student orientation, Hower said. Although the test can be made up if international students attend a regular orientation, the process is more difficult, she said.
Orientation leaders also organize cross-cultural activities and take the students shopping, she added.
“What we hear is extremely positive,” Hower said. “We do more for an international student orientation than any other school in the Big Ten.”
Jain said as chair of the International Students Affairs Commission of the Michigan Student Assembly, he is working toward improving the registration process for international students. He said he realizes that most international students cannot arrive in the United States earlier in the summer, but he proposed that the University reserve 4 to 5 percent of spots in classes for international students.
Hower said seats are not reserved for anyone because all students attend some form of orientation.
Jain added that he was not informed of the option of attending an orientation earlier in the summer, and that he first heard about the other orientations from his roommates.
“When I got here, I didn’t know about summer orientation.”
But Hower said the University website explains that international students can attend earlier orientations if they desire.
In addition to having difficulty registering for classes, Jain said he could not purchase football tickets before arriving to the United States because international students do not receive season ticket applications.
“A lot of people who come in, they don’t know what a wolverine is or ‘Go Blue,’ or what the Big House is,” he said. “Last year could have been much better if I could have gone for the games. … I used to say, ‘Did you guys win today?’ instead of ‘Did we win today?'”
Season ticket applications are mailed to all students who register to attend the University by mid-May, including international students, ticket manager Marty Bodner said. He suggested that season ticket applications might occasionally be lost by foreign mail services.