International Military Leave Support

International students who are affected by mandatory military service requirement from their home countries

There are a number of countries that mandate military services. Many international students fulfill their requirement before or after their study abroad period; however, South Korean male students tend to enlist during their undergraduate education. Making the transition between college life and military life is a challenging task that can affect international students in multiple ways:  academics and career planning, English skills, cultural and social adjustment, etc. The International Military Leave Support Program supports any international student affected by military services, although, the majority of students it currently serves are South Korean students.

Every student has slightly different military experiences from one another depending on their branch, role, and the location they serve. What happens to some students might not happen to others. Additionally, some students are nevous about their military service and might avoid planning for it. It is an overwhelming feeling to plan for a leave while navigating academics, immigration regulations, logistics, military application, etc. Below are tips for advisors to use in supporting students.

Supporting Students Before Military Service

  • Encourage students to complete military service as soon as possible
  • Include military service as part of the graduation plan from the very beginning
  • Clearly explain the process of taking and returning from a leave of absence
  • Show students the International Military Leave Support Program website and introduce the program as a resource
  • Tell students to discuss their plan for a leave with ISSS
  • Develop a post-military service academic plan before a leave (the first semester should be a lighter course load)
  • Recommend that students bring prerequisite course materials with them during their leave
  • Inform students that they are not eligible to work off-campus (CPT/OPT) for a full academic year after they return to the campus
  • Remind students to keep their email account active and stay in touch as much as possible during their leave

Supporting Students During Military Service

  • Check in with students (Korean students typically have internet access approximately five weeks after enlisting)
  • Encourage students to keep using English in whatever the way they can
  • Remind students to log into their U of M email account at least every 90 days to keep it active
  • Reach out before registration time with a recommended course list (ESL course if appropriate), information about returning from a leave of absence, and any other updates
  • Remind students about readjustment support through the International Military Leave Support Program

Supporting Students After Military Service

  • Encourage students to check in with you throughout their first semester back and connect them to appropriate resources, especially the International Military Leave Support Program and potentially the university's mental health resources
  • Help students choose a manageable course load the first semester upon return
  • Inform students that they are not eligible to work off-campus (CPT/OPT) for a full academic year after they return to the campus

Students can email the International Military Leave Support Program at [email protected].

Advisors can contact Aya Maruyama at [email protected] for questions and consultation.