Title page for ETD etd-08112012-000850

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Marsh, Fulya Aydinalay
Author's Email Address fmarsh@vt.edu
URN etd-08112012-000850
Title The Transition Experiences of Middle Eastern Graduate Students in the U.S.
Degree PhD
Department Higher Education
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Janosik, Steven M. Committee Chair
Burge, Penny L. Committee Member
Ridgwell, Diana M. Committee Member
Wildman, Terry M. Committee Member
  • transition
  • Middle Eastern Graduate Students
Date of Defense 2012-08-06
Availability unrestricted
The number of international graduate students coming to the U.S. to attend American colleges and universities is growing. In 2010 alone, over 20,000 Middle Eastern Graduate students (MEGS) were studying in U.S. universities (Bhandari & Chow, 2010). The purpose of this phenomenological study was to gain an understanding of how MEGS experienced the transition from their home to the host culture and recommend how to help them with it. The conceptual framework used in this study was a comprehensive transition model incorporating Schlossberg et al.’s 4S Transition Model (1995) with the main ideas from Chickering’s Vectors of Adult Development (1969), Furnham and Bochner’s Social Skills and Culture Learning Model (1986), Tinto’s Theory of Doctoral Persistence (1987), and Taylor’s Cultural Learning Model (1994).

The following questions guided the research:

1. How do Middle Eastern graduate students describe the academic and social environment in which they find themselves? (situation)

2. How do Middle Eastern graduate students experience the academic and social transition to graduate school in the U.S.? (self)

3. How do Middle Eastern graduate students describe adapting to graduate school in the U.S.? (strategy and support)

Answering these questions was accomplished through Seidman’s (2006) three in-depth interview approach. The sample consisted of eight MEGS who were enrolled in a U.S. university. The study’s findings showed how MEGS described their environments by focusing on the differences, challenges, role changes, and what caused them stress. Specifically, (a) male participants in this study were not educated in a co-ed education system; (b) most participants had been living with their families until moving to the host country; and (c) they were not aware of the importance of social support systems and the social environment. MEGS also experienced feeling proud, overwhelmed, conflicted, homesick, lonely, and finally, changed as a result of this transition. Finally, they described adapting to graduate school by using strategies such as (a) consulting others when faced with challenges, (b) observing then acting when they could not consult; (c) being self-reliant when faced with academic challenges; (d) getting involved socially to experience the host culture; and (e) receiving different support from others.

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