Social Capital and the U.S. College Experiences of International Student-Athletes and Non-Athletes




athletes, college, international students, social capital, student experience


This study shifts the tendency to focus on international students’ negative experiences of undertaking education in a host country to a group that enjoys an elevated level of support. By looking at international student-athletes compared with non-athletes, it is shown how the former group experiences the benefits of social capital. Insights relating to international student-athletes in the US reveal strong and ongoing support from coaches and teammates. It is shown that international student-athletes have far greater support structures compared with international non-athletes. In doing so, this study presents a new perspective to debates on what higher education institutions in host countries can do to support their international student populations.

Author Biographies

Helen Forbes-Mewett, Monash University, Australia

HELEN FORBES-MEWETT, PhD, is Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University. Her major research interests lie in the areas of human security, international education, international student safety and security, migration, cultural diversity and social cohesion.

Madeleine Pape, Northwestern University, USA

MADELEINE PAPE, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Science and Human Culture program at Northwestern University. Her current research focuses on gendered organizational change and feminist debates surrounding the inclusion of sex and gender in biomedical research and the regulation of female eligibility in international sport.


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How to Cite

Forbes-Mewett, H., & Pape, M. (2019). Social Capital and the U.S. College Experiences of International Student-Athletes and Non-Athletes. Journal of International Students, 9(3), 777–794.



Research Articles (English)