International Programs

Integration

Assistance
Every student at Mercersburg has an assigned faculty adviser. This person is the student’s strongest advocate, working closely with teachers, dormitory faculty, coaches, and instructors to make sure each student receives proper guidance. Each student’s adviser works closely with students to provide support with academic preparation and social adjustment. Of special note are the Learning Services Program and the Writing Center.
 
To help with the transition into the Mercersburg community, many international students participate in the ESL+ Intensive Summer English Language Program prior to the start of their first year. This extensive summer program focuses on English writing, grammar, conversation, TOEFL practice and preparation, as well as American culture, U.S. history, and geography.
 
Mercersburg also serves as an official TOEFL iBT test center, offering on-campus testing a few times a year to our international students.

First Days
When international students arrive at Mercersburg, the school provides essentials such as bedding, pillows, and towels, if needed, until the students can buy those items for themselves. International students are then immersed in orientation and Inbound activities like any other new student. This allows them to get acquainted with the school, classroom buildings, schedule, and dormitories. Importantly, it also helps them make some initial friends. International students generally take one or more shopping trips to buy supplies during their first days on campus.
 
Passports & Visas
The admission office and the business office work closely with students on issues regarding visas and passports. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure his or her passport is valid and that the visa is in order, but the admission office is a good resource for any questions that may come up. Students are encouraged to leave their passports, visas, and other important documents in the school safe when they are not traveling.

Vacations
During Mercersburg vacations (Thanksgiving Vacation, Winter Vacation, Spring Vacation, Summer Vacation), the campus is closed. Most international students travel home. Of those who do not fly home, most find a friend on their own, and go home to their friend’s home for the vacation. In the case of the students who cannot find a place to stay for vacation, especially Thanksgiving because of its brevity, the dean of students will try to place them with a host family. The dean of students tries to mostly closely match the international student age and interests with the best fit from the group of host students and families who have volunteered to host. International students always stay with a family whose Mercersburg student is of the same gender. There is a fee of $25 per night in recognition of the host family’s hospitality.

Hosting an International Student

Of the roughly 440 students at Mercersburg this year, about 125 are either residents or citizens of foreign countries. I am asking for your assistance during school breaks. Please consider hosting an international student or any student who cannot make it home for a vacation, especially Thanksgiving, for which many international students do not travel all the way home. In most instances, an international student will connect a new friend in the U.S., and ask if s/he can come home for break. The students then call home on their own to make sure both families are OK with the idea. If you do host, you will be providing an important and valuable experience to the international student by offering a true glimpse into an American family’s life and, in the case of a break like Thanksgiving, a uniquely American holiday. Of course, even if you do this for a weekend or long weekend, the same holds true in terms of providing a rich, American experience.

There are also a few students at each break who have had a hard time asking friends about going home for breaks or connecting with a friend whose family is available. In those instances, the international students approach me, and I call parents who have indicated that they might be willing to host until I can find the best match. As a host parent, you should know that I try in advance to pair students as best I can, always pair with the same gender, and that you will receive $25 a day in recognition for your hospitality. If you are interested in being a potential host for a break, please contact me at rahausert@mercersburg.edu.

Sincerely,
Tom Rahauser ’74
Dean of Students
Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 440 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $6 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center.
Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance to New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
300 East Seminary Street, Mercersburg PA 17236
717-328-6173