Non-traditional Universities
A New choice for International Students

Most people are familiar with traditional colleges and universities and many international students flock to these institutions each year. In addition to their educational courses, these colleges and universities offer on-campus living in dormitories, food services, athletic teams, social clubs and a variety of extracurricular activities. It is clear why many international students attend these American colleges and universities.

There is, however, another alternative for international students, especially those who are interested in developing careers in business and technology. These are the non traditional universities. While an accredited non traditional college or university offers the same level of academic quality, these institutions differ from the traditional institutions in many ways.

First, the majority of their students are working adults who are employed full-time and attend their classes mostly in the evenings. In many of these schools, the average age of these students is in the early thirties. The courses are usually taught by adjunct faculty, who teach in the evenings while working in the fields in which they teach during the day. The courses are concentrated, with the course material taught over a shorter period of time than in traditional institutions. The emphasis is placed upon the practical application of the educational material, achieving a strong blend of theory and practice. There are no athletic teams in this kind of university, no marching bands, no fraternities or sororities, no dormitories, no social clubs. Why, then, would an international student choose to attend this type of university?

For international students who wish to obtain a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree at a faster pace than is possible in a traditional institution, the non traditional university is an excellent alternative. 

Non traditional institutions operate throughout the year, so classes can be taken continuously, although students may take breaks as needed. The practical thrust of the education is ideal for those who want to build careers in multi-national corporations or family businesses. Attending classes with working adults, that are taught by working faculty, provides an outstanding opportunity to learn about business processes and techniques in the U. S. This also creates excellent networking opportunities whereby international students can develop friendships and build contacts with individuals who work in a variety of companies and organizations. These contacts can prove invaluable as the international student builds his or her future career plans. Due to the maturity level of the students and the practical nature of the curriculum, there is considerable emphasis on developing critical thinking, report writing and oral presentation skills.

While non traditional institutions do not have the full range of social activities available at the traditional institutions, there are ample opportunities for social growth. Apartment complexes are available at reasonable rental rates. Many of these apartments include community swimming pools and exercise rooms, as well as meeting rooms and social centers. The university will work with the student to find and lease an apartment and, often, students from the same country will live in the same complex. There are also home stay programs available for students who prefer to live with local families. By living in such apartment complexes, students can prepare their own foods, organize their own social events and experience the American culture by living in its midst.

Non traditional institutions that recruit international students recognize the need to provide those students with services that their working adult students may not need. In keeping with their focus on business and technology programs, English as a Second Language (ESL) programs may be provided that focus on academic and business oriented English, as well as social acclimatization to the U. S. An International Student Association may be formed and associations with local community groups can provide opportunities for recreational activities such as club sports and various social events. Every effort is made to provide cross-cultural learning opportunities so that the American working adults learn about international cultures and international students become immersed in the American culture.

As we have shown in this article, there are many reasons for an international student to seriously consider attending a non traditional university in the U. S., especially if he or she aspires to a career in business or technology.

Contributed by:
Western International University