AAT banner

Voices of the Global Community


Sherwin E. James, Advising Student-Athletes Commission Past Chair (2011-2013)

Sherwin James.jpgAs a former international student-athlete, current academic advisor, and past chair of the Advising Student-Athletes Commission, I consider it essential that new advisors be aware of the following tips that can help generate success when advising international student-athletes.  These strategies have proven valuable in my success as an advisor in higher education. 

Academic Success

  • One of the most important factors international student-athletes need to understand is that graduating within the four-year window is a priority. They should consider taking at least 15 hours each semester in order to graduate on time (not including summer). If they are taking 15 credit hours per semester, inform them that it is not wise to withdraw from a course.
  • Students whose second language is English should take less challenging courses in the first two semesters of their study. They tend to be more comfortable when they are paired with a teammate who has a similar background.
  • Focus should always be on trying to improve the GPA, since the international student-athlete must maintain a certain GPA for eligibility purposes. High academic performance is also a plus, especially if the student wants to continue toward graduate school.
  • Refer new freshmen to departments that could support them internally and externally. Find ways to help them adjust to college life. If the institution has success workshops or strategies for success seminars, inform them of the usefulness of such programs.
  • Encourage international student-athletes to take College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests during their freshman or sophomore years if they are proficient in a particular subject. This will allow them to finish their degree programs faster.


  • Once the targeted graduation date is established, provide international student-athletes with a Graduation Plan Sheet outlining which classes to take freshman-sophomore and junior-senior years, noting pre-requisites, and stressing the importance of graduating on time. A copy of the Graduation Plan Sheet should be placed in their files as well.
  • Let international student-athletes know about Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) at an early stage during their college experience, as this will allow them to obtain an internship (or job) outside of campus while attending college and could possibly be a position for after graduation. Consult the International Programs Office for further clarification on CPT and OPT.
  • Encourage international student-athletes to get a driver's license as soon as possible because it may help them get an out-of-state tuition waiver, if necessary.

Career Success

  • Stress the importance of internships. Benefits include allowing students to make and develop professional contacts and develop a better sense of their individual strengths and weaknesses.
  • Finally, make international student-athletes aware of the services at the institution that are usually offered free of charge, such as career services, tutorial services, writing studio or center, etc.  International student-athletes juggle so many demands that they may lose sight of the services being offered within their institution.

Sherwin E. James
College of Business
Clayton State University

Cite this article using APA style as: James, S.E. (2013, December). Ten tips for advising international student-athletes. Academic Advising Today, 36(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]


There are currently no comments, be the first to post one!

Post Comment

Only registered users may post comments.
Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.