At the start of each semester, the Rinker Center for International Programs holds an international student orientation. After you check in and provide copies of the necessary information, the orientation will cover the following topics:

  • Culture shock — You may feel overwhelmed by your new surroundings. The International Services Office will help you deal with those feelings, and explain what you can expect
  • Services available to you — There are a variety of resources you can use on Ball State campus, including a writing center, learning center, and counseling program.
  • Registration and housing — Learn where you will live and what you can expect.
  • Safety — Hear practical tips to help you remain safe throughout your stay.
  • Academics — See what to expect in your classes while at Ball State.
  • Medical information — Learn what type of health insurance you must have while at Ball State. Also, orientation staff will inform you about local medical facilities.

Orientation will include time for questions and answers. To orient you with the city, we will take a group tour of Muncie. The tour will highlight some of Muncie’s popular spots and give you a better idea of your surroundings.

American University Standards

American University Standards

American universities and colleges provide four-year bachelor’s degree programs that prepare students to work in a specific field. After graduation, students may choose to continue their education for a master’s degree, doctorate, specialist degree and/or certificate. Students may also choose to enter the work force if they are not planning to pursue an additional degree.

In the United States, classes are expressed in the terms of credit hours or credits. Accumulated credits are used to determine a student’s progress. Many classes equal 3 credit hours. This means that if a student passes the class with a C or better, they have accumulated 3 more credit hours.

Undergraduate students generally register for 12 to 18 credit hours per semester. Often, students must accumulate a specific amount of credit hours or classes in a specific subject area before they are permitted to take a higher-level class. This is known as a prerequisite.

When coming to Ball State, you may not be able to take some classes due to prerequisites. However, if you feel that you have already had a class that substitutes for a prerequisite, you may submit this information to the department for consideration. All course work should be submitted in the form of syllabi or catalogs that have descriptions of the courses covered, the length of study, and the kind of examinations involved. Submit these materials in their original form, in addition to an English translation.

Differences

You may find that academic settings and practices may dramatically differ from those in your home country. Below are some brief descriptions of such differences:

Informality

American classrooms are often rather informal. Most faculty members encourage candid discussions and critical thinking. Professors also hold office hours, when students may schedule appointments or stop by for help or answers to questions.

Attendance

Class attendance is critical. Participation and presence is often a determining factor in your grade. You should go to class and actively participate. If you know you will be unable to attend a class, you should inform the professor before the day of class.

Tests and Papers

Tests and papers are assigned frequently throughout the semester. You should study and prepare for all assignments. Professors will usually announce their grading system during the first few classes. Make sure you understand how your work will be graded.

Studying

Ball State students are advised to spend two to three hours a week studying for each hour spent in class.

Dropping Courses

American students often withdraw, or drop, courses they are not doing well in. They will then retake the course another semester. If your professor suggests you do this, make sure you will still have a full course load of at least 12 credit hours as an undergraduate or 6 to 9 credit hours as a graduate student (6 if you have an assistantship, 9 if you do not).

Grade Point Average

The Office of the Registrar keeps a record — called a transcript — on each student. Transcripts list a student’s courses taken, grades, grade point average (GPA) for each semester, and cumulative GPA for all work done. If you need a copy of your transcript, you may request it from the registrar’s office.

Request Your Transcript

With the GPA system, each grade is assigned a point value. Your GPA will be calculated with the following points:

A = 4.0
A- = 3.667
B+ = 3.33
B = 3.0 B- = 2.667
C+ = 2.33
C = 2.0
C- = 1.667
D = 1.0
D+ = 1.33
D- = .667
F = 0

To calculate your GPA, multiply your grade (or their points listed above) by the number of credits.

Example

You receive B in a class, which equals 3.0 on the GPA scale. And the class was 3 credit hours.

3.0 x 3 credit hours = 9

You also receive an A and C in other classes. You will follow the same process as above for each class you have taken. Then add the totals together.

  • Class 1 – 3 credit hours – Received B = 9
  • Class 2 – 3 credit hours – Received A =12
  • Class 3 – 3 credit hours – Received C = 6

9 + 12 + 6 = 27

Divide this total by the number of credits attempted.

27 / 9 hours attempted = 3

So your GPA would be a 3.0.

Student Ethics

Ball State does not tolerate any type of academic dishonesty. Failure to comply with all academic rules can result in possible dismissal from the university.

The following are examples of academic dishonesty, but be aware that this list is not comprehensive. Violation of procedures that protect the integrity of a quiz or examination, include:

  • referring to open textbooks, notes, or other devices not approved by the faculty member
  • copying from another person’s paper
  • communicating with or providing and receiving assistance from someone else in a manner not authorized by a faculty member
  • changing material on a graded examination and then requesting a regrade
  • plagiarism or violations of procedures prescribed to protect the integrity of the assignment
  • submitting an assignment under your name when it has been created by another person.
  • presenting ideas or words of another person without the proper acknowledgement of sources
  • knowingly permitting your work to be submitted by another person as though it was his or her own
  • cooperation with another person in academic dishonesty, directly or indirectly
  • knowingly destroying another student’s work, whether in written form, computer files, art work, or other format
  • aiding or attempting to commit an act or action that would constitute academic dishonesty

Read the Student Code for more information.

Personal Security

Residence Halls

Each residence hall is protected with an ID card reader that unlocks the door for residents of the building to enter. After midnight, residents must also go through a security checkpoint to re-enter the residence hall.

Women’s bathrooms in the residence halls are also protected by ID card readers, and only women verified for that bathroom may enter it.

Residents must accompany visitors at all times.

Students are encouraged to keep the doors to their rooms locked and follow common sense safety precautions.

University Apartments

Every university apartment is equipped with locks on the doors and windows. Only the students living in the apartment and maintenance staff can enter.

Also, university apartment complexes are patrolled by the Ball State police.

Students are encouraged to lock their doors and follow common sense safety precautions.

On Campus

In general, Ball State is a midsize, Midwestern, friendly university. However, security precautions have been taken to make sure students are as safe as possible.

Every year, students and officials meet to make sure the campus is safely lit.

Emergency boxes are also located in less traveled areas and have a direct connection to the university police.

The campus shuttle bus runs until midnight during the week so that students do not need to walk back to the residence halls in the dark.

A charter service is also provided at night to take students to and from on-campus locations.

Social Customs

Physical Contact

In general, Midwestern Americans are very friendly people.

It is not uncommon for female friends to hug each other in greeting. However, physical contact between men is generally reserved to a handshake.

Greetings are contained to a wave hello or goodbye.

Couples also hug, kiss lightly, and hold hands in public.

Dating

Dating customs in the U.S. have a modern, Western-minded approach.

Women expect a high amount of respect. Cat-calling or unwanted touching will result in anger, and if continued, can lead to charges of harassment.

American men often compliment a woman and ask her to coffee, lunch, or dinner if interested in dating her.

Although some men in the U.S. still prefer to ask women on dates, many women also ask men.

Just as men do to women, a woman can compliment a man and ask him out.

Timeliness

In the U.S., it is very important to be on time, in both casual and professional situations.

If you make an appointment with a professor, it is important to arrive promptly. To arrive late is a sign of disrespect, and you should always call if you are running late or unable to keep your appointment.

When meeting with friends, arrangements are somewhat less rigid but should still be treated with respect. If it is a relaxed party, you may not need to show up right on time.

Smoking

While people in the U.S. still smoke, its popularity has declined.

There are now many laws restricting where smokers can light up. Smoking is prohibited in many restaurants and public buildings.

Smoking is not allowed in any building on Ball State’s campus, which includes the residence halls, and is not permitted on the grounds, except in certain areas. (For more, read about the university’s tobacco-free campus.)

You must be 18 years of age to smoke in the U.S. and underage smoking or buying cigarettes for underage smokers is a violation of the law and can result in fines.

Drinking

The drinking age in the U.S. is 21. Anyone under the age of 21 who consumes alcohol is breaking the law and may be punished by fines and possibly jail time. Minors may not enter bars or liquor stores, or transport or hold alcohol.

Tipping

Tipping is common practice in the U.S. Although it is not required, it is a social custom and recommended to do so.

Many people who receive tips are not paid minimum wage and depend on the tips as part of their income. The following is a brief reference on how much you should tip for different services.

How Much You Should Tip

  • waiter or waitress – 15 to 20 percent of the bill, depending on the quality of service you received
  • taxi driver – 15 percent of fare
  • bartender – 10 to 20 percent of the bill or cost of your drink
  • pizza delivery – $2 to $5 depending on the size of the order and distance
  • beauty salon or barber shop – 10 to 15 percent of the cost of the haircut