Student Experience at College of San Mateo
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Student Experience
Elena Seynova
Elena Seynova Russia

Selecting the right college was a major consideration for Elena Seynova, an international student from Russia. She arrived in the U.S. without friends or family and was not proficient in English. She faced challenges adapting to a new culture and educational system. After visiting several colleges and meeting with admissions staff, Elena chose to attend CSM. She discovered that CSM met her needs on multiple levels: “I liked CSM right away because the faculty and staff made me feel welcomed. And they took time to explain how the International Student Program worked, which made me feel that they really cared. ”

Once enrolled in the program, Elena was guided through the educational process with the assistance of her counselor, Martin Bednarek. Martin worked with her to develop a Student Educational Plan to ensure that she progressed toward her goal of transferring to a university.  Elena also gives kudos to Maggie Skaff, program services coordinator in the International Student Program, who was very helpful in answering questions, providing advice and offering referrals to college resources. “Rather than feeling like an outsider, I was treated as part of the community,” says Elena.

Once in the classroom, Elena realized the contrast in teaching styles between Russia and the U.S. “I prepared myself for immediate disapproval. To my surprise, the teachers were very welcoming and patient. Moreover, they encouraged me to ask questions about the material. I was astonished with such a friendly way of teaching. This gave me strength to believe in myself, to actually feel like I was capable of overcoming something that I always considered beyond my reach. People at CSM really changed my point of view which positively changed me. I became a confident student, a can-do kind of student.”

In addition to the International Students Program, Elena found other resources on campus that helped her strengthen her academic abilities. She spent time in Speech Lab and Writing Lab, both of which helped improve her English skills; the college library provided support with research papers; and the Math Resource Center was a place where Elena could hone her math skills.

“CSM gave me the strength to believe in myself. The college also provided me with the information I needed to transfer so that I could continue my education. Transfer Services made my search for a university easier and less time consuming.” In fall 2012, Elena transferred to San Francisco University and is studying international business. In looking back on her decision to attend CSM, Elena says, “I am very proud to be an alumnus of CSM.”