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International Students

Office of Academic Advising welcomes all international students and serves as a guide to a new academic culture.

Entering a new academic culture is enriching but can also be challenging. Academic cultures may be similar but differences have been observed by people from most cultures outside of the U.S.

When preparing for departure, think about what is typical of the teaching and learning styles that are familiar in your home culture and how these styles may differ from the U.S.  The Three Big Challenges for Most International Students are:

  • Expressing yourself masterfully in English
  • Expressing your viewpoint in papers, discussion, and research (Originality of Thought)
  • Learning the rules of academic honesty as they are understood in the U.S.

International students must Check-In with the International Programs Office (IPO) when they arrive on campus. They should then meet with an advisor in IPO or Central Academic Advising for in-person assistance to review their course selection and to become aware of campus resources that will help them to adjust to a new academic culture.

International students who have SAT or ACT scores should submit an official score report to Idaho State University as soon as possible to ensure placement into appropriate English and Mathematics courses.

Advising is the cornerstone of a successful university experience. All students should make an appointment and meet with an advisor for an in-person advising session at least once each semester. Be prepared to discuss personal goals and educational plans. Be open and willing to consider advice from faculty, advisors, and other professional mentors. Bring a list of questions to advising appointments.

Register for ISU courses as early as possible after being admitted to the university and completing advising requirements.

Most international students come to ISU as new freshmen and thus have to cope with the double challenge of transitioning from secondary school to an academic institution of higher education while also adjusting to the academic culture of a foreign country.

Students can register for courses on their own while still in their home country. International students can also receive advising assistance by emailing the Central Academic Advising office at AskanAdvisor@isu.edu and request assistance. For a good selection of course options, students should register for classes as early as possible even before they arrive at ISU.

International students who come to ISU with credits earned at other institutions of higher education are considered transfer students. Transfer students need syllabi and course descriptions of relevant transfer courses to be assessed in the respective departments at ISU even if their courses were evaluated by a transfer evaluation service like WES.

All transfer students must complete the online Transfer Fundamentals of Advising and Registration (TFAR) Moodle lesson before registering for courses. Once the TFAR is completed, students must connect with a department or faculty advisor or an advisor in Office of Academic Advising to review and receive additional guidance about their transfer courses.

Transfer students should connect with a department or faculty advisor as early as possible to begin the process of the evaluation of transfer courses, which can take some time. Often there are courses students want to register for that have pre-requisites which may be satisfied by a transfer course that is in the process of being evaluated.



Immigration regulation generally requires international students to be at full-time enrollment which is a minimum of 12 credits. It is best to register for 15-16 credits in the first semester as this allows students to withdraw from a class that is not going well and still maintain full-time enrollment.

Taking time to understand what it takes to Earn a Degree at ISU is helpful.

International student's English course placement is determined by their TOEFL, IELTS, or IEI score. SAT and ACT scores are no longer used for direct placement into ENGL 1101, 1101P, and 1102, but we still encourage students who have these scores to submit an official score report to Idaho State University to aid in math course placement.

Transfer students who have completed English courses successfully in the U.S. or other countries where English is the official language may be placed into ISU English Composition courses by having the course previously taken evaluated for equivalency by the Department of English.

Student's Math Course Placement is determined by their SAT, ACT, or ALEKS placement score.

International students who have SAT or ACT scores should submit an official score report to Idaho State University to ensure placement into appropriate Mathematics courses. Math courses at ISU fill up quickly so it is important to send test scores in as soon as possible.

The ALEKS placement test is offered through the ISU Testing Center free of charge. ALEKS is an online system that uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately assess student knowledge.

Taking the ALEKS placement test provides students the opportunity to place into a math class they are developmentally prepared for and can save students money that would otherwise have been spent on an unnecessary prerequisite class.

Once a student has taken their initial ALEKS placement test, they have the opportunity to use the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module (PPL) as a self study intelligent tutor to refresh their math skills. They may then retake the ALEKS placement test and try to improve their placement scores.

  • Students have a total of 5 attempts to get the score they want, free of charge.
  • Students can take advantage of the PPL between tests to improve their knowledge.
  • A minimum of 5 hours is required in the PPL before a student can retake the ALEKS placement test.
  • Research shows that 85% of students who spend 5 hours or more in the PPL mode will test into at least one math class higher than their initial placement.

Students in the U.S. for the very first time need to check in with the International Programs Office and attend the International Student Welcome Session program.

The following courses are also recommended:

  • AMST 1100 Introduction to American Language and Cultures - an introduction to the forms, uses, and conventions of American English, with emphasis upon their cultural origins and functional varieties. Intended primarily for speakers of standard English as second language or second dialect. and serves as elective credit.
  • ACAD 1104 First Year Transition - introduces students to university culture and to learning strategies and study techniques which promote academic success. Especially recommended for entering students and serves as elective credit.
  • COUN 1150 Career and Life Planning - introduces theories and actual processes of effective decision-making with direct application to participants' short and long range life goals. Course will emphasize self-understanding and methods for gathering appropriate external information. Career decisions, resume writing, and interviewing techniques are emphasized.

The grading system used at ISU may be very different form your home country as conventions vary form country to country and even institution to institution. What is considered a good test result or grade in your home country may not be acceptable in the United States.

For example, a 60% test score may be considered good in some countries, but it is never good in the United States. Seek tutoring if your performance falls below 80% on a test. It is critical to get tutoring assistance if your performance falls below 70% on a test.

To gain an understanding of how your home country's higher education grading system compares to the US, review general grade conversions.

ISU uses the A through F grading system. All letters grades are converted into points, which are then used to arrive at a grade point average (GPA).

An X grade is given to students who do not meet the attendance requirements and has the same impact on your grade point average as an F.

Letter Grade to GPA Conversion Chart
GradeDescriptionGrade PointsApproximate % of total points for assignment, test, or participation
A Excellent performance 4.0 Usually 95-100%
A- Excellent performance 3.7 Usually 90-94%
B+ Good performance 3.30 Usually 87-89%
B Good performance 3.0 Usually 84-86%
B- Good performance 2.70 Usually 80-83%
C+ Adequate performance 2.30 Usually 77-79%
C Adequate performance 2.0 Usually 74-76%
C- Adequate performance 1.75 Usually 70-73%
D+ Marginal performance 1.30 Usually 67-69%
D Marginal performance 1.0 Usually 64-66%
D- Marginal performance 0.70 Usually 60-63%
F Unacceptable performance 0.00 Usually 0-59%
X Stopped attending 0.00  

Individual instructors can have a different grading structure and can assign slightly different percentages for letter grades. Check your class syllabus!

Courses which start with zero in the course number are considered remedial and are given no credit towards graduation at ISU but will count toward the total number of credits needed to maintain a scholarship or be in compliance with immigration status. You must typically earn at least a C grade to pass these courses.

Usually these courses also count into your GPA calculation.

Transfer grades are not calculated into the GPA.

Students must maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative (overall) grade point average in order to attend school full time and avoid probation or dismissal from ISU.

Students must have at least a 2.0 cumulative (overall) grade point average to graduate.

Look at the following example:

An example of an undergraduate student's weighted GPA.
CourseCreditsGrade PointsPoints x Credits
MATH 0015 3 (count for scholarship and immigration, but not for graduation) C+ = 2.30 points 2.30 x 3 credits = 6.90
ENGL 1123 3 A = 4.0 points 4.0 x 3 = 12.00
IS 2203 3 C+ = 2.30 points 2.30 x 3 = 6.90
ART 1100 3 B- = 2.70 points 2.70 x 3 = 8.10
ACAD 1101 1 B+ = 3.30 points 3.30 x 1 = 3.30
ACAD 1102 1 A = 4.0 points 4.0 x 1 = 4.00
PEAC Activity 1 A- = 3.70 points 3.70 x 1 = 3.70
  Total Credits earned for Graduation = 15 credits   Cumulative points divided by total credits including those not counting for ISU graduation like MATH 0015.

44.9 points divided by 15 credits = 2.99 GPA

Understand the need to maintain a Healthy GPA. Students should review midterm grades to make decisions about what may need to be done differently to remain in good academic standing.

In the U.S. "Academic Honesty" is highly prized and "Academic Dishonesty" is severely punished.

Academic honesty and dishonesty can be viewed differently in different cultures just as certain behaviors or actions in public life may be illegal in one country and completely legal in another country.

Students wishing to earn a degree from a U.S. institution must observe and understand the policies governing academic honesty at their university regardless of cultural background.

Remember, when a student cheats in any way, they are not learning the material and skills needed to succeed in a profession later on. A good grade is worth nothing if you cannot do the work on your own!

At ISU, Academic dishonesty can lead to dismissal from a program or from the university. The Academic Integrity and Dishonesty Policy is located in the course catalog.

The Student Handbook published by the Division of Student Affairs addresses academic integrity and dishonesty issues. Please review it carefully.

International students can qualify for scholarships. Most of the scholarships are based on academic merit so good grades are important! Please visit Scholarship Considerations for International Students.