Looking to the Future



Boston, a world-renowned destination, welcomes many students who dream of studying in the U.S. Within a mile radius of the Back Bay section of Boston, there are about 250,000 college students studying and working toward making their dream a reality.

In addition to being known for its colleges and universities, Boston is also famous for its top research hospitals, ranked among the best in the United States.

For Honduran sisters Besy and Silvia Sanabria, settling down in Central Massachusetts provided them access to excellent medical care as well as the wonderful opportunity to study at Computer Systems Institute, Worcester Campus. Worcester is a short commute just west of Boston, easily travelled on the Mass Pike.

Silvia and Besy grew up in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, a factory city in Central America known for producing clothing and automobiles. When Silvia was one year old, the family experienced a tragedy when their home burned to the ground. Silvia was severely burned and required ongoing medical attention. Her treatments continued over the next 21 years. A group of doctors and nurses from Honduras who had been treating Silvia recommended she come to Massachusetts. They believed she would benefit greatly from the care offered at the Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Silvia applied for a humanitarian visa and was granted entrance to the United States. She was able to bring someone to help her on her journey and that someone was her sister, Besy. Today, we are happy to report that Silvia’s healing process has been significant and she is enjoying her life with her husband and a four-month old son, Ian.

Silvia’s need for medical treatments brought her to the U.S. and opened a new opportunity for her, to advance her education. Besy and Silvia are both enrolled in the Business Career Program at CSI and both have embraced the opportunity to learn about business. Their long term goal is to become business owners. Both of them arrive on campus with an attitude aimed at success and a passion for the day’s lessons.

The sisters’ strong work ethic was instilled by their parents. Store owners back in Honduras, their parents, married for 45 years, have supported their daughters and continue to speak daily by phone. I sat down with the sisters on a recent winter afternoon and we talked about living in New England. I asked them what took the most getting used to about living here. They agree that learning the subway system, the language, and the weather have all been a bit challenging.

I asked Silvia and Besy what they like to do when they were not in school or studying. They both said they love to travel. They have visited New Jersey and New York City. They enjoyed seeing the tall buildings and the shops as well as the vast array of ethnically diverse foods. I concluded our talk with one last question: “Where in the U.S. would you like to visit that you have not been?” Both responded “Disney World, Florida.” How appropriate that the travel destination for two young women whose dreams are being realized would be the magical land of dreams come true.

Meet Nataliia Shevchuk


Many of us at CSI, whether students, faculty or staff, came to this country to follow a dream. Some of us are chasing it intently, some of us had to readjust to meet the new reality, while some are determined to continue pursuing our dreams and not give up!

One of CSI’s students did just that! Nataliia left Ukraine for the United States with the intent of becoming a makeup artist and, despite a few roadblocks, she’s on track to make that dream a reality. Nataliia is passionate about her goals. She is enrolled and attending CSI full time. That alone requires a significant amount of time and attention, however to improve her Skills, Nataliia enrolled and is attending concurrently another institution to pursue her vision.

According to Nataliia, strict upbringing by her mother–who was a teacher–molded her into the ambitious artist and aspiring business woman she is today.

“[My mom] demanded a lot from me,” Nataliia said, “Always telling me that if “I’m doing something I have to be the best at it. If I’m not the best, then what’s the point of doing it?”

Last year, Nataliia attended both Computer Systems Institute, Skokie and Makeup First Academy, an excellent school for learning this craft. After returning late at night, she would spend several more hours practicing her makeup skills on a face chart or her husband, who fully supports her dream. But early on, she wasn’t always putting in the time necessary to achieve her lofty goals. She recalls telling a classmate of her dream to specialize in make-up design. She was shocked at her classmate’s response: She told Nataliia to be more realistic about future career choices and that she should do something practical, more like serving or bartending.

“I’ll probably never forget that comment,” Nataliia said.

However, most of her classmates–especially when she switched schools and started attending CSI–encouraged her to continue striving for her dream. She is now focused on applying business acumen from what she has been learning at CSI into her dream of becoming a makeup artist. Eventually, she wants to open a Make-Up school so she can pass her knowledge and techniques of the craft onto others.

As Nataliia continues to grow as an artist, she is already thinking of expanding her skill set by learning photography so she could “share her art through her own eyes.”

When asked if her Mother approves of the path she is on, Nataliia smiles and says: “I showed her all that I am learning and she told me she is very proud of me.”

Career Opportunities for Students in the Business Career Program

Group of Students in Business Career Program


The Business Career Program at Computer Systems Institute is designed to immerse and integrate international students into the American business environment. You’ll learn all the technical skills and knowledge you need to qualify for many different career opportunities in the field, both in America and around the world.

Skills Students Learn in the Business Career Program

Expect your time at CSI to provide you with hands-on training and practical experience. In our Business Career Program, you’ll develop and refine the following skills and concepts:

  • Business management
  • Accounting with computer applications
  • Microsoft Office applications
  • Face-to-face social interaction and communication
  • Telephone conversations
  • Customer service
  • Negotiations
  • Meetings and presentations

Career Opportunities

Once you complete the Business Career Program, you’ll have what you need to pursue a business career. You also open the door to furthering your education if you wish, including Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows you to gain practical experience in your field of study.

Here are the types of careers you qualify for after graduating from the Business Career Program:

  • Call center representative: Communicate with customers over the phone to answer questions, resolve problems and meet requests. Maintain a database of customer communications.
  • Front desk assistant: Maintain a business office by answering and placing calls; taking care of customers who walk in the front door; tracking office supplies and ordering replacements when necessary; and picking up and delivering items to other local businesses.
  • Retail manager: Oversee store staff, interact with customers, resolve customer inquiries, ensure optimal customer service, plan an annual budget, monitor spending and analyze business trends.
  • Inventory clerk: Track inventory levels and process purchase orders when necessary, receive and distribute inventory properly, and manage invoicing and Maintain accurate records of these activities.
  • Accounts receivable / accounts payable / payroll clerk: Process invoices, paychecks and/or requisitions; deposit checks at the bank; verify the accuracy of all financial transactions; and maintain a computerized financial record for the business.
  • Sales assistant: Support the sales and marketing managers, maintain and analyze a database of customer information, process customer requests, and prepare sales and promotional materials.

All of these career opportunities represent the first step down the road to a fulfilling business career in America or elsewhere in the world. The Business Career Program at CSI takes 40 academic weeks to complete, and eligible international students who choose to pursue OPT can gain up to 12 months of work experience before applying for a job.

If you’re interested in learning more about CSI and whether our Business Career Program is right for you, please contact us online or call 1-847-967-5030 to speak with a knowledgeable Admissions Representative.

Why the Classroom Environment is Vital in the Learning Process

Students Studing in Classroom

The environment in which students and teachers interact is vital to the success of everyone involved. Everything from the decorations on the walls to the arrangement of desks and chairs play a role in how well students learn. Here are the most influential factors of the classroom environment and the effects they have on the learning process.

Physical Environment

When establishing a place of learning, the first thing an educator does is assess the physical environment:

  • Light, warm-colored walls and floors are welcoming and create a positive first impression.
  • Decorations should be academically geared and may include student creations as the semester progresses.
  • Ample windows should allow light to shine in, yet coverings should make it possible to view visual media with ease.
  • The temperature should be warm and homelike so students are comfortable and happy to be there.

In addition to the basic structure of the building, the desk arrangement in a classroom is equally important. Individual desks arranged in tidy rows establish order and discourage interaction. This is suitable for lecture halls, but not for collaboration.

When students are expected to work together, it’s much more appropriate for desks to be arranged in groupings, semi-circles or one large circle. This also encourages students to communicate and build relationships with one another.

Emotional Environment

The emotional state of students is closely tied to their physical learning environment. Consider one instance where a teacher in a poor district of the northern Appalachian region struggled to motivate, build trust with and create a sense of community among her students. The classroom in which she taught was in the unfinished basement of an old school. Plain cement floors and walls and floor-to-ceiling poles made the room feel more like an interrogation chamber than a place of learning.

The teacher decided to transform the look of the classroom with donated carpet samples, paint and student-designed wall art. The transformation took six weeks, and when it was complete, the students had renewed pride in their classroom. They bonded with one another and were far more motivated to learn now that they had formed a community, not to mention a more beautiful physical environment in which to learn.

Respectful Environments

The final essential element of the classroom environment is creating a setting where students feel respected and that their contributions matter. Students should never be singled out and humiliated in front of the class, either by being put on display or secluded from everyone else. Teachers should make students feel accepted, valued and wanted.

At Computer Systems Institute, students enjoy learning in beautiful classroom settings. Their physical and emotional needs are met both directly and indirectly to ensure a comfortable, happy and respectful learning environment. If this is the type of college experience you want to have, please contact CSI online or call 1-847-967-5030 to find out more about our business, marketing and other career training programs geared toward international students.

The Benefits of the Classroom Environment for International Students

Students Raising Hands in Classroom

In this age of the Internet, an increasing number of students are deciding to enroll in online classes. There’s no doubt that online learning offers greater flexibility, but the classroom environment also has merits you can’t ignore. If you’re an international student hoping to study in America, consider the benefits of taking face-to-face coursework in a classroom setting.

Hands-on Learning

When the subject matter is physical in nature, the ability to handle it in person is tremendously beneficial. Classroom demonstrations and scientific experiments performed in a lab facilitate the learning process much more than simply reading about a topic.

Even if the subject is abstract rather than tangible, such as business administration, studies show that students who struggle with complex topics tend to learn better in person. Information retention also improves when learning takes place in a physical classroom environment.

Social Interactions with Other Students

When students learn online, they learn alone. Real-time, face-to-face conversations aren’t possible online. This means there is no social interaction or chance to develop interpersonal skills. These are critical abilities for everyone to learn, but this is especially true for international students who may require extra coaching in American culture and social norms.

Many jobs require employees to work well together. Learning in a classroom setting offers you the chance to complete group projects, give group presentations and discover how to work as a member of a team. This translates to the ability to build workplace relationships that will last a lifetime.

The classroom setting also provides the opportunity to develop a network. Often, finding the right career is about more than just what you know – it’s who you know. Small talk on campus can lead to opportunities you would never have known about if you only learned from home.

Greater Assistance from Teachers and Peers

While it’s possible to stay in contact with an online educator via email, instant messaging and video chat, nothing compares to asking a question in real time, either by raising your hand or turning to a classmate for help. Teachers and peers alike can offer extra assistance in person than they can online by looking at the student’s work and making suggestions, perhaps even writing notes in the margins. A little one-on-one time helps with the learning process more than watching a lecture online and emailing your teacher a few questions afterward.

Classroom and Practicum Learning at Computer Systems Institute

Here at CSI, we believe in taking a multi-faceted approach to college education. Classroom learning provides undeniable benefits, but what it lacks is real-world experience. That’s why we encourage classroom and practicum learning. This is when students receive relevant training through an employer, allowing them to use their skills right away in a work environment while still completing classroom-based coursework.

If this sounds like the type of learning experience you want to have, please contact CSI online or call 1-847-967-5030 to find out more about our business, marketing and other career training programs for international students.

Why International Students Should Study Billing and Coding

For international students looking for a stable and profitable career, there’s no better field than billing and coding. The field of health information technology is growing steadily, and experts predict that’s a trend that will continue for many years into the future. For those with the right certification, a career in medical billing and coding can be rewarding and lucrative.

Medical billing and coding is part of the medical records and health information industry, and professionals in that industry are in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2026, jobs in this field will have increased by 27,800, which equates to a growth of 13 percent: well above the national average for all occupations. An aging population and recent upgrades in technology that have resulted in higher demand for well-trained coders add up to a need for billing and coding professionals that is not going to slow down any time soon.

Those in the medical billing and coding professions who hold certifications have better job prospects than those who do not. The more certifications you hold, the higher the salary you can expect to make. What’s more, the certifications necessary to get ahead in this industry are recognized internationally, so the opportunities to use the skills and knowledge obtained are not limited to the United States.

Another incentive for international students to study billing and coding is this: people who are multilingual are at an advantage in the medical field. There are over 47 million residents of the United States for whom English is not their primary language. It only stands to reason, then, that medical practices and hospitals are going to treat patients who need translation to understand their bills. Professionals in the medical records and health information industry who are well-versed not only in code but also in languages other than English are a valuable asset to employers in the medical field.

At CSI, Our billing and coding track prepares students for the following certifications: NHA Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS), NHA Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist (CEHRS), or AHIMA Certified Coder Associate (CCA). These certifications are recognized internationally, and our students leave our program well-prepared, with the knowledge and the skills necessary to provide medical coding and billing, manage healthcare data used to support patient care, and contribute to the development of computer-based patient records.

If you’re an international student seeking educational opportunities in the United States, you owe it to yourself to learn more about the Computer Systems Institute.  At CSI, we provide academic opportunities that are not just high in quality, but also rich in services and support, and designed to help our students meet their goals. We believe in helping our students advance and transform their careers and their lives through affordable, high-quality career opportunities. For more information about our programs, or for help deciding whether CSI is right for you, contact us through our website or call 1-847-967-5030 to speak with a friendly and knowledgeable Admissions Representative.

The Future Looks Bright for Medical Billing and Coding Professionals

Medical Billing and Coding Professionals

Are you considering a career in medical billing and coding? This industry offers a unique opportunity because, while careers in medical billing and coding do not require a specific degree, people with the right certifications can look forward to a position with competitive pay and job stability. What’s more, the opportunities in this field don’t appear to be in any danger of flagging any time soon.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of medical records and health information technology is predicted to increase by 27,800 new positions by 2026: that’s a growth of 13 percent between 2016 and 2026. This is a faster rate of growth than the national average for all occupation, and with good reason. As the population ages, we’ll continue to need additional workers in the health information and technology industry.

Medical billers and coders who hold certifications are more likely to find better jobs in this field. In fact, according to the AAPC, formerly known as the American Academy of Professional Coders, professionals with credentials in the field can expect higher salaries as they attain more certifications. Employment opportunities vary based on your geographical area and the industry in which you wish to work. Currently, the industries with the highest demand for medical billing and coding professionals include:

  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals: 68,740 employed
  • Offices of Physicians: 38,530 employed
  • Nursing Care Facilities: 11,480 employed
  • Outpatient Care Facilities: 8,260 employed

Larger facilities are better able to grow staff numbers than smaller facilities, which is why about 18.3 percent of respondents to a recent AAPC survey worked for a large health system, and 13. 2 percent worked for large group practices. There are many additional opportunities for employment in this field, though, including educational institutions, billing companies, and consulting firms. Those in the field who are willing and able to keep up with the rapidly changing technology and software are in a better position to build a stable and profitable career.

For more than twenty-eight years, CSI has been helping students create positive change in their lives, through affordable, high-quality career opportunities. Our billing and coding track prepares students for the following certifications: NHA Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS), NHA Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist (CEHRS), or AHIMA Certified Coder Associate (CCA). For more information about these internationally recognized certifications, or for help deciding whether CSI is right for you, contact us through our website or call 1-847-967-5030 to speak with a friendly and knowledgeable Admissions Representative.

From Central Asia to the USA: An International Student’s Long Journey Toward Success

By Mansur Islamov; Skokie, Illinois

Central Asian Student in the USA
Central Asian Student in the USA
For many international students from Central Asia, studying in the USA takes a longer journey and more effort than students from other countries. Many youths from Central Asia make their first stop in Turkey or Russia to gain professional experience and work hard to save money for their future study in the USA.

I recently sat down with Zakir Bekenov, a CSI alumni from Turkmenistan, to learn his prospective on international students from Central Asia achieving academic and career success in the United States. Mr. Bekenov grew up in the north part of Turkmenistan in a traditional family. He grew up speaking three different languages and eventually learned three more. After completing high school, Mr. Bekenov went to Istanbul to further his education. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics. Then he started to work for one of the largest media groups in Turkey. After working there for two years, Mr. Bekenov decided to come to US to continue his education. He arrived in the US in 2014 and studied ESL and Small Business Administrator programs in Computer Systems Institute. After studying at CSI for more than a year, Mr. Benkenov was admitted into the Masters in Business Administration program with concentration in Investment and Operations Strategies at Northeastern Illinois University.

Below is a selection of my conversation with Mr. Bekenov:

Islamov: What made you decide to study in the USA?
Bekenov: Coming to US was my dream during my university years, I could not afford to come for the Work and Travel program when I was back in Central Asia, so once I have saved enough money after a couple of years, I started researching my options to come to US, I considered several alternatives, then finally I decided to come to Chicago through Computer Systems Institute’s program.

Islamov: How did you choose your field of study?
Bekenov: I got my bachelor degree in Economics, then I decided to pursue my MBA. I thought MBA fits my qualifications well and I was right in choosing this program. I learned business more broadly, especially in operations and productions management together with finance.

Islamov: How did your education and work experience prepare you for this position?
Bekenov: I have always loved math and have good quantitative skills since my high school years in Central Asia, my educational background was more than enough for an MBA degree. Moreover, studying at CSI’s Small Business Administrator program was a good experience for me.

Islamov: Is it hard to study in the USA, generally for international students?
Bekenov: From educational perspective it was not hard for me, the hardest part was to finance my education. After completing my first semester at NEIU, I was hired on-campus as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, so it made easier for me to afford my school expenses.

Islamov: What obstacles did you encounter?
Bekenov: I did not have obstacles, I had difficulties. I believe if a person is ambitious enough to succeed, then he can accomplish his goals.

Islamov: What do you do in your spare time?
Bekenov: I am learning programming languages like Python and R Statistical programming.

Islamov: What are your short-term goals and long-term goals?
Bekenov: In the coming couple of months, I want to find a good fitting job in Chicago and start my application to switch my visa from F1 to H1B. In the long term, I want to be working for consulting firms and improve myself in the area of product management, operations management and hedge funds. If I will have time, I will consider another master’s degree in data science.

Islamov: What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
Bekenov: As an associate partner at one of the big consulting firms.

Islamov: What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Bekenov: Having completed my MBA degree in one of the AACSB accredited schools as an honor student.

Islamov: What previous work experience has been the most valuable to you and why?
Bekenov: The one I worked as a data analyst at Feza Media Group. I learned a lot. Especially in the area of data analytics, thanks to the externship experience I gained through CSI’s program.

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Education Choices for Central Asian Students Looking to Study Abroad
Helping Uzbek Students Success in Chicago

Education Choices for Central Asian Students Looking to Study Abroad

By Mansur Islamov; Skokie, Illinois

In the heart of the Eurasia continent lies Central Asia, a region rich in history and culture. This region benefits from a blend of national identities that have been cultivated through centuries. Central Asia, as it is defined today, is comprised of five former Soviet republics: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. All these countries speak Turkic language with exception of Tajikistan. Central Asian countries were under the influence of Russia for the last 120 years. Map of Central Asia

Education System in Central Asian countries

The combination of rich, deep history and culture, made this region one of the most educated in the world, despite the government’s limited education budget (Table 1).

Table 1 Countries GDP on Education (2017) (All amounts in billion USD)* Countries GDP on Education (2017) Moreover, these countries have an even higher literacy rate compared to European countries as well as the rest of the world. (Table 2). However, despite the high level of public education and increasing number of higher education institutions being established each year, (Table 3) Central Asian countries are lacking in noticeable scientific impact. Youth in the region are looking for more contemporary education from advanced countries who have major scientific and academic impact in the modern era.

Table 2 Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years) Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years) Table 3 Number of Higher Education Institutions (1991-2010) Number of Higher Education Institutions

International Education for Central Asian Students

As mentioned above, Russia’s impact on Central Asian countries has significantly influenced the local education systems and education policies. Students receive massive educational support from Russian universities, both during the Soviet era and after. There are still large number of international students, in particular Central Asian students, all across Russia today. However, in the past decade, Central Asian students who are studying in major cities of Russia, triggered rising xenophobia from local residents.

Central Asia shares the same education system with Russia, which is not being dynamic nor productive in the modern scientific field. According to US.news.com, the best ranked school of Russia is Lomonosov Moscow State University and which is ranked #267 among Best Global Universities (April 2018).

Because of these two major factors above, rising xenophobia and declining educational standards, Central Asians are looking for better options, outside of Russia for their higher education needs. At the same time, and partly as a consequence, the pathway of studying in Western countries, on top of them the United States, has become increasingly attractive.

The Benefit of US Education for Central Asian Students

First, students who study in the US make positive economic and social connections as well as other forms of network ties with the Western world. These interactions will help contribute to their own countries’ integration into the global economy. Most Central Asian economies heavily rely on natural resources. International students with advanced knowledge returning home will help their country to build more diversified economies, so that the next generation will not sorely rely on their “God given” recourses.

Second, students can benefit from America’s open society. International students who attend US schools tend to be more open to universal values, including democracy, rule of law, etc. These values can be very helpful for international students in their future business life on a global stage.

Third, the increasing international student flow will stimulate local authorities back at home to take new actions on improving their own education standards. There are already clear signals of positive reforms on-going that governments in this region have begun to increase their education funding. Russia has taken new actions to attract foreign students in the region and around globe. Moreover, these actions followed by the economic benefits will in return help combat the xenophobia among local residents and foreign students.

Read More

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When You Choose to Study Abroad

International New Year Resolutions

By Leila Ataeva; Skokie, Illinois
New year resolutions New Year = New diet + New plans. This is a typical formula for you to follow each year. Being an international student in the USA, I know it isn’t easy to start from the beginning or even refresh old commitments after the holiday season. Before I made my New Year’s Resolutions I read a lot of articles about “how to create your own resolutions”, “how to not procrastinate one more year”, “tips for international students for New Year’s Resolutions”. Afterwards, I decided to make your new life easier and share the tips which helped me to write my wishes for 2018 and will help you to succeed this year.

1. Be specific

“You’ve got to develop a specific action plan for change”, says John Norcross, Ph.D., coauthor of Changeology: 5 steps to realizing your goals and resolutions, and he is right. With many resolutions, you won’t understand what you need and how to succeed. For example, let’s say you want to learn a new language. You can’t just put it on your list and learn one word in a month or even in a few. You should set specific priorities and a timeline for your language goals, like knowing how to say basic phrases at the end of the month. Another example is that you want to lose some weight. The wrong resolution is “I want to lose weight”. You have to have a goal: How much weight do you want to lose and when? “3 pounds in the next month — that’s going to be the right type resolution.

2. Avoid previous resolutions

Using the same resolutions you had last year is a wrong decision. It will make you frustrated and sad, because you didn’t meet them last year. Or, if you are still interested in achieving it, then look at it with a fresh viewpoint. But follow the basic rule: make a plan for each day, week, month, then follow it.

3. Make Your Goals Public

Sharing your goals with family or friends is always a good idea. You’ll find support when you are stuck and encouragement when you’re doing well. Maybe you’ll find someone who has the same resolution and the way to achieve it will be fun and easy.

4. Say “NO” to procrastination

The biggest challenge to people, especially for international students, is being distracted by relaxation and something fun instead of working hard and achieving goals. Once you get used to procrastinating, it’s difficult to get yourself back. You’ll need to put in a lot of work to change this bad habit.

5. Stay positive and motivated

Having a good mood and faith that you’ll get what you want will make you happier. Make a checklist of how achieving your resolution will help you.

6. Get a reward

Who hates getting treats? No one. Take time and give yourself a small reward once you achieve your sub-goal. Even psychologists say that treating yourself is a good habit that will keep you from feeling deprived. Small rewards will help to motivate you and give you a sense of progress.

Finally, I would like to say that your goals should be SMART. That’s an acronym coined in the journal Management Review in 1981 for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Usually it works for management, but it can also work in setting your resolutions, too.

P.S. One of my New Year Resolutions is to learn how to swim. You’ll laugh at me but I can’t swim at all. I’ve already bought a membership card for a swimming pool close to my home and made a schedule, which days I’m going to swim. So, see you all on the beach this summer, I’ll show you my best swimming techniques.

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