Master of Arts in Higher Education (MAHE) Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Scott Gaier

Second Advisor

Charlie Brainer

Third Advisor

Tim Herrmann


Regardless of place of origin, students entering colleges or universities undergo transition. Focusing on the added adjustments international students endure, the existing literature on these students highlights the negative effect such adaptions have. The purpose of this study was to understand the perseverance and pinpoint the strategies of international students’ success in an effort to develop a strength-based approach to international student services. This research was conducted using a mixed-methods explanatory approach that began with a survey measuring international students’ personal views of their perseverance, followed by phenomenological interviews. This research revealed an essence of perception of situation, self, and external support leading to perseverance. Themes revealed in this research were the ability to gain context, view of self, cultural experiences, social factors, and academic adjustment. Most participants showed a generally positive attitude toward overcoming challenges and adjusting to U.S. culture. This research can assist higher education professionals with its recommendations of developing grit, providing social support structures, creating opportunities for communal spiritual development, implementing faculty training, and instituting academic language support. With additional resources put in place that are based on structures students already use, it will lead to more success in the international student population.