International students face high costs, lack of jobs
September 23, 2008 2:43 PM
International students come to SF State from all over the world, many to improve their English skills and try to make their dreams of advancing in their careers a reality. However, foreign students have to face a few obstacles that most SF State students don't.
Twenty-year-old Wendy Chen moved here from China and, like all international students, pays $399 per credit unit apart from university fees – 177 percent more than state residents have to pay. She has to attend school full time so she doesn't lose her F-1 visa and she is not allowed to work outside campus without a work permit.
Chen's parents pay for her studies and even though she would like to help her family pay for her expenses, she hasn't been able to get a job on campus.
"I would like to work at school," Chen said. "But [the SF State employers] said they didn't get my application and they never called me back."
Chen's friend, 25-year-old Amy Wu, also from China, said that she went through a similar situation. Chen tried to get a job at the campus library and bookstore, but said that it is too difficult to get a job on campus. She said she wasn't able to get a job on campus even though she is now working on her second bachelor's degree.
Patrice Mulholland, assistant director at the Office of International Programs, explained that international students are allowed to work on campus 20 hours a week and that once they graduate, they can apply for a practical training job in their specific field for the period of one year.
According to Mulholland, one of the obstacles for international students trying to get an on-campus job is the long process to get a work permit. She explained that students first have to find a job, then talk to the OIP office, which will then issue the student a letter so he or she can apply for a social security card. This process can take weeks and often times the employer can't wait that long for the students' documentation.
She also said that the OIP office frequently hires International students and that she hasn't heard any complaints about students not being able to get a job on campus.
Mulholland said that the OIP office also directs students to the Career Center to learn job search skills and how to improve their resume.
Wu said proper accreditation was another issue she faced with the evaluation of the classes she transferred from a University in Taiwan.
According to Wu each one of the classes she took in Taiwan were three unit classes, but the accreditation department gave her only one credit per class. She also said that she tried to get an explanation of how the accreditation system at SF State works, but she was unable to find a professional who could explain the accreditation system to her.
Mulholland said that most Universities have an articulation agreement with SF State, which makes it so students can know before enrolling at the university what credits they will be able to transfer or not.
Mulholland added that most students are surprised to see how many general education classes they have to take. In many foreign countries, Mulholland said, general education classes are taking during high school and are not a university component.
"It happens at least 4 to 5 times a semester, when [students] will say 'but I took this course in high school,'" Mulholland said.
Edward Carrigan, assistant director of the undergraduate admissions department at SF State explained that the office of undergraduate admissions is aware that students sometimes have complaints about the accreditation process, but says the office is available to help students with any questions they may have.
He also added that students can come to the One Stop Center for assistance and that there is an international admissions line they can call. Students can contact their evaluators to make an appointment, he says, but unfortunately evaluators do not see students on a walk–in basis.
Carrigan emphasized that the accreditation process is long and difficult to explain.
Wu said that she also tried to meet with a general adviser, but that she was told that the evaluation process takes too long to be revised and that it is too difficult to go over transcripts that have already been evaluated.
"Sometimes I think that the advisers do not seem to have much patience with international students," Wu said.
Still both Wu and Chen say they are very happy to attend to SF State and they both look forward to getting a job in the United States once they graduate.
This year the school had a total of 1403 enrolled international students with an F-1 visa. According to Mulholland, international students bring a lot of money to SF State, which can be used to open more sessions.
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