International Students

At Colby, students from around the world enhance their understanding of human difference by studying global issues. Half of our majors have an international component, and each student must fulfill international diversity and foreign language requirements. They learn from others by engaging in lively classroom and dinnertime discussions with their peers and by immersing themselves in other cultures by studying abroad.

Our commitment to global content in the curriculum led Colby to be one of the first recipients of the prestigious Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization in 2005. The award recognized values and trends that continue at Colby.

Information for International Students


    Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your authorized stay in the United States. Should your passport expire while you are in the U.S., you will not only have to renew your passport but your F-1 status as well.


    If the visa stamp in your passport expires while you are in the United States, you do not need to renew it. If you leave the United States with an expired visa, you will have to apply for a new one before you can reenter. You may, however, travel to Canada and return with an expired visa if your trip is for less than 30 days.


    As a traveler on F-1 status who is lawfully admitted into the U.S. you may print your record of admission (I-94 form) from the CBP website. If someone requests your admission information, this is the form you would provide. You should print a new I-94 form each time you travel outside and then re-enter the U.S. The I-94 shows you most recent entry into the US. Most students’ I-94s have the letters D/S written on them, which means “duration of status.” This means that you are allowed to remain in the United States for as long as it takes to complete your course of study, as specified on your I-20.

    You may also print out your history of travel at the same CBP website. You can view your U.S. arrival and departure history for the past 5 years. Please know, this travel history is a tool to assist you but not an official record for legal purpose


    When you were admitted to Colby College, the Admissions Office sent you an I-20, which allowed you to apply for an F-1 student visa at an American consulate. The I-20 shows the date and place of admission to the United States and, most important, the admission number, which is your admission number with BCIS (Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services). Do not surrender your I-20 when you leave the United States. Recommendations on applications for practical training and transfers of schools are also recorded on the I-20 ID. If you lose your I-20, ask the ISA to issue you a duplicate. If you realize that you will need to stay beyond the date authorized on your I-20, you must see the ISA to request an extension. You must have a good academic reason for doing so; failing to make progress toward your degree is not sufficient. You must request the extension within the 30-day period prior to the end date on your I-20.

    Leave of Absence

    International students are eligible for leaves of absence as well as for study abroad programs, if regular criteria are met. Please note that after an absence from the United States of more than five months, your prior F-1 status is considered to be no longer valid, and you must reenter on a new I-20. This is normally not a problem, and you only need apply for a new visa if your initial one has expired. However, your “clock” towards completing practical training begins again with your new entry, and you must wait at least nine months before becoming eligible.


    Travel Outside the United States and Reentry

    In general you will need the following documents to reenter the United States:

    • A valid passport and a valid visa stamp (except for short visits to Canada)
    • A signed I-20 (Page 2 of your I-20 must be signed by the ISA at least once a semester)
    • A copy of your I-94 form

    Travel to Canada and Mexico

    If you plan to travel to Canada, you may need a visa. See the ISA for a listing of exempt countries. Mexico requires a visa in all cases. The ISA has the phone numbers of the consulates to ask for visa information. Make sure to obtain visa information several weeks in advance of your planned travels because the application will require time to be processed.

    Social Security

    All Colby students who work on campus are required to have a Social Security number. To apply for one, take your passport, your I-20, a copy of your I-94 form, and your employment letter to the Social Security office in Waterville. There is no application fee. You will receive your card within two or three weeks. Once you receive your card you should give a copy of the front and back to your ISA.


    You are required by United States law to pay taxes on any wages you receive for working at Colby, and on the taxable portion of your grant (that which is in excess of the amount of your tuition and fees). Some of you may benefit from tax treaties that your country holds with the United States, in which case some of your income is not taxable (this depends on your country and the terms of the treaty). Colby will take out an estimated amount directly from your paycheck and from your grant to send to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). By April of every year that you are in the United States, you must file a “tax return” with the IRS, even if you had no income while you were here. If you owe any taxes in addition to those that have been paid for you, you will need to pay at this time. In most cases, the IRS will send you a refund of an overpayment a few months after you have filed. The ISA will discuss your tax situation with you and will hold a tax workshop in plenty of time for you to file your return.

    Maine State ID

    A Maine State ID will provide you with an official form of government identification. You can apply for one at the Old Stearns Building (93 Main Street) in Waterville during the following times: the first Monday, second Friday, and fourth Friday of each month from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. You must bring your passport, I-20, a copy of your I-94 form, youe Social Security card, and $5. Your Maine state ID will be mailed to you in two to three weeks.

      On Campus

      All Colby students, regardless of financial need, have the opportunity to work on campus, and most do. There are jobs all over the campus, from the dining halls to Cotter Union, libraries, Admissions Office, Athletic Department, etc. International students are allowed to work on campus from the very beginning of the first semester.

      To apply for a job, visit Student Financial Services and complete an application. You will be asked to present your passport and I-20 form. All students are asked to fill out an I-9 form and a W-4 form before they can work. You will also need a Social Security number (see section on Social Security numbers for how to apply). Your Social Security card is used only for identification purposes when you are paid at Colby. It does not give you permission to work off campus. According to INS regulations, you may work on campus up to 20 hours per week when school is in session and as many hours as you wish during vacations. If you have completed your studies or your one-year exchange, you may not work on campus following the end of your final semester.

      Off Campus

      INS regulations do not allow international students to work off campus except through a very complicated procedure. Very few international students have been able to find employment this way, but if you want more information on this program, see the ISA. Please keep in mind that since your only authorized employer is Colby College, you may not work for any other employer, even if that individual is an employee of Colby.

      Summer Jobs

      During the summer Colby offers a Summer Enrichment Program for students who wish to stay on campus and work. There are only about 50 of these jobs available each summer. You may apply for one of these positions provided you will attend Colby the following semester. On-campus housing and a dining hall may be available for a small fee; this will depend upon the position.

        Safety Precautions

        Colby is quite a safe environment, as is most of Waterville. Nonetheless, it is always wise to take precautions. There are several poles located throughout campus that have a blue light. These poles are equipped with call boxes. The call boxes are connected to the campus Security Office.

        Walking at Night

        Walk in well-lighted areas after dark; if possible, walk in groups of two or more. Avoid dark areas, walkways between bushes, and recessed doorways. If you think that someone is following you, get to a well-lighted public area. Show the person that you are aware of his/her presence. Do not lead the person to where you live. If possible, call a taxi to take you home. Never let strangers give you a ride. Do not carry large amounts of money or important documents with you unless absolutely necessary.


        It is the responsibility of the Department of Security to ensure order at Colby and to respond to emergencies. The officers can help students deal with problems, such as being locked out of their rooms with no hall staff to help out. Security also serves as a “lost and found” center. Call Security at 207-859-5530 or stop by the office (first floor of the Roberts Building) if you have lost something on campus. Escort Service Security provides an escort service for students who are afraid of walking at night. If you need to use the service on campus, you can call the department at any time. If you need a ride from off campus to return to Colby, you can call the department from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., or at any time during an emergency.

        Bicycle Owners

        Always lock your bicycle. Use a high-security lock. Lock your bicycle properly—for example, to a bike rack or any immobile object. Register your bike with the Security Office.


        Lock your room every time you leave. Make sure that your windows are closed and locked when you are not in your room, especially if you live on the first floor. Avoid showing your valuable items to people. Do not leave large amounts of money in your room.

          Health Care

          While you are at Colby, you will probably need to use the health center. When you go there, you will find a friendly and helpful team of doctors, physician’s assistants, nurses, and counselors. Service is free for Colby students, as are some of the medications. The health center also houses Counseling Services, which is available to help you with any psychological or emotional difficulties you may have adjusting to the U.S. in general or to Colby specifically.

          Health Insurance

          Colby offers families the opportunity to enroll their Colby students in a comprehensive insurance plan or to waive enrollment due to comparable coverage at home.

          Commercial Travelers Mutual Insurance Company underwrites the Student Accident and Sickness Insurance Plan. Cross Insurance Agency, which services the plan, specializes in providing high-quality affordable student health insurance. The plan offers coverage at a reasonable cost. It supplements the services provided by the on-campus health center. Should you have any questions or need more information, please contact Cross Insurance at 1-800-537-6444 and/or visit the website at


          Your care at the health center, whether physical or emotional, is confidential. That means that your consultations there will remain private. Faculty, deans, and other students will not be aware that you have sought help at the health center unless you tell them.

          Additional Health-Related Information

          Colby sponsors workshops, discussions, and lectures that provide information on nutrition, maintaining good health, birth control, AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and responsible use and abuse of alcoholic beverages. Educational information on some of these topics is included in your orientation program. There is also a student health peer group on campus, Student Health on Campus (SHOC). These students have been trained by health center staff to educate peers on health-related issues.

            Banking Information

            Banks offer many services such as checking and savings accounts. They are competitive in rates and in services offered, so comparative shopping is important. There is no need to have an appointment to open an account, but you may need to speak to someone in customer service. Most banks require two forms of identification to open an account. Your Colby ID card and your passport are acceptable. A Social Security number is required to open an interest-producing bank account. When you open an account, you should ask the customer service representative for a W-8 form to fill in. This means that they will not send an interest statement to the Internal Revenue Service, since you are not required to pay taxes on bank interest (see the section on Taxes). Banks vary in their hours of operation but most are usually open Monday through Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m., with slightly longer hours for the drive-throughs. Check with each bank for its hours.

            Checking Accounts

            It is convenient to have a checking account in a local bank so that you can pay your bills by check. Banks offer different types of checking accounts designed to fit individual needs. The cost of a checking account varies from bank to bank. Some banks charge for each transaction, some have a basic monthly fee, and others offer free services and interest if you maintain a certain minimum balance in your account at all times. Each month your bank will send you a statement, which lists your account activity during the previous month. Be careful to keep an accurate record of every check cashed to avoid overdrawing your account. Be sure you have sufficient funds in your account for every check you write to avoid additional charges. The checks you have written will be returned to you with your statement each month.

            Savings Accounts

            A savings account enables you to save money and accumulate interest on your savings. Interest is paid either monthly or quarterly. The main difference between a savings account and a checking account is that you cannot write checks on a savings account.

            Cashing Checks

            To cash a check, you have to endorse it by signing your name on the back. You will usually be asked for personal identification (Maine State ID, driver’s license, or school ID). It is unwise to carry your passport with you for identification purposes unless you are traveling.

            Automated Teller Machines and Bank Cards

            Many banks issue plastic cards that make deposit and withdrawal services available to you 24 hours a day through automated teller machines (ATMs). These machines, which are frequently located outside the bank, are very convenient. You will avoid waiting in line at the bank and will have easy access to cash after the bank closes. You may use an ATM at almost any bank, but if it is not a branch of your bank, you will be charged a small service fee (usually $3-4). There is a Bank of America ATM in Cotter Union.

            What is your favorite holiday? If it is not listed or if the information should be adjusted, please send Director Of Interntaional Student Programs Sue McDougal a note so that it can be included.

            1-New Year’s Day
            3-Chinese New Year
            14-16 Lao New Year and Water Festival
            18-26 Passover
            22-24 Good Friday-Easter
            5-Cinco de Mayo
            4-American Independence Day
            14-Bastille Day
            6-Labor Day
            8-10 Rosh Hashanah
            9-Eid al-Fitr
            17-18 Yom Kippur
            16-Eid al Adha

              The Jitney

              Colby operates a shuttle bus called the Jitney, which provides transportation to the main shopping centers in Waterville. The Jitney runs Monday through Sunday from 2:00 pm to 2:00 am when classes are in session. (From 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. it runs on schedule; from 7:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. the Jitney runs upon request). A complete schedule of the Jitney will be available at the beginning of the year. For more information, you can call the Security Office at 207-859-5530.

              Safe Ride and Taxi Vouchers

              When classes are in session the Safe Ride program operates the Jitney van seven days a week between the hours of 10:00 pm and 2:00 am. Safe Ride will take a rider from any point on campus (or off campus within the Waterville city limits) to his or her residence hall; it will also take off-campus residents home from on campus. If Safe Ride is not running, you may make arrangements with the Security Office (207-859-5530) to contact one of the local taxi companies. You will need your Colby ID, and you and a Security officer must sign the voucher. Your account will then be billed for the cost of the ride.


              Public bus service to Portland and Boston is available. It will take you two hours and 30 minutes to go from Waterville to Portland and five hours to go from Waterville to Boston. The bus runs three times a day, seven days a week. If you need more information, call Greyhound Bus Lines at 207-872-5000 or 1-800-231-2222. The bus terminal is located at the Waterville airport, about two miles from Colby.

              Car Rental

              You can rent a car in Maine if you are 21 years old. You will need a driver’s license and a credit card. There are two companies in Waterville you can rent from—National (1-877-222-9058) and Enterprise (1-800-877-6601). Check with them for rates and office hours for personal rentals. If you’re renting a car for Colby business, find out more information here.

              Driver’s License

              You can drive in Maine with either your national driver’s license or an international driver’s license. If you buy a car, however, you will need to get a Maine driver’s license. In this case, you will have to pass a written test and a road test at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Augusta. Provided you pass the tests, your license will be issued to you immediately. Be sure to leave plenty of time for the process; once you pass the written test, you may have to wait up to six weeks for an appointment for the road test.

              You can get a copy of the Motorist Handbook and Study Guide from the international student advisor. The telephone number of the Department of Motor Vehicles in Augusta, the capital city of Maine, is 207-624-9000.


              Many students at Colby have a bicycle. It is an easy and inexpensive means of transportation. It is often possible to buy a used bike from another student. Bicycle dealers offer a wide selection of new (and sometimes used) bicycles.


              iBike was founded by Colby students in the fall of 2008. By loaning bicycles to students and staff free of charge, iBike endeavors to improve both the availability and equitability of access to 1) sustainable transportation, 2) exercise, and 3) downtown Waterville and surrounding areas. Each bicycle comes with a helmet and a lock. For more information visit:


                The Colby experience is shaped by the fact that virtually all students live on campus and eat in one of the three dining halls. This ensures that people of different backgrounds have opportunities to get to know one another well and contribute to the campus ethos that values differences. There are no dorms exclusively for first-year students. All of the residence halls are co-ed and, except for the senior apartments and the dialogue houses, all of them mix students from all four classes. Because class years are integrated in the residence halls, students are more quickly acclimated and better immersed into the life of the College.

                While great effort is taken to ensure that you and your roommate(s) will be compatible, sometimes the arrangements do not work. Should you find your living situation intolerable, visit the Office of Campus Life on the second floor of Cotter Union, or call for an appointment at 207-859-4287.

                The dorms offer a lot of variety, not only in location and style, but with several housing options available.

                Substance-free halls provide an environment free from alcohol, tobacco, and other substances. More than 15 percent of students choose to live in substance-free halls each year and sign a pledge agreeing to adhere to this philosophy.

                A quiet dorm with extended quiet hours is available for interested students.

                Students with special dietary restrictions are eligible to live in the co-op in Mary Low Hall with access to a kitchen for meal preparation.

                Depending on the size of the residence hall, each has between one and four community advisors, who are student hall staff available to help you in various ways. They assist in building community as well as resolving issues in your residential hall (respect of quiet hours, conflict between residents, etc). They also provide opportunities to engage in campus events and the campus community. They are a good source of information about what is happening on campus and the community rules that apply within your residence. They are also able to connect you to a variety of resources on campus such as library resources and counseling resources, but are also there to lend an ear.

                Some of the residence halls also have faculty/staff residents, a faculty member or family who has an apartment in the hall. They eat in the dining halls and assist in planning events for the students in their hall. Faculty/staff residents work with the residence hall association to create a cohesive community.

                Dining Halls

                Colby, together with Bon Appétit, the food contract service, offers its students an expansive choice of food service options to meet their diverse dietary choices. For those of you not familiar with our Dining Services, Colby operates three dining halls during the school year—Dana, Foss, and Roberts—each striving to create a flavor and atmosphere all its own. Students also have the option of grabbing a fresh, ready-made salad, sandwich, or dessert for lunch in the Caporale Lounge in Cotter Union. If organic, shade-grown coffee is more what you had in mind, visit the Spa. Supporting all of these locations is the bakeshop, where all of our breads and desserts are prepared fresh daily by the Colby bakers.

                Religious Service

                Many religious faiths are represented at Colby: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and others.

                Catholic mass is celebrated every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. The Catholic student organization, the Newman Council, plans meetings and social events.

                The Protestant organization on campus is the Colby Christian Fellowship (CCF).

                The Jewish organization on campus is B’nai B’rith Hillel. Meeting hours are announced at the beginning of the school year.

                For Muslims, prayer service is held in the Rose Chapel every Friday from noon to 2:00 p.m.

                Athletic Facilities

                Colby provides a large athletic center for its students as well as its staff. The athletic center includes a 25-yard-by-25-meter swimming pool, an ice hockey arena, a field house, two basketball courts, several squash and handball courts, a Nautilus and free-weight rooms, a modern center for athletic training and physical therapy, and several tennis courts.

                Colby College Museum of Art

                The Colby College Museum of Art, located in Bixler, is composed of the Jetté Gallery, the Davis Gallery, the Schupf wing, and the Lunder wing. Excellent exhibitions of painting, sculpture, and graphic art can be seen in the museum.

                Postal Service

                Colby’s post office, located on the ground floor in Cotter Union, provides a broad range of services. Domestic and international stamps may be purchased at the post office. The other services provided by Colby’s post office are money orders, fax services, priority mail, certified mail, registered mail, venda cards, insured mail, parcel post, notary public, and package pickup.

                During orientation you will receive a box number and key. When your family and friends write, ask them to include your name on the first line, your box number and “Mayflower Hill” on the second, and city, state, and zip+4 on the third. Waterville’s zip code is 04901. All zip+4 codes begin with 88 after the hyphen, and the final two digits match the first two digits of your box number. A sample address is:

                Everett Fairbrother
                7256 Mayflower Hill
                Waterville, ME 04901-8872

                If you need more information, just stop by the post office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and at certain times of the year seven days a week (exam periods, graduation time, etc.). The mail arrives once a day, generally in the morning.

                Keep these recommendations in mind as you begin your studies.

                Allow yourself time to adjust. You will need a period of time to adjust to a new academic system before you will be able to demonstrate the best of your ability. Do not be discouraged if, despite your best efforts, your first semester’s work at Colby is not up to your personal standards.

                Select your courses carefully. During your first semester, do not take more courses than necessary. The result of taking too many courses may be discouragement and poor academic performance. Choose a combination of more demanding and less demanding courses, paying particular attention to the amount of reading required for each course. When arranging your schedule, talk not only with your academic advisor but also with experienced students familiar with available courses and professors.

                Attend class regularly.American professors expect students to attend class. Class absences can contribute negatively to a final grade, not only because of the absence but also because students are expected to take notes on class lectures.

                Work hard from the first day of classes. Unlike some other educational systems, it is not possible in the United States to wait until halfway through the semester to begin studying. You may have quizzes or exams within the first few weeks of class and papers due throughout the semester.

                Talk with your professors. U.S. professors expect students to ask questions in class or immediately afterward. They also expect, and reward, class discussion and student participation. They assume you will consult with them during office hours if you have questions or problems. If you do not speak up about your difficulties, the professor will think that either you are doing well in class or that you do not really care about the class. If you are confused by some aspects of your work in class or by the professor’s expectations of you, make it a point to see the professor after class or during office hours.

                Organize your study materials. From your experience in your own academic system, you have certain expectations about how your field of study should be learned. You may assume, for example, that it is important to memorize large quantities of information to be reproduced during exams, or that the way to study your field is to focus on a very limited aspect in great depth. In the United States you may find that memorizing material is less important than analyzing and synthesizing ideas from several different sources. You may find that your professors require you to read the works of a large number of scholars. Try to keep your mind and your eyes and ears open to these and other perspectives that may seem strange to you.

                Find out as much as possible about test formats. The types of exam most frequently given by professors are multiple choice, short answer, and essay. Before a test, if you explain to a professor that you are unfamiliar with American college test formats and procedures, he or she will usually be willing to go over the type of test used in that particular class as well as his or her expectations. You may even be able to look at an old test as an example, but don’t necessarily expect this. What international students often find most difficult is the strict time limitations for completing tests, particularly essay tests. You may ask your professor for more time on an essay test and some will agree, but some may not, so don’t assume it will be granted, especially if you ask at the last moment. Try writing practice answers to possible questions before the test; ask your professor for help with this too. Be sure to ask the professor for clarification if you do not understand words or even the grammatical structure of a question (many American students have trouble understanding exam questions as well!). Budget your time carefully throughout any exam.