A young man stands proudly with his arms crossed next to a robotic device, possibly a drone, on a table.

Academic Life in the United States

We want you to take advantage of every opportunity that your education at the University of Cincinnati offers.

We have many staff members and resources to support you as you navigate the U.S. academic system.

This page covers some of the things you should know to succeed and feel comfortable studying here.

US classroom culture

Classrooms here may not be like the ones you are used to at home.

Even if you are distance learning online, most of your professors will expect you to participate in classroom discussions. They want to hear your opinions and gauge your understanding of the material you have been studying.

They will ask you to research related material and synthesize it with readings they have assigned. Research and citation skills are a major part of what they want you to take from your university education here.

Many American courses are project-based. Service-learning or client-based assignments are the real-world testing grounds in which you will practice the theory you are learning.

Projects are often done in groups, so working with your classmates is as important as communicating with your professors.

Those skills are challenging if you are adjusting to a new language on top of everything else! But Americans are very ready to be sympathetic if you say you are having trouble understanding. And there are lots of ways for you to get help if you need it.

You will feel a sense of pride if you push yourself beyond your comfort zone. And you'll have some very real accomplishments to show for it.

Academic support

Staff members across UC's campuses work to help students who are struggling succeed in the university's academic environment.

Your professors schedule office hours. Drop by or request a virtual meeting to introduce yourself. That way, you'll feel more comfortable if you need to talk to them about a problem.

Your academic advisor is another important person for you to know. They can help you judge whether you are making good progress, and they can help you make good choices when you sign up for your courses each term. Make an appointment to speak to them at least once or twice a year.

Headshot of Michelle Huang

Michelle Huang

Recruitment & Support Specialist, International Services, UC International


UC International's Michelle Huang teaches a Freshman Experience Course, ESL1011 Intro to U.S. College Culture, that covers academic expectations, communication strategies, presentation skills, research basics, time-management strategies and other important aspects of academic success in the American university. She can also be a helpful resource for cross-cultural communication between you and a professor, for example, if you have a misunderstanding.

The Academic Writing Center tutors offer free, individualized assistance to all students. They can help you improve your academic papers. Often, they can work with you through videoconferencing.

In the Learning Commons, academic coaches can tutor you in other skills, like note taking or time management, for academic success. Their assistance is available for all students.

This free resource gives access to a large library of interactive tutorials for business, technical and creative topics. Learn new software, master personal skills like time management, develop career strengths—all at your own pace.

Library resources

Students stand at library shelves, looking at open books.

UC's librarians are terrific resources for you as you navigate the libraries and prepare research papers. They have developed multiple guides that can be especially helpful for international students, and they can answer questions about how to use the libraries' materials.

One very important issue that they teach is how to avoid plagiarism when you collect and cite or quote information from print, audio, video or digital sources. They can recommend books on the subject and have also prepared basic tutorials. Improperly citing information can lead to charges of academic misconduct.

These library specialists have created resources, workshops and tutorials that are especially useful for international students.

Headshot of Hong Cheng

Hong Cheng

Global Services Librarian, Science & Engineering Libraries; Joint Co-op Institute, UC / Chongqing University

Headshot of Olga Hart

Olga Hart

Coordinator of Library Instruction, Reference & Instructional Services, Langsam Library

Language resources

Even students who have many years of classroom English find the adjustment to U.S. and college slang a little challenging, on top of learning the specialized vocabulary of their academic discipline. Fortunately, UC has many language resources for international students.

The Graduate School has even compiled a brief glossary of UC jargon!

Language courses

The Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) is the academic unit that provides ESL courses to international graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Cincinnati

Headshot of Sarah Shepherd

Sarah Shepherd

Program Manager, Accelerated College English, International Admissions

ACE (Accelerated College English) is UC's in-house English proficiency program, an accelerated program that allows students to begin studying toward their desired major immediately while they take language and culture courses in their first year. International students apply for ACE as part of the admissions process.

Social groups for language practice

An international group of students talks and laughs around a table.

One of the best ways to improve your English is just to talk to people!

Join one of our conversation groups or get together with other international students and Americans through the IPALS and other student groups. You'll find a warm welcome and plenty to talk about.

Headshot of Bene Khoury

Bene Khoury

Study Abroad Advisor, UC International

UC International's English as a Second Language conversation group, led by advisor Bene Khoury, draws people from around the campus and around Cincinnati, including students, professors and spouses and community members. The group often organizes out-of-class activities around Cincinnati, too.

Join the group 5:30-7:30 p.m. any Thursday while school is in session. Check their Facebook page for locations or online chat updates.  

BEARchats is a one-on-one partner program that pairs new English speakers with native or fluent students from the US for fun and friendly practice. Group activities are also planned.