Pre-Arrival Resources

Main Content

Health Insurance

As an ACU international student, you’ll purchase the group health insurance policy to help pay for your healthcare costs. Learn more about how health insurance works in the U.S. here: How does Health Insurance Work? You can learn more about our specific policy in this Video.  

Please note: the ACU group health insurance policy does not pay for general dental care or eye exams and glasses – so be sure to complete these before you come!!

You can access more details on our webpage at this link: International Student Group Health Insurance information.

Preparing for the U.S. Academic Environment

The English Language Environment

If English is not your first language, we recommend spending significant time now to increase your academic English vocabulary and reading speed. University courses provide a demanding English language environment and international students are expected to meet the same deadlines and complete tests in the standard period of time.

There are many resources online for improving your English, from videos, to games, to online books. Stretch yourself, and seek to work on your academic skills in English, such as summarizing texts and synthesizing content. If you need some recommendations, let us know!

If you are not placed into ENGL 111 your first semester, be sure to take an English placement test upon your arrival at ACU to ensure you are placed in the correct English course your first semester.


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American Classroom Culture

You may find American culture to be more casual than that of your home country. This will probably extend to the classroom as well. Keep in mind, however, every professor and class is different.

Finance students April 2022

Active Participation is Expected

Except in very large lecture hall situations, professors generally expect and encourage questions and lively discussion. If the class isn’t structured for questions during class time, make sure you have your questions ready to ask your professor after class, during office hours, or before the next class. There is no shame in not understanding something.

female writes on board developing business plan

Independent Thinking is Highly Valued

As you pursue your studies, you should critique theories, evaluate options, formulate models, and challenge yourself. Bring your conclusions and questions to class and share your insights with your classmates and professors. Unlike some other cultures, U.S. culture encourages people to stand out from their peers (rather than blending in with them) through their achievements and independent and creative thinking.

U.S. Education is Learner-Centered

In the U.S., many professors will want the students themselves to be the main focus in the classroom. That means that the instructors are not the main focus, and class time will not be entirely devoted to a professor’s lectures. Instead, many professors may ask the students to work together in groups in and out of class and to freely voice their thoughts when a question is posed. It is encouraged for students to ask questions and voice their thoughts in class.

Respectful Disagreement During Class Discussion is Accepted

Always be prepared to present and defend your ideas. Always do so with respect for the ideas presented by your professor and your classmates.

Informality is Normal

Students may dress casually. They may eat or drink during class if permission has been given by the instructor. Some may be allowed to address certain professors by their first names. None of that behavior reflects a lack of respect for the professor or the classroom experience. None of the above is a sign of disrespect of your professor or classmates.

Important Perspective on Academic Honesty

Honesty is a critical requirement of American academic culture and ACU standards. Universities across the country operate on an honor system based on a simple principle of academic honesty: each student’s answers or written submissions must reflect his or her personal understanding and work.

Cheating (having someone else write your papers, take your exams or give you answers during an exam) and plagiarism (submitting someone else’s work as your own) are unacceptable. Using English language translation services to complete your work is also dishonest since your language proficiency is a requirement of your studies.

Infractions of the standards of academic honesty, no matter how minor, are unacceptable and carry serious consequences ranging from a failing grade on a paper or exam to suspension or removal from the University.

When you learn for the sake of learning, explore to develop a deeper understanding, and challenge yourself to think independently, you will find that academic honesty flows freely and naturally from that process.

Check out this video for more information: Success in the U.S. Classroom

Prepare for the Christian aspect of ACU

Although ACU welcomes students from any background, many students choose ACU for the integration of Christian faith into academic learning. All undergraduate programs require two Bible classes, which can be rigorous and assume some Biblical knowledge. 

If you do not come from a Christian background or are not familiar with the Bible, we recommend you take some time to prepare for this environment in the following ways:

  1. Become familiar with the Bible’s content. The Bible is available in many languages on apps such as the YouVersion and you can find reading plans and helpful explanations.
  2. Watch videos such as these from the Bibleproject to help you become more familiar with the stories, the names and the vocabulary.
  3. If English is not your first language, read and listen to the Bible in English to increase your listening comprehension on Biblical topics. This will help you understand the professor’s lectures.

To foster healthy spiritual formation, ACU students under age 25 are required to attend a 30-minute daily chapel. Learn more about ACU Spiritual Formation and the various chapels you could attend. There are many!

If you are from a different background, the good news is that familiarity with the Bible and Christian perspectives can help you understand many aspects of our history and culture at a deeper level.

Prepare for Culture Shock and Mental Wellness

Immersing yourself in a new environment and culture can be exciting. However, it can be challenging at the same time since American culture


 and way of life will vary—possibly dramatically—from your home country. Your adjustment to U.S. culture will go more smoothly when you know what to expect. 

Check out the ACU Culture Shock Introduction video and additional Culture Shock information here


Next, meet some of our international student alumni as they share their own experiences dealing with culture shock. 

Rina Iwakami – Japan

Josiah Oduro – Ghana

Diego Zometa – El Salvador

Matthew Guild – Tanzania

Isabella Maradiaga – Honduras

Everyone struggles occasionally, and the attitude toward mental health in the U.S. may be different from your country. Our goal is for you to be well, and there are many resources to help! 

Check out this video to learn more about  Mental Health in the United States