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Three Diversity Challenges International Students Face in Pursuit of Higher Education

It was the Independence Day weekend when I finished grading final papers for the Corporate Strategy course, in my Executive MBA class. As a business marketing practitioner and adjunct professor, I highly admire my international students who are pursuing their second and sometimes third master’s degree.

Why another degree? These students understand that it takes a lot of critical thinking and strategy to advance organizational goals and want to learn about business operations. These engineers, IT professionals, Doctors, risk managers, and more, realize that it is not only important to understand their industry and job responsibilities, but if they want to advance their careers and lead, they comprehend they must learn how to make good decisions, use ethical principles, understand interpersonal dynamics to inspire employees, and so much more.

My appreciation and admiration fall within the learning curve international students face when studying in the United States. Place yourself back into your college classroom, or on an international journey. The environment differs greatly from your home country. You must constantly concentrate on how to compose your thoughts, words, and ideas. Think about earning a master’s degree in Business Administration in a foreign country.

Three areas that stood out to me as I read through compelling ideas and recommendations for their final class project in my Corporate Strategy Executive MBA course include:

1 – Reading

The course required researching case studies, reading a textbook, learning about business-related documents for example studying a SEC10K report, mind you, all written in English, your second language. The depth of content already for a native might seem daunting, consider interpreting the content, and then retaining the core principles as you mentally translate the words.

2 – Writing

Composing reports and papers takes time and thought. I cannot think of anyone who has not gotten stuck with the initial writing process one time or another during college or on the job. Articulating one’s self by authoring a professionally written document requires translating ideas and concepts into a constructive essay that adheres to assignment requirements in English. My head spins just thinking about organizing thought and finding the proper terminology to convey the message while demonstrating mastery of core concepts.

3 – Relevance I am an adjunct professor which means I am not fulltime nor tenured. Adjuncts are professionals practicing our trade daily and enjoy bringing real-world concepts from industry into the classroom. The students I refer to in my course all have fulltime jobs here in the USA. I highly respect the balance of work, family, and school for any adult learner who has ambitions to develop their professional acumen. I especially admire these international students who must experience mental fatigue weekly when striving to produce high-quality content for their assignments while demonstrating the relevance they learn through developing a required weekly narrative. These required narratives ask students to reflect on the course learnings and give examples of how or where could course concepts be applied within their workplace.

I am enriched each term and learn so much from my students who work at global organizations such as Amazon, SurveyMonkey, Deloitte, Adobe, and this term showcased our topics of corporate portfolios involving mergers and acquisitions, describing the relevance of how their workplaces integrate many of these principles or, should begin applying the concepts. It is gratifying to get student feedback that remark on how much they learned about good business strategies, best practices, and good decision making.

Our world is so much smaller than we think. When we stretch ourselves beyond our norms of language and embrace the diversity of thought, it enriches society.

Dr. Carla Rutley | Rutley Remote Solutions, LLC Growing Businesses and Advancing Careers


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