Academic Life in the US

The US higher education system can differ significantly from the education systems that international students are familiar with in their home countries. Academic culture varies from country to country and even among institutions in the same country. Compiled here are resources to help international students adjust to the Barnard classroom and achieve success in their studies throughout their college career.

Formal Classroom Culture

Interaction with professors in the context of the classroom is relatively informal, and often students interact with one another and their professor by raising their hand to speak. On the first day of class, professors usually discuss the syllabus which is the plan the class will follow for the remainder of the semester. Watch the video to be familiar with the ways professors and students related to one another in the college classroom.


Informal Classroom Culture

In US college classrooms, students usually dress casually. In many classrooms, it is permissible to bring a snack during class, as long as it is not distracting to other students or professor, though certain professors may not allow students to eat during class. If you must miss a class, it is polite to notify the professor and follow up with a fellow student to ask if they would be willing to share their notes from the class that was missed. Watch the video to learn more informal culture cues in the US classroom.

Language Barriers

It is not uncommon for international students to face language barriers in the classroom and outside of it - even for students coming from another English-speaking country! Especially in a diverse place like New York City, countless accents and colloquialisms may confound even the most well-adapted students. Check out the video to hear about other international students' experiences with language barriers.


Academic Integrity

In the US, academic integrity is an integral expectation that higher education institutions have for every student. Plagiarism in the US may be defined differently than in an international student's home country. To be successful in the Barnard classroom, all students should be familiar with the tenants of academic integrity. Each Barnard student is expected to uphold the Honor Code, and violations of the Honor Code are taken very seriously. In addition, this video link includes several vignettes on different topics related to academic integrity including: plagiarism, group project etiquette, and sharing tests.