Back to School, Pt. 1: 5 Things No One Tells You at Orientation

Student orientations don’t always meet the unique needs of international students. Even if they offer some advice on visa and work authorization deadlines, international students need extra time to find housing, connect with services, and gain some general wisdom about life in the US. In the first of our Back to School series of posts this month, we’ve asked Carnegie Mellon MBA candidate Burcin Dizman to share 5 important things no one tells international students at orientations. Watch the video above or read below:

1. Arrive One Week Early
Your orientation will be tightly scheduled. You will have very little free time during business hours to take care of other matters. Arrive at least one or two weeks early to find housing, open a bank account, and set up a U.S. phone line. Many students have restrictions due to their visas so make sure you get yours early.

2. Start Building a Credit History
Building credit isn’t about buying things you can’t afford — it’s how the financial world builds trust with you. Use a credit card for small fees, make on-time payments each month, and when you graduate, you’ll have at least two years of responsible credit history that can help you when it’s time to buy a home or a car in the U.S.

3. Connect with Other International Students
Look around at your classmates — this is your new family. Other international students, from countries all over the world, will understand your culture shock and will have the latest, most accurate advice on housing, financial matters, and other priorities as you get acclim.

4. Surround Yourself With Smart Peers
You’ll never learn if you’re always the smartest person in the room. It’s nice to be admired and respected but real growth comes from working with people who challenge you. Seek them out for collaborations, projects, and study sessions.

5. Having a Credit History Improves Access
You don’t always need a credit history to sign up for a phone plan or lease an apartment…but having one could save you money in the form of deposits and charges that get added on for those without a credit history. As we mentioned, a credit history=trust. Building credit can save you from using extra cash on phone plans, apartment or house leases, and car payments. Businesses charge you those extra fees to compensate for the liability of working with someone who has no US financial history. Even a short credit history decreases that liability and saves you money.

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SelfScore offers a credit card for international students that does not require a security deposit or SSN to apply and has a $0 annual fee. Learn more at selfscore.com/mastercard.