INTO Mason helps international students acclimate to American academics, learn English

INTO Mason students on the Fairfax Campus in Fall 2019. File photo by Evan Cantwell

When Patcharaporn Adchariyavivit moved to Virginia from Thailand to study data analytics at George Mason University, she had no experience being a college student in the United States. So she decided to attend INTO George Mason University (INTO Mason) first, which helped her hone her English skills and get acclimated to American culture and university expectations.

“The classes helped me so much,” said Adchariyavivit, who attended both virtual and hybrid classes. “They taught me the way you write a paper here and things about American culture I did not know.”

INTO Mason offers both undergraduate and graduate pathway programs for international students who want to study at Mason. A partnership between Mason and INTO University Partnerships, INTO Mason supports a diverse group of students, according to its website, “from application to graduation.”

“Our programs are designed to help students improve their English skills, understand the U.S. academic world, and provide them with wrap-around support so they succeed once they are fully immersed in their academic studies at Mason,” said Todd Rose, executive director of INTO Mason. 

Since 2014, INTO Mason has offered classes to more than 3,000 students from 70 different countries, such as China, Saudi Arabia, India, Thailand, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Russia, Kenya, and Turkey.

Enrollment numbers were steadily growing before COVID-19 and for the 2019-20 academic year, the undergraduate programs boasted 117 students, and the graduate programs had 143 students.

The pandemic, along with Trump administration limits on student travel, presented some challenges for INTO Mason programs in the few past years. However, even during the pandemic, INTO Mason was still able to offer online classes for students staying in their home countries and online, hybrid and in-person classes for students who had traveled to the area.

INTO Mason administrators anticipate this coming year for enrollment to grow slightly from the 2020-21 low point with the hope that 2022-23 sees a return to pre-pandemic enrollment levels.

Students who have gone through the INTO Mason programs are typically successful in their chosen studies, said Aimee Weinstein, INTO Mason term assistant professor. For example, 82% of students who start in an INTO Mason graduate pathway program go on to graduate with a master’s degree.

“The people who work at INTO Mason, from professors to enrollment specialists, are really focused on student success,” said Weinstein. “That translates into students who feel confident that they can succeed and are encouraged every step of the way.”

Qiusen Lin, who traveled from China to Fairfax to pursue a master’s degree in industrial-organizational psychology at Mason, recommends the program to other international students interested in attending an American university. Lin said that even through the pandemic, he was able to learn what he needed to learn through online classes.

“The academic training was useful,” said Lin. “I also am glad I chose Mason because of its high rankings, reputation and location near Washington, D.C.”