Launched on February 1, BeyondAdmissions offers online and face-to-face support for students: coaching sessions, workshops and “virtual drop-ins”, an online service where students can submit questions. Low-income students can apply for financial awards to use these services.
“As an older student…I began to recognise in others why I did so poorly as a younger student”
Founder Joanne Valli-Meredith said she was motivated to launch BeyondAdmissions after understanding, as a mature student pursuing a master’s and a PhD, that lack of support had played a part in her dropping out of college in her 20s.
“As an older student, confident that I had the skills to be successful, I began to recognise in others why I did so poorly as a younger student,” she says on the BeyondAdmissions’ website.
Students can find support in different areas, from mental health issues to problems in shared accommodation, and also guidance on academic matter such as choosing a course or filling out an application for a research program.
“We do not provide services to help students gain admission to college; but rather, help them survive once they are admitted,” founder Joanne Valli-Meredith told The PIE News.
Beyond Admission also aims to support international students overcome culture shock and make the most of their study abroad experience.
“One aspect critical to working with international students is helping them straddle US cultural norms and the cultural norms of their home country,” Valli-Meredith explained.
“US HE is based on individualist principles, which can create very subtle differences in the educational process and lead to stress for the students and their parents. Our goal is to help students communicate – without alienating – parents or faculty when expectations of the two cultures clash.”
Communication is another crucial skill, with international students having to adapt to a style that is normal in the US but may be considered rude in other parts of the world.
“Students are expected to speak-up, question and challenge faculty in the US, but for many international students this would be considered quite rude,” she said.
A recent study conducted at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK and funded by UKCISA called on universities to offer a more personalised pastoral service for international students.