About 59 percent of Ohio State’s international students come from China, but the number of Chinese cities hosting orientation sessions has been decreased as the cost and length of time of the sessions went up.
The Office of International Affairs offers a pre-departure orientation in China every summer, aiming to teach future students and their families about topics like college life and introduce them to some OSU students and staff before they travel to the U.S. This year’s sessions are scheduled throughout June.
OIA made three modifications for this year, though, by reducing the number of cities that offer orientations, increasing amount of orientation time and expanding the portion of orientation that’s geared toward parents.
The pre-departure orientations will be offered in Beijing and Shanghai, but no longer in Guangzhou, China, and are set to last a day-and-a-half rather than a day, said Megan McCarthy, the OIA program manager for global engagement.
Because of the increased amount of orientation time, McCarthy said, “the cost will likely increase,” but the final number wasn’t yet available.
She said the estimated cost for the pre-departure orientation this year is $162,000, up from $90,000 last year.
The orientation is free for Chinese students to attend once they have paid their acceptance fee and are enrolled as an OSU student. Students are not required to attend, though.
There is a limit on how many people can attend, however — McCarthy said students cannot bring more than two guests with them to the orientation, and there will be nine or 10 OIA staff members going to the orientation.
OIA, which hosts the sessions in collaboration with Student Life and Enrollment Services, uses them to help future students learn more about the U.S. and help them adjust before moving, McCarthy said.
“We want to make sure students understand what’s going to (be) expected (of) them when they are getting here in the United States,” she said.
Last year, there was no specific orientation time for parents, but this year a time for parents to learn about OSU is set to be provided.
McCarthy said it is a different program from the one for students but similar information will provided, albeit in Chinese instead of in English like the students’ sessions.
Parents, though, have different needs and questions than students, she said.
“(Parents) probably are not getting the segment about how to make friends with Americans,” she said.
Zihao Shen, a second-year in history, served as a volunteer for the pre-departure orientation last year and is set to volunteer again this year.
She said the new structure of the pre-departure orientation should help create a pathway for future students to understand college life at OSU.
“It give(s) an opportunity to meet their fellow students and OSU staff,” Shen said.
OIA is set to work with some Chinese organizations to offer the pre-departure orientation. These Chinese organizations will help OIA staff recruit additional volunteers for the orientation.
According to the OIA website, the Chinese program is the only international student pre-departure orientation offered abroad.
McCarthy said that could change in the future.
“It is possible that (the orientation) will expand, but the program is always being reevaluated and some changes will be made likely next year if the program continues,” McCarthy said.
Zhuoshu Yang, a Nantou High School student in Shezhen, China, is set to begin attending OSU in Fall Semester 2014.
He said in a Skype interview that he is going to make some new friends at OSU and he wants to jump into Mirror Lake before the Michigan-OSU football game.
“I can’t wait to see (the jump). If it possible, I want to try it,” Yang said in Chinese.
Clarification: April 16, 2014
This article was updated to reflect that the pre-departure orientation program is a collaboration between OIA, Enrollment Services and Student Life.