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Technology Connects Campus with International Students

Skype with an international student.
Academic advisor Sarah Raybuck and international and multicultural student services coordinator Tharren Thompson Skype with an international student.
8/7/2012 —

The use of technology is breaking down the barriers of distance at Penn State DuBois.  Campus faculty and staff members are communicating with individuals around the globe, using services like Skype, to better serve students and their families.

Skype is a web-based service that allows people to communicate by voice and video, as well as with instant messages over the internet. 

"We're able to offer more immediate feedback and guidance with this technology," said Tharren Thompson, the campus' international and multicultural student services coordinator.  "We used to use things like traditional mail, or were required to travel and meet with these folks." 


Thompson and academic advisor Sarah Raybuck recently met with international students via Skype to schedule classes for the fall semester, while the students were still thousands of miles away in their home countries. 


"Because we have Skype, we can meet with them as if they're here, face to face.  We can then schedule them before they get here, and basically provide them the same services that we provide domestic students," said Thompson. 


"It's so nice for them to come here having already talked with someone, and having their schedule ready," Raybuck added.  "This way, they're not coming in blind; it's so much easier for them and really helps them prepare to start school here." 


One international student who recently connected with the campus through Skype is Yini Ran, a native of Chongqing, China, who plans to attend Penn State DuBois in the fall to major in business.  From an office on the campus of Penn State DuBois, Thompson and Raybuck linked up with Yini, still at her home in China.  They held advising meetings over the web, and guided the student through the application process.  They offered advice on taking placement tests, and directed her through enrollment procedures.  During one session, they were able to establish Yini's entire fall course schedule.


"Using Skype was very helpful and it let me know many things that I will need to do when I arrive there," Yini said. 


Internet-based phone and video conferencing are experiences that Yini said helped to make her dreams of pursuing higher education in the United State come true.  She said, "I visited America before.  I think American people are quite nice.  I experienced the educational system there, and I like it, and want to be part of that. I'm looking forward to college life, studying my major, and the friends I'm going to make."  

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