Tips for Academic Success
- Consult professors during their office hours about problems, questions, and expectations. Professors are eager to answer your questions and clear up any uncertainties.
- Utilize preceptors and their office hours. Macalester has preceptors, or Teaching Assistants (TAs), who are there to help you academically with homework and class material.
- Consider taking a class pass/fail. You can change a graded class to a pass/fail class, which allows you to earn the credit and fill a requirement but the course will not count towards your GPA. It is not possible to take classes pass/fail that count towards a major, minor or concentration.
The Macalester Academic Excellence (MAX) Center assists students with math, science, and writing, as well as time-management skills and study habits. They offer resources and tutors for those who struggle with studying in the U.S. for the first time in regards to writing and cultural differences in classroom settings.
Disability Services assists students who require academic accommodations. These are offered to approved students and can be requested at any time for physical, psychological, learning, or circumstantial disabilities. Accommodations include note-taking, books on tape, a private environment for taking exams, and other. See their website for more information.
Academic Integrity is taken very seriously at Macalester. Students are expected to maintain the highest standards of honesty; violations of academic integrity are serious offenses. Students found guilty of any form of academic dishonesty - including forgery, cheating, and plagiarism - are subject to disciplinary action. Standards of academic dishonesty may vary from each country, but students are expected to follow the U.S. standards and practices at Macalester.
Leave of Absence
If you are thinking of taking a Leave of Absence ("semester off"), begin by talking with someone in the Office of Student Affairs about what you are thinking and they can assist you in navigating the process.
Special Regulations for International Students
- An international student on F-1 or J-1 student visa must be taking a full load of courses, the equivalent of 12 credits, each semester during their studies in the U.S.
- If you take a leave of absence and therefore do not take a full course load during a regular semester, you must either leave the U.S., change your immigration status (to something other than a student status), or enroll at another institution full-time on your I-20 or DS-2019.
Changes in Visa and I-20
- If you leave the U.S. for longer than five months, a new I-20 must be issued for re-entry.
- In the event that you do not have a valid visa when you leave the country, there is no guarantee that the U.S. embassy will issue another student visa for re-entry, even with a new I-20.
- If you choose to stay in the U.S. and change your visa status, be aware that the process may take a few month and it is no guaranteed that an adjustment to your student status will be made at the time you wish to resume your studies.
You may legally drive in Minnesota with a foreign driver's license only within the first 60 days of your first arrival in Minnesota. After these 60 days, you may only drive with a Minnesota (or other US state license). Please note that an International Driving Permit (IDP) is NOT a valid driver's license. An IDP serves as a means of translating the information on your foreign license to English.
If you would like to drive after your first 60 days in the United States, you must obtain a driver's license. For more information see ISP's page on How to Obtain a Driver's License.
If you choose to buy a car in the United States, the law requires you to purchase car insurance. You do not need car insurance for renting a car or using car sharing services (such as Hourcar)
To be prepared for any situation, make sure to read about What to Do After a Hit and Run.
Contact with the Police
If you get pulled over or stopped by the police, it is important to know your rights. Here are some resources that can help if you find yourself in such a situation:
- ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) "Know Your Rights When Encountering Law Enforcement"
- New York Times Article "What to do if you get pulled over by a cop"
Living Off Campus
For their Junior and Senior years, students have the option of living off campus. You can find information on the Off Campus website. Some basics:
Residential Life maintains a list of off-campus housing available in the College area for students who are interested. There are numerous other sources that you can use to find suitable off-campus housing.
- The Macalester Housing Facebook page, where students living off campus share resources and housing options
- Looking for listings on the bulletin boards at the library, in the Campus Center, and around campus
- Reading the Daily Piper, the daily macalester email bulletin, and talking to other students who live off-campus
- Looking on the internet using such sites as Craigslist or http://apartmentsearch.com.
Once you know you want to live off campus and have found a place, it is important to know the following information:
A lease is a binding legal contract between you and the property owner or landlord. When you sign a lease, you are obliged to pay the landlord monthly rent for the duration of the lease. Most leases are for 9 or 12 months, and it is usually very difficult to break or alter a lease. Therefore, before you sign, you should be reasonably sure that you can live with your decision for the duration of your lease. Never sign a lease unless you are completely satisfied with the apartment and surrounding property. Sign only when you understand and approve all the terms of the lease.
With permission from your landlord (you should discuss this with your landlord before signing a lease), you may be allowed to find a tenant to take your place for the remainder of your contract, or during winter and summer vacations should you decide to travel. If you sublease your apartment or house to other tenants, however, you probably will remain responsible for their actions.
Security deposit: When you sign a lease, you will typically be required to pay a security deposit, usually equivalent to at least one month's rent, as well as the rent for the first month. The security deposit will be returned to you when you move out, provided you leave the apartment in good condition. In addition, you may incur expenses that you would not incur on campus. For example, most apartments come equipped with basic appliances such as stove and refrigerator, but you may need to purchase or rent a bed and other furniture, as well as kitchen equipment, a telephone, and other items. Also, you will probably be responsible for paying the cost of your internet and telephone deposit and utilities: water, electricity, and gas. The utility companies may require you to pay a deposit before service is activated. These deposits will be refunded to you or credited to your account when you terminate your service, provided you have paid all of your bills.
Changed your major, address, phone number, personal email, citizenship or name? Please click on the link above to update your information. ISP needs to know! SEVIS is the system the U.S. government uses to maintain accurate and current information on non-immigrant students.