Welcome letter for incoming international students

The Student Union

Welcome!

Congratulations on your admission to The University of Akron (UA)! The staff at the Office of International Programs (OIP) is eager to welcome you to Akron and assist you in achieving your academic and career goals. 

The University of Akron and our region will be your new temporary home and we will do all we can to assist you during your time at UA. 

Please look over this sheet for important information that will help you make an easy transition to university life. Go Zips!

Jennifer Olin-Hitt
Coordinator of International Programs
June 2014
jlo39@uakron.edu


Arrival and temporary housing

As an F-1 or J-1 student, you are permitted to enter the USA up to 30 days before the first day of class. This means that you may book your flight on or after July 26, 2014 since the first day of classes for the fall 2014 semester starts on August 25, 2014.

Please keep in mind that you MUST attend New International Student Orientation on Tuesday, Aug. 19 and Wednesday, Aug. 20. 

The Office of International Programs will be arranging transportation from the airport to Akron (for flights arriving August 15, 16, and 17) as well as temporary housing.  More information will be e-mailed to you closer to the date you will arrive.  There are a few community organizations listed below that place students with an American host family for up to one week, but space is limited and they require at least a two-week advance notice to make these arrangements. It is very important to plan ahead for your arrival and first few days in Akron so that you are not without a place to stay.

Closest airports:

If you plan to arrive on a flight into Cleveland Hopkins International Airport or the Akron Canton Airport on August 15, 16 or 17, the University shuttle can pick you up free of charge. Please let us know your need for this by visiting our reservation site.

Reserve a shuttle seat

Private taxi or shared shuttle —Using a taxi service is expensive in Northeast Ohio. The average fare from the Cleveland  Airport  to  downtown  Akron  starts  at  about  $70. You can find information on local taxi companies by Googling “taxi from CLE to Akron.”

Temporary housing on arrival:

  • All undergraduate students arriving from August 15 onward can move immediately into their residence halls! You are strongly encouraged to live on campus in a residence hall year-long, as experience indicates this helps international students acclimate to campus sooner and make American friends easier! More information on UAs award-winning residence halls.
  • The Akron International Friendship First Weekers Program - Akron International Friendship matches new international students with an American host family for their first few days in Akron for a fee of $75. Space is limited and a minimum of at least a two-week advance notice is required.  Contact Michelle Wilson at aifciv@gmail.com or +1 330 612 4693 or Shannon Anicas at Shannon.anicas@gmail.com or +1 234 205 9967 for more information.

Mandatory check-in session

All international students are required to come to the Office of International Programs and check-in.  The check-in appointment schedule will be available on our Office of International Programs webpage sometime in May.  You must sign-up online for your check-in appointment ahead of time.  It is important that you check-in as soon as you arrive in the United States.

  • Check-in is required by federal immigration regulations as one of your primary responsibilities upon entering the United States.
  • Failure to check-in will result in the termination of your SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) record (for F-1 and J-1 students).
  • Bring your immigration documents (passport, visa, I-20/DS-2019) with you when you check-in. If your dependents have accompanied you to UA, they do not need to check-in, but you should bring their immigration documents with you.   
  • By checking-in, you are notifying The University of Akron that you have arrived in the United States and that you intend to enroll in classes.
  • You will receive more information about New International Student Orientation and information on how to pay for your health insurance.
  • It is important that you check-in as soon as possible so that you complete all of the needed tasks before the semester begins.

Register for check-in


Mandatory New International Student Orientation

New International Student Orientation is designed to meet the needs of new international students. At orientation, the OIP staff and student leaders will help you get acquainted with the campus and will cover important  topics  such  as  immigration  regulations,  registering  for classes, services offered at UA, campus safety and campus involvement.   There are also many social events and activities during orientation week that provide you with the opportunity to connect with other students and people in the community.

IMPORTANT: Orientation will be held on Aug. 19 AND 20 for all students.  You must attend both days.  Attendance is mandatory and attendance will be taken. Students who do not attend orientation are in violation of the UA Student Code of Conduct.

All new undergraduate students will be required to take the Math Placement Exam before orientation, and possibly the Compass Reading & Writing Placement Test.

Links to practice tests:


Health insurance

The University of Akron requires that all international students purchase major medical health insurance through UA’s Student Health Plan. Students who have insurance that provides greater coverage than the University Student Health plan (government sponsored, scholarship, or parental/spousal employer coverage) may request a waiver by completing the online "Waiver Request Form."  Students not qualifying for a waiver will be assessed the University Student Insurance Fee.

Learn more about the health insurance policy and enroll in UA’s Health Plan.


Permanent housing

Undergraduate students under the age of 21 are strongly encouraged to apply for on-campus housing. Contact Residence Life and Housing at reslife@uakron.eduor +1-330-972-7800 to reserve your space as soon as possible. Residence Halls fill up very quickly. You will be responsible for obtaining bedding if you choose the option of living in the Residence Hall.

If you choose to live off-campus in the surrounding neighborhoods, the Office of Off-Campus Student Services offers assistance to students who choose to live off campus. 

Many apartments in the neighborhoods near the university are listed at: http://uakron.loc101.com/. This is not an exhaustive list, and many apartments that are for rent may not be listed online. If you choose to live off-campus, we strongly encourage you to thoroughly inspect your apartment/house and make sure that you understand the terms and conditions of the lease before you sign the legal agreement (lease). The UA Police Department offers a free apartment safety inspection for UA students. More information will be given at orientation.


Financial issues

You will have many immediate expenses upon arrival including housing, food, health insurance, tuition and fees.  

We advise that you have U.S. $6,000 available to cover these immediate expenses.  It is not advisable, however, to carry large amounts of cash. Traveler’s checks and credit/debit cards are more secure. There are banks on and near campus that will allow you to open an account without a Social Security number.

Please refer to the Declaration and Certification of Finances form for the estimated cost of tuition.  For a small fee, the Installment Payment Plan (IPP) allows you to pay your tuition and fees over a few months instead of all at once at the beginning of the semester.  


Safety

Safety is a top priority at UA, as evidenced by the wide variety of educational programs and safety services in place to help protect and inform our students.

A few examples of the safety services offered by UA are:

  • a university police force providing 24/7 service on-campus and in the surrounding community;
  • over 230 emergency phones placed throughout campus;
  • "Campus Patrol" - student volunteers escort students to and from their cars, residence halls and labs/classrooms at any hour; and
  • "Z-Alert": A free emergency text-messaging service that we use to notify you when a safety issue arises on campus. We strongly encourage you to enroll. Enroll in our emergency text-messaging service.

UA also offers numerous crime prevention and safety programs to the university community throughout the academic year.  Learn more about safety at UA.


Weather

Ohio has four distinct seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall.

Spring semester begins in the middle of winter, which, in Akron, can be very cold, with temperatures lower than 0°C with a lot of snow!

It is wise to plan ahead and pack warm clothes so that you have them as soon as you step off of the plane. A thick coat, gloves, hat, scarf, and snow boots are a must.

In spite of the cold, the winter can be quite beautiful and enjoyable with the snow and outdoor winter activities such as ice skating and sled riding all available near campus.  

Even if you do not skate, you can purchase a hot chocolate and watch as others try to keep their balance on the ice. 

If you do not like cold weather, do not despair! Ohio boasts a temperate spring, a gorgeous summer with average temperatures around 29°C, and a breathtaking fall with all of the leaves on the trees changing colors.


New international student checklist

Use the checklist below as a guide to help you prepare for your arrival to the USA and your first weeks at The University of Akron. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all of the things you should do, but simply a help to you so that you can be prepared.

  1. Receive an I-20/DS-2019 from the Office of International Programs (F-1/J-1 students only). Make sure that your I-20/DS-2019 includes your correct name as listed on your passport, correct date of birth, and correct major and academic level. If you received an I-20/DS-2019 for dependents, make sure their personal information is listed correctly. Sign page one of your I-20/DS-2019.
  2. Learn about the requirements of your visa status (F-1/J-1 students only). Visit  www.uakron.edu/dotAsset/1814134.pdf.
  3. Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee and print your receipt (F-1/J-1 students only). You will need this in order to apply for your visa.  Information on the SEVIS fee can be found at  www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/.
  4. Apply for your F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy (F-1/J-1 students only). Be sure to follow the Embassy's instructions for non- immigrant visa applicants and provide all of the required documentation. More information and tips on applying for your visa can be found at www.uakron.edu/dotAsset/1514155.pdf.
  5. Receive your F-1/J-1 visa (F-1/J-1 students only).
  6. Book your flight to the USA. F-1/J-1 students are permitted to enter the USA up to 30 days before the starting date listed on the
  7. I-20, which means that you can enter the USA as early as July 26, 2014. You must arrive in time to attend your scheduled
  8. Check-In Session and Mandatory New International Student Orientation.
  9. Register for your Check-In Session. All new international students must check-in with the Office of International Programs prior to orientation. Check-In is done by appointment only. Register for one of the available Check-In Sessions. You are required to attend your scheduled check-in appointment. F-1 and J-1 students should only register for check-in after the visa is received.
  10. Join the “Fall 2014 New International Student Orientation” Facebook group if you would like the chance to connect with fellow students admitted for the Fall 2014 semester.
  11. Request a host family. If you have not yet made arrangements for your housing, there are some community groups that can match you with a host family for your first few days in Akron, while you look for housing. Refer to page one for more information.
  12. Request a ride from the airport.  Refer to page one for more information.
  13. Gather any documents needed by the UA Graduate School, UA International Undergraduate Admissions, and/or your academic department. Be sure to check with your academic department to see if they have any other requirements for you.
  14. Prepare your finances. Anticipate how much money you will need to cover your immediate expenses upon arrival in the USA and plan accordingly. Refer to page three for more information.  Graduate students with assistantships may not be paid until after the semester has started.
  15. Pack your bags.  Many current international students recommend bringing items from home that might be difficult to find or expensive in the USA, such as medicines, non-perishable food items, and clothing (including traditional clothing). You should bring some warm clothing and a winter coat so that you have them once you step off of the plane. Be sure to pack your passport and all of your immigration documents in your carry-on bag so that you have them with you at the port of entry.
  16. Enjoy your flight. You have embarked on an exciting journey to fulfill many of your personal, academic, and professional goals. Take a moment to reflect on all of the hard work that has gotten you to this point in your life. For information on what to expect at the port of entry, please read the information at:  www.uakron.edu/dotAsset/1514281.pdf.
  17. Attend your scheduled Check-In Session at the Office of International Programs.  The OIP is located in the Polsky Building, room 483 (see on map).  The OIP is open Monday - Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. should you need assistance outside of your scheduled Check-In Session. Contact our office.
  18. Purchase Health Insurance. All international students are required to purchase UA’s Student Health Insurance. See page two for more information.
  19. Attend Mandatory New International Student Orientation. Orientation will be held at Quaker Square on August 19-20 for all students. You will be given an orientation schedule during your Check-In Session. Breakfast and lunch will be provided at orientation with vegetarian options available.  Students with a conditional admission who will attend the English Language Institute (ELI) before starting their academic program should not attend orientation and should instead contact ELI for orientation information.
  20. Register for classes. Graduate students should meet with their academic adviser in their academic department to establish a class plan.  Undergraduate students will be given an academic advising appointment at orientation.
  21. Apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) if you have found an on-campus job. Instructions.
  22. Have a great semester!  Participate in campus activities and join student organizations to make friends and feel more at home.