July 2009 issue

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Uni prep in the USA

University prep courses are specifically designed for students who are considering tertiary education in a foreign country. Offering a fast and academically sound route into higher education, they aim to prepare students for all the rigmaroles of university life. In some cases, language schools work in conjunction with an established university while some tertiary providers prefer to administer their own programme. Nicola Hancox reports.

If overseas students are neither academically or culturally prepared for university life in a foreign country they may find themselves at a distinct disadvantage. University prep programmes aim to bridge the gap between general language studies and a degree programme by boosting student confidence and bolstering language proficiency.

Rennert International – which has campuses in both New York and Miami – developed their own university preparation course two years ago with a view to offer something that wasn’t so exam oriented. “Over the years there have been many academic prep courses offered in the industry that became very exam-focused, leaving students short-changed when it came to skills needed to research papers, conduct critical analyses and participate in group presentations,” notes Eimear Harrison, Executive Vice President at the school. Today, students can choose from one of two programmes – the University Access programme or the University Class Auditing programme (available at Rennert Miami – in conjunction with St. Thomas University, Miami – only).

While the former can be tailor-made to students’ specific requirements (covering areas such as intensive cultural and academic reading, academic listening and note-taking to name but a few), the latter – launched just this year – looks to expose candidates to university life right away. Harrison explains, “The University Class Auditing programme is a popular programme that allows students exposure to full university classes in subjects such as Tourism and Hospitality, (for which the university is well-known) as well as Business and Sports Management,” she states. She adds that following successful completion students can then transfer directly onto a degree course at St. Thomas University.

Not all institutions promise direct entry onto a university course, however, and Gwendolyne Guzman, Marketing Manager at University of California San Diego in La Jolla, CA, relates that students must follow the same protocol as all other students.

“Unfortunately we do not offer direct entry into our university after the completion of the programme. Students who are interested in applying to our degree programmes must apply online along with other prospective students,” she notes.

International Study Centres (ISC) – a subsidiary brand that falls under the Study Group umbrella – works in conjunction with 15 partner universities to deliver a “rigorous, flexible curriculum that provides the best preparation for global citizenship and a lifetime of careers”. Beth Carson, Placement Operations Director at the school relates that the Transition English programme has been in operation since 2005 and was launched after their partner universities recognised the need to improve language proficiency prior to university enrolment. “Many of our partner universities had the need to provide ESL training to academically admissible students who still need English preparation,” relates Carson. “This enables them to recruit students who otherwise might not have been able to enrol in their universities,” she adds.

Providing language training, practical study skills and the opportunity to earn university credits while studying on a tertiary campus, the course comprises of two phases dependent on student competency levels. “Students in Phase one are enrolled solely in ESL courses (22-28 hours per week); while students in Phase 2 are enrolled in 15-21 hours of ESL, along with three to six academic degree courses taught by university faculty,” Carson outlines.

At the University Language Institute (ULI) in Tulsa, OK, students can sign up to their Intensive English programme which contains a final module (called the University Bridge programme) that is geared towards preparing students for college-level classes. Amy Bell, Director of the English Language Institute at ULI, relates that it covers everything from applied grammar to American history. “We felt that international students who were going to an American university would benefit from classes that would introduce them to writing a college-level research paper and giving speeches,” she says, adding, “We also felt that they would benefit from familiarity with writers from American literature and basic components of American history.”

Bell admits they have not marketed the course as a separate programme before but that they aren’t entirely opposed to the idea. “We don’t market it separately because it’s extremely hard to test into that level unless the student already has a Toefl score of above 500. Marketing it separately would certainly be an interesting idea though,” she says.

According to Caroline Miranda, Public Relations Director at California State University Northridge, in Northridge, CA, typical nationalities include Asian and Middle Eastern students, however, Guzman reports a more varied representation with South Koreans, Japanese, Italian, Turkish and Brazilians featuring in their top five.
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The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





Britannia Student

Feltom Malta  
Perth Education City
Quality English  

Alphe Conferences  
International House
      World Organisation  
Feltom Malta  


Malta Tourism


Perth Education City

Bics (Business & Intl

Berlitz Canada  
Elmwood School  
Richmond School
      District #38  
Stewart College of

IH Xi'an  

      Latinoamericana de
Andean Global
      Studies Spanish
Estudio Internacional
      Sampere, Ecuador  
South American
      Language Center  

Bell International  
Britannia Student
Kaplan Aspect  
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South
      Africa, UK, USA)
LAL Language and
      (Canada, Cyprus,
      Ireland, England,
      South Africa, Spain,
      Switzerland, USA)
Malvern House
      College London  
Shakespeare College
Spinnaker College
Quality English
Queen Ethelburga's
St Giles Colleges  
      (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group  
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, New Zealand,
      South Africa, Spain,
TUS Advertising  
Twin Group  
      (Ireland, UK, USA)
University of Essex -

Home Language
(Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Egypt, Finland, France, Greece, The Netherlands, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, USA, Wales)

International House
      Berlin - Prolog  


Galway Cultural
      (via Impact Media)  

Kai Japanese
      Language School  

Clubclass Residential
      Language School  
EC English
      (England, Malta,
      South Africa, USA)
Feltom Malta  
Malta Tourism

Seafield School
      of English  

EC Cape Town  
      Cape Town- One
      World Language
Good Hope Studies  
inlingua Language
      Training Centre
      Cape Town  
Interlink School
      of Languages  
International House
      Cape Town  
LAL Cape Town  
Language Teaching
Shane Global
      Language Centres -
      Cape Town  

Malaca Instituto -
      Club Hispanico SL  
Pamplona Learning
      Spanish Institute  

EF Language
      Colleges Ltd  
(Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, USA)
Eurocentres International  
(Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, USA)

Califorinia State
      University Northridge
ELS Language
      (Canada, USA)
San Diego State
University of
      California San Diego
Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)

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